Page 7 - RD_2015_12
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How right he was!                                                               required a couple of
          ‘No curtain…no                                                                    beefy boys backstage
          curtain…’ reverberated                                                            to haul the drape
          in my head as a                                                                   backward in a reversed
          wonderful sequence of                                                             U-shape as the little
          memories of theatres                                                              screen was flown in or
          and their house                                                                   out. It seemed to jam
          curtains surfaced.                                                                on the bottom of the
          Those marvellous                                                                  fire curtain every time
          drapes were an                                                                    when it was in the
          intrinsic element of                                                              raised position. That
          theatre and cinema                                                                screen was a problem.
          design. They offered                                                              Why hadn’t they dealt
          the promise of magical                                                            with it like the Tivoli
          things concealed from                                                             had and painted a
          the eye just waiting to                                                           screen in the middle of
          be revealed as they                                                               the fire curtain? It was
          parted, offering a total                                                          as if they were trying
          escape from life.                                                                 to distance the ads
          Curtains were part of                                                             from the legitimacy of
          the personality of every                                                          live performance. The
          theatre. Some were                                                                matter was not solved
          great, some not so                                                                with the advent of the
                              Tivoli Bourke Street: fire curtain with a painted slide screen.
          great. Lets recall a                                                              new, rich red curtain
          few…                                                                  with the golden fringe which appeared
                                             effect when the old fire curtain
            The curtain at the Metro Collins                                    before poor Garnet Carroll was cold in
                                             descended. The billow would happen
          Street had its problems. It was a blue-                               the ground.
                                             again as the fire curtain was cranked up.
          grey brocade number with no fringe                                       I found an old photo of the
                                                With the draft flowing full force,
          and it billowed along the bottom in a                                 Princess and there was a rich
                                             the bottom of the curtain was lifted off
          series of reversed U-shapes stopped                                   burgundy house curtain in use then. It
                                             the stage just enough to show a
          only by the screen behind. Not good –                                 was embroidered with romanesque
                                             thrilling glimpse of scuttling feet. The
          but unusual. When the tabs first                                      curlicues and motifs, a little like the
                                             stage manager, aware of this, would
          opened, it took a lot of time for the                                 Covent Garden tab minus the EIIR’s
                                             order the tab dropped a little more to
          trapped air to escape, so the screening                               (the Queen’s monogram), but with an
                                             stop this illicit viewing, which was
          started with two overhangs of                                         elaborately tasseled fringe. It was
                                             one of the benefits of sitting in the
          billowing material, like upside down                                  never thrown out and finished up
                                             front row. My appetite was always
          ice cream cones, at the sides. These                                  hanging behind the new red curtain as
                                             whetted by this.
          took quite a while to flatten out.                                    a lining to stop the stage work lights
                                                The Tivoli curtain was shiny grey,
            The Metro also had a front set of                                   showing through at interval. I was
                                             but a tad drab. There was a sort of
          very heavy French action curtains,                                    given the chance to fly it in and out
                                             silvery white finge on the bottom –
          hardly ever used. Now and again they                                  one afternoon when the house was
                                             basic, but elegant.
          were opened and closed to see if they                                 dark. It was very heavy.
          still worked.                         Come to think
                                             of it, the Princess
            Billowing also happened at the
                                             also had a mighty
          Regent Collins Street with the silver
                                             draft. I remember
          satin French action curtain, except it
                                             as a child sitting
          billowed outward (see front cover.)
                                             fascinated as a
          The main, blood red act drop would
                                             ridiculously small
          descend slowly, flattening the satiny
                                             oblong screen for
          billows with style, as the footlights
                                             advertisements was
          changed the satin from white to blue
                                             lowered and raised
          then pink. That crimson house curtain
                                             in front of the
          from the 1947 rebuild was stored for
                                             house curtain –
          years in the fly tower of the un-
                                             dark blue with a
          restored Capitol Sydney. I wonder
                                             rather grubby
          where it is now? The present curtain in
                                             whitish fringe –
          the refurbished Regent is not lit as it
                                             before a
          was in the Hoyts’ days, so the colour is
                                             performance and at
          not as vibrant.
            The Tivoli curtain did this billow act            Applause for John Dudley and Marea Wolkowsky at the
                                                This task
          too at times, but with one almighty                 Princess, in front of the embroidered curtain. The production
          billow that was also flattened with great           was Fidelio (1949).
                                                                                       CINEMARECORD 2003     7
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