Best seat in the house

Country Life Every Week - - Covntry Life -

Pine­hurst II, Pine­hurst Road, Farn­bor­ough Busi­ness Park, Farn­bor­ough, Hamp­shire GU14 7BF Tele­phone 01252 555072 www.coun­trylife.co.uk

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.

In­side story

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!

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