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A view from the stalls


Joanna Newell met Mr & Mrs Cyril and Sandra Rebak, longstanding audience members and supporters of the Guildhall School to ask them about their association with the School


Tell us how you first became involved with the Guildhall School?


CR: It was me initially: I came in to see one of the musicals, but I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember which one it was. Of course, this was 20 years ago, so perhaps I have an excuse! I was working in the City in the Stock Exchange, and saw an advert. I introduced Sandra when we got married 14 years ago and since then we’ve become absolute fans.


What’s special about watching productions by young professionals training for careers on stage and behind set?


SR: It’s interesting to see new talent developing and there’s always the hope you’re watching a new Bryn Terfel [Opera Course, 1989] in the making! It’s nice to think you may be able to spot the stars of the future.


CR: It’s always the first thing we look for when we go anywhere else – we look through the programme to see where the performers trained. We get immense pleasure from seeing that they came to Guildhall.


I also think the students’ enthusiasm for their craft really come across in their performances and we’ve had the opportunity to meet them after they’ve been on stage. They have no ‘side’ or pretence; they are very natural which is just wonderful.


What do you see as the challenges and opportunities for the School in the future?


SR: I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is finances – you can’t avoid that at the moment. I think also competition from other conservatoires and drama schools – though the Guildhall is obviously reaching a very high standard.


CR: Of course, the new building will be a great opportunity for the School and will give you the chance to put on different productions – great for the technical theatre and performing students, I should think.


You are very active supporters and have come to lots of events. What do you enjoy most?


CR: The overall high standard of performance keeps us coming back. It’s also a very nice and happy place to be. Our friends are always very pleased to be invited. We always try very hard to get them to join the Guildhall Circle too!


SR: The Season Preview was fascinating. We chatted to a few of the Technical Theatre students whom you never normally get the chance to meet. I particularly remember the talk by the guy who was involved in the technical production of L’assedio di Calais [November 2009].


What – in your words – makes the School unique?


CR: It’s the feeling of ‘togetherness’ which I think is very important. Just in the foyer you get a terrific buzz from the students coming in and that carries through to the performances.


SR: There’s a real feeling that the audience is an intrinsic part of the whole place. You feel like you belong here too.


CR: There’s often a loudly supportive bunch of students at most performances, cheering everyone on.


SR: It gives the place a nice atmosphere – it’s like a family.


What is your fondest memory of the School?


SR: It’s great when alumni of the School come back – like at the Silk Street Award this year when we saw Lisa Wilson [Opera Course, 2008]. It’s great to hear how their careers have developed since leaving.


CR: I think for me it was watching Oh! What a Lovely War [July 2006] a few years ago, which was simply the best production I’ve ever seen.


v Joanna Newell Development Officer


GUILDHALL SCHOOL NEWS • AUTUMN / WINTER 2010


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