All open air theatre cancelled*

WITH theatres, concert halls and arts centres – as well as village halls – closed for the immediately foreseeable future, many are wondering what will happen to the vibrant, traditional, open air touring play season, so important to theatre-lovers in rural areas.

Here is a run-down of the latest plans today, 18th April 2020.

Ten of the 11 touring companies, Chapterhouse Theatre, Festival Players, Folksy Theatre, The Handlebards, Illyria, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Miracle, The Pantaloons, Rain or Shine and The Rude Mechanicals have announced the cancellation of their summer 2020 tours, some postponing the productions until 2021.

One company, Quantum Theatre, is still hoping to stage some performances at the end of summer 2020.

Illyria has cancelled its plan­ned tours of The Further Ad­ventures of Doctor Doo­little, Much Ado About Nothing and HMS Pinafore.

The all-male Lord Cham­ber­­lain’s Men (pictured at Salisbury) have decided to postpone their tour of Macbeth until summer 2021.

Cornish-based Miracle Theatre has cancelled its planned tour of King Lear, postponing the production until 2021.

The Rude Mechanicals have cancelled the 2020 tour of its original play, Little Lily Harley. The commedia del’arte company hopes to “have a knees up” when the situation improves, and introduce Little Lily to its audience next year.

Rain or Shine, the company that prides itself in performing whatever the weather gods throw down, has postponed its production of She Stoops to Conquer. Watch the company website for updates.

The Festival Players have announced the cancellation of the 2020 tour, and that they will postpone the production of Henry V – A Game of Crowns until 2012.

The Pantaloons, whose planned tours of Sherlock Holmes and Twelfth Night have been cancelled, have launched online chances to see previous productions. Visit the website for details.

Chapterhouse Theatre  has cancelled its summer tours. The company was due to tour six productions – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jane Eyre, Alice’s Ad­v­en­­tures in Won­d­er­land, Emma, Little Women and The Hound of the Bask­ervilles.  For more details, visit the website

The Handlebards, the company that arrives at venues on bicycles, has postponed its two planned.  Instead, the women will be performing Macbeth  in 2021 and the male troupe waits til next year for The Comedy of Errors.  See their website for details.

Folksy Theatre, which was due to tour productions of All’s Well that Ends Well and Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf, has cancelled the planned season. For more details, visit the website,

*Quantum Theatre, whose plans are for 2020 tours of  Treasure Island and A Mid­summer Night’s Dream, has its planned productions on hold, but is hoping to be able to tour in the latter part of the summer if the circumstances change.

The cancellation of the summer touring season is another blow to the artistic and theatrical community.  The season gives many graduating students and actors in the early stages of their careers a chance to learn  from others in the companies. The performers and professional staff are mainly self employed, so their summer incomes are a vital part of their annual budget.