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Taking the play outdoors

There is a growing tradition of outdoor performances, usually in the summer and the vast majority Shakespeare! The quality, though is ‘variable’ in the extreme.

What seems to work best are productions that embrace the ‘outdoors-ness’ and furthermore, site-specific.


Perhaps the most iconic venue is the Minack Theatre. Perched on a cliff edge overlooking the Cornish coastline it has proven a mecca for tourists after a quick shot of culture and for ambitious amateur /semi-professional companies. The venue sadly is no guarantee of quality but you can catch some outstanding stuff there.


The company I work with, Ovo, has won all kinds of accolades for their music-filled contemporary takes on Shakespeare classics. Here is their fabulous 'As You Like It' Act 1 and Act 2 filmed at the Minack last year.


But often the best outdoor theatre is the most rough and relaxed. Their 'Comedy of Errors' in a park in Bedford last year was outstanding – joyous and unrestrained and often interrupted by a local ‘character’ who had clearly overindulged. http://www.folksytheatre.co.uk/the-comedy-of-errors/4594741491


At Best we’ve embraced the outdoors too, with productions of The Birds and Around the World in 80 Days at the Roman Theatre of Verulamium over the past few years. One night of The Birds was memorable for the apocalyptic thunderstorm and accompanying deluge that engulfed the stage midway through – clearly our acting had displeased the Gods! Here is a little clip from our ‘Around the World in 80 Days’.


Conversely though, we’ve seen some terrible stuff. We won’t mention names here but, as a word of warning, any company that goes on and on about ‘how much they’ve enjoyed putting the show together’ is probably to be avoided. Check their Facebook or Instagram before committing. Just because they’ve enjoyed it doesn’t mean that you will!


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