To the editors:
I was glad to see Jack Helbig address the important issue of the role of the audience at the performance of Krapp’s Last Tape, part of the International Theatre Festival of Chicago [June 26]. However, I must add to what he said by saying that it isn’t just a problem of the audience not recognizing a play that is “serious” or a “comedy.” You see, I happened to be unfortunate enough to sit next to the two individuals who certainly had to be responsible for most of the exaggerated guffaws, snorts, and chortles, and because of this, I think I can give some new perspective as to what happened.
As an actor, nothing in the theater annoys me more than the arrogant attitude that some (but certainly not all) theater people have. What these two gentlemen were doing was attempting to convey to the audience just how much more capable they were than the rest of us of appreciating both Beckett’s work, and David Kelly’s performance. It was also a sort of competition between the two of them to prove who was more the Beckett connoisseur. When one of them would laugh loudly, the other would guffaw uproariously, without ever skipping a beat, every time. There was, of course, some humor in the piece, but nothing was funnier than these two fools. I very much wanted to point this out to them, but I would have had a hard time, as before the final curtain had touched down, they had leaped to their feet, trying once again to outdo each other, if only by the sheer volume of their “Bravo”s.
What angered me the most was not that the performance of these two gentlemen was interfering with my enjoyment of David Kelly’s fine performance. What angered me the most was that after doing this play for decades, making it a part of his blood, and traveling across the ocean to do one, single performance, Mr. Kelly had to be upstaged by a couple of idiots who were more concerned with their own performance than his.
Maybe these two individuals, whoever they are, will one day understand that the job of an audience member is not to come to the theater with something to prove, but to come looking for something to learn.