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Props and scenery are a vitally important part of any stage show. Romeo and Juliet includes 30 different cloths as part of the scenery.
Have you ever wondered why there are two intervals in Romeo and Juliet, or why intervals in different ballets can be different lengths, or why so much of the stage is hidden from the audience's view?
Itís all to do with scenery. Sets, flats (the large boards you can see down either side of the stage), cloths and props are an integral part of what goes into creating the magic that the audience sees on stage.
Interval length has a lot to do with the amount of time it takes to reset the stage for the next short ballet or the next act of a full-length ballet. The shortest intervals are about 15 minutes, but can be as long as half an hour if a lot of work needs to be done.
A large part of the scenery is the hanging pieces (cloths) that get tied onto metal bars to be lifted (flown) in and out of view during the performance. Cloths can also be used to hide lighting bars and certain aspects of the technical equipment that gets used on stage. These are called borders and are generally black material and quite thin. Youíll see one hanging right at the top at the very front of the stage. These can also be moved if necessary.
Although many of the 30 cloths used in Romeo and Juliet wonít be obvious to the audience, cloths are used as an integral part of the scenery in many ballets. For example, the magnificent cityscape which accompanies the end of the ballet The Firebird, although it looks quite solid, is actually a piece of cloth hung on a bar in the fly tower (the large box you can often see sticking out of the top of a theatre); the cloth is then lowered into place when it is needed. Click on the thumbnails below to see some photos of The Firebird.
In Romeo and Juliet, youíll be able to see a front cloth for each act, which accompanies the prelude music. This is intended to set the mood of the piece, and gives the dancers the opportunity to get into the correct positions on the stage without being seen. In other ballets the stage can be visible right from the beginning.
The best way of seeing just how many props, costumes, cloths, scene changes and people there are involved in Romeo and Juliet is to come and see the ballet, either in Birmingham, or on tour. Click here for more information.