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Coriolanus


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#11 curzon

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 04:16 PM

QUOTE(Jan Brock @ Mar 11 2007, 08:49 AM) View Post
Richard: At last ! Someone here who agrees with me that the Swan is a poor venue for audiences - hardly any of the seats actually face the centre of the stage (except a few house seats they don't sell) so you either end up with a stiff neck or studying the audience on the other side. I have also previously noted how there have been very few striking set designs in that space.
I have to disagree. I have worked there and watched shows and I love the space. Horses for courses, I guess.. huh.gif

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#12 richard

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 05:48 PM

dry.gif [quote name='curzon' date='Mar 11 2007, 04:16 PM' post='4449']
I have to disagree. I have worked there and watched shows and I love the space. Horses for courses, I guess sad.gif
As you have worked there have you had some seats not available to the public (as mentioned above)?  The acceptable seats can be counted on the fingers of one hand.  The worst are the most expensive - bench seats in centre of the stalls that are impossible unless one is sitting next to an ultra thin person.  
And it really is the same every time design wise, really predictable, and the whole style of the performance.  I have seen only two productions that worked there - Adrian Noble's Little Eyolf (Ibsen), and the Judi Dench All's Well.  Everything else has been a compromise.
And the whole infra-structure smacks of the village hall, and a not very well equipped one either.


#13 tsaurus

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:10 PM

I agree with Richard entirely ... The Swan is uncomfortable in the extreme.  I don't bother with the galleries at all any more as the view is terrible as well as being uncomfortable.  Though some theatre people are enthusiastic about the space, it has rarely inspired any interesting designs.... all it has seemed to inspire over the last few years is a kind of lazy RSC house style.

I'm not a devout proscenium-ist and believe that thrust stages can work well if properly designed and used imaginatively.  I'm sure I saw somewhere that part of the reasoning with The Swan design was to do with authenticity to Elizabethan proportions.  I'm afraid I have little patience with those arguments - we are not an Elizabethan audience and can never see a play throught Elizabethan eyes - so why should we not profit from the advances that have been made in theatre design over the last four hundred years?  

It was, however, interesting to see how some of the visiting companies used it during the Complete Works season - I thought that Tim Supple's 'Dream' and Kneehigh's 'Cymbeline' used the space well... but even they couldn't do anything about the cramped discomfort and crook neck.

#14 Jan Brock

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 03:55 PM

Interesting - on the few previous occasions I have raised these points I have had not a single word of support. The really great RSC set designs I have seen (current Goold "Tempest", Hands "Much Ado", Nunn "All's Well") were all specific to the proscenium arch stage. There have been some interesting Swan designs (Kyle/Jew of Malta, for example) but they really are generally all a bit samey - I am worried that in the new main hose this will be a real problem - how can they make "Dream" look different every 3 years with limited scope for sets - it will be just like Chichester sets - DULL, DULL, DULL.

#15 Haz

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 04:12 PM

i'd been really secretly hoping that this would be panned.. i had tickets for 2 weeks ago but sadly had to cancel our trip due to illness, and as we were unable to find anyone to take them at such short notice, can't afford to go again.

very pleased to see william houston getting some recognition though.. his sejanus was wonderful and he's a great guy.
whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should

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#16 Orsino

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 04:39 PM

I love the Swan space too (and haven't worked there).  I do admit the back of the upper gallery is quite restricting but everything I have seen there (by no means exhaustive) has been exciting and innovative (except an As You Like it, some years ago when there was no scenery at all and the actors struck poses to represent the Forest of Arden).

The best production I sw there was the first Season's The Fair Maid of the West, when with the flick of a rope or a table cloth suspended, or a curtain half drawn, the scene was changed from a inn courtyard to a Moorish boudoir to the deck of an Elizabethan galley!  Great stuff

But this is waa-y off topic, sorry!  Would be interested to see Coriolanus, so soon after the Globe's last year.  Must make an expedition up there soon!

#17 Lynette

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 11:48 PM

You are all so wrong. The Swan is a good space and has had some wonderful stuff in it since it opened. The sets are good, occasionally brilliant. [ Three hours after a Marriage, the Henrys first time round and many others - do you really want me to go and pull out all my programmes and bore you to death...?]

The loos, I agree, are awful [ not enough and cramped, scalding water and silly hot air driers ] and getting a drink in the interval painful but then that's the same as the West End, but you do get to go outside on a summer evening. And The Cherry Orchard there was magical even from a side seat in an upper gallery. You don't need to be face on to the front any more than you do at The Donmar.

The Courtyard, the temporary theatre thay have built next to the The Other Place, feels quite different; I think it will be interesting to see how McKellen for example gets on this summer connecting to the audience. I think there is disconnection between playing space and audience in this theatre. Difficult to define. But this is a very user friendly theatre with good loos and lots of foyer area and again with outside space for those balmy summer days of global warming.  

I do however share your concerns about the reconstruction of the old theatre interior. I am dreading that bleak auditorium feel, the integrated plastic seats, the steel rails, the fake wood effect and the trendy logo flooring...

I shall be saying my goodbye to the old interior this weekend and patting affectionately the seat I sat in on my first visit so many years ago.

#18 Jan Brock

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 07:33 AM

Fair Maid of the West was great, but of course with Trevor Nunn directing that is not a surprise (though it could have had 30 minutes cut from it).

#19 richard

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 04:31 PM

rolleyes.gif

We are not 'wrong' about the Swan - we just have a different opinion to yours, as valid as yours is.
I think the Swan appeals to the hair-shirt, Puritan element, the kind of audience that T.S. Eliot mentioned in his essay about Poetry and Drama, as thinking they had done something 'meritorious' by attending a verse drama.  I'm sick of 'right-on' studio spaces.  Give us a good proscenium arch with a decent set!

#20 dreamer

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 09:49 PM

Hello all - my first post!

Lynette, interesting to read your thoughts about McKellen in The Courtyard. I think it's a phenomenal space and I've actually performed on the stage itself too. (As part of a performance on my school's speech day, which is usually held at the RSC - I'm no actor!) It felt fantastic to be up there, I felt very close to the audience, and it seemed quite intimate as a space. We found the acoustics in there hard though, it's quite hard to fill it - I'm sure it's no problem for trained actors, but I have heard rumour that some of them have had the same comment. I hope if there are problems that these are ironed out for the RST refurb. Having said that, from the audience (with a full house) it feels like you could hear a whisper from the stage with no problem at all.

On Coriolanus - I'm surprised people enjoyed it so much! It didn't do much for me - I didn't like the first 15-20 mins, although I thought the 2nd half much stronger.
And no-one's mentioned Timothy West?! I saw it in preview and he fluffed almost every line, from his very first appearance. It made me feel awkward every time he came on - it looked like he was struggling to remember his next line all the way through and just waiting for his cues. What a liability!




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