Opening Woes 28


We had rather a humbling first preview of Medea yesterday. I am sure it is quite wrong of me in terms of theatrical etiquette to blog about it, but it was really not good.

The main problem was the sound. There is sound running through much of the performance – waves, and a pulsing heartbeat noise as the action hots up, as well as various other effects at key moments, like yells and bells, and also some songs.

For reasons I don’t understand and are apparently connected to a change of soundcard on the venue computer, it all went very wrong. First the sound effects were far too loud – the sea in the opening scenes sounded like they were acting on the deck of the Titanic as it slipped under – and secondly they were completely out of synch, so the actors were reacting to noises off which had not in fact happened or were ignoring very loud noise events indeed which had just happened but shouldn’t have.

I presume as something to do with the same computer problem, the lighting went wrong as well – Nadira laughed this morning that it is difficult to soliloquise while trying very hard to work your way into any available light. On top of which twice during the performance the house lights came full on.

The cast were wonderful in these circumstances – including Nadira, if I may say so, but obviously struggled to maintain full intensity throughout. Now everyone is working like crazy to try to solve these problems by tonight – being Edinburgh Fringe, without any access to the venue to solve them!

Actually, being an old-fashioned sort of person, I should be delighted if this all resulted in a much simplified production, pared down to the actors and the text.


28 thoughts on “Opening Woes

  • KitGreen

    Sometimes I think theatre directors forget they are not making a film with full surround sound.

  • mary

    Bad luck. It was the first night and it’s bound to get better. Just hope you didn’t have a visit from this indiviudual. He would love seeing it going wrong.

    DAaronovitchDavid Aaronovitch
    RT @DAaronovitch presents a @bbcradio4 #whatthepaperssay special from @Edfringe – 21.08.11: http://t.co/AAXI6wV. Actors to follow #edfringe

    21 hours ago

  • Póló

    Bloody computers. Bad enough when they foul up in private but in a public performance it’s the pits.

    I know you can’t quite apply the solution in the link below in your case but it may give you cause for hope for the future of theatre in the simple.
    http://photopol.com/bios/ordinate.html#upsidedown

    Here’s hoping ye get on top of the problem for tonight. It is heartbreaking to see a huge amount of work and talent not bearing fruit through some stupit technical foul up.

  • Jon

    Am no expert here – but don’t they do a sound-check before the audience comes in?

  • ingo

    Exactly Jon. Don’t worry too much.
    First night, big fright, second night, it’ll be alright.

  • harpie

    Sorry for O/T:

    Reliability and the UK’s Guidelines on Using Torture; emptywheel; 8/4/11
    http://tinyurl.com/42fqw42

    blockquote>[…] It’s bad enough that the Brits have taken such a calculating approach to torture–effectively saying, well, sometimes you’ve got to let the US or Uzbekistan [links to Craig, Oct/05] torture for you.
    But in their discussions–in effect, the last two paragraphs of the guidelines–about whether information gathered by torture is reliable or not suggests the strong possibility that they’re better not asking if information came from torture. […]

  • Suhayl Saadi

    1) Reviewing journalists tend to be done on the 1st or 2nd Night, so everything that can go wrong usually does and when everyone is really nervous.
    .
    2) Too much technology can detract from the performance, as you’re suggesting, Craig. Real live musicians – just a percussionist and flautist – can be enough, sometimes. Depends on the play, obviously. Keep the sea at bay. We can imagine all that – we are post-cinematic audiences and have been for over 100 years – and the lighting can help us do it.
    .
    3) Everything that can happen on stage, has happened, somewhere to someone, even in the very best plays with the best actors/directors/lighting and sound boffins.
    .
    4) It’s a process.
    .
    5) These things are meant to test us. The show must go on.
    .
    6) Fuck reviews. Unless they’re good. In which case, flaunt them!
    .
    7) It’s the Fringe. Floods, electrical failure and roofs falling-in are to be expected. The Hand of God works in mysterious ways.
    .
    8) Medea was probably watching, from Hades.

  • mary

    ‘The show must go on’.
    .
    Yes and although the US is bust, Obomber has ordered himself 55 Global Hawk drones for his 50th birthday.
    .
    The Debt Crisis and the War Economy: Pentagon Purchases $23 Billion Worth Of Global Hawk Drones
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25894
    .
    {http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSATvkuWmf0Zw2EtYe3W0_GWnLHvJCndHaGarff4J1l05WnlSJiOg}

  • ingo

    Indeed and to the music of the three penny opera, the show will go on.

    This was the type of Hawk system I was stationed at. Ebersdorf 1974 – 1981,
    http://www.flarakg36.de/031e0e9908120310c/031e0e9908129781e/031e0e996212a5f1e/index.html

    they needed us plebs to get them going. What the US is ordering, is more than what they need, are these contingents for that special ‘horizon event’, why this over kill?
    Our battallion had the best results, consistently, but I regret having lost 8 good years with wasting my time, ah well, stuff happens.
    I said so during my last year, it was not easy afterwards, a love hate relationship, they needed my team of well motivated and well trained mates, so much so, that, when NATO manouvres took place, they shuffled me round to some of the weaker battallions to uplift the average.

    Are we to expect some sort of fireworks night, what do you reckon Dreolin Mary, Clark, Mark G.? can you smell it as well? Mr.Arbuthnot trying to come over all ‘serious’ yesterday, waxing his fears, how we could not respond. Border tensions with Lebanon being tested by small incursions, etc.,tensions in East Jerusalem, Syria in flames, tensions also in the Kashmiri border region, a regional security chief was killed, Egypt on tenterhooks. More over the stockmarkets are doing a backwards somersault down the hill.

  • Azra

    Mary, every man has to celebrate his big 0 birthday! and what better celebration for Obomber (as you call him), than ordering 55 Global Hawk drones!.

    Everyone in the world must wonder about the sanity of the so called world’s super power, after the fiasco of last few days. I cannot understand how the rest of the world can carry on keeping their foreign reserves in US dollar. Mad, Mad world….

  • mary

    Yes Ingo I smell it and feel it. Are they still doing exercises over your way? All I see here are flights of Chinooks, five or six at a time which fly along a valley here on the North Downs. The noise is awful as the air gets beaten by the blades. They seem to be overhead for ages. What evil. Children in Afghanistan and other countries where they operate must be terrified of them.
    .
    I expect you know that Arbuthnot apart from his allegiance to Israel, is on the advisory council of RUSI, the Royal United Services Institute, a military think tank with great influence. He keeps company with the likes of the Duke of Westminster (why him?), Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, Menzies Campbell, Ricketts and John Hutton who handed the ConDems the very report on pensions that they wanted. Sir John Scarlett is a recent joiner to RUSI.
    http://www.rusi.org/about/council/
    {http://www.rusi.org/about/staff/associates/ref:B4B4C5370C2413/}
    .

  • strangetown

    tbh it sounds like you have complete arseholes at the venue who just couldn’t be bothered to sort it properly.

    Complain. Much good it may do you but at least you’ll have vented your spleen at the right people. 🙂

  • mary

    Azra you will enjoy this exchange. The Guardian went overboard today on Obomber’s birthday, even asking for suggestions for his presents. They devoted four articles to him. Totally cringeworthy.
    .
    ‘Newscritter’ wrote four or five comments and each time a moderator called Laura Oliver, a sort of Stepford wife presumably, studiously ignored him. His best post was this list of 50 suggestions, too long to reproduce here but this is a link.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/11837618
    .
    The whole exchange is on media lens here
    {http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1312479875.html}

  • writeon

    The primary reason the language is so incredible in classics is because basically, that’s all they had to work with. The intensity and depth of the language, through the voices and charism of the players, had to make up for the lack of special effects. It was minimalist theatre, people, on a stage, with words. Trying to ‘tart up’ classics, in my opinion, rarely works, they don’t need it, and it’s often counter-productive.

  • Clark

    I’m sorry to hear of the First Night Woes; let’s hope they are sorted out soon. Yes, any technological gizmos that create trouble should simply be abandoned. Theatre lives in the performance, not the effects. I’ll always advocate keeping things simple and under manual control. Old Rank-Strand lighting desks with manual faders and Revox B77 reel-to-reel tape machines remain my favourites; all this modern computerised stuff is too damn complex and offers too many places for gremlins to hide.
    .
    Thanks for the compliment Mark. I would have loved to be in a position to volunteer, but I can’t at present.
    .
    Ingo, Mary, yes, I sense it too. There is no way to tell how quickly things will happen, I have this feeling of impatience as the world moves on its global timescale. I hope someone is planning something in the UK to parallel this in the US in September:
    .
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/16-5

  • MR Bill

    I’m a theater guy (have acted professionally, and do community theater in my dotage) and this is yet another story of the occasional failure of our wonderful computer technology. The idea of running all the sound and lights through a laptop is great, as long as all sorts of reasonably common things (like the power surges my rural area gets in the electric grid in thunderstorms)or some minor software issue doesn’t occur (“What do you mean, it’s updating a driver??”)I’ve been standing (dressed as the Ghost of John Barrymore)in front of a couple hundred people when laptop just died. My only advice is get some tech savvy kids to work for you, and have a backup computer fully loaded and ready to drop in if the main goes out..
    And you must understand the attractions of elaborate production:
    the concept sometimes gets a momentum of its own.
    Can you elaborate on the staging? And is a text available online?

  • Guest

    “The interrogation policy – details of which are believed to be too sensitive to be publicly released at the government inquiry into the UK’s role in torture and rendition – instructed senior intelligence officers to weigh the importance of the information being sought against the amount of pain they expected a prisoner to suffer. It was operated by the British government for almost a decade.”

  • mary

    When I google .. Medea Review Edinburgh.., I get asked ‘Do you mean Media Review Edinburgh’. V annoying.
    .
    US ‘Black Ops’ forces now operating in over 60% of countries on Earth
    .
    ‘On any given day, Special Operations forces are deployed in approximately 70 nations around the world…. According to testimony by Olson before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, approximately 85 percent of special operations troops deployed overseas are in 20 countries in the CENTCOM area of operations in the Greater Middle East: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. The others are scattered across the globe from South America to Southeast Asia, some in small numbers, others as larger contingents.
    .
    /….
    http://www.salon.com/news/us_military/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/08/04/secert_american_wars

  • ingo

    I hope that Medea’s second night was somewhat better Craig.

    Yes Mary, they were flying for three days full on, until the rain and low lying clouds came along, once the weather changes there might be more of it.
    Any indication as to Norway having a special ops team? would not surprise me one little bit.
    Thanks for that link Clark, lets hope our apathetic Greens and reds and yellows will be able to see the bigger picture, but I have not seen any actions advertised, which is good in a way.

  • mary

    Although I wrote to Common Dreams, they neither acknowledged my note or made the correction.
    .
    ‘Here is an issue that needs a lot more scrutiny: Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to the ++U.N.,++ and Justin Raimondo, both superbly examine the potential help received by accused Oslo attacker Anders Behring Breivik from the network of Muslim-hating far-right activists.’
    .
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/30-3

  • mary

    How does the hagwitch know how many Assad has killed? Is she keeping a similar tally of her boss’s death toll around the globe?
    .
    The Syrian government is responsible for more than 2,000 deaths in its crackdown against protests, says US Secretary of State Hillary
    Clinton.
    .
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14413680
    .
    Why is the BBC carrying this propaganda? Is Syria next on the list?

  • Azra

    @Mary, thanks for the that I did read that in Guardian yesterday and had a good laugh. It reminded me somehow of Michael Moore. when GWB was elected for the second term, he said there were “24 reasons why you should not kill yourself”, one of them was this was his last term and could not be elected again! With Obomber who knows, I do not have much faith in American public, for all we know he is going to be there next time too..(not that it makes any difference, the face changes and the policy always stays the same).

  • Azra

    @Mary, the hagwitch as you aptly call her should look at the record of her own bloody country. since the end of WW2, USA has:

    Attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
    Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
    Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
    Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
    Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

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