public forum
home forum magazine gallery links about faq courtesy
It is currently Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:04 am

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Should audiences be allowed backstage?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:44 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Audiences backstage?
By Flyman for The Stage

Does your theatre do backstage tours? Are you constantly observed by bemused members of the public as you go about your mundane tasks? Or is there one day each week - or perhaps even each year - when the sadder members of your audience are allowed a glimpse of the theatrical Nibelungs that are backstage workers.

Do you mind? Do you approve? Is your opinion based on a reasonable desire not to be stared at or do you feel, as one actor is alleged to have put it, “It is like going behind the scenes at a cathedral, watching a priest putting on his robes”. This is not just a natural desire for privacy but a matter of principle that the audience should only see what the playwright and
director want them to see.

click for more


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Should audiences be allowed backstage?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:36 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I always want to understand as much as possible and feel that enhances rather than reduces the theatre experience.

I fondly recall the episodes in "Singin' in the Rain" where they first show what a wind machine looks like and how it works and then later use one in a romantic dance routine to illustrate that the power of the illusion is not diminished by this knowledge.

One of the best lectures I have heard at Rambert's open days was the one about the Stage Manager's role - fascinating.

Opinions, please!!

<small>[ 25 March 2005, 07:39 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Should audiences be allowed backstage?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:48 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
I don't mind the audience seeing what I do backstage as long as I know in advance, but I never, never, NEVER want audiences -- and especially critics -- watching dress rehearsals.

Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Lighting Designer

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Should audiences be allowed backstage?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 10:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3375
Location: Canada
First of all, I think 'going backstage' can mean different things - backstage tours, seeing dress rehearsals or programs that allow people to see "a day" in the life of a dancer. The article above, it seems, is referring to backstage tours, but others have brought up the wider range of potential backstage activities.

The tone of the article is a little unpleasant, though it is not meant for the general public, so I can understand. But, it's worth remembering that what can be mundane for one person is exciting to another. While people who's everyday life is 'backstage' may see nothing special about it, the rare peek behind the curtain is often fascinating for audience members. And for that reason, tours and the like may draw in more people to the ballet.

My feeling is that backstage tours can be a real eye opener, if they are done properly. Getting to see the NYCB wardrobe room at the NYS State Theatre was fascinating - viewing the costumes up close really allowed you to see the details and to appreciate the work that went into them. And also to be able to see the theatre from the point of view of the stage and get a feel for the dimension of the stage.

But, the business of putting on the performances has to come first, so tours need to be well-coordinated with the company so that unfortunate experiences, like the one mentioned in the article above, do not occur. That means communicating with dancers, stagehands, lighting designers, ADs and other staff to find out what times work best, and not being afraid to limit or stop tours during busy periods, such as the weeks before a big new production is debuted or towards the end of long seasons when people are tired. And getting feedback - were the tours disruptive, would a different time better, would fewer be better?

I have more mixed feelings on dress rehearsals - they are trickier situations, but I have to disgree with Jeff. I would NEVER review a dress rehearsal, but find watching them very helpful because it's really hard to review a new piece, especially a full-length ballet, on one viewing. There's often so much going on and I like to see a ballet more than once so I can focus on different things each time and see a piece from different angles. I'm not expecting perfection - fantastic performances can follow disastrous dress rehearsals.
And I would agree that discretion needs to be exercised in allowing people to watch....

Many companies do provide some opportunities to watch dress rehearsals - often as a perk of being a donor. Of the companies I'm familiar with, ABT, NYCB, Royal Danish Ballet, Scottish Ballet and Northern Ballet Theatre all open some rehearsals to viewers, either donors, school groups or other persons.

But, I do get uneasy with the 'open dress rehearsals' that companies like ABT and NYCB do for their donors - but interestingly enough did not get the same feeling with European companies.

And I think the blame falls largely on the attitude and behavior of the US audiences. In part, I think it's because there is much more money associated with these opportunities, but also because, frankly, many Americans don't know how to behave at a performance. Despite written and oral reminders about appropriate behavior, I've witnessed more appalling behavior in open dress rehearsals than at many actual performances. At ABT, I believe, the rehearsal director actually had to stop and yell at the audience to be quiet because of the noise. Now that, to me, was a sure sign, that it was time to close the open rehearsals. But, that would never happen because people want 'rewards' for donating money.

Kate


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Should audiences be allowed backstage?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 10:47 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Kate, I'd have no problem with a critic's watching a dress rehearsal as long as the review was going to be based on an actual performance.

Actually, I'd have no problem with the critic's reviewing the dress rehearsal, as long as what is printed is the raw, unrevised, first draft of the article -- after all, fair is fair.

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Should audiences be allowed backstage?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 10:48 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
"The blacks in this theatre have never worked," he roared. "They should all be thrown out and replaced with another lot."
Imagine the explaining I had to do when a college Affirmative Action officer walked in as we were discussing "hanging the blacks".

<small>[ 25 March 2005, 11:50 AM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Should audiences be allowed backstage?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3375
Location: Canada
Quote:
Actually, I'd have no problem with the critic's reviewing the dress rehearsal, as long as what is printed is the raw, unrevised, first draft of the article -- after all, fair is fair.
Well, then it would have to be the first complete draft - after all, dress rehearsals usually aren't the first time a ballet/piece has been rehearsed or on stage.

Apologies for lack of knowledge, but what exactly re 'the blacks' that you refer to?

Has anyone else, audience member or theatre/company employee had a bad experience with a backstage tour? Or a really good one?

Kate


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Should audiences be allowed backstage?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:29 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
dress rehearsals usually aren't the first time a ballet/piece has been rehearsed or on stage.
Actually, often they are, but I'll accept an unedited, unrevised first complete draft.

Quote:
Apologies for lack of knowledge, but what exactly re 'the blacks' that you refer to?
The black velour curtains at the sides, overhead, and (sometimes) in back of the stage.

<small>[ 25 March 2005, 02:32 PM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:34 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 971
Location: Pennsylvania
I watched some damage control being done after someone was heard shouting to "beat the black".

I am in favor of whatever it will take to

A) give an audience some ownership in what they are watching
B) help people appreciate a little bit more why their ticket is $70
C) make people want to be more involved in the arts
D) foster an understanding that there are many people living a life in dance that the audience may never see...people as dedicated as the dancers, just not as visible
E) make donors feel special so the will give more money
F) make audience members feel special so they will come more often
G) just maybe find one kid who says "whoa, this is cool! I wanna do it!"

Just don't ask me to be the one having to speak to people on a final rehearsal, or just prior to opening, or during the first time the artistic director and dancers are onstage. Unfortunately, those periods are the time when people want these tours....so at least bring me a snack, because I probably just missed a break.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 1:35 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 222
Location: Barcelona, Spain
I'm, as audience, for the backstage tours and to see and learn as much as possible of a ballet company or a specific show.
In Spain this is not usual at all, I have only been allowed to see some essays and to listen to the artistic director or coreoghapher give instruction to the dancers and to see everybody involved to prepare for the evening show and I can assure you that for me it has been a agreat experience.
Next May 17 I'm planning to be in London to see a performance of the Royal Opera House (I'll place a new topic for this) and I will not miss the backstage tour in the ROH. I hope this will be a great experince


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
The messages in this forum are posted by members of the general public and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of CriticalDance or its staff.
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group