The beauty of the scene change (it’s not only the performers who are in costume!)

March 3, 2009

Charlotte van Berckel from ENO’s Technical Director’s Office shares her experiences and her photographs from behind the scenes at the La bohème dress rehearsal


Its not the norm to have the crew in costume.  Normally, they don’t need to be. They change the set around behind the big curtain during an interval or interlude and so wear all black.  The efficiency of this change takes time and practice to perfect, and it has to be perfect otherwise there would be a grumpy show – noise, delays, broken sets….  However, the luxury of the big curtain assists in hiding possible hiccups and the black attire hides them. 

 0027 by enobaylis

The set for La bohème is made up of two trucks – in this case two houses of sorts – that stay on stage throughout the show.  The majority of the scene changes take place in front of the audience and without the aid of the big curtain.  So, the crew must wear costume to make these changes look as subtle and unobtrusive and as natural as possible.  For La bohème they are as seamless and beautiful as I have ever seen.  As the two lovers descend from the artist’s loft and head in to the daylight the stage quickly fills up with people and the sets swiftly move, spinning in a carefully coordinated sequence of moves.  As they turn, the light changes and falls and different colours and shapes appear.  Activity must be the tool to blind us to the technique because before you know it the trucks are in place and the scene is set and happening.  The boundaries of each time frame have been blurred and the crew have disappeared back off in to the wings. 

See all of Charlotte’s photos on Flickr



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