No, not to the dark side…
At least once a year, theatres have a ‘dark’ period – a break between shows or seasons. Going dark might sound quite ominous in a historic Regency theatre such as ours but the Elizabethan term, referring to theatres specifically, means that the whole theatre is closed to the public – no lights, no shows!
Historically, when theatres go dark we leave one lit light (or candle) left in the centre of the stage. One rumour is that a theatre was mid-burglary as the burglar fell off the edge of the stage, broke both legs and successfully sued the theatre for negligence. The light was added to prevent any further accidents from happening while theatres were closed. Some say that the light helps to guide the spirits and ghosts around the building which is probably the most legitimate reason and the possible cause of how so many theatres burnt down in the Shakespearean era and why the light is sometimes referred to as the ‘ghost light’.
While in our dark period, our technicians, maintenance, and facility teams don’t turn off the lights but check all of the bulbs, have a good clear out of cupboards, dressing rooms, and general all-around building maintenance that can’t be done while we have audiences. Theatre Royal, as you may know, is a Grade 1 listed building, one of the only working Regency theatres in the country meaning that maintenance has to be well-planned and executed accordingly by specifically trained tradespeople. Seamans building contractors do a lot of work with us at Theatre Royal whos staff are specially trained and take great care of this wonderful old building like sanding and varnishing our floors, any brickwork, and plaster repairs and inspecting our windows, doors, and roof.
Our dark period is just one month long and the return of shows in August marks the beginning of our Autumn season which we can’t wait for you to see! We’ll be keeping you up to date with the work going on inside the theatre to get you ready for the newest season and everything looking top-notch and big thank you to Seamans!