Sunday, October 14, 2012

Performance Artists and Angry and Sullen Crowds

Performance artists sometimes face angry, sullen and uninterested crowds. Still, professionals they are, they have to enact their performance and try to attract the attention of the audience and thrill them.

Came across the incident where, highly applauded singer, Ronald Hayes has to face the ire of Germans in Berlin. Came across the incident in a book Schuler first.


Experience of Ronald Hayes

When Hayes visited Berlin in September 1923 he found the appreciation slightly harder to come by. Time magazine that year wrote:

To Germans, black men are “colonials”; they encountered them in the French line during the War; more recently, in the Ruhr. Learning that a member of this unpopular race was to appear publicly in their midst, Berliners were indignant. Protests were made to the American Ambassador against the “impertinence” of permitting a Negro to be heard on the concert stage, against the lèst majesté of offering musically scrupulous Berlin the tunes of the Georgia cotton-pickers.

Not entirely surprisingly, when Hayes appeared on stage, the audience started booing and hissing almost immediately. Hearing the noise the apprehensive singer suddenly decided to change his rehearsed programme and started the evening singing Schubert’s Du Bist Die Ruh. It was a German favourite and the crowd quietened almost immediately but by the end of the song, the audience, throwing their prejudice aside, were on their feet cheering and applauding the black American singer.

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