A leading scientist was ejected by fellow audience members during a performance of Handel’s Messiah after he took the director’s invitation to “clap and whoop” to the music a step too far by attempting to crowd-surf, according to the independent.ie.
Tom Morris, artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic, encouraged the audience to respond with enthusiasm to the music but accepted that Dr David Glowacki had “got very over-excited”.
The show was a forerunner to the Bristol Proms, launched by Mr Morris as a more “accessible and informal” alternative to the traditional classical concerts, which will start next month.
Before the performance, Mr Morris invited the audience to bring their drinks into the standing area in front of the stage and instructed them: “Clap or whoop when you like, and no shushing other people.”
But Dr Glowacki, a Royal Society Research Fellow, was so overcome during the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ he began lurching from side to side with his hands raised and whooping before attempting to crowd-surf, witnesses claimed.
Irritated by the distraction, audience members proceeded to physically eject the Bristol University academic from the area, in what Mr Morris claims is the first such incident at a classical concert since the 18th century.
Some ticket holders are now urging Mr Morris to set clearer guidelines for acceptable behaviour but the director is unwilling to re-impose the strict rules of etiquette which he has sought to cast off.
However, he has agreed crowd-surfing during classical concerts will not be tolerated.
“He got very over-excited,” Mr Morris, who directed War Horse at the National Theatre, told The Independent.
“The Bristol Proms are contributing to a ground-breaking way of thinking which will pave the way for a new kind of classical concert.
“But by allowing an audience to respond in whatever way they want, you also allow an audience to self-regulate, as we discovered.”
He added: “David was investigating what the nature of the rules are using the skills that make him an extraordinary scientist – and for some in the audience, a slightly irritating one.”
Dr Glowacki defended his actions and accused both Morris and his fellow audience members of hypocrisy in only approving of the right sort of “free” behaviour.
“Classical music, trying to seem cool and less stuffy, reeks of some sort of fossilised art form undergoing a midlife crisis,” the expert in non-equilibrium molecular reaction dynamics, who is a visiting scientist at Stanford University, said.
“Witness what happened to me when I started cheering with a 30-strong chorus shouting ‘praise God’ two metres from my face: I get physically assaulted, knocked down to the floor and forcibly dragged out by two classical vigilantes.
“Neither the bourgeoisie audience nor their curators (eg Tom Morris) really believe what they say.
“You’re free to behave as you like, and it’s comforting to think that you have that freedom, but it’s only available to you so long as you behave correctly.”
He denied being drunk, adding: “This may be a consequence of me being American, but I can quite easily be provocative without the need to be inebriated.”