The Magic of Outdoor Theatre
My love of outdoor theatre all started when my parents took me to see The Importance of Being Earnest when I was quite small. It was performed in this beautiful garden outside this grand manor house in the countryside. Sitting there, with a slightly fidgety air about him, young Mark was not altogether sure about this outdoor theatre malarkey. But then these amazing actors burst out of the house, wearing these fabulous costumes, and started to stride around the garden speaking Wilde’s immortal lines. Suddenly, the fidgeting stopped, and young Mark was transfixed by the production played out in front of him. For 10-year-old me, it was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to the magic of outdoor theatre.
Don’t get me wrong, I love going to an indoor show, but there’s something unique about seeing a performance in the great outdoors. I’d say joyous is the only word that comes close to describing it. It has the feel of a festival – a group of people come together, have a picnic, crack a bottle of prosecco (or a sparkly non-alcoholic beverage for young Mark) and are transported from their daily lives to a completely different time and place.
As the co-founder of Shakespeare’s Wanderers, an outdoor theatre company specialising in (you guessed it) Shakespearean productions, I want all our shows to capture that sense of fun, joy and wonder. Shakespeare’s plays were originally all staged in open-air spaces like The Globe, so we believe this is exactly what Shakespeare himself would have wanted. And he was a pretty smart guy.
There’s simply nothing quite like being in a beautiful outdoor setting, while a group of actors take you on an exciting journey through one of Shakespeare’s plays. You feel vividly part of the action, and there’s music, dance and the audience often get involved too. There’s also the excitement and unpredictability of an outdoor show. You can’t account for something like a fox casually wandering across the stage, and that all adds to the magic of the experience.
In recent years, outdoor theatre has become more and more popular, with festivals and companies staging outdoor performances around the UK throughout the Summer. In London, there is the Globe and Regent’s Park open-air theatre, but we think that there’s a huge appetite for smaller companies, like us, to bring exciting, creative and dynamic shows to the wonderful network of beautiful and intimate garden spaces across London.
That’s why we’re delighted to be bringing our WWI-inspired production of Much Ado About Nothing to St. George’s Gardens in Bloomsbury this July. I fell in love with this little garden when I first visited, and I decided right then that we had to stage a show there. We hope our production is the first of many outdoor performances springing up in the borough, and we can’t wait to bring this joyous love story to life for all the residents of Camden.
Shakespeare’s Wanderers will be performing Much Ado About Nothing as part of our Camden Alive programme of arts and cultural events. The show will run from the 22nd to 26th of July (6:30-8:30pm) at St. George’s Gardens, Bloomsbury, and tickets can be purchased on their website.