Open air theatre returns to Tolethorpe Hall
Getting under way this month, the Stamford Shakespeare Company presents a season of plays at the stunning Rutland open air theatre in the grounds of historic Tolethorpe Hall.
The auditorium faces an open air stage set within an idyllic woodland glade. And the permanent canopy above the audience means no performance is ever cancelled because of inclement weather.
This summer the company are proud to present four fantastic plays:
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Shakespeare’s most stylish comedy is set in Navarre in the 17th century when learning and the ‘new science’ were all the rage.
Four noblemen swear an oath to study for three years and to give up wine, women and song, but when a beautiful princess and her retinue of vivacious ladies arrives, the consequences are hilarious.
The intrigues of the courtly lovers are intermingled with the wit and comedy of several eccentric characters including a snobbish courtier, a pompous schoolmaster, a timid curate, a dim-witted constable and two sex- crazed villagers – not forgetting a fantastical Spaniard and his irreverent page.
Set in the late 1990s, Charlotte Jones’ award-winning comedy, inspired by Hamlet, explores the tensions inherent in family life.
Felix Humble, the unlikely hero, returns to his Cotswold family home after his father’s death. His mother, Flora, has got rid of all of her husband’s belongings, including the bees which he kept. The reunion of mother and son sparks old animosities and leads to the hilarious unravelling of a multitude of family secrets, not least his mother’s plans to wed her long-term lover.
This imaginative play premiered at the National Theatre in 2001, winning two Olivier Awards and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Best New Play. Its sharp humour is both wickedly funny and darkly poignant.
Due to language and content, the play is suitable for ages 15 and over.
The Importance of Being Earnest
Widely considered one of the funniest plays in the English language, Oscar Wilde’s much-loved masterpiece, set in the late Victorian era, contains some of theatre’s most celebrated characters along with sparkling dialogue rich in witticisms.
To marry Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen, Jack must first court favour with her mother, the formidable Lady Bracknell. His respectability, his past and that of his parents must prove above reproach. For Jack, however, this presents a problem, having started life abandoned in the lost property at Victoria station.
Equally problematic is the fact that Gwendolen wishes to marry Ernest, who doesn’t actually exist. Hilarious consequences arise when both Algernon and Jack adopt the pseudonym of Ernest to pursue their romantic endeavours.
A group of teenagers do something bad, really bad, then panic and cover the whole thing up. But when they find that the cover-up unites them and brings harmony to their otherwise fractious lives, where’s the incentive to put things right?
DNA is a poignant and, sometimes, hilarious tale with a very dark heart.
David Fensom, SCC marketing and theatre manager, said: “It is an absolute delight to welcome our patrons back this summer, and we feel enormously privileged to have been able to survive the past year. Without the support of so many, we would not have made it through the pandemic, nor would we be presenting our four productions and sharing the joy and excitement of live theatre.
“This year we are immensely proud that TYD’s new Theatre Makers programme joins our summer season, with its production of DNA. The tickets have already sold out, which is fantastic. The same is true for our production of The Importance of Being Earnest. It sold out a month before it even opened. I don’t think it will be long before Love’s Labour’s Lost and Humble Boy do the same. It has been hard work and a challenge adhering to all the Government’s health and safety guidelines, rehearsing in ‘bubbles of six’ and adhering to social distance regulations, but it has been well worth it to be able to open our doors once again. It is joyous to see our grounds once more full of people enjoying a picnic before heading into the auditorium to sit back, relax and be entertained.”
Further information on performance dates , times and tickets go to www.stamfordshakespeare.co.uk