This year’s season at Tolethorpe only came to an end on Saturday but already Stamford Shakespeare Company is looking ahead to next year.
An incredible 34,000 people enjoyed a performance at the 600-seat Rutland Open Air Theatre this season - marking a hugely successful 40th anniversary year.
Despite a rather damp start to the summer, with night after night of horrendous downpours, people still flocked to Tolethorpe to see one of this year’s stunning productions.
But while the audience of course, benefitted from the canopy over the auditorium, the cast did not - but carried on with professionalism and grace. Stamford Shakespeare Company remains rightly proud that no show is ever cancelled due to the weather.
The Wind in the Willows proved an enormous hit with people of all ages and had completely sold out by its final week.
Marketing and theatre manager David Fensom said: “Many people came to see it more than once, which is a huge testament to just how wonderful and popular a production it was.”
To mark the 40th anniversary of performing at the historic Tolethorpe Hall, it was only fitting that one of this year’s plays was Macbeth - the first play ever staged at Tolethorpe.
To commemorate this milestone there was a special gala night of Macbeth on August 6, which was a sell-out.
David said: “The weather was perfect and the picnic slope was the busiest I have ever seen it.
“It was great to watch the pre-performance entertainment of jugglers, jesters, medieval magicians and minstrels strolling around the grounds.
“During the interval there was spectacular entertainment on the lawn, which draw a huge crowd.
“Such was the success that we hope to repeat the gala night in the not too distant future.”
The Tempest was chosen as the final play for 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, which brought the season to a close on Saturday night.
David added: “The total audience figure for the season has been a whopping 34,000 and we couldn’t be happier with how it has all gone and are already looking forward to trying to beat that figure next year.”
With that in mind, members of Stamford Shakespeare Company have already set their sights firmly on 2017.
The 2017 summer season plays are:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream - no Shakespearean play offers such a feast of magic, humour, music and spectacle.
Much Ado About Nothing - The hilarious antics surrounding the legendary love duel of Beatrice and Benedick.
Hobson’s Choice - Harold Brighouse’s classic comedy from the cobbles of Lancashire.
Auditions for the shows begin later this month on Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25; followed by further auditions on Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9.
Anyone who wants to get involved is encouraged to go along no matter what experience they have - as long as they are passionate and dedicated.
David said: “The chance to be part of a production at Tolethorpe Hall is a real privilege.
“As an actor you have the joy of a four week run of performances, which, although demanding, has many rewards.
“Performing on stunning purpose built sets, wearing beautiful custom made costumes, standing on a stage like no other in front of 600 people a night.
“ What more could any aspiring actor wish for?”
And it’s not just actors who are needed. It takes a huge number of people all contributing an enormous amount of hard work to produce three plays.
David added: “We are always looking for people to get involved with backstage work and with sound and light operation.”
Anyone who wants to find out more about the auditions or about joining the technical team should contact theatre manager David Fensom on 01780 480216 Monday to Friday.
And wardrobe mistress Anne Mason is also on the lookout for anyone with experience of tailoring to join the wonderful wardrobe department of very dedicated volunteers producing hundreds of fabulous costumes for each season.
If you are interested in joining the team please contact Anne on 01733 232661.
You can also find out more by visiting www. stamfordshakespeare.co.uk