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Vomitorium/Vomitory

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Dally, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. Dally

    Dally Member

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    I think one of my favorite things about theatre history is the word "vomitorium".
    Just wanted to get something going on here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2008
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I believe most scholars of the theater of ancient Greece agree the proper term for that tunnel through which pass audience and performers is a "vomitory". The Romans much later bastardized the word into "vomitorium." It is for certain false that either word was ever used to describe the location where one would regurgitate.

    The Living Stage. Macgowan, Kenneth and Melnitz, William. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1955.
    Theatres and Auditoriums. Burris-Meyer, Harold and Cole, Edward C. Little, Brown & Company, 1949.

    Or, for a more contemporary source: The Straight Dope: Were there really vomitoriums in ancient Rome?.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  3. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Well I don't know. If the show was bad enough, or if it was dinner theatre with a particularly slovenly cook, people might regurgitate there.:rolleyes:
     
  4. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I've always explained it as tunnels or entrances which vomit actors onto the stage. Pretty picture huh ? I believe, and I could be wrong here, the name vomitorium is applied only to tunnels, or other architectual passagways, that open directly onto the stage. expressly for the purpose of acting entrances.
     
  5. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    No, I think Derek is right, the Vom is for the audience, not the actors.
     
  6. elite1trek

    elite1trek Active Member

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    I agree with Van, I have always been taught that a vomitorium, or vom - for short, is a tunnel under the seating area that leads onto the stage, for use by actors.
     
  7. philhaney

    philhaney CBMod CB Mods

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    From Dictionary.com:

    vom·i·to·ry [vom-i-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]
    adjective, noun, plural -ries.
    –adjective
    1. inducing vomiting; emetic.
    2. of or pertaining to vomiting.
    –noun
    3. an emetic.
    4. an opening through which something is ejected or discharged.
    5. Also called vomitorium. an opening, as in a stadium or theater, permitting large numbers of people to enter or leave.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [Origin: 1595–1605; < L vomitōrius, equiv. to vomi-, var. s. of vomere to vomit + -tōrius -tory]
     
  8. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    I always heard it was the spaces through which the audience entered and exited.
     
  9. jneveaux

    jneveaux Member

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    Van's right based on what Tyrone Guthrie/Tanya Moiseivitch and Ralph Rapson used them for in the original Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. See: http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/04guthrie.html;[/url] and photo here: [media]http://www.alumni.umn.edu/sites/d2e2f762-6a18-437f-ad49-168669330020/uploads/wall03Guthriecrop.jpg[/media][/media] and here http://collections.mnhs.org/VisualResources/image.cfm?imageid=88591&Page=1&Keywords=Guthrie Theater ; I published my master's thesis on design for the thrust stage and as I recall, virtually every major thrust stage built in the 60s and 70s (when they were the rage) had vomitori (or "voms") as entrances for the performers and sometimes for scenery. There were some great lighting angles down there too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  10. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Another new word, I'm gunna use that word as much as possible now! Just love it. And I didn't make a Dad joke about actors and vomit. Thats allways a good thing.
     
  11. TheatreImage

    TheatreImage Member

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    When we were working in Arenas and Stadiums that was the place you did not want to stand to check the sound... those silly beer drinken people above you... never knew what to expect!
     
  12. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Those are two words I can never hear enough of..... after the last two weeks I really needed to log on and read that. Thanks. :mrgreen:
     
  13. wfor

    wfor Member

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    We had "voms" in a recent arena-set production I was in.

    The only real voms I've seen were at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery. Its about a 1/2 thrust I suppose, and has two ramps that come up to the stage. Used in The Comedy of Errors, very, very well produced show.

    It makes a fantastic entry point, as the performers seem to come up through the audience, rather literally.

    The all school audience got a kick out of "vomitorium" when they were asked about in the after show Q&A session.
     
  14. jneveaux

    jneveaux Member

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    Of course. Now that you've seen it in writing, you can rely on it.
     
  15. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    I'm not sure if it qualifies, but I have what we call the "chute" that leads into the house from back stage, officially, its an emergency exit hallway, but we use it very much so for entrances into the house, would that also be a vomitory?
     
  16. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    I have seen the term "vomitorium" applied to arenas, stadia and even churches in regards to audience entrances, so at least in modern usage I would have to go with the broader interpretation of an entrance through the audience area.
     
  17. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Another vote for Brad and Derek. I think that it originally was for audience entrances (I believe I read signs to that effect when I was visiting the Roman amphitheatre in Orange, France) and then in a more modern context, it came to mean an entrance through an audience area.
     
  18. Didaskalos

    Didaskalos Member

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    In permanent late-Roman theatres, the vomitoria (sing. vomitorium) were in fact the barrel-vaulted passages under the stone bleachers through which the audience was "expelled" from the theatre. In modern theatres, however, the tunnels lead onto the stage and are used by actors and crew for entrances and exits.
     

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