People often talk about the need for artists—all kinds of artists—to take risks. Musicians, writers, filmmakers, painters, etc. are often lauded for their failures, as long as the effort pushes the envelope. But risk-taking artists require risk-taking audiences for their out-of-the-box work.
Some theater fans only go to big, popular, shows with great reviews. I LOVED ‘Hamilton’ so it’s not like I avoid the hottest shows on Broadway, but, more often than not, I try to see shows with ‘buzz’ before they open. That means I get to make up my mind before the reviews come out. This means I’ve seen some incredible shows ‘first’ and some that didn’t survive a week after opening night.
Some of the short runs were artistic risks that failed and some were just plain awful. I’d put ‘Enron’ (a London hit/Broadway flop) about the spectacular financial scandal, in the first category, because it was unconventional and weird. ‘Hamilton’ is an example of a successful artistic risk.
Although record-breaking box office receipts are driven by big hits and long-running musicals, theater—as a living art form as well as entertainment—needs audience members willing to buy a ticket and risk sitting through a flop. * All the arts need risk-taking patrons and I’ve discovered that it’s OK to dislike an exhibit at a museum, the lead singer in a band, a film and even a book!
The solitary nature of reading makes it easy to take reader-risks. I routinely read outside my comfort zone and sometimes I enjoy it. I don’t make myself finish a book that feels like torture, but I give each book a solid try. When you take a risk and pick up a science fiction book (fantasy, romance, suspense, etc.) you don’t have to convince a friend to join you. Just download it, borrow it from the library…. And become a risk-taker.
Read on the edge!
*Yes, I have walked out during an intermission. And yes, I’ve scampered out as fast as possible, mystified by a standing ovation awarded at the end of a lousy show. It’s OK to disagree with the rest of the audience, really. It’s even OK to hate a major bestselling book or a work of ‘great literature.’