Open air theatre

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

Here is a run-down of what the FTR can discover today, 30th March 2020.

Five companies, Illyria, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, The Rude Mechanicals, Rain or Shine and Miracle, have announced the cancellation of their summer 2020 tours.

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.

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.

It seems as though Chapterhouse Theatre Comp­any, has cancelled its summer tours, but only via a tweet saying “the tour” is cancelled. There is nothing on the main website to confirm this. 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.

The Handlebards, the company that arrives at venues on bicycles, has two tours scheduled. The women will be performing Macbeth and the male troupe takes on The Comedy of Errors. No information is currently available on their website about the tours in relation to the Coron­a­virus pandemic. But in the meantime the intrepid cyclists are offering to deliver food and essentials to those in remote areas or who can’t get out themselves.  See their website for details.

The Pantaloons, due to tour Sherlock Holmes and Twelfth Night, has no new information on its website.

The Festival Players, whose 2020 production is Henry VIII – A Game of Crowns, has no current information on its website.

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.