Mary Zimmerman’s new production of Bellini’s La Sonnambula got booed–loudly–when it opened at the Met the other day. (To hear what happened, go here.) I didn’t see the production, but I was struck by the fact that such booing is surprisingly rare in this country, whereas automatic standing ovations for mediocre performances are very much the rule, at least on Broadway.
I’m not crazy about booing, but there’s one thing to be said in its favor. And what, pray tell, might that one thing be? Pick up a copy of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal and turn to my “Sightings” column to find out the answer. This week’s column also features a modest proposal for a method of allowing unhappy audiences to register their disapproval of a performance without throwing tomatoes. Producers, take note!
UPDATE: Here’s an excerpt:
Is there a kinder, gentler way for an audience to make its displeasure felt? After reflecting on Ms. Zimmerman’s tumultuous curtain call, I came up with a substitute that I call “The Silent Boo.” Since many theater companies now encourage playgoers to recycle their programs, why not place two transparent recycling containers in the lobby after the show, one marked CHEERS and the other JEERS? That strikes me as a neat and practical method of reaping the benefits of booing while simultaneously minimizing its incivility. Wouldn’t your emotional investment in a performance be heightened if you could “vote” on its merits in a simple and convenient manner that was easily visible both to the performers and to your fellow audience members?…
Read the whole thing here.