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Photo by Sebastian Hoppe
Berliner Festspiele | Theatertreffen 2011
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Seriously, what's up with booing?
Just as at The Cherry Orchard's Berlin premiere on Monday, Tuesday's matinee had a few audience members loudly decrying Schauspiel Köln's performance as the (in this case metaphorical) curtains fell. Now I understand booing hateful politicians, or perhaps particularly dumb plot twists in summer blockbusters, but actual performers working their asses off on stage?
I always assumed that involved a similar social contract to restaurant tipping, or at least the Euro version thereof: you base your tip on the service's level of excellence, leaving none for insulting or careless waiters, and storming out without paying in case of severed fingers in your soufflé.
Applause works the same: the usual few rounds for a solid show, bravo/as for excellence, and storming out all huffed up in cases of unadulterated boredom or insult. Boos, then, would seem to me reserved for instantaneous protesting of specific on-stage abominations, a botched monologue or slaughtered lamb, perhaps.
Anonymously booing as the actors take their bows seems cowardly, especially when one's protestations seem aimed at the jury that selected this particular staging, one which, to my eyes, delivered a fine take on Tchekhov's classic, one which perhaps dropped the ball on Duyasha's character but presented an affecting star turn by Lena Schwarz as Mme. Ranevskaya.
Then again, perhaps people were booing whoever was in charge of the surtitles. Some unfortunate non-German speakers might certainly have incurred whiplashes trying to to read the tiny script projected high up over the stage. Or maybe it was a language purist, fidgeting over the sometimes odd translation choices, "barometer" for "thermometer", or "careless" for "careful". On the whole though, these theatre trolls should take their hate to their Twitter streams, where their boos don't bother the rest of us. Word.
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