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Keska
04-25-2019, 04:49 AM
Random question for a book that I'm working on, for those who worked at the theatre at the time (and presuming that were was/is such a thing), in 1993 what was the protocol for when a woman went into a labour just before the interval of a performance? [I imagine delivering before the curtain falls on the second half and before 'full' medical care arrives].

'Thank you in advance!

cornflake
04-25-2019, 05:13 AM
Random question for a book that I'm working on, for those who worked at the theatre at the time (and presuming that were was/is such a thing), in 1993 what was the protocol for when a woman went into a labour just before the interval of a performance? [I imagine delivering before the curtain falls on the second half and before 'full' medical care arrives].

'Thank you in advance!

What theatre? I mean, in NY, it's only going to take two or so minutes from when you call 911 to get an ambulance, if that's what they're doing.

Also, what're you talking about w/labor? Someone freaky who has a contraction and a baby five minutes later? They exist, though that's super rare, but does the person know this about herself? If not, I'd think she'd either stay intending to watch the play or get up and leave.

If she does, or doesn't and plans to just stay and watch, they'd probably usher her out to the lobby regardless (if she was intending to leave or if the theatre or she wanted to call an ambulance), and the play would go on. You're not leaving someone in a row if there's any way not to.

Keska
04-25-2019, 05:36 AM
What theatre? I mean, in NY, it's only going to take two or so minutes from when you call 911 to get an ambulance, if that's what they're doing.

Also, what're you talking about w/labor? Someone freaky who has a contraction and a baby five minutes later? They exist, though that's super rare, but does the person know this about herself? If not, I'd think she'd either stay intending to watch the play or get up and leave.

If she does, or doesn't and plans to just stay and watch, they'd probably usher her out to the lobby regardless (if she was intending to leave or if the theatre or she wanted to call an ambulance), and the play would go on. You're not leaving someone in a row if there's any way not to.

Thank you for the response.
One in London (I'd give an exact theatre, but I haven't had a chance to research every show on in May 93).

Jessica (the character's mother) goes into labour in the moments before the curtain falls on the first half. Sarah is her third child (1st is about 7, 2nd is 3/4) and 'decides' to come early (for the only time in her life, I occasionally 'joke'), so it would be a relative surprise for her.
I don't know about 5 minutes fast, but something in me doesn't see the delivery lasting 'hours on end'.

They definetly wouldn't stay to see the second half, when I mentioned it above, I meant that they'd be moved to a side-room (or dressing room) for the sake of their privacy. (Sorry, I should have specified)

cornflake
04-25-2019, 05:48 AM
Thank you for the response.
One in London (I'd give an exact theatre, but I haven't had a chance to research every show on in May 93).

Jessica (the character's mother) goes into labour in the moments before the curtain falls on the first half. Sarah is her third child (1st is about 7, 2nd is 3/4) and 'decides' to come early (for the only time in her life, I occasionally 'joke'), so it would be a relative surprise for her.
I don't know about 5 minutes fast, but something in me doesn't see the delivery lasting 'hours on end'.

They definetly wouldn't stay to see the second half, when I mentioned it above, I meant that they'd be moved to a side-room (or dressing room) for the sake of their privacy. (Sorry, I should have specified)

I mean... I never worked in a London theatre, but I'd bet a lot it'd be lobby. If it's not five minutes fast, and she's had kids before, I'd think she'd just leave if she doesn't want to stay for the play (which suggests she's had super fast labours before). If you want them to call an ambulance, lobby. No way they're moving someone who needs medical attn. both farther from the main door and in the midst of all the crap backstage. Also, dressing rooms at most theatres in London and NYC are tiny and cramped and may be upstairs...

mccardey
04-25-2019, 05:50 AM
Here's a thing. A great-great++ aunt of mine had that exact thing happen, because she laughed so much that her waters broke during a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. I believe they did get her out of the row but I'm not sure if she got all the way to hospital. FWIW, she named the resulting girl-child Iolanthe.

I have terrific ancestors, I really do.

Helix
04-25-2019, 08:32 AM
Here's a thing. A great-great++ aunt of mine had that exact thing happen, because she laughed so much that her waters broke during a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. I believe they did get her out of the row but I'm not sure if she got all the way to hospital. FWIW, she named the resulting girl-child Iolanthe.

I have terrific ancestors, I really do.


Lovely!

OP, there are loads of hospitals less than a kilometre from the theatre district in London. No one's going to be born in a trunk in the Aldwych Theatre...

cornflake
04-25-2019, 08:41 AM
There are the very rare people who have one or two contractions and drop a kid in the lobby of their apartment building on the way to the Uber (Hi, Seth Meyers wife!), but it'd need to be that, or someone who thought they had plenty of time but turned out to be that.

waylander
04-25-2019, 04:31 PM
St Thomas's would be the closest hospital to the West End

mrsmig
04-25-2019, 06:01 PM
Thank you for the response.


They definetly wouldn't stay to see the second half, when I mentioned it above, I meant that they'd be moved to a side-room (or dressing room) for the sake of their privacy. (Sorry, I should have specified)

Sorry, but that would absolutely not happen, in any professional theatre, anywhere. I've been in the business for 30+ years, and the backstage is sacrosanct. No one who isn't directly involved with the show would be allowed backstage, for any reason, during the course of a performance. Not only are there union rules in place to prevent this, the backstage of a theatre is inherently dangerous and no place for anyone unfamiliar with the environment, let alone someone who's having any sort of a medical crisis.

That said, the protocol for an audience member having a medical emergency during a performance would be to get that person out of the theatre and into the lobby if at all possible. As has already been pointed out, it's far easier for medical personnel to access someone in the lobby. Some theatres (at least on Broadway, and very likely the West End, too) have a kind of "holding" room in the lobby where VIPs and other celebrities can hang out before the show and at intermission so they don't have to mingle with the hoi polloi. It's possible that they'd take the person having the issue into a room like that. If that person couldn't be moved from their seat, then the protocol would be to stop the show, clear the theatre of other patrons and bring in the emergency personnel to the person. But usually every effort is made NOT to stop the show.

lonestarlibrarian
04-25-2019, 07:01 PM
I remember I was around 38 weeks pregnant when the Tutankhamun exhibit came to Dallas. I was really excited-- in high school, I'd had great plans to be an Egyptologist, so that was right up my alley. I thought I'd drive into town, have a nice time walking around and seeing the artifacts, having a great time... nope. I was pretty fatigued. I was 7 months pregnant and drove 600 miles to go camping and was walking a few miles every day, no problem--- but at almost 9 months pregnant, I was just a homebody, and not even Tutankhamun was enough to lure me from my nest. :)

DS1, I started having a stomachache around 7 pm. It turned into contractions around 9 pm. We left for the birth center around 11 pm. We arrived around 1 pm. I labored until about 5 am-- which is when DS1 was born.

DS2, I woke up with a stomachache, and I realized it was the beginnings of contractions. I called DH to come back from work around 10 am. We left for the birth center around 11 am. We arrived at 1 pm. DS2 was born about 15 minutes later. I still thought I had hours left to go, and didn't give my body permission--- but when the midwife explained that I had arrived already fully dilated, I relaxed enough to give birth.

Generally, labor is going to be a process that goes through stages. Your body and the baby's body are working together, and it's not always gentle. ;) But out of your readers, for every woman who says, "Oh, yeah, I know someone who popped out a baby in 5 minutes!" there's going to be a thousand women who say, "What planet is that woman from? I was in active labor for (5) (10) (20) hours, and then spent another x time pushing! And I definitely wasn't in the mood to be thinking about sitting through a play!"

So, when you're writing your scene--- you might keep that skepticism in mind when you fill in some of your details. :)

In general, any kind of medical emergency is going to be minimized. There'll be an effort to get the person safely out of the theater itself elsewhere with a minimal impact on other people. When you're in a situation where you have to clear a theater, it can lead to other people getting injured in the confusion. (For example, someone needed a defibrillator (https://www.sfgate.com/news/bayarea/article/Medical-Emergency-Theater-Evacuation-Leads-To-13621786.php) at a Hamilton performance in San Franscisco-- it resulted in an alarm, which led to a broken leg and two other injuries because people thought it was a shooter.)

At best, putting everything on halt will just annoy the rest of the audience. (Someone lost consciousness (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tom-hanks-entertains-theater-amid-medical-emergency_n_5b2bb7a8e4b0040e27407d40) during a performance of Henry IV. The play was halted while crewmembers with medical training tried to help. Paramedics arrived. The person went home with friends. But it resulted in a 20-minute delay, which annoyed the rest of the audience, some of which began to leave. “God has decided this play needed a second intermission! … Get back here or find this sword and many a dagger placed neatly in the tires of your carriage!” Hanks shouted.)

So the best thing to do is to be discreet, and get yourself out ASAP if you're able to-- otherwise, you need to rely on others around you to lend a hand. (Someone was having a stroke (https://abc11.com/health/emt-aids-woman-during-medical-emergency-at-raleigh-movie-theater-/3248242/) in a movie theater. An off-duty paramedic carried her down the stairs, gave her a stroke test, and called 911.)

Here's a blog post by a stage manager (http://www.loisbackstage.com/?p=2225) who has to make the decision on how much an individual's medical emergency will be allowed to affect others in the theatre.

Here's a thread by Broadway lovers (https://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.php?thread=1090978) who talk about different medical emergencies they've encountered at various performances-- incontinence, strokes, death, etc.

Here's a handbook of stage manager duties (https://www.emporia.edu/~bartruff/Theatre%20handbook/SMduties.htm).

Here's a checklist (http://www.hse.gov.uk/event-safety/incidents-and-emergencies.htm)for running a crowded event safely and planning for emergencies.

Sonya Heaney
04-29-2019, 10:51 PM
Keska, this isn't answering your question, but I thought I'd mention it anyway...

I grew up performing in the theatre, and in the years since have worked backstage on everything from ballets to plays to musicals to operettas.

I've never come across anyone who works in a theatre who says "first half", "second half" etc. You have act one/act two/act three, or first act/second act/third act. "Halves" is terminology more associated with sport.

Just something to keep in mind to keep it accurate. :)

Cobalt Jade
04-30-2019, 04:02 AM
I was at a performance of Othello where there was a medical emergency in the audience. The players halted the play, went offstage, and gave time for the paramedics to take the victim away. Then the show resumed. They made their exit and entrance gracefully and in character. I imagine if someone's in labor they would do the same thing until the lady is taken to a less cramped space to give birth.

Keska
04-30-2019, 04:34 AM
Keska, this isn't answering your question, but I thought I'd mention it anyway...

I grew up performing in the theatre, and in the years since have worked backstage on everything from ballets to plays to musicals to operettas.

I've never come across anyone who works in a theatre who says "first half", "second half" etc. You have act one/act two/act three, or first act/second act/third act. "Halves" is terminology more associated with sport.

Just something to keep in mind to keep it accurate. :)

Of course, yes.
I used to usher at a theatre myself, so know (at least a fair chunk of) relevant terminology, but have just got into the habit of using 'halves' when around my family as they aren't really 'regulars'...

Keska
04-30-2019, 04:35 AM
'Thanks all for the responses so far, 'am certainly bearing them all in mind!

Keska
04-30-2019, 04:37 AM
I was at a performance of Othello where there was a medical emergency in the audience. The players halted the play, went offstage, and gave time for the paramedics to take the victim away. Then the show resumed. They made their exit and entrance gracefully and in character. I imagine if someone's in labor they would do the same thing until the lady is taken to a less cramped space to give birth.

I had something similar with the performance of 'Alys, Always' I went to in London a month or so ago where someone (I think) passed out. Whilst the performance wasn't stopped, they were near a door at the back, so it was (I guess) easy enough to have gotten them out of there

Keska
04-30-2019, 04:39 AM
Sorry, but that would absolutely not happen, in any professional theatre, anywhere. I've been in the business for 30+ years, and the backstage is sacrosanct. No one who isn't directly involved with the show would be allowed backstage, for any reason, during the course of a performance. Not only are there union rules in place to prevent this, the backstage of a theatre is inherently dangerous and no place for anyone unfamiliar with the environment, let alone someone who's having any sort of a medical crisis.

That said, the protocol for an audience member having a medical emergency during a performance would be to get that person out of the theatre and into the lobby if at all possible. As has already been pointed out, it's far easier for medical personnel to access someone in the lobby. Some theatres (at least on Broadway, and very likely the West End, too) have a kind of "holding" room in the lobby where VIPs and other celebrities can hang out before the show and at intermission so they don't have to mingle with the hoi polloi. It's possible that they'd take the person having the issue into a room like that. If that person couldn't be moved from their seat, then the protocol would be to stop the show, clear the theatre of other patrons and bring in the emergency personnel to the person. But usually every effort is made NOT to stop the show.

Thank you for your detailed response

Sonya Heaney
04-30-2019, 11:03 AM
Of course, yes.
I used to usher at a theatre myself, so know (at least a fair chunk of) relevant terminology, but have just got into the habit of using 'halves' when around my family as they aren't really 'regulars'...

I actually suspected you knew (people who write about the theatre tend to have experience in the theatre) but thought I'd mention it just in case! I have family members who only understand "halves", so I get where you're coming from!

Sonya Heaney
04-30-2019, 11:08 AM
Adding to the union rules thing: it does differ from country to country. A Lot. I've worked on some American touring shows (when they were outside the US) and the rules and regulations they brought with them were a thousand times stricter than what we were used to.

For example, we used to stay back until all hours after a show if there was work to do for the performances the coming day, but when the US tours came, there was someone standing there looking at their watch at a certain hour, and we were all herded outside whether or not we'd finished our jobs.

We also have much more relaxed rules about visitors backstage.

It was certainly a wakeup call to see the difference between theatre regulations in America compared to other countries.

Editing to say I'm not criticising anyone. Just that - after a couple of decades in the theatre - it was incredible to see how different things were from one country to the next.

I lived five minutes' walk from the West End for years, but not until the year 2000. While I have heaps of books about 1990s theatre, I don't have any practical experience with London theatre from that era.

mrsmig
04-30-2019, 04:21 PM
Again, in U.S. theatres those union rules are in place not just for privacy's sake, but for safety's sake as well. In union houses, visitors are allowed backstage until the half-hour call, and after the final curtain, but never in between. I certainly don't want someone's friend or family member underfoot when I'm trying to put on makeup and get dressed for the show.

The last Broadway show I did (two years ago at the Nederlander, one of the older and more cramped Broadway houses), there was simply no room for visitors once prep for the show was under way. The Nederlander doesn't have a green room - the traditional place for the company to hang out during the show - and all the dressing rooms were on one side of the building, on five floors with no elevator access. That meant that the stairs had to be kept clear for cast and crew going about their duties. The wing space was incredibly tight and most of the quick costume changes in the show occurred in the wings - while sets were being changed. We had some very near misses with that arrangement (and at least two actual collisions between company members and set pieces). Again, no place for an outsider to be. The two leads had private dressing rooms where a visitor might - MIGHT - have been allowed to wait, but since both of them had a number of fast costume changes involving a dresser and often a wig person...again, no place for an outsider to be.

There's a common misconception that Broadway theatres are these amazing, modern, spacious places, but the fact of the matter is, most Broadway houses are OLD buildings, and the backstages of those theatres are like a rabbit's warren (complete with bugs and mice). For an accurate depiction of your average Broadway backstage, look at the 2014 film BIRDMAN.

Siri Kirpal
05-01-2019, 02:06 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Even the Met, which isn't a Broadway theatre, but which is humongous and was built only 50 years or so ago, has extremely tight corridors. No place for a visitor to be when the cast is trying to get to the stage.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Discord
05-30-2019, 10:37 PM
Yeah, I agree, they wouldn't be taken backstage. Quite apart from union rules, it just wouldn't be practical. You'd have to go all the way to the back of the house, through winding coridoors that are often easy to get lost in and/or dark for the performance, and there wouldn't be much space back there anyway. There might be an admin office or staff room in the box office area that they could go rest in, though, depending on the theatre. That'd be much more accessible through the front of house area, where the audience is. Though I have a hard time understanding why they wouldn't just call an ambulance and have her taken to the hospital?

I doubt that they would have any kind of specific plan for a woman going into labour, but they probably would have a plan for an audience member having a medical emergency. It would probably involve removing them to the lobby and calling an ambulance. I'm a tech in a theatre and all our front of house personnel have basic first aid. They would probably try to keep the show going if at all possible, unless the audience member were in serious danger or made such a scene it made going on impossible.