I saw the below post on Suzanne Ford's column for the Examiner.com site and it made me think of all the ways I've tried to "be honest" yet say something nice after a show that was lacking. I've learned how to do it now, but it takes a bit of time before you become aware of the fact that after a show is not the time to offer "tough love" to your artist friend and really let them know where the production could have used, well…you.
I like this list and I like her solution. If someone wants to know where they can improve their performance they will call you the next day and ask. Trust me.
That's the right time to suggest some things and always do it with recognition of their effort already applied.
We've all been there.
You go to see a friend in a show, and have to stay and chat afterwards. What to do? I've heard some people say, "I always have to be honest. I owe it to them." This is misguided, in my opinion. I say if you don't have anything nice to say, then lie your head off. Who's it gonna hurt?
Anyway, whatever you do, here's an arbitrarily-ordered list of ten things you should at the very least NEVER say to a friend after a performance:
1. Wow! (pause) You did it!
2. A really interesting piece.
3. You were so adequate!
4. I thought the rest of the cast was great. What did you think?
5. It must have been so embarrassing to wear that costume.
6. You worked so hard on this!
7. I've never seen your hair like that before!
8. Did they just offer you the part or did you have to audition?
9. This is by FAR the best thing I've ever seen you do.
(Meaning everything else was crap.)
10. Oh … you!! (kiss, kiss)
What you SHOULD say:
You were absolutely wonderful! (So you're not telling the whole truth. You think you're going to be struck by lightning? The gods have better things to do.)