#BRISTOLPROMS: The Rehearsal, by Lisa Cormack

Lisa Cormack describes just one of the many ways Bristol is connecting with this ground-breaking festival.

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Artistic Director Tom Morris needed Bristol’s help. With a technical rehearsal of Handel’s Messiah booked in, and no Southbank Sinfonia or Erebus Ensemble to position or light, a call was put out to anyone who would help in what is widely known to be a somewhat less than stimulating process. It would be boring, with a lot of sitting around, every minute movement, head tilt, and step meticulously recorded… and yet, they applied in their droves.

Young and old, bad backs and creaky knees, regular theatre goers and those just looking for a way to brighten up a rainy afternoon, they emailed, phones, facebooked, and just turned up on the off chance, all looking for the opportunity to play their own part in #BRISTOLPROMS.

Taking any order thrown at them in their stride, they moved effortlessly between violinist and soprano, conductor and tenor, taking in Tom’s direction, and doing everything they could to ensure the smooth running of such an unconventional rehearsal.

At times, when stage managers, designers and producers were growing weary, the volunteers’ enthusiasm for the roles they had been given offered a refreshing boost, reminding us all just how special, and addictive, being a part of such a performance can be.

And that is what sums up Proms so perfectly. We’ve done away with assumption about how audiences will respond to the performances, left convention at the door, broken down traditional boundaries, and opened up the infinite ways people can connect with the music. Echoing the comparison between theatre professional and enthusiastic volunteer, just because you don’t understand the terminology or etiquette associated with classical music, doesn’t mean that you have any less of a right to participate in your own, unique way.

We’re not making assumptions about people’s behaviour, instead just ensuring that we don’t limit the ways they can interact with the music. In allowing people to explore their own boundaries, as we explore the boundaries of classical music, we hope our audiences will leave with the same newly discovered, or reignited passion for live performance, just as those volunteers did before them.

To find out more about #BRISTOLPROMS, click here.

As Sales and Groups Coordinator at Bristol Old Vic, it is Lisa Cormack’s sole aim, and life’s work, to ensure that everyone, no matter who they are, feels empowered to have their own relationship and connection with live theatre. Especially if you come in a group of 10.

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