If there is one thing that I have learnt in the past few weeks is just how live theatre actually is. We often forget that the very nature of theatre is the live spectacle. Often with this spectacle we get completely engrossed in the theatre, the magic happening before our eyes that we forget altogether that there are a crew of people, ensuring that everything is running smoothly.
It might seem obvious to some of us theatre folk, but the very nature of theatre itself is extremely live and exciting. We forget that there is someone controlling the lights, someone pushing a ‘go’ button, people whispering cues to each other, and a whole host of activity that we don’t see. Theatre is quote frankly a well oiled machine that functions without anyone actually realising anything is happening at all (of course other than the acting on stage).
Yet with most machines there comes a time where things don’t always go right, the machine breaks, has a bad moment, and causes genuine chaos.
Whilst I will not disclose my place of work readily on here, this has most certainly been true the past week. With electrical issues spanning nearly a week, shows being disrupted by power cuts, lighting boards breaking and a whole host of other activities, it is no wonder that my thoughts turn to how the very nature of theatre is that of “THIS IS LIVE”.
Looking elsewhere it would appear that this reminder was equally echoed in a whole host of theatres in the past two weeks. The Arcola theatre suffered technical difficulties making the Shady Dolls performance of The Spoils during the Grimebourne Festival where they had to do the performance by the House Lights. Alas as they “the show must go on” rings rather true here.
Even more spectacular perhaps is how The National Theatre manage to be behind on their technical schedule, so much so that the first preview of the highly anticipated Mother Courage was left without a second half due to the lack of a technical run through. The difficulties meant that the press night for the show has been put back by a whole week, whilst they attempt to tweak and alter the technical aspects of the show in preparation.
Whilst time is something which plays against all theatre performances, and where there never seems to be enough time, it is quite surprising that a place such as the National Theatre can suffer from from time running out.
But there we have it. No matter what sort of theatre establishment you are, no matter how professional a show is, nor how much money a show might have behind it, theatre is a truly live event, and things most certainly don’t always go to plan.
Theatre, therefore, is live through and through (and we love it for this reason!).