Best seat in the house
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Sit up straight, don’t spread into your neighbour like Boris, switch your phone off, pay attention and leave those five drinks and your hot food outside. No, not what goes through theresa May’s mind during Cabinet meetings, but some simple rules for enjoying a night at the theatre. Giving everyone a good experience requires a certain amount of consideration from both the audience and directors, but it increasingly seems to be an art we’ve lost on both sides.
Although many expressed concerns with how Emma Rice was updating the Bard’s plays at Shakespeare’s Globe, there was a precedent for it at the theatre. the material can handle it, proved by the Globe’s festival in which troupes from around the world perform the plays in their own idiom and their own language. it had to be robust as it was originally performed with the audience surrounding the actors, talking back and, to take a phrase from the playwright, therein lies the rub.
One of the reasons for Miss Rice’s departure from the theatre, in 2018, was that she had commissioned too many productions utilising modern lighting instead of ‘shared light’—in which the actors can see the audience. Of course, the worst thing that could befall the Globe is to be a tourist attraction bound round with that dread word authenticity, but what makes it unique should not be disregarded.
Audiences must also play their part and remember that they aren’t in their own living room. it is not a DVD you can talk to or over. You cannot take phonecalls—a number of actors such as Kevin Spacey, Sir Patrick Stewart and Richard Griffiths have stopped the action cold and refused to carry on, but who could blame them? And don’t take photos or videos, however famous the star.
By all means, have a bottle of water (incessant coughing doesn’t help matters either), but is it really necessary to bring several drinks or a pitcher of Pimm’s into the auditorium? it is never acceptable to eat chips and not even at the Globe should you have a whole spread from Marks & Spencer to be passed among your party.
A final word of caution: do be mindful exactly what you bring in and what you do with it or you may not see the whole performance. New York’s Metropolitan Opera abandoned Saturday’s matinee of Guillaume Tell after an audience member dropped powder (believed to be the ashes of an opera-loving friend) into the orchestra pit. that sort of thing will definitely bring the curtain down for everyone.
the most engaging interiors are those with a degree of drama. in this week’s Country Life, we publish our new weekly interiors section that will feature all that is best about the subject, from the work of leading designers and craftspeople to the most interesting furniture, fabrics, lighting and accessories. Almost 120 years after we first started the painstaking business of recording Britain’s most remarkable houses, we are now taking a closer look at their interiors. Curtain up!