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Spectacle In Theatre


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Hi everyone,


Im currently looking into spectacle in theatre and thought I would try and gather some opinions. If youve got time, id be grateful to hear what you think!! Some of it is technical but also its about the performance itself!


Do you think spectacle is important in performance? Is the visual impact and scale over-shadowing the content of performance?


Is the use of lighting, set, structures and special effects essential to modern day performance? Without all these things would shows such as Chitty, Poppins, Grease etc.. still pull in audiences? Do people go to see shows for the 'wow' factor and visual impressivness?


With the introduction of technology, is the industry always striving to make things bigger and better just because it can? With the development of computer controlled movement and tracking of lifting gear, powered flying and stage machinery for example, are we compromising safety to create more spectacular performances?


Id be interested to hear any comments and opinions!


Rosey Boy.

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Personally im an old fashioned theatre go-er. I dislike productions with a simple piece of set, designated as "modern" ... cheap more like!


I saw a production of JCSuperstar, it had a load of random scaffold at the back with floods hung. It was effective but simply detracted from the music and storyline!


I went to see a production of MacBeth at the Globe in London; the witches threw stones in a bucket to symbolise the death. Pathetic, we had some young kids with us who we were trying to get interested in Shakespeare. Whats wrong with a bit of action instead, it would have left the kids with an interested view of Shakespeare, not a bucket.


I'm very traditional really, I like a proce, 2d view of a stage with full set, nothing minimalist. Full costume obviously, dislike modern dress.


Lights and sound are vital to a performance, but with varying importance. For example, in a production of Grease, it would look naff with no bright RGB colours because that is what the production requires ideally. Preferably some pyros, its not supposed to be realistic, its a musical. It should be entertaining!


Having said that, pyros and hi-fli would be totally inappropriate in another genre; a shakespearean comedy for example.


:s I don't actually know what I'm arguing!

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I think you have 2 types of theatre go-ers.


1. those that go to see the well known shows in which case they go for the wow factor. they go for the big-money shows-les mis etc


2. Those that go to amateur shows (like me) simply because they are amateur and need support but also they often have new ideas instead of regurgitated stuff like the west-end shows. I prefer these shows-they tend to be far more exciting and give you more to think about. these people are also often friends and family of the cast-in small scale shows I think these make up a large percentage of the audience. However, I dont think these people need to be 'wowed' as much as they are there because they are watching someone they know or they are generally interested in theatre and are looking at the different uses of set, props, lighting etc and the WAY they have been done on a small budget.


I personally would rather watch a good show with no set or props than a bad one that had loads of stuff.


With regard to lighting etc, I do feel it is important. It is one of the main areas of theatre. If we didnt have it, it would be like TV and naturalistic, I dont think theatre is supposed to be like that. It also helps the continuity of a show. Like the cuts in a film show you the next scene, lighting tells you in a theatre.


However, if we didnt have the people that need to be wowed, the theatre would lose a heck of a lot of money.


That doesnt mean that I want to see aload of people just standing round saying their lines. I like physical movement-how people keep me interested by using their bodies or using some props.


So, in answer to your question.... I have actually forgotten the question..... oh yes I feel that spectacle is important but does not necessarily have to be acheived using pyros and complicated set. I want something to watch and to keep me interested but in athought provoking way.


Ooof, that was a long one.

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hi, I'm not a big replyer here (or speller for that matter ;) but anyway)


'modern' perfromances can be carried off well if presented and designed with a mind for the audiences they'll be pulling in; eg. if you going to be doing experimental theatre - you tend to tell the punters this before they go in(though there are exceptions...school plays for example :rolleyes: ) - then anythings game in that respests.


As thorpe_fan mentioned further up 'modern' performances can be good and do have spectacle in them, but sometimes they sacrifce the material and the effect the performance could have for the sake of having some ' ;) ' (wow) spectacle to be different.


I've seen a perforance of the play 'Road' (dunno if anyones heard of it) which is set in victorian workers housing and the outside roads/shops etc (set in 1980's I believe) the set was made out of scaffold with choice set dressing and the lighting (no lighting rigged on the scaff bars mind) suited the set up and altogether they carried it off well, plus it was a wide stage so they had room to have two sepeatre acting areas with a 15ft space between (handy that) and anyhoo I'm going off on one. ;)


back on the subject, I'm more of a fan of the spectical though if it's done right I like em all...with the possible exception of the extreme experimental theatre...



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