Jump to content

Intervals - too long ?


Recommended Posts

I've been struck during a couple of recent performances how long the intervals are (Onegin and Firebird at ROH both had a couple of 25 min breaks).

My feeling is that unless there is a very good reason for such breaks (major set change/costume change etc etc) they are tedious. They break up the drama and narrative ..and  I suspect they must be a pain for the dancers who have to keep warm.

What do people think ? I think its nice to have a chat..but 50 mins seems excessive. My suspicion is that the long breaks are simply a means to encourage people to spend money at the bar. If so I don't think thats a good enough reason.....

I wd have thought one longer break and one short would be fine. 20 min and 10 min. any thoughts #impatient  #'letsgetonwithit

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a personal point of view - disabled and a slow walker - the two long intervals don't bother me too much. For instance, Iwould struggle to get to the loo and back to my seat in 10 minutes.

 

Maybe 2 x 20 minutes would be a bit better? There's quite a significant set change for Act 3 of Onegin. ENB have 2 intervals for Sleeping Beauty too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Japan we usually have 20 minutes for intermission at a ballet performance but I think it is too short because especially here the ladies make a long queue at the lady's room and we don't have much time left other than that, hardly no time to socialize.

 

Maybe there is a difference between men and women because of physical reasons like this, women need more time at the rest room, like redoing makeup and other things. I think 25 minutes is fine for intermissions. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Japan we usually have 20 minutes for intermission at a ballet performance but I think it is too short because especially here the ladies make a long queue at the lady's room and we don't have much time left other than that, hardly no time to socialize.

 

Maybe there is a difference between men and women because of physical reasons like this, women need more time at the rest room, like redoing makeup and other things. I think 25 minutes is fine for intermissions. 

 

I think Naomi has hit the nail on the head, and that if Norman were Norma he would have a different view on the matter, having had the peculiar joy of waiting in line for the facilities at a theatre! Especially with the ballet audience being 80% female (at least it is here in Canada and from my observation the proportion is even higher in Japan), the problem is exacerbated for ballet performances.

At the ROH and some other theatres, some people are eating dinner in the intermissions so more time is needed. I personally find it very civilized having my main course before the show and then coming back for dessert in the intermission.

At the National Ballet of Canada, intermissions are 20 minutes but the volunteers running the ballet shop would like them to be longer so as to be able to sell more stuff. Since this money supports the company substantially, so an intermission to "encourage people to spend more money" is not actually an evil thing!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Norman, I was going to wholeheartedly agree with you till I read Spanner and Naomi's (and now Katherine's) responses.

 

I suppose I've just struck lucky before now that I have had time to go to the loo or haven't needed to.  I bet next time I go to the theatre........

 

I think 20 minutes should be adequate.  If I am on my own, I must admit that I do find 25 minutes or longer hard to fill in and if I am watching a story ballet I don't want to read my book in case I lose the mood.

 

Many years ago at the Liverpool Playhouse (at a performance of Blood Brothers) the theatre extended the interval because of the enormous queue at the ladies.  The down side was that my friend and I had to leave before the end to get the last train home!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been struck during a couple of recent performances how long the intervals are (Onegin and Firebird at ROH both had a couple of 25 min breaks).

My feeling is that unless there is a very good reason for such breaks (major set change/costume change etc etc) they are tedious. They break up the drama and narrative ..and  I suspect they must be a pain for the dancers who have to keep warm.

What do people think ? I think its nice to have a chat..but 50 mins seems excessive. My suspicion is that the long breaks are simply a means to encourage people to spend money at the bar. If so I don't think thats a good enough reason.....

I wd have thought one longer break and one short would be fine. 20 min and 10 min. any thoughts #impatient  #'letsgetonwithit

Given that it can take me 5 minutes to get out of the ROH auditorium from the middle of the front row, I don't think a 10 minute interval would be overly useful.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, it depends.  The ROH is obviously capable of running 20-minute intervals when they have to in order to keep the running time within 3 hours and avoid overtime payments (R&J, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty), but 25 seems to be the norm.  I think if you were in certain places on the right-hand side of the ROH, where it can take 10 minutes just to get round to the amphitheatre/Floral Hall etc. you might appreciate the extra time (and especially if you were female and needed to use the loo, although there are *some* on the right-hand side) - there have been times where I've barely got to say "hello" to other Balletcoers before the "ten" is being rung.  With the recent triple bill, I suspect the time was certainly needed before Raymonda, where a complete floor has to be laid as well as a very demanding set, and I'm not sure how quick it is to dismantle the Firebird set, either.  It's when we get to 30 minutes in a short mixed bill with seemingly not very complex sets and you really get the feeling the evening is just being padded out unnecessarily that I start complaining.

 

Away from the ROH, I think Sadler's Wells runs nominal 20-minute intervals, although I'm pretty sure some of them have taken a lot longer than that, and I never usually time them.  The place that really irritates me is the Coliseum, where they simply announce the "three", leaving you to dump your drink/ice cream and rush for your seat, only to find you have to wait ages after that for the performance to begin.  Again, I don't usually keep track of the interval length: it's only because the ROH specifies them so clearly on the cast sheet that I notice. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have long believed that the Royal Opera House plans its programmes around its catering arrangements.  It's quite interesting to note as you return to your seat (well after the five-minute bell if you have an aisle seat near a door) how many of the diners are still eating. My suspicion is that the house lights don't go down until they return to their seats. It seems the majority are being kept waiting for the convenience of the affluent few who can afford to eat there.
 

I think the Amphitheatre Restaurant would be better-used if its offer during performances was less rigid and it remained open post-performance, say to midnight, along with a late-licence bar.  Personally, I would much prefer to socialise afterwards if the running-times could be reduced.


Naomi M, the under-provision of ladies' loos is an ongoing problem in London theatres too: we need more female architects and better biology lessons for the males!

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The trend at the ROH is for short intervals(20 minutes) when they wish to finish within 3 hours, and 25 or more minutes when they wish to drag out a short programme, many times the intervals are longer than the ballets, don't think this would be acceptable elsewhere, personally I become tired and bored, and lose interest if it's a 3 act ballet.

 

Obviously this affects me more as I have a longish journey home, but I would get just as bored if I lived around the corner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about non-Londoners?  One of my friends comes down to performances from Nottingham and almost needs running shoes to get back to the station on time.

 

Perhaps if the stalls circle bar was re-opened people wouldn't have to queue so long for a drink and there used to me more loos dotted around the building at one time too.  Frankly I'm not a fan of the changes made to the front of house.

 

The changes needed were backstage and surely with the new arrangements set changes are simplicity itself as each is simply wheeled over from the side of the stage.  Unless something goes wrong, they don't need 30 minutes to stike a set.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was at the Royal Opera House on Wed and we got to talk to one of the guys responsible for set changes and one thing he pointed out about triple bills is that they generally have to lay a new lino floor down for each ballet (or, if it's A Month in the Country, a cloth one!) which takes a fair bit of time. It hadn't crossed my mind that different ballets require different coloured linos!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about non-Londoners?  One of my friends comes down to performances from Nottingham and almost needs running shoes to get back to the station on time.

 

Perhaps if the stalls circle bar was re-opened people wouldn't have to queue so long for a drink and there used to me more loos dotted around the building at one time too.  Frankly I'm not a fan of the changes made to the front of house.

 

The changes needed were backstage and surely with the new arrangements set changes are simplicity itself as each is simply wheeled over from the side of the stage.  Unless something goes wrong, they don't need 30 minutes to stike a set.

 

Been there, done that, had more near panic-induced heart attacks than I care to remember and not all at ROH either.

 

Re changing the floor - The 3 acts of BRB's Coppelia, as an example, have separate floors and the changes are achieved within 20 minute intervals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about non-Londoners?  One of my friends comes down to performances from Nottingham and almost needs running shoes to get back to the station on time.

 

Perhaps if the stalls circle bar was re-opened people wouldn't have to queue so long for a drink and there used to me more loos dotted around the building at one time too.  Frankly I'm not a fan of the changes made to the front of house.

 

The changes needed were backstage and surely with the new arrangements set changes are simplicity itself as each is simply wheeled over from the side of the stage.  Unless something goes wrong, they don't need 30 minutes to stike a set.

 

We don't have those problems in Toronto, because if you live more than, say, 40 miles away from the opera house there is no way to get home after the performance, unless you drive (and even less than 40 miles can be a challenge).  If you want to see an evening performance you have to stay overnight. It would be nice to have trains, even with panic-inducing runs to the train station (which is only about 2 minutes by subway from the opera house).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also in Tokyo the trains cease quite early so some of the audience who live in suburbs do rush to the station during curtain calls to catch trains. 

 

So here the evening performances usually start at 18:30pm, which is quite early and it is difficult to be in time for the show if you are working daytime. Which explains one reason why the majority of ballet audience here is consisted of women. 

 

And due to short intermissions (and not enough loos), we often see ladies rushing to the lady's room in the start of intermissions, which is not elegant at all! 

 

We have to find a compromise between interval length and the show finishing time...  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The trend at the ROH is for short intervals(20 minutes) when they wish to finish within 3 hours, and 25 or more minutes when they wish to drag out a short programme, many times the intervals are longer than the ballets, don't think this would be acceptable elsewhere, personally I become tired and bored, and lose interest if it's a 3 act ballet. Obviously this affects me more as I have a longish journey home, but I would get just as bored if I lived around the corner!

 

You should come and have a chat with us Beryl! Mind you, no guarantee we won't bore you even more!!!  ;-)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that ROH is the main culprit for over long intervals.  I am sorry but when they tell you on the Opera House tours that they are only 1 of 2 theatres in the whole world that have the capability to change set in under 90 seconds then something is not quite right - OK I hear what has been said about floors and toilet queues, fair enough.  However, other theatres manage with shorter intervals. I am convinced the whole thing with ROH boils down to money and getting people to dine/drink or whatever.   It really really annoys me that very often the intervals are longer than the ballets we are watching e.g. Jewels, triple bills....and frankly it disrupts enjoyment of the production.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Norman, you have mentioned 25 minute intervals. Intervals of 30 minutes are not uncommon at the ROH, and when I saw Carbon Life the interval preceding it must have been closer to 40 minutes. If you are on your own and/or do not want to spend too much (or any) money the long intervals are annoying. It's interesting to hear that the intervals are only 20 minutes when they need to be. I can accept that there will sometimes be a need for long intervals but I don't accept that they are always necessary. And I don't think that they should be long just to give a particular dancer who is cast in two or more ballets in a triple bill "a breather", as someone put it in another thread. The RB has plenty of dancers and should not cast the same dancer in two consecutive ballets if it is too demanding for him or her. I do think that the ROH needs to be more mindful of its audience's need to get home on public transport after the evening performances. Perhaps longer evening performances should start at 7pm instead of 7.30 pm if the intervals cannot be shortened.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps they do a test - someone with a stopwatch who times somebody else go to the loo, queue at the bar, buy a drink, drink it, sneak out the back for a fag, sneak back in, chat to a friend, and finally make it back to their seat to have another look at the programme before the lights go down again....?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about non-Londoners?  One of my friends comes down to performances from Nottingham and almost needs running shoes to get back to the station on time.

 

It's not only non-Londoners, MAB.  Onegin tonight started 5 minutes late: as a result, I got to the station 2 minutes too late for my last train connection.  And that's a 2 1/2-hour ballet!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Norman, you have mentioned 25 minute intervals. Intervals of 30 minutes are not uncommon at the ROH, and when I saw Carbon Life the interval preceding it must have been closer to 40 minutes. If you are on your own and/or do not want to spend too much (or any) money the long intervals are annoying. It's interesting to hear that the intervals are only 20 minutes when they need to be. I can accept that there will sometimes be a need for long intervals but I don't accept that they are always necessary. And I don't think that they should be long just to give a particular dancer who is cast in two or more ballets in a triple bill "a breather", as someone put it in another thread. The RB has plenty of dancers and should not cast the same dancer in two consecutive ballets if it is too demanding for him or her. I do think that the ROH needs to be more mindful of its audience's need to get home on public transport after the evening performances. Perhaps longer evening performances should start at 7pm instead of 7.30 pm if the intervals cannot be shortened.

Starting at 7:00pm is a good idea for those having a long commute back home but this would mean that the dancers have to stop their rehearsals at 17:00 instead of 17:30 (surely the ones taking the rehearsals wouldn't be too happy, they are always sort of running out of time).

The dancers need a break and time to rest after a long busy day of rehearsals, to eat, to warm-up again, do their hair and make-up, ..... Clearly 90 minutes would not suffice to do all this. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

I am amazed at the naivety of some of the above posts.

Interval times reflect the time it takes to prepare performers costumes and

scenery for an often-complex series of changes. It’s as simple as that. It

always seems a small miracle to me that this is achieved so efficiently and

effectively by a relatively small number of backstage staff.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only gripe I have about ROH intervals is the often lengthy wait for the performance to get underway after the audience (or at least most of us) have been herded back by the fanfare/handbell system.  It prolongs the actual interval time quite a lot, even if one leaves it until the last minute before returning to the auditorium.  Perhaps the comment about curtain-up having to wait for the people still eating in the Crush Room is not too far off the mark.

 

Edited for typo

Edited by AnneMarriott
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Starting at 7:00pm is a good idea for those having a long commute back home but this would mean that the dancers have to stop their rehearsals at 17:00 instead of 17:30 (surely the ones taking the rehearsals wouldn't be too happy, they are always sort of running out of time).

The dancers need a break and time to rest after a long busy day of rehearsals, to eat, to warm-up again, do their hair and make-up, ..... Clearly 90 minutes would not suffice to do all this. 

 Perhaps they could start their working day half an hour earlier, after all it will end half an hour earlier!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Perhaps they could start their working day half an hour earlier, after all it will end half an hour earlier!

Many already start an hour to an hour and a half before their working day officially starts at 10:30. They too commute to the ROH/Hippodrome/... and often have a 10 to 12 hour working day. Surely Janet you know when they finish a performance at 22:30, by the time many dancers get home, eat, unwind and manage to fall asleep it'll be well past midnight (closer to 01:00am)...and they're up again early, commute and work 10/12 hours...who will work so many hours in the day, often without a decent break during the day, or even time to sit down and eat a proper meal - and that 6 days a week? Starting 30 min earlier? Ask any dancer, they'd treasure that extra 30 min of sleep in the morning!

I have several friends who are professional dancers and I can't believe how it is even humanely possible to get through a long day of class, many rehearsals.... followed by a performance (and on Saturday's often dancing a double show). 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But Nina, everything would be shifted half an hour earlier, including their home and bed time (even allowing time to eat and wind down).  I'm not denying the commitment of dancers or the hours they have to put in, indeed I have become very well aware of it over the years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But Nina, everything would be shifted half an hour earlier, including their home and bed time (even allowing time to eat and wind down).  I'm not denying the commitment of dancers or the hours they have to put in, indeed I have become very well aware of it over the years.

When I started going to the ballet Janet I very naively assumed dancers would simply come into the theatre around 18:00, get dressed... and dance.....How wrong was I! I had no idea whatsoever about a dancers's working day/week. My utmost respect for and adoration of dancers is huge now. They are indeed "Gods of the Dance" and super human too. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the length of the interval is dictated by the time it takes for the entire orchestra to drink their coffee, have a smoke outside the scenery dock doors, and send a text to their spouse/offspring!!!

Coffee??!!  ;)

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...