On being there for each other…literally

Jill here. We recently received a note on our Anonymous Contact form about improvisors leaving early on Sundays and Wednesdays, copied below. It’s a really nice summary of how important it is to your fellow performers that you stick around to watch their sets, a best practice we endorse.

Here’s what I want to say about it. There are things that are outside of HUGE Theater’s control, and decisions people make for themselves. Of course we’d encourage everyone to stay and support their colleagues — but this is not a mandate we can make on people who are volunteering their time, and no one should feel shamed.

If you’re feeling the energy to modify others’ behavior, please speak to them yourself and lead the change. This particular issue is one I used to spend a lot of time being upset about. I would confront people as they headed to the exit and they always had good reasons: an early wake-up, family obligations, etc. Sometimes they just had a low tolerance for improv, which is valid. After years of misery I realized I can’t set other people’s priorities and professional ethics for them and the best strategy is to do an improv set so good that they will hear about it later and feel stupid for missing it.

Here is the text of the anonymous message we received: 

I have noticed during Improv A Go-Go and HUGE Wednesdays that when groups perform (1st,2nd,3rd) they will often leave instead of coming back into the theater to support the groups after them.

I completely understand that people must get home to kids, or have an early morning, and I am definitely guilty of leaving shows early myself simply because I felt like it- but my issue comes when it’s a habit and every member of a group leaves early, every show. I think of HUGE as a community, so we should support each other, and leaving as soon as your group is done doesn’t show a lot of that spirit-sometimes there’s almost a ‘diva vibe’ that happens when group “”A”” has been supported/watched by groups B,C, and D, but as soon as “”A”” is done performing they don’t return the courtesy to support the others.

Obviously, there is a little clear out of audience members during intermission (because the people they want to support have performed already) and there’s not much we can do about that except potentially having groups with large draws perform after intermission, but what we can control (or at least influence or heavily suggest) is that the performers stick around after intermission and after their own performance.

We can’t know what is happening for each individual in their life, but when a big group is consistently leaving early every show, it shows not just to the performers, but to the audience. Maybe there should be a post/discussion about this on a HUGE performer or community page? I was never outright suggested to stick around by HUGE as a performer, but maybe this can be pushed more (with a gentle understanding that sometimes people really can’t stick around)?

I know this feeling is shared by other performers. I love what we do here, I love the opportunities HUGE brings, and this feedback was written with the best intentions to continue supporting our community.