[img]http://hits.guardian.co.uk/b/ss/guardiangu-feeds/1/H.20.3/60480?ns=guardian&pageName=Unthinkable%3F+Scrap+opening+nights%3AArticle%3A1311145&ch=Comment+is+free&c3=Guardian&c4=Theatre%2CStage%2CCulture+section&c6=Editorial&c7=09-Nov-28&c8=1311145&c9=Article&c10=Editorial&c11=Comment+is+free&c13=Unthinkable%3F+%28series%29&c25=Comment+is+free&c30=content&h2=GU%2FComment+is+free%2Fblog%2FComment+is+free[/img]Actors hate them. Celebs and paparazzi adore them. And they put critics under deadline pressure they can occasionally do without. Three good reasons, then, why our time-honoured (but increasingly dishonoured on the web) tradition of theatrical opening nights is ripe for reform. First-night tension can sometimes be creative, of course. Lots of actors, though, insist that first is too often worst. They complain that the pressures of a one-off press night can produce a letdown show. Whether that's due to backstage nerves, the mob-handed critics or a celeb audience more interested in itself than the action on stage is a hard call. Too often, though, there's a feeling that first nights don't do justice to a show that has buzzed in previews and will do so again once the run gets going. The risk for the critics, meanwhile, is of a rushed review of an unrepresentative performance. In the past, the Guardian's Michael Billington has been sceptical of such complaints. This week, though, he announced a change of mind. Why not, he now suggests, adopt the New York system, in which critics can attend a choice of preview performances and in which all reviews are embargoed until after the "official" opening-night with its red carpets and flashbulbs? It wouldn't work for one-off performance arts, like music. In the theatre, though, it would reduce actors' first-night nerves and give critics time to collect their thoughts. Inevitably, it won't stop the online embargo-breakers. For everyone else, though, it's well worth a try.
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Guardian: Unthinkable? Scrap opening nights
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