Blog: New satellite dishes up some treats!

We, of Westacre Theatre, were recently blessed with some new equipment. An enormous satellite dish being the most noticeable addition. Or it would be, if we hadn’t hidden it ’round the back of the theatre where no one can see it. Probably for the best – it’s not a particularly attractive satellite dish. None of them are. But they can be very useful. The one we have allows us to do something very clever. It allows us to watch Sky TV.

 Actually, it doesn’t. Well, it does, but that’s not what we use it for.

Isobel Smith and Camilla Falconbridge celebrating the launch of Live and Encore screenings at Westacre Theatre

You see, in the last few years, there has been a trend. A trend seeking to solve one of the problems with live theatre. That is that not everyone who wants to see a show is able to fit in the 

auditorium. This means that the actors have to do it again and again, slowly going out of their minds. The technicians have to watch it again and again, quickly going out of their minds. The production has to go on tour; all very hard work and costly. All so that people who want to see it get a chance to.

Well, another solution to this problem has been found. The show is filmed and beamed, live, to  a satellite, orbiting the planet very high up. Then, the show is broadcast to satellite dishes like ours. And from that satellite dish it goes down a wire, through some magic-gadget-wizard-boxes (technical term), into a projector and, finally, onto the big screen, to be viewed by all the lovely people who couldn’t fit into the theatre where it’s actually taking place.

The first of these such events took place last Sunday – Billy Elliot. Coming to us live from the Victoria Palace Theatre in London. All very clever, if you ask me. It was the first time we’d used the new equipment, so everyone at Westacre was rather nervous, hoping that all this new technology would come together and work as it was supposed to. Everyone except the technicians, that is. 

Billy Elliot for FB

We, the denizens of The Box, were utterly relaxed about the whole thing. The epitome of confidence. We knew that everything would go smoothly. At least, that’s what we wanted you to think. There was a definite sigh of relief to be heard once we’d made it through the whole show unscathed. The whole thing went flawlessly.

And what a thing it was – a superb show. I admit it – when I first heard of this idea of watching a play remotely, I was sceptical. Like many, I thought it just wouldn’t be the same. And of course it’s not the same. But it has it’s advantages. You don’t have to go all the way to London, or New York, or wherever else it’s taking place. You don’t have to sit right at the back, squinting at the figurine-sized actors. No, instead you have a cameraman, complete with camera, which he can point in the actors’ faces. Not even the subtlest nuance of acting talent need be missed, all thanks to the wonder of telecommunications.

09 The Creature (Jonny Lee Miller) and Victor Frankenstein (Benedict Cumberbatch). Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Westacre Theatre is now connected to the vast, international network that is livestreaming. And we intend to make full use of that.

Next up – Frankenstein, from the National Theatre. I’m looking forward to this next one, I always wanted to go and see it but never quite managed to. It is a chance I shall not miss. You shouldn’t miss it either. Not that I’m telling you what to do. I would never do that. But seriously, go and see it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Merlyn Salter

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