Do you remember the last time you were disappointed by something or someone? Do you remember who/what it was and why? Well, I can remember it as if it happened yesterday…wait…it was yesterday!
After nearly 2 months of anticipation, the night had finally arrived for my friend and I to go and see the legendary John Malkovich’s performance at the Sydney Opera House as Giacomo Casanova in the Sydney Festival 2011 highlight piece Giacomo Variations, a chamber opera play based on the life and times of the infamous playboy of the 18th Century. I even had to miss out on an evening of White Collar for this! But it was a rare opportunity to see Malkovich in action doing live theatre and singing a little opera. And tickets had been sold out almost as quickly as they had been released so what could possibly go wrong?
Expectations were high so imagine my surprise when, about 15 minutes or so into the performance, I, and most of my fellow audience members, were scratching our heads wondering what the heck was going on with the story, the performers, and most distracting of all, the surtitles that appeared above the stage to translate the Italian lyrics (they were out of sync at times, if they appeared at all, or at one point, they appeared in Italian!). It was the first time I had seen anyone walk out of a performance at the Opera House (and there were quite a lot of disgruntled audience members). Suffice to say, there was no standing ovation and the applause at the end was brief and, in my case, forced.
On our way home, my friend and I were discussing possible explanations for what had gone wrong. Before the show began, a director of the Sydney Festival came on stage to explain that the props and costumes had arrived only that afternoon, delayed due to various issues with weather conditions around the world in the past week, so she apologised in advance for any technical difficulties the show may experience. But what we saw had nothing to do with the props or the costumes. The lack of enthusiasm, the mistimed surtitles and the confusing direction were all to blame.
Once I got home, my mood did not improve. After all, I had spent hard-earned money on the tickets and had looked forward to the evening, not to mention what I had given up that night to be at the show (new episode of White Collar!). So I began to think a little harder about what it was that made the evening so much more disappointing than perhaps it should have been. I came to the conclusion that it had to do with expectations – when you have high expectations of something or someone being perfect and it does not turn out that way, inevitably you will be disappointed. Going into the show, I have to admit I actually had no clue what the performance was going to be about – I had bought the tickets purely on the basis that I wanted to see John Malkovich in person.
The same can be applied to any movie or TV show you see – the more you expect from it, the possibility of disappointment increases if it does not deliver to your expectations. Or how about the 2010 AFL Grand Final? Whichever team you were cheering for, the expectation was that at the end of the build-up and the week-long parades and opposition jibes, you expected there to be a winner after the 3-hour battle at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. So it was only understandable that the draw and no overtime at the end of the afternoon left everyone, players, supporters, commentators, even non-AFL fans, scratching their heads and wondering what had happened.
Consider when you were younger and you got into trouble with your folks or teachers…did they say “I’m terribly disappointed in you” for whatever wrong you may have committed? They were disappointed because they had the expectation that you would have done the “right” thing or behaved differently than what you did. When I was about 10 or 11, I got into a fist fight with my older sister (who is no doubt reading this!). I honestly do not remember what the fight was about – probably something stupid like she was in my space or I was in hers. But our mother tearfully came into our room and separated us and made us kiss and make up. She was disappointed and upset because she had expected that her flesh and blood would never hurt each other and would love each other unconditionally. So we kissed and hugged and cried and apologised…of course our mother was right. My sister and I have not tried to punch each other again since (maybe a little poke here and there but seriously we are too old to lift a finger now 🙂 ).
OK, my crazy rant is over. I would like to leave you with this thought: before you get upset about something or someone next time, consider what your expectations were of that person or event, whether they were reasonable, and maybe you will be just a little less disappointed and more forgiving.
P.S. Since this post was first published on 20th January, a couple of professional reviews have been published in the Sydney Morning Herald of Giacomo Variations. You can read them here: