Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Exciting new season of outdoor performances at the Watermill Theatre

Artistic Director Paul Hart and the team at Newbury’s The Watermill Theatre are thrilled to announce a new summer season of outdoor performances, following the sell-out success of the 2020 season. Audiences from far and wide will once again be able to enjoy alfresco theatre from socially distanced tables seating 2, 4 or 6 people in the idyllic setting of The Watermill’s glorious gardens. A limited number of individual seats will also be available. Young people aged 18 – 30 years will be able to access a limited number of discounted solo tickets priced at £15 for each show.

The first show opening on 21st May on the front lawn is the return of the critically acclaimed comedy version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes tale, “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. A trio of actors bring this production to life, devised by the company and directed by Abigail Pickard Price. Performances take place from Friday 21 May – Saturday 19 June.

This will be followed by the Watermill Ensemble’s brand-new sustainability focussed production of Shakespeare’s “As you like it”, adapted by Yolanda Mercy and directed by Paul Hart, with a cast of twelve actor-musicians and an atmospheric modern folk soundscape, inspired by the music of Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Taylor Swift. “As you like it” will open on the main lawn on Thursday 24 June and run until Saturday 24 July.

Using responsibly sourced, repurposed, or recyclable materials to create the set, props and costumes, this production of Shakespeare’s famous pastoral comedy will celebrate the unique environment of The Watermill gardens. With a focus on eco-friendly practices both on and off stage, this season marks a new direction for the venue in terms of sustainability and access for future generations.

The third production will be a new semi-staged concert version of Stiles & Drewe’s “Just so”. This wondrous family musical blends five of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories to tell a tale of courage, friendship and the power of an individual to make a difference. Directed by Abigail Pickard Price, with Tarek Merchant as the Musial Director, “Just so” will run from Friday 30 July to Saturday 4 September.

To ensure the safety of all, the season will take place outside in The Watermill Theatre’s beautiful gardens with shows performed to a socially distanced audience. Audience members can book their own socially distanced seating area, with aisles and space between each seating area. Tables are reserved, and audiences will be able to select a seating area when booking their tickets. Seats will be uncovered, and performances will go ahead whatever the weather. Audiences are advised to bring appropriate clothing for the conditions and may also wish to bring extra cushions and blankets.

Face coverings, unless exempt, will be required to enter indoor spaces, such as the toilets. There will be hand sanitiser stations, a one-way system for accessing the toilets and signage to indicate routes and procedures. There will also be free onsite parking in the main car park.  All current government guidelines will apply throughout the season and The Watermill will keep these under constant review.

A two-course pre-show menu from the restaurant will be available to enjoy from 5pm before evening shows starting at 7pm and from midday before matinée performances starting at 2pm. Cream teas will also be available to enjoy in The Watermill’s riverside gardens after matinée performances.

Paul Hart said:

We’re absolutely thrilled to announce another joyous summer season after the sell-out success of last year. Audiences absolutely loved our production of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ which was devised in the midst of the pandemic. I was struck by the idea of a group of individuals trying to solve a murder whilst observing social distancing measures(!) and we’re delighted to bring back the production for a very limited run. 

The rest of the season integrates themes of the environment and sustainability, an issue we’re really passionate about, not least because of our stunning location which backs onto a nature reserve in the heart of the Berkshire countryside. 

Our Shakespeare ensemble return with a radical new version of ‘As You Like It’ which focuses on the importance of connecting with nature and as ever, will be filled with glorious music performed live by our cast. After this we’ll be presenting a very special concert performance of our summer musical, ‘Just So’. The show began its life at The Watermill to great acclaim in 1989. It feels like a perfect moment to celebrate this uplifting musical and to bring it to life once again, this time in our beautiful gardens!

I couldn’t be more excited to welcome back audiences and to be creating brilliant theatre again.

To help The Watermill rebuild its artistic programme and resume its important outreach and education activities on-site, the theatre has also launched ACT 2 – a new fundraising appeal. The ACT 2 appeal invites supporters to help The Watermill Celebrate Theatre, Inspire Creativity and Connect Communities. For further information please visit watermill.org.uk/ACT2

Paul Hart said:

The past year has undoubtedly been a challenging time for us, but the generosity of our community has truly blown us away. Buoyed by your encouragement we are delighted to be reopening, and hope that you feel able to continue to support our mission to uplift and inspire people through great theatre.