I started writing a post last night and realized that I was writing two different posts: one about a play and one about going to see a filmed play on the silver screen. So I’m separating the posts. I’ll write about The Winter’s Tale soon.
It is “common wisdom” that movie theaters are struggling with the advent of home theaters at affordable cost. Theaters have tried to do various things to combat this, and one of them is to make the theater a place for Events, showing live performances–opera, ballet, sports, Rifftrax–that, for a number of reasons–cost, availability, place–people can’t attend otherwise. I think it’s fabulous.
Computerguy and I have made it to a couple of Rifftrax (formerly Mystery Science Theatre 3000) events–Plan 9 from Outer Space and Sharknado– with the Rifftrax guys talking over the soundtrack of really bad movies.
I have noted the opera showings and thought that would be an affordable way to check out opera, but haven’t made it. I’ve also been interested in the ballet.
My problem is the event status that puts them on a single night for a single showing. It’s usually a weeknight, later in the evening, and not that easy to get to. Nevertheless, when I saw the ad pop up for The Winter’s Tale directed by Kenneth Branagh starring Branagh and Judi Dench, I was determined to go, even on Monday night with Tuesday classes and Advent in full swing.
I put a call out on Facebook and ended up meeting one friend for dinner and the movie. It felt like something of an event. We caught up over dinner and then went over to the theater. Though it is at the mall where I went to the theater in high school, that building was razed and this is a whole new venue. It is one of the fancier, more expensive movie theaters. New from the last time we were there (Sharknado) was a full bar (I’d had a drink with dinner and it was late, so I didn’t indulge, but I’ll remember next time).
We took our seats and waited. Eventually the film came on to show… the live audience in London waiting for the curtain to rise. For about 20 minutes. And then Branagh’s voiceover talking about why The Winter’s Tale.
FINALLY, about 8:00, the actual story began. That part was fun. It wasn’t exactly like watching a live show, but since I can’t go to London, and it was an excellent production, I was pretty happy. Seeing a filmed play on a full movie screen beats by a long-shot watching a PBS/BBC-filmed play on TV. The filming was well-done and they cut out most ambient noise from the audience (except some laughs and clapping at the end).
Then the intermission. We got the full 20 minutes, half watching the London audience take their intermission, half seeing interviews with some of the theatre company about upcoming plays. I think I get them wanting us to get the “Full Theatre Experience” but it was late and we were in a movie theater and it really wasn’t the same. Also, not the Event people’s fault, but it was really really cold in the theater and I was freezing. Because of that, I wanted it to finish, but that’s my fault for not wearing a warmer coat. (Maybe do 10 minutes. It’s a long show. And of course where I live, there were about 20 people in the theater for this event. I wonder if other places were fuller?)
And then, as is right, the shorter second half was shown and it was delightful. It was also fun to be with someone who fully gets (teaches) Shakespeare, but didn’t know this particular play, so didn’t know the end. Her reactions were perfect.
It ended around 11:00 which was much too late for me, but I like that they are doing it and hope such events will continue. Who knows, maybe I will even come to appreciate opera this way some day. But I will remember to take the coat.