Guest written by Glen Formoy, head of marketing and events at Southwell Minster.
What have Robin Hood, Romeo and Juliet and Alice (of Wonderland fame) got in common? Well, they all performed here in the grounds of Southwell Minster last year for our best season of outdoor theatre yet. Around 1,000 people took in a show in the glorious summer of 2018 and we saw queues a (proverbial) mile long a good 45 minutes before the doors even opened, such was the clamour to bag a good picnic spot near the front.
The unmistakable smells of sausage rolls, olives, quiche and pizzas and other more fancy picnic favourites wafted through The Archbishop’s Palace gardens as friends and family sat down to their feast whilst being royally entertained.
So a quick recap of what happened in 2018…
Robin defeated the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, Romeo and Juliet both died (still), and Alice fell through a hole (luckily no holes were dug in our lovely manicured gardens – otherwise our head gardener wouldn’t have been too pleased).
The heatwave of 2018
Now you’ll all remember the heatwave that was the summer of 2018, and that ONE day it rained…and by rained I of course mean hammered it down! And OF COURSE, that one day was when we had our biggest audience ever for Romeo and Juliet – the date of 20 July forever etched in the mind of the 400+ soggy guests who stayed right until the end such was the brilliance of the performance by the hilarious girls from The HandleBards. Soggy quiches were still eaten, glasses of wine were diluted and topped up from the heavens, and laps were soaked – but still people enjoyed themselves and left with huge grins on their faces.
And now we reach the summer of 2019 and we have three more wonderful shows lined up for you. Coming up in 2019
First up, Pride and Prejudice by Chapterhouse Theatre Company on Wednesday 3 July. Take a step back in time with Chapterhouse Theatre Company to meet Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen’s notorious heroine. When Elizabeth meets the terse and abrupt Mr. Darcy, she loathes him at first sight. But is there more to him than meets the eye? Brought to life by award-winning writer Laura Turner, this adaptation has been a favourite of Chapterhouse audiences for years and will be a joy to perform in the company’s 20th year of touring. Join friends and family for an evening of theatre beneath the stars, basking in the glow of this timeless classic.
Next up sees the girls from The HandleBards return with their side-splitting take on The Tempest on Saturday 27 July.
Back by popular demand after last year’s sell-out performance of Romeo & Juliet, the girls from The HandleBards return once again for what promises to be an evening full of hilarity.
Performed in the beautiful gardens of The Archbishop’s Palace behind Southwell Minster, The Tempest tells the story of a shipwreck which washes the court of Milan up onto a mysterious desert island, inhabited by magicians, sprites and monsters, where nothing is as it seems…
Join the all-female cast for a riotous evening filled with magic, music and Shakespearean mayhem.
And last but not least, the boys from The HandleBards are back (after a break in 2018) with Much Ado About Nothing on Wednesday 7 August.
A group of soldiers return from the war to a household in Messina, causing the kindling of new love interests and the re-kindling of old rivalries. The parallel love stories of Beatrice, Benedick, Claudio and Hero become entangled with plotting, frivolity and melodrama in Shakespeare’s famous comedy. Join the four-strong, all-male cast for a barnstorming, bicycle-powered production, filled with drunkenness, mayhem and cross-dressing a plenty.
And in case you need a drink…
It wouldn’t be outdoor theatre without a bar, and this year, Southwell Minster staff will be running a very reasonably priced bar, serving wine, beer, cider and soft drinks, with all proceeds helping to support the ongoing costs of the Minster.
So come along for a fab night of entertainment set against the ancient ruins of The Archbishop’s Palace and bring your friends and picnics (and chairs or rugs) – and pray for some sun!
All shows start at 6.30pm (doors 5.45pm) and tickets for all are available from The Cathedral Shop (in person or on 01636 812933) or online at www.southwellminster.org/theatre But be quick, tickets are selling even faster this year than last and we’re on course for sell-outs for all three!
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