Sunday, 10 November 2013

"David? David Tennant?


is that you?

I like your hair extensions."

D.T. is not only famous for having been a splendid Doctor Who but also for his work on stage. His Hamlet, for instance,  was a revelation. By now everybody who is in the least interested in serious theatre knows what a huge success the current Richard II at the RSC in Stratford is. We booked our tickets last winter, when the box office opened. I think tickets for the whole run were sold out within a few days.

Written almost entirely in verse, Richard II is a story of power and plotting in which the king’s vanity and weakness threaten to drag his people into civil war. Tennant’s performance is mesmerising, growing in power as Richard’s authority declines. Richard only begins to value his kingship as he loses it to the usurper Bolingbroke and achieves tragic dignity only in his own downfall. I was spellbound throughout.

I didn’t take this photo during the performance or in the auditorium itself. After the show Tennant and fellow actors came out into the foyer with collecting buckets for a Theatre Workers Benefit Society and, as luck would have it, we left the auditorium exactly through the door behind which David was standing, still in costume, rattling coins. Crowds of teenaged girls were mobbing him - they had obviously been to the play as part of their year’s syllabus -, creating a bottleneck, and there was a fraught moment when the situation could have become dangerous. Theatre staff cleared the mob and David took his bucket and was manhandled out of the way; but not before I had taken several photos of him. Cameras were going off all around him, adding to the unreal situation.

During the performance I learned how theatres cope with an emergency in the auditorium. In the row next to us a member of the audience collapsed and a commotion ensued. The house manager calmed things down; she checked the situation in the auditorium, arranged for assistance and finally appeared on the stage, stopping the show and informing actors and audience of the incident. The person who had been taken ill was removed and once the doors had been closed the play continued, the actors returned to the stage,  instantly taking up their previous positions and continuing with the scene almost exactly where they had left off. Not in mid-sentence, obviously, but, seamlessly, at the beginning of their line.

For anyone not able to see the RSC in the flesh, it might be of interest to know that they have, like the National Theatre, started to take their productions to a cinema near you.



35 comments:

  1. wow a little bit of excitement there...glad they kept calm though, its reassuring when something goes wrong to have that order and structure...on broadway they do the same bucket collection which is cool to meet some of the cast....i want to go to the theatre again...

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  2. WOW Friko, you were right there in the middle of it all. I love how the play stopped, everything was handled , the sick person was taken care of and the play carried on - true actors do this - if you can be interrupted in the middle of something and then just carry on as though nothing happened (resume your role) that is a powerful gift. You got the photo girl and the bragging rights - terrific. I would have loved to seen that play :)

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  3. There is nothing like live theater. How fortunate you were to have this marvelous experience.

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  4. Yours is the second blog post I've read in two days to extol the excellence of David Tennant's performance as Richard II. You were fortunate to get seats, even if the performance was interrupted temporarily by a well-handled emergency. Shakespeare at Stratford is the best.

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  5. You were wise to book those tickets quickly, Friko. I've read lots of of reviews of this production, and am delighted that you were amongst those able to see it. Having the DT photo op was another plus, of course. Obviously, film acting is very different from performing Shakespeare at Stratford and it's a triumph for the actors who can perform in both arenas.

    Next time, and there will be a next time, I am going to try to get to Stratford myself. Maybe we can both keep an eye out regarding what next year's line up might be. 2014 will be here before we can believe it.

    xo

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  6. Wow! You were where the action is, in more ways than one. Great shot, and I wish I could have been there, too!

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  7. I've thoroughly enjoyed theater the few times I have gone.

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  8. If I ever get back to the UK I would love to see a production by the RSC. Decades ago we saw Romeo & Juliet performed (with basically no props) and it was the best theater I've ever experienced.

    But my goodness, I've never been in the audience when an emergency occurred or been as close to the star of the show.

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  9. Oh dear! How inconsiderate of that person to collapse mid-performance. I admire anyone who can handle an unforeseen situation so level-headedly, like the true professionals they are.

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  10. It's been a while since I saw this play. Is it the one where the king gets a red hot poker in a certain orifice? I read about Richard II in history classes. If only the Black Prince had survived, thee War of the Roses would never have begun. I know more about the Richards than any other kings. My oldest son is named Richard mainly because I saw Lawrence Olivier play Richard III. I loved him.

    Ingenious way to raise funds to keep the arts alive. Too bad someone fainted. Glad it was not you (whom I seem to recall has done this in the recent past.)Dianne

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  11. I have not been to a live show in years, I am jealous. Have a good week Diane

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  12. Love the professionalism and empathy that came to the fore with the collapse of a member of the audience. Live theatre (on or off stage) is a gem.

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  13. O, jealous am I of your good fortune (and glad that the person who was taken ill was cared for instantly)!
    Thank you for sharing…now I want to go to the theatre too...

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  14. The show must go on, and so it does.
    How wonderful to know you were both well enough to use tickets purchased so far in advance. Those of us who aren't getting any younger sometimes quail at making long-range plans, but you don't, and neither does my husband, and all my dithering is for nought because I end up going anyway.
    Bravo for you and Beloved.
    Luv, K

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  15. Sounds like a fabulous play - shame I'm in another country and will miss it.

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  16. Trying not to sound like a teenager, I absolutely love, love, love all your British actors. They are so suburb in creating he subtlety of an emotion or relationship unlike ours who seem to be either on or off! We had a Shakespearean review on TV here and Mr. Tennant talked about his Hamlet role. The series was probably taken from one of the British TV series. I do hate celebrity crowds as I know well how mob rule works.

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  17. Accidents at the theatre have a surreal quality because, well, so much acting and suspension of disbelief has to happen for theatre to work and any incidents that happen seem to somehow want to remain within that bubble of unreality. We went to see Midnight Tango (it was exquisite. I blubbed at the reconciliation dance) and the "baddie" fell of the balcony that was part of the scenery head first into the band from about fifteen feet. The performance was stopped whilst the unconscious dancer was taken to hospital (luckily just across the road). They continued minus one dancer and it was still a flawless production, but with a strange cloud hanging over it at the thought of the poor chap in hospital with suspected neck injuries, the misfortune of which, momentarily we had assumed part of the show.

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  18. I know it's being shown at a cinema near me - I hope I can make it along to a showing :)

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  19. I have a deep longing to attend good theatre--something that's not doable at this stage of my life, location, and finances--so I thank you for letting me feel, at least a bit, like I was there with you that night. For me, if I were an actor, it would be a challenge to plunge back into the scene where it had been interrupted; I admire their ability.

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  20. As a child of the 60s I am still a sucker for a guy in long hair--if it's clean. Sounds like a bit of excitement during an exciting play. :)

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  21. British efficiency, stiff upper lip, MATURITY. Thanks for bringing us along.

    Aloha 🌠

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  22. Oops. Re-reading and meant Royal Shakespeare Company, not National Theatre -- but both are splendid!

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  23. "Crowds of teenaged girls were mobbing him - they had obviously been to the play as part of their year’s syllabus -" and then there are others of us who don't know who he is . . . you, however, are both au courant AND cultured!

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  24. Thanks for this. I already have a ticket and am going to see it on Wednesday. Looking forward even more having read your post:)

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  25. Bother - the comment got lost ...

    Lucky you .. and what a great thought last winter not to miss out ... how fascinating to see how they coped in an emergency and that the Show went on - in the same professional manner, once the emergency had been attended to.

    Next year I must check out where the NT is showing its outreaches .. I haven't seen notice - but it may be Brighton, which is a painful place to visit!!! Irritating ..

    So pleased you had such a fun and interesting time, as well as seeing DT in all his hairy extensions .. fabulous - cheers Hilary

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  26. Yep, the show does go on! And it sounds like you had a chance to see that up close and personal...

    =)

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  27. Of course, I've seen Tennant in 'Doctor Who' only, have not been in theater in Stafford. Did you take photo on your phone or camera, Friko? I lile your picture!

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  28. GREAT pic! Never before now would I have put 'Friko' and 'groupie' in the same sentence… :-)

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  29. i saw him in Hamlet a few years back and he was very good - so glad that you enjoyed

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  30. I adore David Tennant - was first introduced to him via "Dr. Who" (BBCAmerica) and now am going to rent the video of he and Catherine Tate did of "Much Ado About Nothing" through "Digital Theatre". We are a huge theatrical family - participate in community theatre and attend many theatre shows (a few in New York). My son is a poet AND also a drama major in his Jr. year at college. How fun to see Tennant live!

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  31. I've always wondered why Holywood haven't swept him away, but maybe it is DT's own preferences to stay in the UK. I will look out for the cinema productions of the RSC. Freda from Dalamory www.freda.org.uk

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  32. It must have been so exciting to attend this event.. I can only imagine. You are an excellent story teller and I am following!!

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  33. How strange, I thought he was the ugliest Dr Who ever but he is handsome in your photo! That's really startled me for some reason :)

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  34. Wow, what an experience this all must have been. I was able to see the RSC perform King Lear when I was in London a number of years ago. It is one of my most special memories. I shall never forget it. I love to be able to see this performance.

    Years back, we attend a performance of The Phantom of the Opera in Denver, Colorado. During one of the most intense parts of the performance, a woman was taken ill. It all became very confusing. At first, I could not make out what was happening. Finally, I realized that the woman had been very ill and was attended to by a number of people. It ruined the play. I wish they would have stopped the performance and then began again once things were sorted out. I think that would have made the interruption less disruptive.

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