#BRISTOLPROMS: The Unveiling, by Beatrice Hitchman

Local writer Beatrice Hitchman offers her take on the newly unveiled Standing Pit at Bristol Old Vic, making its debut for #BRISTOLPROMS.

We’re huddled together in a pine-floored space at the front of  Bristol Old Vic stalls. Forty of us, five feet from the stage: shoulder to shoulder, close enough to see every pore. It’s a Wednesday night in July 2013, and this is the launch of the Pit, Bristol Old Vic’s new, standing-room-only space. Capacity still TBD – the Old Vic’s Artistic Director Tom Morris breaks off mid-speech: ‘Could you fit another sixty down there?’ he asks, peering down at us in mild enquiry.

The Pit’s been specially opened for the Bristol Proms, which start next week. Or, technically, re-opened. This space recreates the way the Proms of 1840 were watched, with the theatre packed to the rafters, and spectators standing; opening up the Pit as it was back then – and allowing the 2013 audience to get up close and personal.

Do we bring our own fruit? Will it be rowdy? Expect not – but then, I think the cleverness in this kind of experiment is its unpredictability: and so the Pit fits the adventurous feel of the Proms programme. What will happen when we’re all packed in together at the danceroom spectroscopy (what’s danceroom spectroscopy?)? What will it feel like when we’re all standing together for Singing in the Dark?

To find out more about #BRISTOLPROMS click here.

Beatrice Hitchman lives in Bristol and writes fiction; her novel ‘Petite Mort’ is out now. www.beatricehitchman.com

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