Being there- almost

Last weekend (i.e. 16th January) we went to see the National Theatre Live production of Hamlet at the Cinema Nova in Carlton.

I’ve seen opera advertised in the same format, but I must admit that I was rather puzzled by the designation ‘live’.  It was scheduled to start at 1.00 p.m. in Theatres 1 and 3, but Theatre 3 was opened up 15 minutes prior to Theatre 1- and surely it wasn’t live at 2.00 a.m. in London?! I’ve since deduced from the posters advertising 9 December 2010 that we must have been one of the four countries watching it on delayed broadcast- five weeks later!

What an odd experience! Our cinema audience in Melbourne Australia filed in, popcorn and choctops in hand, only to see an audience on the other side of the world likewise filing in and taking their seats.  The cameras were visible at the front of the stage. The image shifted back and forth between the view of the whole stage you might have from your seat were you actually there,  to close-ups just as you might see in a film.  How strange: not just for the actors who would need to display the nuance of facial expression picked up by the camera but also the large gesture of the stage; but  for the audience here in Melbourne  too, aware (well, assuming) that this was running live with all the edginess and potential for mishaps this denotes but viewed from even closer than the very, very best seat in the house.   It had the urgency of ‘quick- we need to see it this weekend because it’s only on this Saturday and Sunday!’ and yet you knew, deep down, that you’d only paid $25.00 for your ticket and that you really weren’t all  glammed up for a night at the the-eatre at lunchtime on a Sunday afternoon.

How seductive all this televising is.  I generally watch my football on television at home and on the rare occasions that I might go to the MCG, I find myself watching the vision on the large screen rather than the small dots running around the field far below us.  I pull myself up, thinking  “You’re actually HERE- watch the game, not the screen!” but ah- you can see so much more on the screen.

Then there was the Grand Final rematch last year between my beloved St Kilda and the dastardly Collingwood.  I mentioned the draw very briefly  in this blog, but not the rematch the following week which saw my lovely boys humiliated. [Curse all those Collingwood supporters floating around with their ‘Magpies Premiers 2010’ stickers on their cars- my fingers itch for my car key to just casually…etch…its..way… along…their…duco.  Ooops- did I say that? I may just have to disable the comments function.]

Anyway, with their coffers swelled by an unanticipated rematch, the AFL opened up the newly-completed soccer ground at AAMI Park across the road from the MCG for the overflow crowd to watch on the big screens for free.  So there we were, in a half-empty stadium with a big screen, watching a game that was taking place across the road in a packed MCG, so close that you could almost but not quite hear it .   It was a warm Spring day and we wanted to sit under shade so we sat at one end of the rectangle, with the screens at the other end.  We were there, but we weren’t. There was another much closer screen facing the other way behind us which we could see if we turned around.  But- oh, the pain, the pain- directly in front of us were Collingwood supporters sitting on the ground, facing us, watching the screen behind us.  Not only did we have to watch the crushing of our boys, but we also had to witness the delight of the Collingwood fans in front of us- a truly gruesome ordeal.

You can just see the large screen at the far end of the ground. Mr Judge has turned round and is watching the screen behind us, looking rather downcast. (Click to make bigger image)

The screen immediately behind us if we turned round.

Needless to say, it was such a blood bath that we left early, along with many other St Kilda supporters.

Check out the body language!

And come to think of it, we left early from Hamlet last weekend.  Not because it was a bloodbath – we left before that- and not because we weren’t enjoying it- Rory Kinnear was terrific and made you feel as if you were watching it for the very first time.  No, we left because I didn’t realize that the production went for 210 minutes and a 10 minute interval- we had a dinner to cook!  Would we have walked out on a real, fair-dinkum performance?- I don’t think so.   We were there, almost- but not really.

4 responses to “Being there- almost

  1. LOL Janine … Daughter Hannah went to this in Canberra last weekend. (She commented how long it was – she had somewhere to go to and didn’t end up having time to go home and change.) I went to a similar Opera event wit Sue Chan a couple of years ago. It was a triple bill opera – one of the first ones I ever saw live – and so had two intervals just as if you were at the opera hall. It was a fun – but weird as you say – experience.

  2. I went to a football match at the MCG once. While I could see what was happening on the field, my brain could not translate it to anything meaningful. I too watched the screen.

    • Yes Andrew, we’ve become accustomed to the commentary and the visuals creating a narrative of what we’re watching. When you’re actually there (and particularly at the distance we’re at in the cheap seats!), you have to work out for yourself where to direct your attention.

  3. I’ve often wondered about the “live” theatre and opera performances at the cinema, but have never been to one. Why do they need to charge $25 just to essentially go to the movies? Hmmm. And why is it you can take popcorn and choctops in at the movies, but you never can at a play? It’s interesting to read about your experience though Janine.

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