22 February 2010 at 3.33pm | Comment on this article
This Sunday we’re hosting the BAFTAs, which we’ve done for a few years now and it always causes a huge buzz around the place. Who doesn’t fall (even if they pretend otherwise) for red carpets and glamorous Hollywood stars?
Last Sunday we were running a very different kind of event but the buzz was equally fantastic. ‘Tickets for Troops’ is a scheme that enables military personnel to get free tickets to entertainment and sporting events. We put on a special performance for troops and their families. Uncommonly for us, it was a mix of opera and ballet (they don’t often occupy the stage on the same night). A 20 minute chunk of the opera La bohème was followed by the one act ballet Tales of Beatrix Potter, with an open scene change between them to show our stage crew and machinery at work.
The very socially diverse audience brought home to me that the armed forces are in many ways a microcosm of society. The fact that everyone there shared something in common created a very special atmosphere and palpable sense of community around the place. Performers on the stage and in the orchestra pit and staff working front of house all felt it, and felt excited to be part of the event.
With tickets being allocated on a “first come, first served” basis, starting with the best seats, military rank had no bearing on where people sat: one of ROH’s more democratic auditoriums in fact!