The Christmas break is a time of year in which friends and family come together to enjoy the company of one another and seek out fun filled entertainment; outdoor activities at this time of year are often somewhat limited due to the weather and darkness. Even the spirits of the liveliest of Christmas markets can be quickly dampened during torrential rain and bitter winds, making indoor activities such as the theatre, the perfect form of entertainment – musicals, ballets, operas and of course, the pantomime.
Watching live performances at the theatre provides a fun and highly social experience, which brings people together across all age groups, and boosts feelings of well-being.
The pantomime is described as a type of musical comedy, performed at theatres across the country, particularly so during the festive season. The recipe for a pantomime typically features a blend of fairy tale, jokes, dancing and singing usually based around a good vs evil plot. Well known stories such as Alladin, Jack and The Bean Stalk, Cinderella, Peter Pan etc. are all popular pantomimes.
The first form of pantomime is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, to be later further established in Rome – the pantomime as we know it however, has its roots in a popular form of Italian theatre known as “commedia dell’arte”. This type of comic street performance found its way over to Britain in the 1800s where it developed into the modern day pantomime. Drama itself has been popular in Britain for considerably longer, dating back as far as the 10th century where it evolved out of church services.
Over the centuries drama performances and theatre became increasingly more popular, although it wasn’t until the 1800s, that it really took off in London, with the hugely popular development of London’s West End theatres. At this time, theatres were packed out due to the high demand of people seeking good entertainment in an aesthetically pleasing environment with decent seating, (theatres of previous times had had either no seats for cheaper tickets, or non-ticketed benches in the pit). It wasn’t until the 1800s however, that theatre houses began to focus more on audience comfort, providing individually numbered seats and increasingly more luxurious seating for the higher priced tickets – as such the theatre developed into the highly successful and popular industry as we know it today.
The theatre experience however, was still very different from that of today – theatres were often overloaded and audiences were notoriously loud, boisterous and often rowdy, although this highly vocal interaction between the stage and the audience was very much part of the experience.
Today the pantomime is one of the few theatre experiences which still engages in active audience participation, where in certain parts of the performance the audience is expected to shout out particular phrases or to sing along. Slapstick humour plays a strong part in the performance – men often play the parts of women and vice versa, exaggerated costumes and make-up and a lot of falling over, all characterise the pantomime experience making it a family favourite, which appeals to both children and adults.
Although discomfort is clearly not a barrier when it comes to enjoyment at the pantomime, it cannot be denied that a comfortable seat and good facilities contribute considerably to the overall experience – obviously a poor performance is a poor performance and not much can be done to change this, the sensation of disappointment however, can be substantially mellowed if experienced in comfortable and pleasant surroundings, and may well be the determining factor between a return trip to the same venue or not. This is especially true when it comes to family outings, where even the most outstanding performance can be significantly marred by inconvenient and uncomfortable seating, transforming what should have been a joyous occasion for all, into a tiring ordeal especially for parents seated in uncomfortable seats with unhappy, complaining children.
The importance of comfortable seating is well documented across various different industries, and theatre is no exception – modern venues are investing increasingly more in quality seating. Fear of being confined to an uncomfortable seat for hours, can be extremely off putting – this may be tolerable during a two hour budget airline flight, with the promise of a sunny destination as the reward, but at the theatre the reward is the whole experience, which incorporates both the performance and facilities. This is especially true for those with disabilities, the elderly and families, the importance of the role of seating therefore, should not be underestimated.
A poorly designed seat is difficult to get in and out of, it also promotes incorrect posture leading to back, shoulder and neck pain. Several digestive problems have also been attributed to slouched posture such as bloating, acid reflux and feelings of discomfort.
A well designed seat not only feels comfortable to sit in, it helps ensure the body adopts natural and correct posture as well as helping to prevent a number of aches, pains and fatigue.
Probax technology is being added across the UK to hundreds of theatre seats to increase comfort and improve posture – Probax is a patented system of foam inserts which are located into the base of the seat cushion. It helps to maintain and correct posture, preventing the pelvis from rotating backwards when in a seated position – this enables the seat user to sit in a more natural upright position, and prevents the head and shoulders from falling forwards.
Ferco Seating offer a bespoke seating service and are able to work with organisations to meet seating requirements – we offer a wide range of luxury theatre seating, providing outstanding comfort as well as superior longevity and whole life costs. Ferco have installed seating into numerous theatres across the globe and offer a range of customisable options such as cup holders, personalised embroidery, power points and more.