I went to see the Queen musical, “We Will Rock You,” this past week. The setting for the story is the future, where a corporate conglomerate, “GlobalSoft,” has taken over the world and stamped out creativity and individualism. Rock and roll, representing creativity and individualism, exists only in some archives. But a band of “Bohemians” are the countercultural force trying to revive rock.
This is the third time I’ve seen the show. I saw it twice in London last year, and now here in Minneapolis.
You may believe that I am about to go on a crusade about how technology is killing creativity and individualism. While that may be true to some extent, what I really noticed about this show is how different audiences in London versus Minneapolis responded to the performance.
In London, people were there for the experience. They were as important to the performance as the players on the stage. Along with the rest of the audience, we danced, we clapped, we sang along with “we will rock you.” We were on our feet when rock and roll was rediscovered through the curtain calls and the finale (after the curtain calls) of Bohemian Rhapsody. We hooted for the live band and screamed when Brian May, original member of Queen and one of the greatest guitarists of all time, took center stage for a solo riff.
In Minneapolis, we were surprised to see that those in the theatre seats were there to watch the show—observing it instead of being part of it. It felt like an effort to get them to clap their hands when the live band encouraged it. People left! as the curtain calls were beginning because getting out of the parking garage was more important than the full experience—never mind getting full value for their $100+ tickets.
Same show, such different responses. Such different energies.
When faced with situations like this, I often hear people say, “It is what it is.” I don’t agree. Life is full of all sorts of chances to do more than just observe; you get to choose to watch “the show” or be part of it.
Life is not just “what it is.” It is whatyou make of it.