Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Boozy et les justes.

OK, I didn't want to become that guy who comes back from a couple years abroad and then begins every sentence with "In London..." But, well, in London, I was initially surprised and then absolutely delighted to discover that at the theatre you can take your drink (alcoholic or otherwise) to your seat with you. Instead of chugging your wine or leaving behind half-empty bottles of beer at intermission, you can slowly sip your drink through the second act. How civilized!

I came back to Canada ready to fulminate about the theatre culture here, where in-seat drinking only takes place at Fringe theatres or cabaret spaces, only to find that: lo and behold, the times they are a changin'. At the epic Nicholas Nickleby at the Princess of Wales in Toronto, I was delighted to be able to bring my Coke back to my seat with me. (No rum, I was on the job.) Then, I discovered at a performance of the musical Fire, the refreshment policy had been refreshed at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, too. I happily ate my ice cream at the start of Act Two.

Anyway, I started to call around and found that while I was away, a couple of major Calgary theatres had started allowing patrons to bring their drinks to their seats as well. I write about this revolution and why it is happening now in today's Globe. (I'm glad to see most of the commenters are on my side - feel free to join the debate here or there.) Part of it is the law of unintended consequences: As the average length of a play shrinks to 90 minutes, theatres that rely on bar sales are trying to find ways of getting back some of the concession sales lost when you lose the intermission.

(By the way, for those of you unfamiliar with the work of Canadian theatre pioneer Gratien GĂ©linas, the title of this post is a reference to this play.)


Anonymous said...

Re: Lynn Slotkin's comments on the matter on the G&M message board.

Lynn, you sound like a million laughs. We must go out on the town together sometime.

Anonymous said...

This was a timely article, as we are throwing around the idea of allowing people to drink during shows at The Theatre Centre during the SummerWorks Festival this year. In Shakespeare's times, people not only drank, but courted prostitutes during plays ... is it any wonder that theatre was well attended?