Last week I had the great pleasure of seeing a performance of Love’s Labour’s Won (or Much Ado) at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon. But this wasn’t just any performance, this performance was going to be beamed to cinemas across the world, LIVE!
Having seen Love’s Labour’s Lost late 2014, at a performance that was not filmed, I was curious as to how this one might differ. Someone I know had been in the audience a few weeks prior to me, watching the live performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost when that was filmed. She said that there was a nervous, yet excited atmosphere amongst the cast. I can imagine that they could get used to performing to a sell out theatre where they can see their audience and feel the reactions to their actions, soliloquies and comedic acts. It must be quite something to get your head around when you’re then performing to thousands of faceless viewers in cinemas!
I felt quite excited that I was one of those lucky people to be in the theatre that evening.
The theatre itself looked a little different. Some of the seating in the stalls had been removed. There were camera runs down either side of the hall. From my seat in the upper circle, I spied a table with a laptop(?), a man pouring over its screen, I guess he was checking the camera angles. There was also a camera on a large mechanical arm that sprung into action every now and again. Outside the theatre there were large lorries parked up. I’m guessing that they were full of equipment and crew.
I spotted some mics hanging from the ceiling. They slightly obscured my view of the stage. But I really do mean slightly. They hardly ruined it! I assumed these were there for the live broadcast however I haven’t had seats here before so they may be there for regular performances too.
The only thing that was noticable was the ‘shushing’ noise from the hydraulic arm with the camera. It was used quite a lot to focus on particular actors and actions. The other camera darted back and forth but didn’t cause any detraction because the actors, sets and story was so captivating.
I can’t say I noticed that the company were nervous or otherwise. They all gave a stellar performance. I must admit, the finale felt like it had extra oomph. Whether they felt extra relief and pride at the end because it was broadcast to the world, I don’t know. They all seemed to beam with happiness, but then it was a very jolly scene, so perhaps it ws the excellent directing they had.
Speaking of the director, we had quite a nice treat when Christopher Luscombe came onto the stage at the beginning, partly to welcome us to the theatre and partly to give us a little pep talk. With seats having to be removed for cameras, we had to be twice the audience we actually were in terms of applauding, laughter, etc. Well, he didn’t need to worry about that! The show was a riot of laughter! And how could we jot heartily applaud the entire company? I clapped so much my hands hurt!
The only down side to seeing the performance at the theatre rather than on screen, is that we didn’t get to see the behind the scenes films that were specially recorded for the cinemas. Cinema audiences saw an interview with the director and a film about the music during the interval.
I believe that the audience for Love’s Labour’s Lost saw a film about the stage set and my beloved Charlecote (on which the set was modelled). I would have loved to have seen that! Thankfully I did see a little snippet on the RSC’s fantastic YouTube channel.
I would definitely recommend seeing a production at the RSC. Any of them will do. They’re world class! And if you’re no where near Stratford-upon-Avon, go see a live broadcast. Go, go, go! You have no excuses. Go!