The theater rises upwards, or at least the central space, where the auditorium is. This is the great space between the stage and the balcony and dress circles. The auditorium is an important design space, which fills the space between the balcony and the stage and it is this space, which opens out and rises upwards. This central space is a unique characteristic of Victorian theaters.
When you visit a theater, you go into the foyer and then you are led to your 'area' whether it is the stalls or the dress circles. The foyer is the entrance into another world. Or you could say that the foyer is a part, one of the parts, of the close-knit structure that is the theater.
There are the entrances into other worlds, or at least one world. For the entrances to the dress circles, the balcony, the stalls, are just different entrances. They are different viewing areas for one show. You could say that they are different viewing areas for different visual and auditory 'shows'. A theatre is for entertainment. It is structured so that people or the audience can see and listen to the visual and aural effects of the show.
The theater is a place for visual effects, because people come to see a show. The structure of the theater from the stalls to the gods, you could say, is to allow the visual effects to be seen. You are looking down from the gods. You look down from the circles, and you look across in the stalls. The structure of the theater is also to allow the full artistic effect to be produced or, you could say, the full effects of the entertainment on the stage to be produced.
That is why the form of the 19th century west-end theaters is admirable. Their form is functional. It is functional because the structure of the building aims to heighten and bring to full fruition the visual effects of the show. The visual effect is important! This is apparent in the way that the theatre seats, in some way, grade upwards. There is the fact that seats go upwards -higher and higher- to the upper dress circle and sometimes to the gods and then there is the dome.
What is apparent too is the whole visual effect as well as the general audience closeness to the actors. Yes actors have to act and perform and they need an auditorium. Victorian theaters allowed this, with the centre-piece auditorium and the overall close structure of the theater. There is the emphasis on the visual and the auditory, and the way too that things are functional i.e. seats go upwards. Space is thus important. Within modern theatres sometimes there is too much space. And within this 'close space', there is decoration, the Victorian decorations; the arcs, the shapes and the grotesqueness of the era ; the great theatrical distinctions, you feel them too in the theater, the columns, the curtains.
In some theaters, the stage reaches back and the orchestra is seated at the far end of the stage behind the performance. Sometimes the orchestra sits in front in the stage. However, the former situation is a laudable location for the orchestra and it can be an admirable design element in some performances. Yes when the orchestra plays behind the performance! This can be a real scenographic effect! And when you have the orchestra on stage, it can produce a real scenographic mix.
Victorian theaters hold within them that peculiar theatrical excitement. They 'hold' the closeness. There is the 'show' aspect. There is the fact too that the theatre is for the people.
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