Theatres

From operating theatres to real ones. The ones where you sit in a comfy (hopefully) chair, and sit back to be entertained for two or three hours. Or fall asleep if it’s boring. A bit like being asleep in the operating theatre.

My family was not big on theatre. Although we did do pantomime. The Christmas ones at the Alhambra in Bradford were an exciting and magical excursion. Also rare. Interesting calling an Edwardian theatre after the Moorish palace in Granada. Someone was rather prescient given the vast numbers of Muslims that came to live in Bradford in the second half of the 20th century.

But with the advent of senior school, plays became the norm. We acted in them, and went to watch lots of them. Shakespeare of course, the obvious ones like Romeo and Juliet, Caesar, Midsummer Night, Hamlet and Macbeth, and a few less commonly performed, like A Winter’s Tale.

And we ventured abroad with Arthur Miller and his ghastly Death of a Salesman. More to my liking was Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. While the nuances and interpretations went over my head, I enjoyed the play for whatever reason.

At some point, my mother and I decided to go to the theatre in Leeds, The Grand. I think it was a comic detective play, or should that be a detective comedy? It starred Patrick Cargill, known for his role in TV programme, Father, Dear Father. We expected him to be something of a ham and he was brilliant. He totally stole the whole play with his clever and witty performance.

Despite that, theatre failed to become a part of my life until I became a journalist. I was so excited about becoming a journalist the idea of reviewing school plays and flower shows was quite wonderful to me. In fact, I never did get to go to a flower show, we just typed up the results when they were sent in.

But I did do school plays. And AmDram. None of which I really remember, maybe a decent version of Midsummer Night from a local school?

Scarborough, however, changed all that. Just your average east coast Yorkshire resort. Victorian spa town, medieval castle, a few fishing boats still trading, and the home of playwright Alan Ayckbourn. Although born in London, Ayckbourn has made Scarborough his home for many years and nearly all of his plays have premiered there.

What this means, for lucky journalists, is that come opening night when the theatre wants bums on seats, around 5pm, free tickets may – or may not – be suddenly offered for that night’s performance.

Best freebie? Without a doubt, seeing Michael BonBon (yes, I know it’s Gambon, but for some reason one day after watching The Singing Detective, we called him BonBon, and it stuck) in Ayckbourn’s adaptation of Othello. I’m not keen on adaptations, and I had seen a lengthy original of Othello. But AA’s adaptation was good, and BonBon was brilliant.

Somewhat like Cargill, seeing someone on TV and live on stage, is totally different.

The sad news is, I had to pay for The Revengers’ Comedies. No idea why it was booked out, but there were no freebies for journos.

This was Ayckbourn’s play in two halves. You could choose to watch them on consecutive nights or go for the whole thing on one night over five hours or so, a bit like a Wagner opera.

I went for the two nighter. But by the second night I was dancing with impatience and couldn’t wait to watch the second part. It’s an odd tale, but to me it encapsulated London of the 80s. While it did well in Scarborough, it only ran for a few months in the West End. Perhaps Londoners were in 80s mode and couldn’t hack two nights of the same play?

Moving up to Newcastle, the only play I remember was a superb production by the RSC of The Merchant of Venice. I’d not seen it before, but Partner had. I was spellbound.

And, the last play I remember? Yes, more Shakespeare. Coriolanus at some trendy shell of a theatre in London.

Whenever I visit my university friend in London, she seems to treat it as An Occasion. Meals, guests, theatre. Quite honestly a bottle of red wine, salad and bread would do, but no. Well, apart from the time I went once and she was in hospital, so me and the husband had two bottles of Rioja and I don’t remember much else. He was always a good cook anyway, so a good night was had.

One of the last visits to the stately Hampstead home involved a trip to this odd theatre. Much pretentious talk ensued and her long-suffering husband finally got some drinks from the bar, thoughtfully ordering interval drinks too. Do they still allow that? You could get rat-arsed stealing someone else’s drinks. Or drop Rohypnol in there and follow your prey wherever.

Ralph Fiennes was playing the lead role in Coriolanus. From my perch in the eyrie he looked remarkably like Leonard Rossiter. I told my friends this. They laughed. The next day, according to my friends, the Daily Telegraph said …..

And it seems the strange theatre was the Gainsborough Studios in Shoreditch.

A quick hunt for Fiennes and Rossiter shows that not just the Telegraph and I thought Fiennes resembled Rossiter, but a total of four theatre critics (broadsheets) plus me all thought the same.

What does that prove? That my poor eyesight is as good as theatre critics who got better seats? Or that I say what I think? Or that Ralph Fiennes looks and sounds like Leonard Rossiter?

Poor Ralph, portrays a Shakespearean hero and gets compared to a Brit sit-com actor.

It was the last time I went to the theatre. Now, the attraction of sitting for three hours with lots of people has faded. If I want to watch anything, it’s likely to be on a small screen at home.

Happy at home with Happy Valley.

Advertisements

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in WPlongform and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to Theatres

  1. I like the naming of theatres. In Rugby the cinema was called the Granada in the same way as so many others who borrowed continental place names such as Alhambra, Rialto and Colosseum to make them sound more exciting. Later car manufacturers did exactly the same of course and we had the Corsair and the Cortina, Toledo and the Dolomite and the Ibiza and the Cordoba.

    Like

  2. I think a night at the theatre is a bit overrated personally and so expensive. When I lived in Stratford upon Avon residents could get very cheap last minute seats so I did get to see a lot of Shakespeare in those two years, including Coriolanus!

    Leonard Rossiter was a very fine Brit sit-com actor of course!

    Like

    • Why do you think I liked the freebies? But a couple of them were actually worth it. Shakespeare is good. Tells a good dramatic tale.

      Rossiter was good. Perhaps Fiennes went in for the wrong type of drama. Doubt he wd have topped Rossiter had he gone for sit-com though.

      Like

  3. Kev says:

    Nice little memoir of your life and times at the theatre. I love the theatre. The first one I remember seeing was, Uncle Tom’s Cabin…it was pantomime and had me absolutely riveted. I’ve seen a couple others that I can’t remember, or only vaguely remember…obviously didn’t capture me like Uncle Tom’s Cabin did. I like all sorts of things like that, like disney on ice, etc.

    I’m actually taking Pat to see a show in June. It’s about when three yorkshire trawlers sank and the women in Hull rallied about keeping their men safe at sea back in the 70s…It playing at the Hull Truck Theatre. I’ll let you know more about it later

    Like

    • A recent comment reminded me of the Coriolanus incident, and if figured it was easier to write a post πŸ˜€

      I’ve liked and enjoyed theatre very much, but I think it needs lots of hype and atmosphere to work well, the whole ‘event’ scenario. I don’t think Disney on ice wd be quite me!

      Hull Truck has always had a good reputation, look forward to reading about that one.

      Like

      • Kev says:

        I should have mentioned The Nutcracker on Ice…that may have sounded better…Ana and I took her kids to see Disney on Ice. πŸ™‚

        Yes, I’m looking forward to it. πŸ™‚ 20th June.

        Like

        • Nutcracker does sound better. But that maybe because I like Tchaikovsky and have no interest in Disney.

          Like

          • Kev says:

            It was an excellent show too…had me riveted.

            like I said, disney was for the kids…it didn’t exactly have me riveted so to speak…it was more of a happy event as the kids pointed and eyes widened in wonder.

            I’m really hoping Pat enjoys:
            Turning the Tide
            In the winter of 1968, three Hull trawlers sank in Arctic waters. The loss of 58 men devastated the close-knit fishing community of Hessle Road. For the first time in their history, the fishermen’s wives took action. They marched, campaigned and drew the world’s media to their cause – the reform of an industry that, whilst providing their living, was killing their men.

            Like

          • When I was working for HSE deep sea fishing had one of the highest death rates. Not in sheer numbers, as in the 80s, like most industries, it was on the wane, but in percentage terms it was one risky business.

            I think it sounds good, I’d enjoy it. And as I said Hull Truck certainly used to have a good reputation. Used to be quite avant garde. They’d put on plays using naughty words. πŸ˜€

            Like

          • Kev says:

            I’m looking forward to it…a little bit of historic Hull in the telling as well. πŸ™‚ Who knows. It those women hadn’t have rallied…it may still be as bad as it was in the 80’s.

            Like

          • Interesting it’s the same period as Miedo. You should get HTC to stage Miedo …

            Imagine starting off with a spooky prologue, and then switching to the idyllic childhood bit.

            Homework assignment:
            Start drafting script for play πŸ˜€

            Like

          • Kev says:

            I could look into sending them a free copy of my book and asking if they would be interested. πŸ˜‰

            Like

          • Well if you do, make sure you include a basic synopsis for the play. Say, prologue, two or three acts, with a couple of scenes for the middle bit, cast list, description of scenes. You can rattle it off at work today. πŸ™‚

            Like

          • Kev says:

            Sorry, been really busy lately. Great idea…gives me something to think about. I may just write a script and send it to them. I happen to have a script outline somewhere. Mm. Will have to look for it…can’t hurt.

            New strategy…hope to be doing a lot more with Kev’s Author Interviews…while giving free exposure for fellow authors…it works for me as well. πŸ˜‰

            Like

          • Obvious place to start. Local. You could do a couple of good sets for impact, but rely main on strong characters and good acting.

            Author interviews seem to be quite the thing. The jury’s out for me, haven’t decided what I think to them. I probably prefer reviews. Maybe I spent too many years interviewing people!

            Like

          • Kev says:

            Com ‘estas pobrecita mia?

            I can’t believe the response I’ve had to my last post…I’ve got at least half a dozen interviews lined up already. I’ll see how this goes…I may have to add some stipulations to keep away any…you know…religious fanatics (bigots) Maybe write a disclaimer…but to do it without coming right out of my shell and downright offending anyone. (I like to leave the dirty work to you, my darling.) πŸ˜‰ I know I did that one post…which even you commented on as being, not like me. But not everyone is going to read that…I think I may have to put something on the actual contact page which is where anyone who wants an interview have to enquire. At least I’ve got that right. πŸ˜€

            Like

          • Igual. Estoy regular. As my Spanish neighbour says, and no she’s not referring to her bowels.

            That’s good. Means I don’t have to be interrogated interviewed.

            I think the odd different post is worthwhile, if only for surprise/shock effect.

            I don’t know how much people respond to contact pages. An actual post makes it more current and immediate. Maybe something every couple of months, saying you are planning the next set of interviews, new submissions invited? As well as the contact page?

            Like

          • Kev says:

            πŸ˜€

            I could always have you strapped back into the Davros chair and Interro ah-hem …terview you. πŸ˜‰ You did say, you liked it. πŸ˜€

            I’ve gotten a few more responses…but they’re panning out…some of them are going on hols and want to do when they return. πŸ™‚ I’ll be posting one AM

            Like

          • Don’t get strapped into Davros chair, only wheelchairs for transport up and down chairs. They make them for fat people so there is loads of spare strapping left over with me. The ambulance staff actually said that last time.

            I’ll have a ready. Short of interesting reads right now. Maybe everyone is on hols?

            Like

          • Kev says:

            I’ll strap you in it good n proper! πŸ˜€

            Wish I was.

            Like

          • Straps were quite dangerous, so much of them. You could be like us on holiday. Me immobilised and him laid off work. Take it while you can. So to speak.

            Like

          • Kev says:

            Is A laid off…what happened?

            Sorry to hear that, Kate. Hope you’re managing.

            Like

          • Firm’s waiting for next job to come in. Everyone still on the cards but no money 😦 Private jobs are just another story again.

            We’re pretty frugal. Thanks.

            Like

          • Kev says:

            I get that… about the frugal part. Did you get your mattress?

            Like

          • He’s not allowed to buy it without me, and I’m not mobile, so he’s still sleeping on the camping mats. They’re on a bed frame now though!

            Like

          • Kev says:

            This message is for A. A, get the bloody wheelbarrow out and make her go with ya! Push her to the bloody shop and as soon as she opens her mouth (before she protests) “Did you say that one love, right you are…” job done! Now make her hop back while you push the mattress on the wheelbarrow. She’s had her bloody four hours of sleep! πŸ˜€

            Like

          • The wheelbarrow is in Spain.

            Like

          • Kev says:

            Then you’d better get hopping! πŸ˜€

            Like

          • I couldn’t even cycle up there let alone hop. Anyway have you tried hopping up stairs? And don’t forget to put a few weights on the other leg and make sure you sprain a wrist and an ankle. Then come back and tell me.

            Like

          • Kev says:

            Why would I do that when you’re perfectly capable of letting me know what it’s like. You know how convincing you can be. (Really big evil grin…likes that one.)

            Like

          • Seriously. Have a go. I forgot the story where they wanted me to hop up TWO STEPS into the ambulance. Couldn’t even get halfway up! Hopping is not easy. Although I used to be good at hopscotch. On level ground. Without disadvantages.

            Like

          • Kev says:

            I’ll pass! Like I said, you can be very convincing. I believe you. πŸ™‚

            Like

          • Seriously. Try hopping up steps. With possibly some wobbly window crutches for support. Hopping up is an interesting experience.

            Like

          • Kev says:

            Actually, I have a fair idea. Earlier last year I started running again. Did everything right…warm up exercises and all that jive. Coming out of Drs. I thought I’d do a bit…twisted my ankle. Pure agony, couldn’t get up and down stairs at first, after a few days I could hop a bit…3 weeks, before I could walk without pain. Not on the same scale as yours, but the gist of it is there.

            Like

          • Running? 😨

            Sounds like my sprain last year. Hopped to the toilet initially, then managed a painful limp, then I hoped down the stairs, went to Spain and I was marooned limping with Puppy.

            This is in another league. Sadly.

            Like

          • Kev says:

            πŸ™‚

            Like

  4. makagutu says:

    I have gone to the theatre once or twice at most. There are always plays running in some theatre in the city but I never manage to convince myself to attend. Your description of theatres would almost make me go watch a few plays

    Like

    • I think you need to want to go for a reason. A good actor, a good company, a good playwright, an interesting plot. I’ve gone for all those reasons. It can be an effort to go into the city, but I still remember some scenes out of the plays I have mentioned, they were so vivid and real and etched a place in my mind. Make sure it’s something good, that’s all.

      Like

  5. The Alhambra, The Granada(still exists – various groups/people have stepped in to save it and it is limping along), The Majestic, and the Tower were all elegantly decorated MOVIE theaters when I grew up (We went at Christmas and one time in the summer). I think these exotic places were popular as people liked to dream and didn’t travel as much as now – plus you got a movie.
    In college, we were all into live theater/stage productions and the newest thing was a couple of theaters on the round. (I worked stage left backstage and eventually a carbon arc spotlight in college – high school drama classes were so competitive – only for the talented – which left me out.)
    Real theater was downtown or at Miller Outdoor theater. Being frugal, but loving Shakespeare, my dad always took us to any and all outdoor productions. My favorites were when we lived in Williamsburg, VA The stage backed up to the James River and anytime possible they had boats in costume appearing. And cannons echoing over the water. Smoke! It was great.
    I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than going to productions and writing about them. Very cool…except the school ones…sorry you didn’t actually get to the flower shows…bet there were some real characters there – it’s very serious business.
    Cool stuff!

    Like

    • Most of our cinemas were called things like classic and odeon. There was an empire and a majestic before my time, don’t know if they were theatre or cinema though.

      The Scarborough theatre was in the round. In fact it was called the Stephen Joseph a Theatre in the Round. There were plans for a new one when I left – they’d bought the old cinema to convert. Lost track of what happened, it wd be a bit difficult to convert a cinema into a round stage, but anything’s possible.

      Outside theatre with the river sounds great. Can’t think of anything outside that I’ve seen. The weather you know.

      The worst thing about writing up a play was going into the dark spooky office after 11pm to write it up for the next day’s paper. It meant a late night. I wd rather have gone in early but the theory was that the subs came in before reporters and the copy was there waiting for them to start subbing and laying out.

      We have a horticultural society here so I try and go to that. When I can walk.

      Like

  6. Sonel says:

    What lovely memories Kate. I can honestly say the only theatre experience I had, was when I had drama class in high school and that was it. LOL! I prefer being at home watching it on the big screen as well, especially ballet. No opera for me. πŸ˜€

    Like

    • I was commenting about something on another post and I nearly ended up writing a post in reply, so I thought I might as well put together my theatre experiences. Not huge, but a change from hospital posts πŸ˜€

      I prefer ballet on stage, although I’ve only seen a few. I did like opera. It is so spectacular. And I love loud music! So long as it isn’t my neighbours in the block playing theirs at 3am.

      Like

      • Sonel says:

        I preferred to be on stage – LOL! Yes, those were the days of our lives. hahahaha

        I totally agree there! When I’m in one of my moods I do like loud music of my choice yes – not someone else’s. The ones around here have yucky taste in music. I don’t like Afrikaans music much. They suck. LOL!

        Like

        • I was set to appear in one of our school plays and – yes – ended up with a leg in plaster.

          Music is one of my all or nothings. I can play the same music repeatedly, but it’s the classical music I love loud. So pleased I still have a stereo and vinyl.

          Like

  7. cobbies69 says:

    Theatre down here was never very far away for us as youngsters/teenagers, Lymington had one that doubled as cinema, but the main popular one was in New Milton, 7 miles west. It is now called Forest arts, cannot recall its older names,, New Milton theatre was possibly one, very original. Most amateur but very occasional the professional appeared. Played in a band there as in Lymington.. but these days it is the Mayflower was Gaumont, in Southampton.. I dont know why but your stories jog the random memories for me as well.. thanks for that…

    Like

  8. Your post caused me to reflect on all of the improvised theatre of various types brought to us courtesy of the Internet. I am thinking, in particular of actions orchestrated by those who intend to “lead us” in various capacities–political, economic, social and (most nauseating of all) moral. When viewed in context and with at least some knowledge of the various theatrical devices they employ, whether intentionally or not, their performance is always so obviously second rate at best.

    Like

    • Class. That is such a class response. Sadly, so many things in life are second rate. But why don’t people see that? Or do they not care? No, I believe they actually don’t see. How gloomy. I must off to write about something more cheerful.

      Like

  9. Vicky says:

    I’ve never really been interested in the theatre, and I hated school plays with a passion.
    Living only fifteen miles from Stratford on Avon’s Shakespeare Theatre, you’ve made me think perhaps I ought to pay a visit.
    To date though, the only theatre I’ve even been to was the Lyceum in London, a 60th birthday treat from my daughters to see The Lion King.

    Like

  10. EllaDee says:

    The closest thing to theatre for me as a kid living in the country was school plays & musicals… yours may have sounded far more professional & impressive than ours – I never participated on stage, just captive audience – which sounded awful and put me off for a long time. When I first moved to the city I enjoyed dinner theatre on a few occasions but only since moving back to the city fringe – Inner West where there are numerous small theatres & companies we go from time to time, mostly to light, unusal, amusing [cheap] plays. At one stage we had a rule that the play had to involve an animal theme of some sort, but after The Goat http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/the-goat-or-who-is-sylvia/ we went off that idea…

    Like

    • I did get to see some decent theatre. Tis aspirationsl though too I suspect. One must like theatre/ballet/opera to be middle class …

      I thought that was a great review. I did study Albee at one point. The Goat was never discussed however at my posh school. I have a burning urge to see it now!

      Like

I appreciate any comments you leave, so long as they are relatively polite. And thanks for reading.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s