Our Pages

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer in the Park

That is where I will be this summer (at least through mid-July).  No, I won't be on the swings or in the sandbox. I won't be playing disc golf, though one of the holes (if that what you call them) will be very close by.  (Note to self: park car away from the golfers and the course).  I won't be having picnic lunches and enjoying a good book in the shade of the tree. I probably will be bolting some food (probably unhealthy and of the fast food variety) as I go from my day job to the Tent.  Yes, I said Tent. No, I won't be camping.  Those days are long gone.

So, what is the Tent, you ask?  It is where one of the local theatres hold their summer shows.  It is under a big green tent, in the the park.  I will be doing hair and makeup for Hello Dolly and Hairspray and I am a stickler when it comes to period  But regardless of whether I am working a show or not, I will see them all.  The Tent in the summer is magical and sometimes hot and muggy, or breezy and cool. Oh, and then there was that one time there was a tornado warning.  But I won't think about that now. And the raccoons are always a treat, or the chipmunks. Both have have attempted to take the stage before. Such Divas!

Besides being under a tent, the theater is also round and the actors have patrons viewing them from three sides, which is how the original theatre productions were preformed.  The earliest outdoor, and in the round, theater dates back to the 6th Century in Greece. The best-preserved one is the Theatre of Epidaurus and some say it dates back to the 4th Century.  

In the 6th century BC a priest of Dionysus, by the name of Thespis, introduces a new element which can validly be seen as the birth of theatre. He engages in a dialogue with the chorus. He becomes, in effect, the first actor. Actors in the west, ever since, have been proud to call themselves Thespians. 

According to a Greek chronicle of the 3rd century BC, Thespis is also the first winner of a theatrical award. He takes the prize in the first competition for tragedy, held in Athens in 534 BC.  Read more: ">History of Literature: Greek Drama



The first English outdoor theatre was built in 1576 by James Burbag, an Elizabethan amphitheatre designed to hold a capacity of up to 3000 people.  Prior to that, performances were staged in inn-yards.  In winter months performances were moved inside to converted old coaching inns or other available buildings and referred to as Playhouses.  

More information on the Elizabethan Theatre can be found at History of Elizabethan Theatre

Pictured is the Swan Theatre

I do wonder what it would have been like to sit outside in Greece or Elizabethan England and watch a performance, though these productions would have taken place during the day and probably uncomfortably hot weather due to the lack of shade (at least in Greece).  But at least the Greeks had togas. They Elizabethans weren't so lucky to have lighter clothing ;).  I would like to visit Greece one day and if I do, I will make a point to see the Theatre of Epidaurus.  I've read that the acoustics are amazing. They would have to be because how else would the patrons be able to hear the actors centuries before microphones were invented, especially if you were seated at the top.

For centuries theatre has been one of the main forms of entertainment and I am fascinated with how it has changed from the first Shakespearean production to the amazing technical magic that happens today.  From the scripts to makeup and costumes to lights and sound.  I am particularly interested in the behind the scenes during the Regency Period. After all, most of my characters do enjoy a good comedy, drama or opera and as an author, I should know what is going into those productions.  Don't you agree?  And, did actress during the Regency Period really deserve their naughty reputations?  

Have you ever enjoyed a show outside under the stars or a tent?

Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency 


17 comments:

  1. Amy, your summer hobby fascinates me! I hope you have a wonderful time!
    I would love to read a Regency set amidst the theater.

    And yes, I've seen outdoor shows. It lends a special magic, doesn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb,

      I do have a Regency planned where the theatre will figure in. The only problem with spending so much time at the theatre is it does eat into my writing time. Oh well, I do manage to make it work.

      Delete
  2. Amy,

    The only outdoor theater I've been to is one in Eureka Springs, Arkansas where they perform "The Passion Play". It's the story of Jesus' last days. I saw it a few times when I was a kid. The set is really cool and stays up all the time since it's the only play they perform.

    There is an outdoor theater that performs Shakespeare about two hours from us, and we are planning a weekend trip this summer now that both kids are old enough to enjoy it.

    Have a great time at the theater this summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Samantha,

      There is a Shakespeare summer festival about an hour from me. I don't know if it is outside or not, but I think it may be. I've always wanted to go but could never fit it into my schedule. I need to try harder to get there this summer.

      Delete
  3. Amy ~ What a fun post! I have not seen a production outside or in a tent. Living in the south, everything I've ever seen has been inside (with air conditioning).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ava,

    I am sure a lot of people would agree with you about preferring air conditioning. Last year for the run of Footloose we were over 100 degrees. The first and second tech day we had for Dolly it was in the mid-90s. I am just glad I didn't have to wear a period costume or wig. Thursday before opening we dropped to the 40s that night. When not on stage, the actors were wearing coats or wrapped in blankets.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've been to outdoor theater many times in the summers here in Texas. Thank goodness they usually take place at night, because I can only imagine how hot it must be for the actors and actresses, let alone everyone hanging out on the lawn for the show. Around here, they tend to build these sorts of stages down at the bottom of a natural grass-covered hill. Some have better acoustics than others. LOL. The best one I remember, acoustically speaking, is in Austin somewhere. I was pretty young the last time I went, and I don't remember the name of the place. Augh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of the things this theatre does have are huge industrial fans blowing into the tent to keep the patrons comfortable. The only problem is that sometimes they need to be shut off for quieter shows (non-musicals). The Tent doesn't have matinees because of the heat though the sun is usually still out when the show starts.

      Delete
  6. I love outdoor theater! Both performing in it and watching it! Although, doing My Fair Lady in DC at the end of August was a little rough! LOL!

    One of my favorite outdoor performances to watch was "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Shakespeare in the Park (Central Park) a couple years ago. Now THAT was magical!

    And one of my favorite performances to be in was an outdoor, big band version of "Annie Get Your Gun" in Atlanta. SO fun and yes, again, magical. Stars above, people picnicking on the great lawn with wine and candles, a light breeze tickling our faces while we sang Moonshine Lullaby. I'll never forget that night :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jerrica, that sounds like fun. And, A Midsummer Night's Dream in the park would be awesome. I really need to check out what the Shakespear festival is doing this year.

      Delete
  7. I have seen outdoor theater in California, and have been to several outdoor concerts that I loved! Have not found an outdoor theater yet here in NC. I need to do that! Thanks for reminding me!! ;D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cynthia,

      I hope you find one and can take in a show.

      Delete
  8. Amy- I just love seeing shows inside or outside it doesn't really matter to me. Where I grew up we had the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts near by. They had one in Santa Maria and the other in Solvang. The Solvang one was outside. I got to see a musical about Hans Christian Anderson's life and all his stories. It was really neat. I have also seen a couple of plays out there. I really wanted to see Les Miserable out there, but we didn't get a chance. I haven't really found any theater out here in Great Falls. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melody,

      I worked on Les Mis two years ago in July. I wouldn't have bothered to put makeup on the characters if they didn't have to age. It was a youth production and nobody was over 18 so I was constantly blotting and reapplying more times than I could count.

      Delete
  9. I haven't enjoyed a show under the stars yet, but they do have Shakespeare in the Park here during the summer. I really must go check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Amy,
    I haven't seen a live performance since getting married and I miss it! I would love to see one outside, but my hubs isn't into theater--indoor or out. Le sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Amy, I have never seen a live performance but it's on my to-do list and I think an outdoor theater would just make it magical. It sounds lovely. I really must start on my bucket list soon before time runs out lol. Fabulous post and I learned so much!

    ReplyDelete