An interview with Sarah Robertson, Marketing Manager of Colston Hall about Coram Boy.

What aspects of the production are you most looking forward to personally?

I used to work at Bristol Old Vic, and during my time there Coram Boy’s Director Melly Still worked on a spellbinding production of Beasts and Beauties, a selection of grisly fairytales written by poet Carol Ann Duffy. The show was imaginatively staged and managed to really balance the scary and gruesome elements of the story while not being too much for younger audiences to take. In fact it was this sensitive handling of the more scary elements head on that made the play so special. It was one of the best shows I saw at the Old Vic and to see Melly’s work again on Colston Hall’s main stage will be a real treat.

I also think that Melly’s experience of striking the balance between the scary and not too scary in Beasts and Beauties is something that she managed well in the first production of Coram Boy at the National Theatre and will hopefully bring to our production. There’s no getting away from the fact that the story is dark in places, but we see that ultimately good conquers evil which is a fantastic lesson for younger audiences to learn. However we do recommend that the show is suitable for children 12 and above as there are some disturbing scenes.

What does the staging of Coram Boy mean for Colston Hall? Will audiences be seeing more theatre there in the future?

We are so proud to be hosting Coram Boy at Colston Hall. As two of the major venues in the city we haven’t worked as closely together in the past as perhaps we should, so this is the perfect opportunity to join forces to present this special show. We will be working with BOV in the future to make sure our working relationship doesn’t stop here.

We also haven’t had a proper run of a Christmas show at the Hall in living memory, so it’s a chance for Colston Hall’s audiences and staff to really get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy the fun and atmosphere that having a play in the festive season brings. Personally, I loved working at Bristol Old Vic at Christmas and I’m really looking forward to being part of something so magical again at the Hall.

Coram Boy has brought Colston Hall together with Bristol Old Vic for the first time. What do think are the benefits of such collaborations for the city? Would you like to see more of them?

The benefits of venues collaborating in the city are huge. Bristol as a whole doesn’t shout loudly enough about its culture and fantastic artistic work, so by working together venues can make a louder noise about what we’re doing and hopefully get the city and its venues more publicity locally and nationally. It also makes funding sense in this tough climate for venues to work together to create really special shows that wouldn’t happen if we didn’t work together.

Colston Hall is now run by the Bristol Music Trust, and as working in collaboration with other artists and venues in Bristol is part of the organisations remit, I’m sure we’ll be working with Bristol Old Vic and other venues again soon.

Coram Boy is set to be a Christmas show that Bristol will never forget. What do you think people will remember most?

It’s so special that Bristol audiences will be able to see an award winning and critically acclaimed show in their own city, so firstly I think that audiences will remember the thrill of seeing such an artistically amazing show at the Hall. For Colston Hall audiences in particular they’ll be able to see the venue in a different light – for those used to seeing hot and sweaty rock gigs the staging and soaring music of Handel’s Messiah will be a really different experience. Ultimately I think what audiences will remember is the show itself – the wonderful script, talented cast, a director at the top of her game and a heart-stirring musical score.

What are people saying about Coram Boy? Is there a buzz happening?

Colston Hall staff are really excited about it – staff from Bristol Old Vic have been to see us regularly to keep us updated about the show and members of the Box Office have even read the script so they can advise the audience about the content of the show. The reviews of the National Theatre’s production were phenomenal (‘As moving and thrilling as one could ever hope to experience in the theatre’ – Time Out) and our audiences are really getting behind the show as they understand how special and one-off it is. We can’t wait for it to begin!



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