The Nottingham People’s Choir champions wellbeing through the joy of singing. The choir has been holding weekly creative sessions, in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the creative team at the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall (TRCH), to create a new work to perform for family and friends at a special showcase event taking place this June.
The Nottingham People’s Choir is a community project funded by the Institute of Mental Health, who have been meeting at the Royal Concert Hall for weekly singing sessions and performances since 2013. Choir participants are a mixed group of adults who aim to promote health and wellbeing through the joy of singing. In collaboration with the RSC’s Shakespeare Nation project, the choir will be creating a new musical performance in response to the themes in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In preparation for their own performance, the Choir saw the RSC’s production of the play when it visited the Theatre Royal Nottingham in February.
The TRCH is one of six RSC partner theatres working with the RSC on Shakespeare Nation, a four-year project, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The RSC and the partner theatres will engage with over 3,000 adults across the UK who wouldn’t normally visit their local theatre, and who might not believe that theatre, and certainly Shakespeare, is for them. Shakespeare Nation will bring communities together, and enable more people to experience the RSC’s work, Shakespeare and the transformative power of theatre.
The community co-production with the Nottingham People’s Choir is one of Shakespeare Nation’s three strands. The RSC and the TRCH will also seek to grow and broaden its audiences through targeted special events, such as workshops with RSC actors and directors, subsidised tickets and theatre coach trips. Additionally it is hoped that many of those involved in Shakespeare Nation will become ambassadors for Shakespeare and for theatre, encouraging visits to their theatre and engagement with Shakespeare in their communities for many years to come.
Ian Wainwright, Shakespeare Nation Participation Producer at the RSC, said: “We’ve been hugely impressed by how the People’s Choir has responded to both the workshops and the production. Our directors, actors and practitioners have really enjoyed working with them. The choir brings not only great humour, enthusiasm and commitment, but their own experience and a unique insight to one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies. I can’t wait to see the final outcome of their work.”
Dr Theo Stickley, the People’s Choir founder, said: “This project is an exciting experience for the choir to be involved with such a prestigious company as the RSC. Our choir members are enthusiastic amateurs brought together by the power of singing, so it’s a real honour to be working with the RSC.”
Kimberley Allsopp, who co-manages the project with fellow TRCH Creative Learning Officer Caroline Pope, said: “We are so pleased to be part of this exciting on-going project with the People’s Choir and the RSC. The People’s Choir has been running for several years at the Royal Concert Hall, and it has been wonderful to see the attendees grow in their singing skills and confidence. We’re looking forward to seeing those skills and new ones in action when they perform their new performance piece in June.”
Lou Rudkin, Institute of Mental Health, said: “Research has proven that taking part in creative activities, including singing, have proven benefits to mental health and wellbeing. Looking after our wellbeing is so important in today’s society, choirs and creative projects like this really make a difference to the lives of the people taking part as well as having a positive effect on those in the audience.”