Not Standing For It!
December 17, 2022
Directed by: Mark Bucher
Boulevard Theatre, Milwaukee’s premiere independent theatre company, continues its 37th season with a free presentation of “NOT STANDING FOR IT!,” an exploratory workshop of an original piece collectively crafted by Milwaukee writers, performers, educators, & personalities. This Milwaukee premiere will be workshopped in a unique interactive writers’ lab on Saturday, December 17 at 3pm at Milwaukee’s iconic Bay View gathering place, the The Sugar Maple Tavern (441 East Lincoln).
This low key, fun event will showcase monologues of nearly one dozen local artists, who have contributed solo speeches & theatrical pieces that address and explore audiences’ recent tendencies to greet each and every performance with immediate standing ovations.
The impetus for this unique theatrical literary workshop began as a series of Facebook posts initiated by Boulevard‘s Artistic Director Mark Bucher. Bucher maintains a popular FB page that enjoys nearly 5000 friends & contacts who regularly visit and support his page. Naturally, Bucher often shares posts about the Boulevard Theatre, but he also often shares posts about other local theatrical events, as well as posts & comments about current national theatrical events and trends.
In mid-October (11/13/22), Bucher posted an opinion post that commented on Milwaukee audiences’ clockwork-like proclivity to reward nearly, or possibly all, curtain calls with immediate standing ovations. TheLACWEre was an immediate flood of responses on FB about the overgenerous responses of Milwaukee audiences. Nearly 400 responses were received (including both written comments and the ubiquitous emojis). And these comments ranged from total agreement to vehement disagreement (and everything in-between). The sheer number of responses testified that a chord had definitely been struck and that there could be some sort of script or theatrical event engineered out of this wellspring of opinion regarding standing ovations.
Bucher was also engaged by the expansive range of comments and reactions; many of these shared stories and anecdotes about the social pressure felt and experienced at immediate standing ovations, especially for just average performances — or even for subpar theatrical work. What registered from the many varied responses included commentary that hinted at being extremely uncomfortable with coerced submission to stand with the “majority.”
However, reactions that followed those pro-ovation posts discussed some patrons’ resentment at suddenly not being able to see the curtain call or final bows, as now former open sight lines were being obscured by standing patrons. The issues raised by both the original posts and the ensuing reactions slowly hinted at an examination into crowd dynamics, societal pressure, and even the psychology of mob rule.
Slowly, over time, this unexpected project began to emerge with greater clarity and increased focus. It garnered a working title (NOT STANDING FOR IT!) and has now evolved into this first step of a process that –through such public workshops and interactive labs as what will occur on Saturday, December 17? — will see this project develop into a full production (possibly in the latter end of the Boulevard Theatre‘s 23rd season).
Some of the creative contributors are still sharing their monologues about attending performances and their “characters’ ” reactions to continual ovations (both positive & negative). As such, sharing any list of writers and contributors participating in NOT STANDING FOR IT! would prove both generally insufficient in promoting the event and moderately dismissive of those who are still in the process of applying to this truly unique workshop (yes, contributions are still coming in).
But while the final list of writers is being finalized, NOT STANDING FOR IT! can boast that a host of local performers, writers, educators, and friends of the local arts scene have answered Bucher’s call to contribute and participate; to say nothing of the diverse selection of local creatives who Bucher approached to participate in this rare and unique event. His original invitation went out to an expansive array of nearly 200 artists whose varied backgrounds encompassed all social, economic, ethnic, gender, gender/sexual orientation backgrounds.
As with all Boulevard Theatre auditions, productions and events, vigorous efforts were made to craft a thoroughly inclusive artists’ panel that represents the actual MKE community. NOT STANDING FOR IT! continues Boulevard Theatre‘s commitment to the greater Milwaukee community by showcasing local artists and writers, as well as offering this unique and welcoming literary forum for FREE to all patrons and participants.
While admission is free, depending upon the levels of community Covid transmission on 12/17, some pandemic protocols may be observed (guests remaining properly masked during the complete performance).