Reading (Palm Springs)

Speedboat (1976)

We were talking about No, No, Nanette. I said I thought there was such a thing an an Angry Bravo – that those audiences who stand, and cheer, and roar, and seem altogether besides themselves at what they would instantly agree is at best an unimportant thing, are not really cheering No, No, Nanette. They are booing Hair. Or whatever else it is on stage that they hate and that seems to triumph. So they stand and roar. Every bravo is not so much a Yes to the frail occasion they have come to make a stand at, as a No, goddam it to everything else, a bravo of rage. And with that, they become, for what it’s worth, a constituency that is political. When they find each other, and stand and roar like that, they want, they want to be reckoned with.

Joe said, Isn’t it possible that they just want to say that they are having a good time? It’s possible; one ought perhaps to take into account that it is fun to be part of an audience that wants to roar. Norma asked whether Joe had seen it. He said no. Norma said, “Well then, you don’t know. It’s not a musical audience roar. It’s not an avant garde roar. It’s a march roar. A rally roar. A parade roar.” Joe said, “You mean a lynch roar.” Norma said, “Now that’s going too far.”

– Renata Adler, pp 48-49, NYRB edition.

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