Help Me Occupy Hands and Mind during The Nutcracker Ballet
December 12, 2019 10:15 AM   Subscribe

In about two weeks, I may have to go to The Nutcracker for work, but I very strongly dislike professional ballet and don't care for the symphonic music of the 1890s. Help me find ways to make this experience less excruciating for myself!

I may have to go sit in a dark theater and be subjected to the Nutcracker ballet for work, and I need something to do with my hands or mind to avoid wasting two hours in mind-numbing boredom. Here are further complicating details:
  • I work as a mental health skills trainer and will working in a team of two to support approximately 10 clients while in the community.
  • My work team consists of 1 manager, myself, and another woman, so it would be for all intents and purposes impossible for another person to step in, if my manager needs to remain at our facility.
  • I loathe professional ballet for the appalling, patriarchal, and misogynistic violence it does to the bodies and minds of women. I am not looking to rethink this position.
  • I do not care for the symphonic music of the period, so 'enjoying the music' is not much of an option.
  • I have an extraordinary difficulty in sitting in the dark during the day for movies or concerts--I will not see a movie in a theater for this reason.
Some mitigating factors:
  • I can knit and crochet, but it is hard to do in the dark, and can be challenging to put away quickly if someone needs assistance in a hurry.
  • Although I don't really get on a gut level why why people want to go to this event, I also want to facilitate participation for folks who don't necessarily have easy access to this type of event.
  • I am a percussionist so I suppose failing all else, I could sit and count measures endlessly.
  • I do understand that sometimes you have to suck it up and make peace with the idea that 'if it doesn't get better, at least it gets over'.
At any rate, if anyone has any suggestions for productive or fun things to keep my hands (or mind) busy during the parts of the event where folks are sitting quietly and watching the ballet, I would love to hear them. Also, if you've had to go to a ballet or another such event featuring an activity that offends you, what strategies did you use to make it thought?

Although I might not have to go, I do want to be prepared just in case.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal to Work & Money (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Please knit. You don't have to be working on a "project." You can just knit on "practice." You can do endless rows of garter, practice ribbing, or stockinette. Consider this time an investment in your ability to knit in the dark.

Use a pair of bamboo circular needles and a relatively pale yarn to increase your odds of being able to see the stitches. If you need to drop the work to attend to something it won't clatter, and if the work is lost under seats it simply won't matter (and probably will turn up in lost and found, if you care about the needles)
posted by bilabial at 10:20 AM on December 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

You may have to but I bet you could work your seat into a donation of some kind. Your seat for a co-worker's child, etc...
posted by Oyéah at 10:21 AM on December 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

Think ahead of time about some brain puzzle ideas to keep your mind busy while the show is going on around you. Name all the characters in a tv show you saw years ago. Remember what order and what classes you took in 9th grade, or all the fiction books your school insisted you read in high school. Try to walk through your childhood home (mentally) and remember the doorknobs and what was in each kitchen cabinet. Count empty seats in the theater. Do your times tables past 12. Name all the state capitals in alphabetical order.

You get the idea. Sitting still on the outside, busy on the inside.
posted by nkknkk at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

Please do not knit. Needles click, and fellow audience members can see you (i.e. cannot avoid seeing you), and it's really not ok at a live performance. Count the measures or something that doesn't affect those around you.
posted by less of course at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2019 [127 favorites]

I love to knit but I think it's rude and distracting to do at a live performance. Oyeah's idea of offering your seat to someone else is good. It might be worth a shot to explain to the venue that you are bringing clients from a program and you would appreciate accommodations that would allow you to get them situated before and after the show, but that you are not staying for the performance. Then you could go get a coffee or something during the performance. I'm not sure if your work would even be ok with something like this, but maybe its worth trying?
posted by cakelite at 10:34 AM on December 12, 2019 [23 favorites]

Can you put in earphones and discreetly listen to podcasts?
posted by aka burlap at 10:46 AM on December 12, 2019 [15 favorites]

Unscented or very mildly scented play dough that you can knead in your hands. It’s quiet.

Live orchestra? Musical analysis, no not the normal kind. Count screw ups or “clams” as the show goes on. Pick the worst player in the pit and alternately criticize them and root for them in your head. Keep an internal monologue as if you are a sports announcer with no ballet experience calling the play-by-play.
posted by sol at 10:47 AM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

How are you at powerful daydreaming? I used to basically have to sit quietly and very still for a living (artist's model), and although that's weirdly one of my best skills, I did get very bored at times. I was desperate to move at the time, so I'd look at apartments online (both affordable and un-) and then, while holding the pose, I'd mentally redecorate and place furniture and figure out where everything could fit, down to the smallest detail. This worked better than anything else I tried, even stuff like plotting fanfic, making grocery lists, etc.
If you are not also obsessed with interior design, maybe something similar? Anything where you have to concentrate on thinking something through, but which you'll enjoy. I did have enough brainspace that I could recognize what was happening around me, too.
posted by kalimac at 10:48 AM on December 12, 2019 [12 favorites]

Unless it's some very traditional company, Nutcracker performances tend to be very high on spectacle as they are designed for antsy kids that were dragged there against their will. The last one I saw had lots of fancy costumes, cool scenery, and some magic tricks, I was rarely bored as I focused on the stagecraft. If you can enjoy any sort of spectacle-based theater you can focus on that and be fine. If not, everyone else's advice sounds good to me
posted by JZig at 10:50 AM on December 12, 2019 [16 favorites]

This is a weird suggestion, but wearing one earplug helps reduce my resentment when I'm forced to attend stuff like this. (I try to choose ones that aren't easily visible; it's not about being obvious re: my dislike.)
posted by unknowncommand at 10:51 AM on December 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

Anything that involves repeatedly moving your hands is going to be distracting to people next to you. Don't kid yourself that people won't notice. If you were knitting or kneading play-dough next to me, I'd lose my mind.

When I have MRIs, I mentally go through music albums I like, playing them from beginning to end inside my mind.

You could also try counting something in the performance, e.g., number of times a particular dancer's feet hit the floor.
posted by FencingGal at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2019 [17 favorites]

Building off of sol and kalimac's suggestions, if you are at all "former theatre or theatre adjacent kid", in addition to relentlessly following/critiquing the pit, you can do that with everything in the production. Crowd scenes are the best for that: who's on the beat? Who's off? Is somebody's...turn out? Is that the right word? Not quite right/uniform with the rest of the dancers?

And, expanding on that, try to pick apart and analyze the whole dang production. How good are the sets? Who made them? Any mistakes/weird oddities in the paintings? Costumes! Rentals? Made in house? How itchy are they, do you think? Do a Tom and Lorenzo style analysis of them--are there coherent themes? If not, what would make them coherent?

And heck, even if you're not a former theatre kid, do a wikipedia binge on some aspect of stage production beforehand, and try to apply your new found knowledge as you watch the show!
posted by damayanti at 10:54 AM on December 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

I would try to think of it like this, you are modeling for your clients how to behave at an event, so they can be successful. You're not just sitting in a dark room, you're doing your own performance, for them. You're also remaining alert in case they need you. All normal workday things.
posted by bleep at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2019 [67 favorites]

discreetly put your earbuds in your ears, quietly and after the lights go down. listen to something you like on your phone (something you won't need to fiddle with; it's not ok to fiddle with screens in a performance - have it queued up so you just need to hit play.) close your eyes. enjoy the uninterrupted listening time. half a valium might make you fall asleep, but otherwise may be a guarantor of calm peace.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:58 AM on December 12, 2019

Do try to get out of it if you can, but it sounds like you'd actually be working, so I imagine you will just have to get through it. Hopefully your clients will enjoy it? Maybe you can enjoy their enjoyment of it? Seconding that Nutcrackers are usually high on spectacle - probably my favorite part of the last time I saw the Nutcracker was the gasps of AWE at the (poorly done!) magic trick Drosselmeyer did.

If your seats are such that you can see into the orchestra pit, I find watching the percussionists really fun (and I am not a percussionist). Seriously, it might be Stockholm Syndrome from sitting behind them in too many concerts but the triangle part in "Waltz of the Flowers" is hilarious to me. And most of the "country" dances have a bunch of fun percussion stuff happening - cymbals, rattles, tambourines.
posted by mskyle at 10:59 AM on December 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

If you've got long enough hair and wireless earbuds with noise canceling you could listen to podcasts easily and discreetly.

Hands are a bit harder, but if you're good at origami trying to fold a crane one handed with a square cut from a starburst wrapper without looking is a good quiet challenge. This is how I get through meetings.
posted by lepus at 11:04 AM on December 12, 2019

I feel like the clucking voice of disapproval here but as a frequent attendee at similar things, if it comes down to listening to something on headphones, please find a way to stay home. I realize there is some chance you could make sure that people around you can't, at various quiet moments, hear a low, unidentifiable, distracting murmur, but even so, I think there's some basic decorum here. Possibly this is a stupid analogy but think "would I feel okay doing this at a wedding?"
posted by less of course at 11:08 AM on December 12, 2019 [44 favorites]

When I need to distract myself while at the dentist, I think of characters from books, one male and one female, for every letter of the alphabet. When you've done this (with possible exceptions for letters like X), start over. Or make it harder and do, say, only Harry Potter characters, or whatever.
posted by SeedStitch at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

discreetly put your earbuds in your ears, quietly and after the lights go down. listen to something you like on your phone (something you won't need to fiddle with; it's not ok to fiddle with screens in a performance - have it queued up so you just need to hit play.) close your eyes. enjoy the uninterrupted listening time.

Please don't do this. It is extremely likely that some sound will leak out, even from good earbuds with noise canceling (that's not what the "noise" in "noise canceling" refers to, in any case).
posted by redfoxtail at 11:16 AM on December 12, 2019 [22 favorites]

I don't see how you can donate your seat if you're attending as a professional caregiver with a number of clients who might need support... What I do see is if you're in the midst of 10-12 other people whom you know reasonably well you can get away with knitting using bamboo needles or crocheting; either of those should be essentially silent.
Do whichever craft you're better at, stick with something basic like a garter stitch scarf or hat that will have minimal requirement to see what you're doing up close. Keep the work low in your lap and your eyes up as much as possible. Ideally you'll have at least one client on either side of you as a screen between you & a stranger who might decide to make a big deal about things.
Good luck! Hopefully you don't have to go!
posted by dotparker at 11:25 AM on December 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Why is it ok to potentially annoy a client who might never have been given the opportunity to see live ballet before with your knitting when it wouldn't be ok to do to a stranger?
posted by cakelite at 11:32 AM on December 12, 2019 [34 favorites]

I went to a performance I wasn't interested in for a loved one. I basically used it as a time to zone out. Use it as an opportunity to truly zone out and let your mind wander and daydream. How often does a person get to do that? It's a luxury honestly. You have to sit there, you have to be there for your clients, but no one is forcing you to pay attention to the performance.

If you really truly can't zone out, maybe think about if you have any friends who share similar views to you re: ballet. Then, you could also pay attention to the performance and think about how you will recap it for your friends. Sometimes it can be it's own version of amusing to watch something I hate just to rip it apart later, make jokes about it, etc.
posted by nuclear_soup at 12:02 PM on December 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

Also think about how you're going to support your clients if they don't enjoy the show and/or need to fidget (I know sometimes ppl need to fidget even if they're enjoying themselves). Will they be allowed to knit, wear earbuds, or leave? What will you tell them to do? That's what you should do.
posted by bleep at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2019 [7 favorites]

You could play Find the Unicorn with the people in your group, as described here. Even if you never find the Unicorn, maybe you'll get the silly song in your head and smile.
posted by beandip at 12:06 PM on December 12, 2019

I think people are being super harsh on you here; there are nicer ways to say "there is nothing you can do with your hands or your ears except ear plugs that is okay at the ballet." Nevertheless, I think we are firmly in "suck it up and make peace with the idea that 'if it doesn't get better, at least it gets over'" territory. People survive being trapped in elevators etc and you know you're going to be fine!

Snacks? Does your venue have snacks at least?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:10 PM on December 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

Please do not knit or crochet - I'm that annoying person who will bring crochet to a party but it's infinitely ruder at a ballet. Even the most flexible of needles and hooks will click and clack, and yes the repetitive movement out of the corner of one's eye is vastly distracting when you're trying to watch dancers on stage. The ballet is a ton of hard work for every performer and for some people seeing the Nutcracker is the most special precious holiday family memory or tradition they'll do. Try to respect that.

I agree with your feelings about what ballet does to women, and I do not care for the Nutcracker's music. I'm also a grumpy Jew on Christmas so I have a lot of annoyed feelings about the whole tradition. But I am also a lover of opera and a lot of other classical music as well as stagecraft, costume arts and stage design. So I do and do not get where you're coming from on this. I also have sensory disorder issues so I've got a bit of a bead on your clients' perspectives I suspect.

The Nutcracker is going to be a loud spectacle. There are many moments of deliberate surprise, lots of children on stage being cute but also unpredictable, lavish costumes and sets where the designers get to really layer the glitter and lights on. This is good for folks who aren't comfortable going to events like the ballet normally. But it's also extra trying for people who are dealing with mental health challenges. Concentrate on your clients. Make it about them. You've got ten folks to focus on, right? Memorize their names, cases, probable issues. As the show goes on, think about how they're experiencing things. There are lots of moments in the show when the audience is supposed to respond with claps, gasps, laughter - are your clients being swept up in it or do they feel out of sync or confused? Scope out the venue thoroughly to find the restrooms, comfy chairs, water fountains and quiet spots in the lobby and think about which clients will need them during intermission or if they need to leave during the show.

The Nutcracker's short, usually runs a bit over two hours. Even though you find sitting in a theater for a movie really hard, make it about your job, your clients, and as your profile page says the emotional labor you're getting paid for, and it won't feel long at all. You also get an intermission halfway through which depending on your situation and the rules at the event you might be able to duck out quickly for and reenter a bit belatedly - all in the name of being prepped for your clients, of course. Be sure to sit at the end of the row.
posted by Mizu at 12:22 PM on December 12, 2019 [17 favorites]

So, Nutcracker is first and foremost a family show, and the performers will be used to a more inexperienced, fidgety/murmuring audience. While the audience members should be on their best behavior, there's a slightly more forgiving attitude re: etiquette because kids are gonna be kids and wriggle around, ask questions, laugh loudly, etc. Doubly so if this is a weekday matinee (lots of schools) or if it's billed as a sensory-friendly performance. If this was Swan Lake at the Met, you'd be out of luck, but I feel you have a little more leeway on what you can do while still being respectful.

Finger knitting is just silently playing with yarn, no needles involved. You could make a very long knitted garland or start a rug. I would think an extra-thick yarn would make a more satisfying project, but could be harder to store in a small theater seat. You can quickly save your place with a pencil or pen if you need to put it down to help someone. You could work on it in your lap, covered by a large scarf to minimize any visual distraction to other attendees.

I majored in theater and had to sit through many, many excruciatingly bad or overlong performances in college. I usually stared at the program and did word games with titles and headers and names. How many words could I make out of "Nutcracker" ? How many words can I make out of "Drosselmeyer" ? How would I rewrite this script to make it better? Etc.

Earbuds at a very, very low volume are not ideal (since you'll be working and I assume you'll want to keep an ear on your clients), but most professional theaters offer audio description or assistive listening system technology, which both result in a low voice coming out of headphones that may be faintly heard by nearby audience members during quiet scenes, so it's not unprecedented or rude to have that setup and I would assume that is what you were doing if you had earbuds. If you pick a recording that is only voice-based (maybe an audio book) and avoids music or sound effects so it doesn't clash with the performance, I would think it'd be non-intrusive. Avoid pulling out your phone to skip ahead, the bright screen is very harsh.
posted by castlebravo at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Even in a darkened theatre, someone moving their hands repetitively, whether knitting with needles or fingers, will be distracting and annoying to other patrons. Please don't do that. If you really have no alternative to attending, if you can't find it in your heart to enjoy it, use the time for meditation.
posted by essexjan at 12:40 PM on December 12, 2019 [7 favorites]

Meditation can help pass the time - if you don’t already know how to do a body scan, check out some audio examples online ahead of time so you can run through one in your head, silently, while sitting there. A body scan, followed by counting your breaths up to 10 repeatedly, can pass quite a while, and/or if your attention wanders, you’ve successfully distracted yourself from the ballet anyway.

Replay favourite holidays or experiences in your head, imagine your dream holiday in detail, including as many senses as possible, mentally write some fanfic for your favourite TV characters. Rotate through all these, congratulate yourself on the pleasure and enjoyment you’re enabling in your clients, go back to the beginning and start again.
posted by penguin pie at 12:47 PM on December 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Wow!!! I can't believe how many responses y'all have provided. A few more details for members who are interested:
  • I do have a disability that can make it very difficult to be in dark, crowded rooms with lots of sensory input. It's also very hard for me to keep my hands still, as in day-to-day life, anxiety for me frequently manifests as physical motion. When I have to sit without anything to do, it can get worse, as most of my coping skills involve doing things that are not just sitting there.
  • Part of my job is providing support, by using my lived-experience as someone with mental health challenges, so part of why I was asking about things to do with my hands *is* actually to model non-intrusive coping skills for others who really want to be there and also have a hard time in theater settings
  • It's also normal in my organization to do things like knit in meetings--I've seen Directors engage in such behavior--so my sense of norms around crafting in group or performance settings is perhaps a bit skewed
  • I know my clients very well, as I see most several times a week, and I feel I will be able to stay in tune with their needs as the performance progressions
  • Also not a big Christmas person, so the theming is hard to get into
Thank you to all who helped me remember the good feelings I get when my clients enjoy things---they are some of the most wonderful people who deserve the best. Also thanks to those with knitting suggestions, as well as to those who are enthusiastic audience members who find such crafting to be distracting: I had no idea it would be noticeable. I think one or two ear plugs may be quite helpful.

Grow up, be an adult, and sit quietly for 2 hours.
Just as a side-note, it's very ableist to assert implicitly that not being able to sit for two rounds of 60 minutes in a crowded, dark room full of unpleasant noise is only the province of children. This phenomenon is certainly not unique to me. I'd never go to such a performance on my own, as this activity is something for others to enjoy in whatever capacity. I do value facilitating these opportunities for the people with whom I work, though, so I'm just trying to seek out coping skills that are non-disruptive.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 1:04 PM on December 12, 2019 [29 favorites]

I get verrrry sleepy in darkened rooms where classical music is playing. I accompanied my son's class to the Nutcracker last week and I had some similar anxiety about how to make sure I stayed alert. I pocket a few strongly flavored sucking candies or mints (unwrapped) in a place that's easily accessible and then feed them to myself if I start to feel heavy-lidded. It adds an additional mental distraction to think about the candy and when to start the next one, etc. If you get different flavors and eat them without looking, you can play the "what flavor am I having" game.
posted by LKWorking at 1:27 PM on December 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Remember what order and what classes you took in 9th grade, or all the fiction books your school insisted you read in high school. Try to walk through your childhood home (mentally) and remember the doorknobs and what was in each kitchen cabinet.

I came to suggest this. Try to remember the boxes or bins in your childhood bedroom and what was in them. Go through all the places you've lived and think, where did we keep the towels? How did I walk to the bathroom at night?

Especially if you have a coat or scarf, I think you could put it in your lap with your hands underneath, and quietly tick off lists on your fingers. Twenty songs you listened to in high school. Twenty places you've been on a date. Etc.
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:27 PM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Are you able to hold hands with your companions? Maybe you can work out a silent language to communicate about the performance. One squeeze for "I'm still here watching - I see what you're seeing", two for "Ugh that was dumb", three for "That was kind of cool actually", etc.
posted by amtho at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2019

Per your update, let's talk about the many uses of the large scarf or cardigan at the theater!

- Drape over your forearms to cover up repetitive motions with hands in lap
- If your scarf has different textures touching them all can be grounding (fringe and beading and velvet patterns are great)
- Cardigans with buttons can be buttoned and unbuttoned infinitely (avoid zippers because noisy)
- Rolling, squishing or folding are quiet but good fidgets when done on soft fabric
- Fold up into small cushion for support behind back, shoulder, under arm or knee to help comfort in wonky theater seats
- The most obvious keeping warm in an over-AC'd theater, if you have circulation problems sitting still for an hour can lead to very chilly limbs

The idea that only children have trouble with sitting still for the ballet is laughable, abelist trash and it's not even applicable to many allistic adults, not to mention the high percentage of seniors attending the theater who have different access needs too. If some of your clients love the experience but find the live theater part to be hard to balance, there are now almost-simulcast showings of the Bolshoi Ballet in some movie theaters. There are similar opera events, too. I'm a big fan of increasing the accessibility of these types of performances and once you start looking for it you'll find people in the industry working hard to make this happen, in many cases against a lot of classist abelist pushback like you're picking up on here.

A bit about the music - Tchaikovsky was a gay dude with an interesting life. His music lies at a balance point of Russian cultural influences of East and West - and the way his music has endured reveals the fallacy of this construct. Even if you're not into the end result, the history of his music, his life and the legacy of his work might be right up your alley in terms of things to learn and read about - and to distract yourself with during the show.
posted by Mizu at 1:49 PM on December 12, 2019 [14 favorites]

For the 'needing to keep hands busy' thing, I think I'd take a dark coloured scarf with me, ideally black and fairly large and thick, and some kind of small, silent, fidget toy. Hands and toy go on your lap, scarf over the top, and once the lights go down people shouldn't notice anything.

It maybe doesn't even need moving parts, could just be something that's a small nobbly shape that you can run your fingers over and around, or a bit of furry material, or a large coin that has textured faces and is quite cool that you can rub over your finger tips, or a screwed up old receipt that's soft enough it won't make a noise as you fold/unfold/reshape it.
posted by penguin pie at 1:50 PM on December 12, 2019 [8 favorites]

If you are near the back on the aisle you can get up and stand in the back now and then. I have to usher the nutcracker, sometimes multiple times a year, and people do this all the time.

I amuse myself by imagining alternate more exciting plot developments.
posted by interplanetjanet at 1:56 PM on December 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

Familiarize yourself with ballet mime - basically a sign language with gestures for I, you, away, love, etc. Everything will make more sense and be more enjoyable. It'd be nice to teach it to your clients too, if they're new to ballet.
posted by dum spiro spero at 3:14 PM on December 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think I would fold my arms across my chest and nod off - not sleeping so deeply that I couldn’t be woken up in an instant but just drifting into sleep. Many people close their eyes to focus on just the music and unless you were snoring I think you’d be fine.
posted by bendy at 3:47 PM on December 12, 2019

I like damayanti's idea above about finding something to focus on about the performers. I'd switch it around, though: instead of looking for mistakes, look for something you'd compliment each performer on if you spoke to them after the show. Even with a large cast, there's something good you can find about each person in it.
posted by bink at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is a good question! I find it exponentially harder to mentally check out during a live performance I'm not enjoying than in any other situation. I always sit on the aisle so I can fidget more (I fidget with my legs, not hands) and have an easy escape option if I just can't take it anymore.

mentally write some fanfic for your favourite TV character

But, I rarely actually leave, so this is pretty much what I do. I close my eyes and think about what it would be like if Buffy had to help the Avengers fight demons or something.

Focusing on some minutiae in the show also helps. My favorite is to focus on one chorus member. Or, if you can see something "backstage" like the orchestra or the lighting person in the rafters, they can be fun to watch.

Good luck!
posted by Mavri at 6:32 PM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

[A few deleted. Please pass this question by if you cannot answer helpfully. OP is asking for help to make the best of a difficult situation for them, which is a chance to make useful suggestions for non-disruptive coping options, not to express annoyance that someone experiences something in a different way than you do, or just to be insulting for unknown reasons. Please don't do that.]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:15 AM on December 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

One more possible option for undetectable hand movement: I have been known to "touch type" on my knees. If you've got your hands under that big dark scarf others have suggested, you could sort of touch type on your knees - type out the thoughts you're having, the answers to those brain puzzles nkknkk recommended, whatever.

Good luck! I hope you are able to find something that makes the experience more bearable (and maybe even enjoyable) - and I hope you're able to treat yourself to something pleasant afterward.
posted by kristi at 5:07 PM on December 15, 2019

I'm not entirely sure why this synapse is firing, but:

Something that fascinated me as a child was different kinds of stagecraft, in movies/tv and in live theater. I loved to hear the behind-the-scenes stuff about how the model builders for sci-fi movies did their work, or how the costumes were made, or how some prop guy figured out some random thing, or how the sound effect guys would make "the sound of rustling leaves" by just scrunching cellophane in their hands, stuff like that. It's part of what lead me into working backstage - but it's also something I find myself doing during live shows now, is studying the show with a stagehand's eye and wondering "now how did they do that?"

So maybe that? There will be stage effects for this show - the lights, the different set changes, and suchlike. Maybe watch them instead of the dancers - see if you can figure out how many lights there are and where each individual light you see is falling. If there's a spotlight that comes up, see if you can figure out where the spotlight operator is standing. See if you can spot any of the stagehands that come out to rearrange the set. When it snows onstage, see if you can see the guys dumping the fake snow onto the stage from up in the rafters.

(I got myself through a number in a Busby Berkley musical this way.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 PM on December 16, 2019

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