At the time of writing, I’m on a 6 week run playing drums for the musical West Side Story. It’s been a wonderful experience.
One of my favorite parts is seeing the different reactions of each audience. One audience will be rolling on the floor laughing at a joke while the other one will miss it. Completely. But that second audience will chuckle at one of the more nuanced humors that the first would totally miss.
Also due to the way the conductor’s podium is set up and the angle of my drum set I have the view of just one audience member every show. Everyone else is blocked by the barriers that keep people who are laughing too heartily or crying in too mobile a manner from falling into the orchestra pit.
Since I essentially have the show memorized, whenever there’s downtime between songs or a part of the show where I can safely take my eyes off the sheet music and the conductor, I like to take a peak at the face of this person. Especially when I know a good joke is coming up, or an impressive dance move or a sad moment.
In one particular show I had a lady who was perpetually unimpressed. She had what I and a friend in the pit now call an “angry salmon” face. All the time. There was only one time when she thought something was funny (it wasn’t even a very good joke) but she didn’t actually smile. She just un-frowned.
But in this afternoon’s show I had a completely different lady. She was engaged the entire time. She smiled, she gasped, she frowned, she laughed, clapped, cried, she even danced a bit during the Mambo. She got everything out of the show that she could.
I’m not necessarily knocking on angry salmon lady. Some people just have a face that looks like that. Or maybe her friend dragged her into the show and she didn’t want to go. Maybe it was a dare. I dunno. What I do know is the second lady had to have had a way better time.
My take away from these two contrasting ladies is simple.
I want to be like that second lady all the time.
I always want to walk into my experiences with her attitude. There’s obviously something about her that let her so deeply enjoy and engage the art in front of her. She came ready and open to being affected.
I’ve seen the angry salmon face before. I really don’t know what it’s about. Seems like a weird way to experience life to me. I think for some people it’s an excessive guard that they keep up. I think for others it’s just their personality. I know for certain people it’s intentional. They come off tough and hard if they’re unimpressed by everything around them.
Yuck. What a boring, unfulfilling existence that must be.
As for me, I hope every time I play music, or see music or art in general that I take on this lady’s persona.
Ready to go anywhere the art wants to take me.
Ready to cry, laugh, dance in my seat and smile at any moment.