A Good Time to Keep your Opinion to Yourself
Don’t you love it when your friends come to see your solo show? After many tries to get them into your audience, they finally show up, when it means a lot. You’re videotaping the show, or industry is in the house. Stakes are high. You get curtain calls, lots of laughs. Your vulnerable actor self is feeling strong and confident and joyous. At the bar, later, while you’re celebrating, one of those friends says, “I wish you hadn’t changed that bit about your home town.” And another friend chimes in, “Yeah, and what happened to that impression of Rosanne? I loved that. Why’d you take that out?” And yet another friend confides, “Were you scared? You seemed kinda scared at first.”
And now you’re in hell. Suddenly all the applause you just experienced is a figment of your imagination. Self-doubt rises like a backed up sewer, and you start apologizing.
Has this happened to you? If so, then you need to take a few moments to learn the techniques for dealing with well-meaning friends after a show.
These buzz-killing buddies need to be given a primer before you let them in the door. I offer these tips. You can print them on pieces of paper and hand them out.
Appropriate things to say to the performer after the show are “Great job!” or “Loved it!” And if for some reason you didn’t like the show, then say, “That was really something!”
Do NOT offer advice, do NOT offer a critique, do NOT tell them you saw a show like theirs recently but it was with more characters and better costumes.
Some people have no sense of timing. You might be willing to hear what they think, but just not now. Others likely have little useful advice to offer, but feel like they need to demonstrate their esteem for you by critiquing your show. Don’t let any of them burst your well-earned post-show bubble.
Here are two useful methods of dealing with this situation.
When they praise you, say, “Thank you.” “Thank you” is enough. You don’t need to follow it up with, “Did you really like it?” Certainly do not say, “Did you like the rewrite?” That question is better addressed to the 1-3 people you know who have mastery of the craft, and who can offer an educated opinion that might be even somewhat congruous to yours.
If someone is praising you, and then says ‘but…” don’t let them keep speaking. Do your best Dianne Wiest on them – don’t let the words come out of their mouths. Instead, do a little bolstering of that part of them that is desirous of offering you constructive criticism. Say, “I would so love for you to write down your thoughts for me. Then I can ask you for them later. Tonight I just want to enjoy the post-show high.”
Often your well-intentioned friend is not a performing artist, and has no idea that post-show bliss is an actual state, much to be cherished and certainly much to be protected. Don’t let their ignorance ruin your joy. Stop them in their tracks, and give them a less risky outlet for that feedback-providing impulse.
BTW, whether you ever ask them about those notes is your business. One would hope that as they write those thoughts down, they are able to distill the good from the bad, or (even more to be desired) they second-guess themselves, and write down only the useful observations.
These, my gentle snowflakes, are lessons I have learned in many years as an entertainer, and I hope you take them seriously.