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The Art Of Experiencing Art When Jet-Lagged

November 25, 2008

I got back from Europe last Wednesday night. Normally after I travel long distances, I try to give myself a few days to catch up on sleep before hitting the theatres, cinemas and concert halls. Turning up to see a show jet-lagged doesn't do me much good, and it hardly helps the artists or fellow audience members if someone's slouched in their seat and possibly snoring.

But owing to an unfortunate confluence of deadlines and truncated production runs, I've found myself in performance venues every single evening since I returned from my trip, bar one. (All I could manage that night was to slurp some soup and, at 9pm, crawl gratefully into bed.)

Seeing shows on jet-lag isn't ideal, but many culture lovers and professional critics do it anyway. So having lately become rather proficient at the art of experiencing art when my body's internal clock is on the other side of the world, I'd like to share a few tips on how to make it through a performance without doing damage to one's health, upsetting the people on stage or annoying fellow audience members.

1. Call ahead and see if you can get seats near an exit. I say this not because you might want to leave early, but because theatres are pretty dark, and therefore sleep-inducing, places. By sitting near a door where, generally speaking, a little light filters in, you stand a better chance of staying awake.

2. Eat a light meal about an hour beforehand. Don't drink more than one glass of wine. Red wine, in particular, induces zzzz's.

3. Have a cup of coffee or black tea after your meal. Repeat during intermission if necessary.

4. Keep a pencil and paper handy. Even if you don't generally do this when you go to the theatre or there's nothing in particular to write down, try to take notes at least sporadically throughout the show. Staying "active" throughout a performance rather than simply sitting there passively and letting the stuff happening on stage wash over you helps you to keep your eyes open.

5. If your clothes are slightly uncomfortable, you're more likely to stay awake than if they're very loose like pajamas. So wear tight jeans. But not too tight -- you don't want to constrict the blood flow to your legs so much that they go numb and/or you faint.

6. Bring a friend who isn't afraid to poke you if you nod off.


  • I've seen a million tips on jet lag, but these are the first on the arts. Great tips, especially #4. As a journalist, I immediately snap to attention just having a notebook in my hand!

    By Blogger Rebecca, At December 1, 2008 at 9:57 PM  

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