Let us begin by looking at the word performance. Dictionaries say to “perform” means an action. Action as task, function, an execution of something. Like cleaning dishes, driving cars, eating; and more seriously: surgeons performing operations.
Or much, much, much, much, much more serious?
Sexual intercourse. We may say we “went to bed to perform a sex act”, or that “we did not perform well, or performed very well, and satisfied our partners.”
Performance number three is for entertainment and therefore the subject of this article.
Athletes compete in performance. We watch them and cheer and at times feel disappointed. The English dictionary explains that we “put on” or “present” a performance.
Most well known stars of music, sports and leisure, make a living from performances. They thrive on being watched and applauded.
This brings us to our sinister uninvited guest: Covid 19.
No intention of spoiling moods here. Sports stadiums have been shut and players made to rely on cameras and media personnel to tell us HOW THE ACTION WAS. Musicians and stage performers seem to have, physically vanished. Totally. At the end of July a London’s Metro headline screamed:
Trial gig shows live music must have packed houses to survive…
The said trial gig was by English singer, Frank Turner. Normally stats of his concerts used to total least 1,250 people. A large audience. But with social distancing and strict government regulations, only 200 were allowed. Commenting at the end of what was called “a pilot show” Frank Turner moaned: “the energy exchange with the crowd” was harder to slip into.
This energy exchange thing may also be felt when we use Zoom, Skype and other multimedia tools to perform music. A performer needs to hear the roar, clapping and sounds of audiences.
That has particularly, proven to be a big factor in soccer.
Sometime in June 2020, famous BBC football pundit and former England striker, Gary Lineker, elaborated on how “the lack of fans affects or rather change football.” For example he cited how home crowds give more energy and subsequently, affect visiting teams. He said so far since there are “no crowd” contests – visiting (away) teams have been winning games.
Lineker also said the behaviour of players changes because there are no crowds. He was thus in favour of artificial audience noise that give an impression of reality.
What does all this teach us?
Performances are based on human interaction. Using Zoom and the internet might be a practical way to cope with the Corona saga. Might. And it has helped us carry on. But we are still being reminded that human warmth, human noise and live chants are 100% vital. Nothing can beat the actual physical presence of an audience when an artist or athlete is performing. Humanity is the essence of life.