Classical Theatres

A trip to the theatre is indeed a treat as most people don’t do it often enough. They leave it for a special occasion and it becomes a big night out. Before TV, it was a staple of leisure existence. Nevertheless, from major blockbuster musicals to little theatre in the round, it is all a wonderful thespian experience in all its incarnations. Every town and city in the country has something to offer to the public. People never tire of live performance, although the audience seems to be on the older side.

I love community theatre. Joe who owns the hardware store is often the lead against Molly the baker. The community center or local high school gym are often the loci of choice. From ancient Greek stone open-air ampitheatres to the fabulous Royal Court Theatre in England, the time spent viewing an illuminated stage will be an escape into another dimension, another time, another place.

Sometimes you go to the opera in a tux or a gown, especially if you are in Milan, and sometimes you go to the local 100-seat mini hall in jeans. Ring a bell? It doesn’t matter. You are there, captivated hopefully by the talented cast and superior direction. Some theatres are spectacles in themselves and throwbacks to another era. They are ornate, luxurious, and reek of history. They may also reek a little body odor if they are not air-conditioned, and some of the older ones are not! Spectators have to make do with less than first rate fans or nothing at all. Since many theatres are marvels of architectural bliss, they are allowed to endure as is. A few open windows is all the ventilation provided. Maybe a window unit or two in the dressing rooms.

That said, knowing the state of the next theatre you are likely to visit, dress accordingly. If it is during the summer season, keep the sweater and jacket at home. Bring your own portable mini fan if you must so as not to pass out from the close proximity of the audience. It will certainly disrupt the action on stage. God help the cast when the temperature soars! I wonder how they keep their cool, literally and figuratively, at such times. I guess they move slowly…but surely.

In spite of less than ideal conditions, attending a play or opera in an old venue is great fun. There is much to look at what with painted ceilings and frescoed walls. In Los Angeles, the Old Orpheum downtown is simply stunning, replete with rococo decorations wall to wall. It isn’t odd that a rock band might perform there. We are used to such oddities indeed. Europe has even older theatres, some refurbished, some not. You learn to adapt and try to put yourself in the place of a former onlooker. He or she was able to survive, why not you!

So enjoy theatre by all means and go prepared. You won’t regret a second of most offerings, but you can check out the reviews to find out. Watch for any mention of an “overheated room” or “stifling surroundings.”

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