The Playgoer: Have you ever noticed...

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Have you ever noticed...

When you sit in the balcony of a Broadway house, or many other older theaters, you can't see the apron of the stage without leaning over.

This creates all kinds of problems of course, not least of which is the annoying phenomenon of how one row leaning forwards leads every other row to do the same to see over those people's heads, until everyone is suffering back problems.

But in my more contemplative moods on such occasions I ponder this: This isn't an oversight in architecture. When these theaters were built no one performed in front of the proscenium. (That's what a proscenium is for--a barrier!) Plus, theater etiquette of the time would encourage proper posture among patrons. (i.e. no slouching!)

So these theater sightlines are relics of a time when as long as the actors stayed safely behind the proscenium, and audiences all sat back in their seats...everyone was just fine.

Yet another problem the theater has adjusting to the culture of today.

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