Tuesday, April 07, 2009

We Are Not Easily Impressed.

For a typical performance at the Artsgarden, we'll usually have a crowd of 25 to 75 people seated at any time. But over the course of the performance, around 1500 people will walk through the space and catch a bit of the show. Some will stop and catch a few minutes of the show, and some are apparently so wrapped up in themselves that they won't even notice there's a performance going on. But most people will at least glance up at the stage and see what's happening.

Today's performance was by Gregg Bacon, saxophonist extraordinaire. He does a trick wherein he plays three (!) saxophones at once. It's exactly as impressive as you'd think. But I'm also entertained by watching the crowd's reaction. The most typical reaction is surprise and amazement. I'll see someone glance at the stage and see a guy playing three saxophones; it takes a moment to sink in, but when it does, they'll at minimum point so their friends notice. More typically, they'll stop for a moment and watch. But the ones that I really wonder about are the people who glance at the stage, then keep walking coolly on. I see a few options: they're looking, but not really paying attention, so the sax trick doesn't register; they see Gregg playing three saxophones at once, but have no background to realize that it's out of the ordinary; or they're so determined to be nonplussed with the world around them that they pretend they don't care. Mostly this last group consist of teenagers, who radiate a vibe that says, "ho hum, guy playing three saxophones, been there, done that."

A few weeks ago, we had the Blue Monkey Sideshow in the Artsgarden -- a real circus-style sideshow, complete with a bed of nails and jugglers and all kinds of carnival tricks. I didn't work it, so I didn't get to watch the crowd. But I wonder if they got the same reaction from teenagers: "ho hum, guy squeezing himself through a tennis racket, ho hum, guy smashing light bulbs with his forehead, so not impressed...". It seems like sideshow tricks would be the sort of thing that it's cool for teens to notice, but I still wonder....

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