We're Going to the Theatre...
Mille Grazie (Thank you very much) for attending our performance, we hope you enjoy the show!
We understand that your visit to Androcles and the Lion may be your students' first venture to the theatre. Even if they have been before, there are some important things to remember when attending the theatre as members of the audience. Here is a collection of information about the venue, what to expect once you're there and appropriate audience behaviour and participation.
Lights and Sounds
Courtesy and Behaviour
The play will be presented in the USQ Arts Theatre which is located on the campus of the University of Southern Queensland, within A Block of the Faculty of Arts. From the moment you arrive at USQ you will be welcomed as our guests and brought to the foyer where our troop of zanni (clowns) will amuse you and arouse your interest in what lies beyond the doors to the playhouse.
Live theatre, is very different from watching television or a movie. It is a world where stories come to life and characters become real, like Lions. It is a place in which audience members can leave the troubles of reality behind them for an hour. It is a shared place – often with hundreds of other people - so it is important to know and remember that, unlike television, comments can not be made and opinions can not be stated during the show. Live theatre is an experience of a lifetime and there is nothing better than watching a performance first hand.
Lights and Sounds
The lighting of the play has been designed with one very important consideration - that complete darkness can sometimes be overwhelming for younger children. And for this reason, the performance will never be absolutely without light.
Music plays a large part in enhancing the performance and the volume and style varies throughout. For example, the musical score that accompanies The Captain's song is repeated whenever the Captain sings. This helps children understand and immediately recognise the characters as they appear. The use of singing and a lyrical script also make the play easy to follow.
The Music Director of the production, comments on the variety of music, "There are 36 musical queues throughout the play, which is quite a lot for the size of the play and number of characters in the performance. We will be using a variety of instruments, both live and pre-recorded to incorporate the music into the production. Each musical motif helps recognise the characters immediately."
The instruments used throughout the show include flute, various percussion instruments, guitar, recorder, and cello. This is a combination of modern instruments and more traditional instruments, such as drums and recorders that would have been found amongst an original troupe of Commedia dell Arte.
Throughout the play, certain language is presented to the audience. Most of the words used are a construct – hence "Bonehead, Woodenhead, Fathead, Noodlehead, Muttonhead, etc", however, you may not have heard your students use such words in the classroom, playground or at home. These are only presented to provide comic moments and also to reinforce appropriate behaviour rather than to encourage the children to use this language. Although, they may not seem like the worst words to use, it is important that you are aware they are being used and may be offensive to some.
The play only has six main characters, so there are not lots of different people to remember. Androcles, Pantalone, Isabella, Lelio, Captain and the Lion are the main, well defined stock characters. The performance requires audience participation with these characters at specific times. For example, roaring along with the Lion, which will be aided by the zanni. This provides an outlet for the audience vocally and an opportunity for them to be involved in the play.
Carolyn Taylor Smith, USQ's resident wardrobe supervisor has designed and implemented the set and costumes for Androcles and the Lion.
As the audience arrives in the foyer a group of players (the lazzi) will greet and entertain them as they enter the theatre. The lazzi will be dressed in the same style as those performers onstage.
On stage, the audience will see an object resembling a wagon, representing a similar type of wagon that a troupe of players would have performed on back in the time when Commedia delle Arte originated. As the show progresses the players will add more and more to the wagon and, by the end of the production, the full design of will be realised. There are four main settings throughout the play, and these are differentiated by themed calico backdrops on the wagon.
The costumes have been designed in typical commedia style and made used found materials. The Designer worked closely with the Director to come up with a design that had a diverse feel and that was pleasing to the eyes of the audience. The idea to use the wagon as the basis of the set came from the story itself, which is a play within a play. The pageant wagon, which was a travelling stage, on the theatre stage, gives a slight symbolic indication to a play within a play.
Courtesy and Behaviour
We want your attendance at our play to be enjoyable and exciting for both you and your students. To ensure this is possible, it is important that your students are aware of appropriate behaviour at live theatre. Here are some guidelines:
The stage is for the actors and not the audience; so let's leave them to it.
It can be distracting to others in the audience and the actors if people come in and out of the theatre throughout the performance. So please ensure your students visit the bathroom before the show.
As performers need to enter and interact within the auditorium please leave them to move freely and unhindered.
Once seated, please stay in your seat, unless otherwise instructed. This helps keep the isles clear for emergencies.
Food and drinks are not allowed in the auditorium. The play is only one hour in duration … which isn't long enough for hunger pains to set in! So, if you do bring food or drinks with you, please leave them with the Front of House Manager during the show.
Whispering voices may seem quiet, but someone on stage will have to speak over you to be heard, so try not to talk until the play has ended. Unless of course you're asked to roar!!
Mobile phones and pagers must be turned off. And photography or filming of any sort is not permitted.
Applause is a great way to show your thanks and enjoyment at the end of a performance, so get your clapping hands ready! Bravo! (Good Job, Well Done!)
This is an activity that will further the student's focus and concentration skills, which will in turn help them to develop appropriate theatre attendance and appreciation skills.
Organise the class into groups of three – label each person A, B, or C. Ask one of the students to sit in a chain in front of their group and give them the following rules to abide by:
they have to remain still (blinking is still permitted);
they cannot laugh, smile or respond to the other students
Instruct the other students that their goal is to break the person's concentration using any method ie vocal, physical etc. However, you must include some constraints. Rotate each child and allot a timeframe for each session. As the game progresses, add extra dimensions by placing further restrictions on the ‘distracters' ie they cannot use words, etc.
This game is a great focus game and can be related to how the students should behave in a theatre. It will very much develop their focus and concentration skills.