Sunday, September 09, 2007

Stage struck (again)

It isn't very often that you see theatre doors open wide during the day, especially a Sunday. However, today was different.

The chalk said it all- The Leeds Grand was open for visitors, guided tours or wander at will.

The Grand dates back to 1878 (Correction- Ed) and has three balconies. David enjoyed exploring many of the boxes around the auditorium (there are a lot of them) and also got to go into the lime box where the follow spots are way up in the ampitheatre (the upper gallery) and try out a follow-spot.

As it is such a long throw, following someone discreetly is quite hard, although the theatre does have decent equipment (the well known Pani of Vienna who used be located in Candle Street!)

You can see here that the view from the back row is very, very distant. The blue splodge has David on this end of it.

The ceiling is very ornate and the chandelier is often used as a signature image for theatre publicity. The arched windows in the gallery slips are back-lit and the chairs are individual loose ones at this level (also the view is very extreme.)

The lighting is actually controlled from upper circle Box A which is the one nearest the stage at high level. It is rather narrow.

Standing on the stage (the set is for Madame Butterfly) you get the feeling of how huge the auditorium is, but also how intimate it feels. As it was the general public, there was a certain amount of hazard tape around and a plastic chain across the proscenium arch discouraged visitors from getting too close to the edge.

When the bright lights shine you become aware how uncomfortable the glare of the spotlight is.

Backstage is a real rabbit warren as not only is it a number one touring theatre, it is also the home of Opera North who also tour to Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield, Manchester and Bradford.

The dressing rooms are not exactly what you would call special and they get plainer the higher up the building you go.

This is a welcome sign- nice to have a backstage bar so that the cast and the crew don't have to mix with the punters. It isn't a snobbish thing, it is a very practical one, theatre bars are notorious for being too small, too crowded and too slow. (The same applies to Ladies toilets!)

We were able to go onto the Fly floor (after a very long trek from the gallery down to the pass dor and back up again), here are David and Karen watching the flying bars moving up and down with the demonstration of the new flying system.

There were quite a few public events going on in the building and this was a Dance workshop by Northern Ballet Theatre taking place in the large studio underneath the stage. (This was originally where the Victorian sub-stage machinery was located and it was removed with some controversy to make room for these facilities many years ago).

David was slightly disappointed that he couldn't get to ride on the lorry lift (as I did in January) but he enjoyed jumping on it as it made quite a noise!

A can from the Green Room, taking drinks into the auditorium, taking photos, three things you don't normally get to do in a theatre. Cheers!

1 comment:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It looks a lovely theatre and I like the chalked sign on the pavement! Glad the artists have got their own loo - the "ladies" in most theatres takes you all interval to get into - if you're lucky! In Italy, you just pop to the one in the bar next door or across the way!