Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Plan for Bridport to link live by satellite to “mad scene” in New York

BRIDPORT 1/D/09/002009 & 1/D/09/002010 Conservation area and listed building. Satellite dish Electric Palace, South Street (From the latest list of planning applications issued by West Dorset District Council) 

It's amazing what you can do these days: An artist's impression of the proposed Electric Palace satellite dish. Reproduced with permission.

THIS is a cool idea. Honestly, it is. The 1.2m satellite dish proposed for the south wall of the Electric Palace is not just any old dish. It is bespoke.

It will take in feeds from the National Theatre in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York and let audiences watch live performances on the Palace’s cinema screen. The picture quality is said to be fantastic.

First up, if planning permission is granted in time by West Dorset District Council, and if a few other issues are sorted out, there should be a new operatic production of Hamlet with “an extended mad scene… amongst the greatest in opera”. So the Metropolitan Opera promises for March 27…

Next on April 22 should be Alan Bennet’s new play The Habit of Art, about WH Auden and Benjamin Britten, from the National Theatre in London.

It was the Met in New York that first got this idea of worldwide transmission going, and it’s been copied by the National’s supremo Nicholas Hytner because he wants to provide greater access to top-class work.

His line: “I grew up in Manchester in the 60s. If I had been able to see Olivier’s National Theatre at my local cinema, I would have gone all of the time.”

Apparently it costs the National about £50,000 to broadcast a performance, and the experiment has been criticised as misguided and inevitably inferior, because there cannot be the same flow of feeling between audience and performers, but it seems to me that the Palace should be congratulated for trying to join in. Bridport needs more bold moves.