Anything Goes : Do we want to copy Paris and see advertisements in theatres before the curtain goes up? by Richard Fitzwilliams

Richard Fitzwilliams

Do we want to copy Paris and see advertisements in theatres before the curtain goes up?

It seems a dozen French theatres will be showing advertising before the curtain goes up? Do we want this? Trailers and advertisements will be shown. Cash strapped theatres feel they are forced to do it. Yet this will surely cheapen the theatrical experience. I only see movies after the trailers and advertisements as I choose not to see spoilers and don't like them. In London however, theatre prices have risen astronomically. Will it happen in the West End to prevent them rising further?How does everyone feel about entering a theatre and instead of the expectant hush we get discordant sounds?

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Yes, as long as it does not interfere with the film. Revenues are very tight for theater owners. They need the money.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Ads are always shown in movie theaters already...? Every movie I see there are ads and movie trailers shown before the featured film. It's annoying, sure, but I have no problem with theater owners -- especially locally-owned small theaters -- doing what's necessary to stay in business. Streaming has been disruptive.

Richard Fitzwilliams

Steven and Beth-I should have clarified, I meant before plays. We've always had ads in movie theatres and naturally I accept there always will be will be but in theatres when the curtain is down there is anticipation until you see the stage and film trailers there will be disruptive

Donna M. Carbone

Aren't we already doing that?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Either way, movie theater or stage theater, I have no issue with theaters doing whatever they need to do so they can stay afloat financially—especially with smaller, locally-owned businesses. Consider a possible and plausible alternative: If they can't make ends meet, they close their doors—we don't ever want that to happen! Some have patrons or sponsors, yes, and receive public donations, sure, but perhaps that's not enough to cover hard costs. In printed programs for plays I've seen print ads. So... They're going to do whatever they need to do to survive. ;)

Richard Fitzwilliams

Donna-not in the UK yet.

Beth-is it really one or the other? Here in London the prices have soared but so is business with half the West End stages as usual devoted to musicals. Seat prices are very high. Even so I think it is a shame, perhaps an inevitable one.

Diandra Anne Mamo

I actually find that surreally odd and sour. For as long as i can remember, entering a theatre - be it an audience member or an actor - has an wonderful outworldly experience to it. To enter a unique surrounding, fresh every season with the production set, for us actors to see beyond what can be possible on that empty stage, to reach out to the audience and emplify the awesome-ness of that theatre unified to our energy and joy in what we're about to give through our characters or performance media.

Honestly every theatre has its own character, pleasing to the eye. Its own history, as it is with us Maltese to perform at the Manoel Theatre in Valletta. Performing at that theatre to us is like we've made it, like Broadway.

It was very off when a Maltese production of Don Juan was performed with English subtitles overhead that glitched a few times (sadly for the tourists, partly) and distracted the local audience from the action onstage. Let alone ads prior performance.

So i can't imagine anyone entering the Manoel and see a bunch of ads on a white screen or whatever before the play starts. Not only for the audience but for us actors too, takes out the joy, concentration and positive anticipation in every night.

Can you imagine any such approval from top theatre practitioner from 18th Century (or earlier) till now?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Richard, I just said "possible" and "plausible," not one or the other... And there are wide ranges of theaters and theater groups with different economical challenges. A small, local group in my area sometimes announce "This Performance is Sponsored by...." beforehand because that entity gave money to the production. And on the performance program they print that company's logo and message. And often their promotional ads and posters for the play performance, those ads will include the sponsor(s) as well. Many companies like to show that they support the arts—which is a good thing. All the 'advertising' that I have seen in a theater has been handled very well—verbally announced or printed in the program. And I think "shame" is a bit harsh. Annoying, sure. The larger issue is that fewer people go to the theater and production is costly, hence the increase in ticket prices. But overall, I don't think adding 'advertising' will affect the special allure of the theater. Hopefully any changes to a theater experience will be handled judiciously. :)

Debbie Croysdale

I completely understand @Diandra @Richard about the "Hushed Respect" expected before curtain rise in Theatres. However times change and we now have advertisement interference in every aspect of life. Money talks and is necessary for the upkeep of these loveable institutions who may become redundant dinosaurs without outside funds. Hell yeah its Crass.... I grew up with Grandparents who took me to the Theatre first Saturday of every month and remember the butterflies in my stomach when everything went "QUIET" and then got "God Save The Queen" .....But We cannot bite the hand that feeds, irritating though Ads are, they are a necessary evil in todays financial climate. As artists whether sat in the gallery watching or performing on stage we don't want the latest car shoved down our throats or some moron telling us we are the best thing since sliced bread to get our signature. However ....Don't let these idiosyncrasies interfere with the Art in hand.

Richard Fitzwilliams

Beth Fox

Yes it must be handled well, that's for sure. The theatre has relatively recently received enormous benefit from the screening of shows live in cinemas, a brilliant idea nationally as well as internationally. Its about the only way I'm going to be able to see Hamilton! Its not the same of course but it has a cachet. Sponsorship on the program is obviously fine, so far I agree that advertising has been handled well, this seemed to me to pose a threat to the calm before the performance though given West End prices, who knows what will happen here. Sponsors are so important. However if started where could this go next-in the interval too I presume, which we no longer have to interrupt films.

Debbie I agree we can't stand still but an ambience, a cachet needs preserving. My goodness your comment about the national anthem takes me back. I heard it once on a cruise after a film!

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