Thursday, 4 November 2010

History of The Big Bands Darius Campbell Foldback Speaker Issue

I have decided to separate this complaint from my actual review of the fabulous show as the performers can hardly be held to account for the positioning of equipment used.

We have been to see shows from the smallest to the very biggest but never have I seen the foldback speakers (aka monitor speakers) of such a size and in such a mindlessly stupid position that nobody gave a thought as to whether the audience could see past them.

For the front three or four rows in front of the stage who had gone to see a "Big Band" with Darius and Nova we actually got to see between a half and 2/3 of the band depending on how far back you were. I could see 8.5 of the 16 piece band (including half a drummer centre!). I doubt if the lady and gentleman behind me could see much more.

I am no artist, obviously, but the diagram above shows where these roughly 2" square monstrosities were positioned. For 4 people in the front row they were literally right in front of the face 2"-3" from edge of stage(I was Mr Dark Blue line). Even the lovely elderly couple in the very centre could only see 1/2 the band - how utterly ridiculous is that?

None of the front rows were happy with this but, having asked at interval time on behalf of a lot of disgruntled people, apparently nothing could be done apart from relocating anybody who wanted to go to a free seat at the back. Great! You have a prime seat but to see the stage you have to move to the back for a view. Unsurprisingly nobody took up the offer. Instead we all mumbled our fury through the second half too.

For anybody who wonders what those stage facing speakers are actually for they are so the performer hears the band's music as it is played. Otherwise he hears the delayed reflected sound from the auditorium and sings out of sync.

So could anything have been done? Of course it could!

Foldback speakers are never normally a view blocking issue for anybody in the auditorium. Usually if large (as these were) they are at the sides of the stage where they have little impact. But on many occasions there are several smaller ones across the stage but positioned a few feet onto the stage so you can see over them. Also if there really is some really, really good scientific reason why these had to be positioned at stage edge bang in front of audience members then why wasn't the front of the stage where the orchestra pit is lowered by about 8" to reduce the impact?

There was no need for the front part of the stage to be at full height. In fact the whole of the audience would have benefited from this as Darius and Nova performed primarily at the front and the band would have been supremely slightly raised at the rear. The small step down would not have been an issue for 2 young fit performers and this all hardly matters anyway as Nova almost fell flat on her face falling over an equally stupidly placed spotlight placed on the stage in the wings.

This is the first, and I hope the only time, I have been to a show where no thought whatsoever seems to have been given as to how the stage looks (or rather doesn't look) from the auditorium.

Blame on the night was being apportioned to the set-up crew who have travelled with the show. Whether that's where the responsibility lies or not I don't know. I just hope a little more thought and consideration is given to the audience when sound checks are being made. No good having an audience coming to see a show only to find they can't see half of it!

I am also utterly bewildered by a Twitter competition @EBTheatres did at the beginning of the week to win 5 sets of tickets to this show. To win all that was required was to send a DM (direct message) to @EBTheatres. Now that's all very well but as any twitterer knows to send a DM you not only have to follow the establishment they have to follow you as well.

522 loyal theatre fans currently follow EBTheatres for news and events. In return @EBTheatres follow just 88! These 88 are primarily made up of other theatres from all around the UK, journalists, council departments and theatre producers.

Now I know 14 years ago my brain decided to hemorrhage of its own accord but I don't think my common sense went with it at the time? What is the point of any loyal theatre goer following any theatre on Twitter that holds a competition that only it's chosen favourites can enter?

We already had tickets but it would have been nice to take our 77 year old dear friend to see this nostalgic event. But I'm with you poor other 434 other @EBTheatres followers who clearly are not amongst the chosen ones.

I love promoting theatre and especially Eastbourne's when they have such a great programme of shows and such excellent venues but when they do things like this I wonder if the customer really is coming first?

As it stands I'm a bit stumped as to why we are all following @EBTheatres. I hope they let us know what the point is?

My thankfully very favourable review of this show will follow this rant.
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