An audience obliged or an audience compelled

I’m on a train speeding through Sweden.  Sweden is white, white white. Tonight is the penultimate performance of Something Dark my one man show in a city called Hasselholm, (pop. 28,000)  in the south of Sweden. It’s   three an a half hours from Stockholm by train.  Sweden has a population of  9 million people. About sixty percent live in the capital, Stockholm.  London alone has 8 million.

The venue are pleased to have sold out –  about four hundred people in all.  I am slightly surprised at this. But it turns out that the audience was mainly school children.  There is a subtle but fundamental difference between an audience who feel obliged to be at an event compared with an audience who are compelled to be there. Something Dark is not a play for school children.  

After a few embarressed laughs I realised it was a down hill ski and the motorway was at the bottom of the hill. It got worse for me. The play started fifteen minutes late.  At the crucial ending to the play audience members started to walk out. It killed me. At the quietest most tender part of the play – the conclusion of one and a half hours of one man on one stage – the audience started to leave. All I could hear were doors closing and opening and all I could see was the three or so doors of the theatre opening and shutting.  It’s never happened to me before and was excruciating to watch from the stage while acting the play.  

Later on I was told that the last train from hasselholm was leaving and the audience had to catch it. If we hadn’t started fifteen minutes late the timing would’ve been perfect. AGGHhhhhHHhhhhh.

Though all the feedback was positive and though I sold all of my books I am not happy with it, not happy at all. I trudge back to my hotel feeling angry and a little like shit served up on a platter.  I am told that   I can be over critical but if I am not critical then who would be! And where would I be then!! I have to be up at 7am tomorrow morning . I am in a hotel in a different  country and i just want to go home and sulk! 

1 thought on “An audience obliged or an audience compelled

  1. Dear Lemn,
    I really need to comment on your blog concerning your visit and performance in Hassleholm. In my oppinion it was absolutely wonderful to see and to listen to you. I can of course not speak for the entire audience, but I was really touched by your words. My daughter (15 years old) totally agrees with me. I have also asked my work colleges who were there, how they found the performance and they also liked/loved it. Yes, it´s true that most of the audience consisted of upper secondary students, but as it was after school hours, it most probably was free of choice to be there. I also know that those who left, really had to. It would have been impossible for them to get home otherwise. (It most often is the same people who have to leave and as a former commuter I know that it´s not fun at all to have to leave). It´s sad but nevertheless the harsh reality. But I know that many, young and old, were truly touched by your magnificent performance. So please don´t be disappointed or frustrated or whatever because you don´t have to. You were great, your performance were great etc. By the way, my daughter was really angry with me after we had talked with you and got our books signed. You probably don´t remember this but you said that she had a British accent and I said that she is an anglophobe. What I really meant was that she is an anglophile, which is a bit different :). She loves almost everything British (except for some politicians). I mean, reading Harry Potter (in English of course) at the age of 11?! Anyway, now I have corrected my terrible mistake. Again, you have no reason to feel anything but pleased with your performance here in Hassleholm. We were, and it will take a long time before we forget it, if ever.
    Mona Olsson, Hassleholm, Sweden

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