The Playgoer: Photo of the Day

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Photo of the Day

The Theatre Royal Brighton, built 1807.

Read about the bicentennial celebration in The Guardian. It was built by George IV and opened with Charles Kemble as Hamlet.

Many renovations have ensued, but some whiff of olden times remains:

From the fly tower, the theatre looks more like the rigging of a three master ship, and has scarcely changed since the building opened. It is one of a handful of surviving "hemp houses" in the country, where every piece of scenery is lowered into position and then hauled out again by gangs of men dragging ropes. The sailing ship resemblance is no coincidence: the theatre often hired local fishermen as stage crew, who sat mending their nets backstage between acts. The only change is that the rope is now synthetic, kinder on the hands and less likely to snag. The technical manager swears by the system: for a recent musical they used one motorised lighting bar - the motor failed on the second last show, and a man had to be sent up into the rigging wearing a safety harness to replace it.

Yes, that's what we need in the theatre: more hemp. And less computerized scenery.

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