On being ... enough already!

By Ingrid Sapona

I went to the National Ballet of Canada’s production of Cinderella the other night and when a friend asked me the how it was, I told him it was good, but that there was a little too much dancing. He laughed and asked what time I got home. I explained that it wasn’t that I got home late -- it’s just that some dances went on a bit too long.

For example, at one point a dozen ballerinas came out (on their toes, of course) and they were sort of flitting about, waving little fans. In fairly short order I figured out that they were fairies and they were casting a magic spell that would transform the mice into coachmen to take Cinderella to the ball. In terms of staging, I thought the ballerinas with their fans were an inspired way of portraying this action. After about three minutes of their flitting about, however, I was ready for the story to advance. But the fairies kept flitting and flitting. Granted, maybe it took others in the audience a bit longer to get the idea, but at one point I just felt like shouting, “enough already!”

Actually, dances or arias that go on too long are one thing (after all, I realize the directors and choreographers want to give the performers a chance to show off their talents), but curtain calls are a whole other matter. It’s not that I object to showing appreciation for the performance and performers -- I truly am in awe of their talents (that’s why I paid as much as I did to get in) and I certainly believe in showing my admiration by offering a rousing round of applause, or even a standing ovation when especially moved by a performance.

But, I’ve always thought that curtain calls should be reserved for those times when the audience just can’t get enough of the cast or particular performers. More-and-more it seems, however, that even when the applause has subsided and people are starting to put on their coats, up comes the curtain again, obliging the audience to continue (or, in some cases resume) the applause. Why is it that the person in charge of the houselights never seems to have the same sense of “enough already” that the audience has?

But it’s not just the ballet and opera that I find often go on too long. Chase scenes in movies are another common culprit. They often go well past the point of entertaining and into the realm of “I can only suspend my disbelief so long people!!” I mean really, the idea of 007 hanging off a chopper with one arm for five minutes is a bit much -- 30 seconds maybe, but more than that presses my “enough already” button big time. And I’m sure you’ve sat through comedy routines that go on to the point that they’re no longer funny.

It happens in non-entertainment contexts too. I was in a seminar the other day when someone from the audience asked a question and they kept reiterating the point they were making. I just kept wishing that the speaker would politely interrupt and answer. From the squirming and sighing of others around me, I know I wasn’t the only one who thought, “enough already … get on with it!” And the network news does it all the time -- they glom onto a story and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it. But at least with t.v., when the “enough already” point comes, you can change the channel or turn it off.

In all these situations where I have the urge to yell out “enough already”, I realize the common denominator is me. So, I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about whether it’s just me. I’ve considered, for example, whether I’m just more impatient than most directors, producers, stage managers, speakers, etc.? I don’t think I am. After all, in this Google age all of us have been conditioned to measure time in nanoseconds, not just me. And yet, when some people have other peoples’ attention they seem to lose all sense of time (and timing).

Could the all-too-frequent triggering of my “enough already” sense be the result of a particularly short attention span? Or maybe I bore particularly easily. I don’t think I suffer from either of these conditions. Indeed, I think my friends and family would attest to the fact that I have more staying power than most. (It’s a product of the never-give-up gene that I seem to have been born with.)

I also considered whether my “enough already” reaction might be some sort of misdirected anger stemming from an underlying feeling that I’ve got better things to do, or out of unspoken resentment that I’m attending something under duress. I can honestly say that neither of these seem to apply because I’ve been blessed with a charmed life and there are few (if any) places I go, or things I see or do, other than by choice.

After due consideration, I’ve concluded that the problem is that there are people who just don’t have a sense of when enough’s enough and those people never seem to ask the rest of us for our opinion on the matter.

Anyway, I’m sure you get my point so I’ll end this before anyone starts muttering, “enough already!”

© 2008 Ingrid Sapona


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