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Subject: "Amazing ENB Non Event" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2361
Reading Topic #2361
Brendan McCarthymoderator

19-12-01, 04:44 AM (GMT)
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"Amazing ENB Non Event"
 
   I have a terrible feeling that I unwittingly deleted this entire thread. I have tried to reconstruct it, and until Bruce can retrieve the original, here is what I have been able to manage.


Helen 15-12-01, 04:17 PM (GMT)
"Amazing ENB non-event"
Picture the scene - Saturday afternoon ten days before Christmas, the huge Empire Theatre in Liverpool packed to the roof with excited families, hundreds of children, gangs of old ladies (always in evidence at Saturday matinees), people in wheelchairs, all awaiting their Christmas treat of, naturally, The Nutcracker. I am thinking how good the ENB programme is, with its photos of every dancer and even the orchestra, and above all, a very good article by our own Bruce. 2.30 comes and passes. I start to wonder why it's late. Then a figure - manager or whoever, I don't know who - appears rather sheepishly onstage. Oh, change of cast, I think.
But no. He proceeds to inform us that it has not been possible to reach the required temperature on the stage, and so, with regrets, the performance had to be cancelled. There are one or two tickets left for this evening, if anyone wants them. Ticket money will be refunded within four weeks.

The audience listened politely, and then angry mutterings grew, but there was no riot, just a lot of very, very disappointed people, who on the whole meekly trooped out again, their afternoon ruined. Tears from children. Today is the last day for the ENB in Liverpool, and we do not get much ballet here. No chance of going next week instead.

I have no idea whether this decision was made by the management of the theatre or by ENB or both, but it caused a lot of heartache. From what I heard around me, this was a first ballet for quite a few people, and several said they would be deterred from booking again.

I do understand that it is important that dancers are warm enough, if that was the problem, but I have never known this happen before. Whatever happened to "The show must go on"?

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Table of contents

RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Jane S, 15-12-01, (1)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, margaret lumley, 15-12-01, (2)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Helen, 18-12-01, (3)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Richard Jones, 18-12-01, (4)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Robert, 18-12-01, (5)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Jim, 18-12-01, (6)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Richard Jones, 18-12-01, (7)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, cf, 18-12-01, (8)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Helen, 18-12-01, (9)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Richard Jones, 18-12-01, (10)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Viviane, 18-12-01, (11)
RE: Amazing ENB non-event, Helen, 18-12-01, (12)

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Jane S 15-12-01, 06:37 PM (GMT)
1. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
Helen, I do remember this happening once before, also to ENB I think, though in Manchester perhaps that time. It was years ago, though.
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margaret lumley 15-12-01, 10:09 PM (GMT)
2. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
I sympathise with ENB and certainly with the audience. The Liverpool Empire is a huge cavern which at the best of times would be a nightmare to heat-it was noticable that during the week the temperature in the auditorium was not at its usual sauna level by the first interval. I suspect that the building work in the vicinity could have had an impact.
Unlike London, Liverpool audiences will not have the opportunity to swap tickets for another performance- this is sad because the ticket price for children was £5 - very affordable for the area and for many this was their first trip to the ballet.

I can certainly understand the where is 'the show must go on'in these circumstances. Dancers love to perform -most of the time you cannot keep them off the stage so this is a decision that would not have been made lighty. My understanding is that the stage and surrounding area must be at a prescribed temperature for health and safety reasons.

Jane- you were right. ENB cancelled an evening performance in manchester for the similar reasons about 6-7 years ago.However, what I find disappointing for a company that has experienced this situation previously - is the absence of a contingency /disaster recovery plan at least to keep the young audience happy- Suggestions include the dancers circulating in costumes (accompanied by the management)to let the kids see them and signing autographs-/having their photo taken etc... it would at least generate some goodwill for the company coming back in the Spring.

Margaret

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Helen 18-12-01, 08:24 AM (GMT)
3. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
In today's Liverpool Daily Post there is an article about the cancellation of this ballet. Apparently the temperature in the theatre was just one degree below that specified by Equity. Is such pedantic and rigid adherence to the rules really necessary? I cannot help thinking that the damage done to the cause of ballet in this instance was much greater than any hypothetical harm to the dancers would have been.
As a seasoned ballet goer, one Nutcracker more or less makes very little difference to me; but I am haunted by the faces of those, both adults and children, who were about to experience their first ballet and were denied it. You can be quite sure that the next time most of them decide on a treat, it will not be ballet. After all, they know now that it might not happen.

Whatever would have happened if the pioneers of ballet in this country had behaved like this? We probably wouldn't have ballet now.


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Richard Jones 18-12-01, 10:52 AM (GMT)
4. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
I read about this cancellation just before going to an ‘end of term’ showcase performance at Bristol Community Dance Centre on Sat. evening, and shared the news with others there. The reaction was (a) amazement, and (b) it doesn’t do the cause of ballet much good (or the theatre).
If this has happened to ENB before, there should be contingency plans. Of all ballets, Nutcracker at Christmas is the one you definitely don’t want to cancel at a moment’s notice. Seasoned ballet-goers would be disappointed enough if suddenly told of the cancellation of any performance, but to let down the children, the grannies, and the first-timers in this way when they are ready for the big Christmas treat is a PR disaster. Does ENB now spend time and money seeking damages from the theatre? Where does it all go from here?

So, what contingency plans could they have?….…..

I think that ENB should issue all the dancers with practice clothes designed in some way to match the Nutcracker designs (or at least make it obvious who is dancing what). It would be better to see the dancers performing in colourful all-over lycra than not at all. When it’s really cold, football carries on, but goalkeepers play in tracksuit bottoms – better that than get frozen on the goal-line. Also, in some countries where the weather is notoriously cold, footballers wear tights (I’ve seen it in this country too, when snow was on the ground). There are so many ‘breathable’ fabrics that have been developed for athletes to wear in cold weather; this wouldn’t be difficult to fix. Some might prefer this ‘change-strip’ to parts of the ENB Nut designs!


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Robert 18-12-01, 01:36 PM (GMT)
5. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
Recently at High Wycombe it was cold for Mark Morris. They did dance but he was rightly very grumpy about it. At the post show talk he camped about in a huge shawl and asked us all to complain to the management.
It is dangerous to dance cold, although lots of peaole have done it.
Richard I am amazed at your talk of football, when I was a boy(I know, boring!) we just froze. Tracksuits had not been invented we just pulled our socks up high over our knees. I am sure lots of lady dancers would look super socks over thier knees.
I expect it is also dangerous to play football cold but it does not matter, if you are stupid enough to play or particularly watch it you deserve all you get.
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Jim 18-12-01, 02:08 PM (GMT)
6. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
>I expect it is also dangerous
>to play football cold but
>it does not matter
That's precisely why footballers and other sports persons go through a ritualised warming up process aforewards! I think dancers might do it too.


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Richard Jones 18-12-01, 02:16 PM (GMT)
7. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
LAST EDITED ON 18-12-01 AT 02:58 PM (GMT)
Robert, I remember those days well - also school cross-country runs in the freezing cold, with no proper warm-ups - amazing we didn't pull the odd muscle. Present day professional footballers play a much faster game now than used to be the case, and their preparation is much more scientific (think of the money wrapped up in the enterprise).

I can appreciate that it is dangerous for dancers on a cold stage, especially as some characters may have to stand still for a bit then suddenly burst into action. That was why I was trying to imagine the emergency cold-weather version of Nutcracker - I like the idea of the Danse des Mirlitons with football socks pulled over their knees! Any other suggestions? Sugar Plum in a suitably textured white all-in-one looking as if she had been drenched in icing sugar?...

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cf 18-12-01, 04:18 PM (GMT)
8. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
LAST EDITED ON 18-12-01 AT 04:21 PM (GMT)
I heard the end of a 'review of the papers' on Radio 5 this morning where one of the guests was from Liverpool. She was discussing the 'Amazing ENB non-event' mentioning how first time ballet goers will not repeat the experience in a hurry, which is unfortunate to say the least. I would have thought that the Empire itself was responsible for the temperature on stage and should there not be a penalty system if they don't comply?

She stressed the '1 degree' angle which insinuated that the dancers were being pedantic rather than the theatre at fault???

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Helen 18-12-01, 04:43 PM (GMT)
9. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
LAST EDITED ON 18-12-01 AT 05:00 PM (GMT)
The article in the local paper implies that the theatre admits that it was their fault that the temperature was "one degree below the minimum", though they don't know why, because the theatre has recently been renovated at a cost of six and a half million, and has (I quote) a "state of the art heating system". According to their computers everything was working properly.

It is particularly sad because Liverpool is a centre for a very large area, including rural North Wales, Lancashire and a lot of Cheshire. Some people had come a long way, making a big effort to transport their whole families. I really do think a point (no pun intended!) might have been stretched.

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Richard Jones 18-12-01, 06:22 PM (GMT)
10. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
I'm surprised that the theatre temperature was allowed to be so near the minimum in any event. One degree doesn't make a great deal of difference, and one could argue that cancellation of the performance came about as a result of someone being pedantic. On the other hand, the theatre should surely have been heated comfortably above the minimum required.
Years ago I used to live and work in Shropshire, so I know just how big a catchment area Liverpool has for the arts. It is one thing to live in a big city, but quite another to have to drive long distances in order to keep in touch with companies such as ENB. The thought of a long journey home with disappointed young children who have just been cheated out of a Christmas treat is not one to contemplate. It will be interesting to see what effect this disaster has on future bookings. Those responsible for maintaining the performing arts at major venues should not be cavalier about their stewardship. They have a big role to play in sustaining civilised values in our society.

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Viviane 18-12-01, 08:58 PM (GMT)
11. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
>....that the temperature was "one
>degree below the minimum", though
>they don't know why, because
>the theatre has recently been
>renovated at a cost of
>six and a half million,
>and has (I quote) a
>"state of the art heating
>system". According to their computers
>everything was working properly.

Any idea what was the outside temperature that day ?
We overhere have sometimes a problem with the minimum-demands for heating-calculations : outside temperature -10 !, but if you have this temperature for about 5 days a lot of heating-installations are not powerfull enough
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Helen 18-12-01, 11:04 PM (GMT)
12. "RE: Amazing ENB non-event"
The outdoor temperature was about minus 1 to plus 1, I should think - nothing really extreme. It had been around and below freezing for several days. The auditorium felt comfortable.
I noticed this story was on the national BBC TV 6 o'clock news tonight. (The production opens in London today, I think.) It showed the outside of the Liverpool Empire, dancers warming up by electric heaters - presumably at the Coliseum, since they have now left Liverpool - and Christopher Nourse explaining about the dangers of cold muscles. And of course, a little girl saying how much she had wanted to see the Sugar Plum Fairy. It was the tug-at-the-heartstrings Christmas story at the end of the news.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Amazing ENB Non Event Brendan McCarthymoderator 19-12-01 1
     RE: Amazing ENB Non Event Bruce Madmin 19-12-01 2
         RE: Amazing ENB Non Event alison 19-12-01 4
  RE: Amazing ENB Non Event Viviane 19-12-01 3
     RE: Amazing ENB Non Event Helen 14-01-02 5
         RE: Amazing ENB Non Event alison 14-01-02 6

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Brendan McCarthymoderator

19-12-01, 04:46 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Brendan%20McCarthy Click to send private message to Brendan%20McCarthy Click to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: Amazing ENB Non Event"
In response to message #0
 
   At the point that I deleted the thread, this is what I had been trying to add to it.

The BBC News piece mentioned by Helen is on Realplayer at http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/1715000/video/_1718377_ballet18_nisbet_vi.ram

BBC Online has a text report at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/england/newsid_1718000/1718280.stm


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Bruce Madmin

19-12-01, 07:07 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Amazing ENB Non Event"
In response to message #1
 
  
Good recovery! Glad you managed to put up your copy of the thread because Removing a thread is pretty much a one-way trip - no Wastebasket on Web servers! Given the contributions are all there I think we'll leave things be for now rather then do horrid stuff with tapes, which are probably suited better to complete disaster recovery anyway.

Re ENB: when this happened before there was a lot of ill-feeling. But I do worry for dancers - a min temperature is specified for bloody good reason. And from what I generally see dancers are not a complaining, clock-watching, contract reading bunch - they do lots of stuff beyond the call of any terms and conditions. They really do. But risking doing themselves a horrid mischief in known bad conditions is not one of them and I think the right thing happened. This is an issue for the theatre (and their insurers?).


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alison

19-12-01, 06:17 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Amazing ENB Non Event"
In response to message #2
 
   LAST EDITED ON 19-12-01 AT 06:18 PM (GMT)

The fact that the auditorium may be perfectly warm isn't necessarily an indication of conditions backstage. The stage curtain can have a very insulating effect. Yesterday at the Coliseum, the distinctly warm auditorium turned noticeably colder once the curtain was up - it felt like quite a draught. I was rather surprised that the problem happened at a Saturday matinee, though - previous problems have I believe tended to be associated with the first day of the season when the backstage doors are open for long periods to allow scenery etc. to be brought in.


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Viviane

19-12-01, 08:13 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Amazing ENB Non Event"
In response to message #0
 
   Thanks for making this up with the BBC 'realplayer' link

>According to their computers everything was working properly !
hmmm...it's not wise to rely on computers only, for decisions about the 'comfortable-temperature'...


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Helen

14-01-02, 12:36 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Amazing ENB Non Event"
In response to message #3
 
   Just an update:

ENB and the Liverpool Empire have got together and offered everyone who missed the Nutcracker free tickets for weekday performances of Romeo and Juliet in March. They also sent me, and presumably everyone else, a CD of music from Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty and a detailed letter of explanation.

This morning I got another letter from the Empire, this time in conjunction with the Chisinau National Ballet, who are due to appear next week. It offers £5 off adult tickets and one free child ticket for weekday performances of Swan Lake or Nutcracker, and for each child a free autographed souvenir programme and a "ballet goody bag".

They are clearly making an effort, though it's a pity they can't offer tickets for the Saturday performances. Having seen the Chisinau Ballet's Nutcracker last year, I can't say I'm keen to see it again, but I may - ballet is ballet, after all, and should be supported. Let's just hope they've sorted out the heating!


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alison

14-01-02, 01:25 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Amazing ENB Non Event"
In response to message #5
 
   >Just an update:
>
>ENB and the Liverpool Empire have
>got together and offered everyone
>who missed the Nutcracker free
>tickets for weekday performances of
>Romeo and Juliet in March.
>They also sent me, and
>presumably everyone else, a CD
>of music from Swan Lake
>and Sleeping Beauty and a
>detailed letter of explanation.
>
I thought this would probably happen, but it sounds as though ENB are going to lose out financially, if they're having to give away free seats. I hope they are able to recoup the costs from somewhere.


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