By: Paulanne Simmons
Let’s Talk About Intermissions
April 22, 2018 – Most of the time when the intermission is over, the house lights go off and the play resumes. But a while ago something unusual happened. Although the orchestra began playing, the lights stayed on as people filed back and found their seats.
My guest continued with our conversation until a woman in the row in front of us turned and expressed her annoyance. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch what she was saying, as too many other people around us were talking.
So who was right, the disgruntled woman or all those others theatergoers chatting over the music?
It’s not clear why the orchestra began playing before the house lights were turned down. But one thing’s for sure. The line to the ladies’ (and men’s) restrooms ran through the hall and down the steps. In such cases a ten or fifteen minute intermission is obviously not sufficient.
Perhaps there was poor communication between the stage manager and the house manager. Or maybe the lights stayed on so all those people could find their way back. It’s even possible someone decided a bit of music might make those stragglers hurry up.
Between activity at the bar, concession stand and bathrooms, intermission can be a hectic time at the theater. One often wonders whether a traffic cop would be more effective than the overworked ushers.
Some productions solve the problem by eliminating the intermission entirely. This can be tough on the bladder. It also makes life difficult for all those people who suffer anxiety during lengthy periods of time away from their cell phones.
I certainly appreciate a few minutes to digest act one before going on to act two.
So I say let’s keep the intermission, enlarge the bathrooms and have patience with our fellow theatergoers, as long as they keep quiet after the lights dim.