A personal experience of open-air theatre
by Karen Westropp, Yourstage Course Administrator
One of the most anticipated days in the school calendar when I was at Tring Park Arts Educational School was the end of year Founders Day where we performed for parents in the Elizabethan gardens of the school. A huge undertaking for all those concerned from timetabling rehearsals through summer rain to choreographing dance pieces to fill the enormous space of the lawn. In preparation, at the start of the summer term one of our lessons each week would be to ‘thread the wings’. This would mean we spend just over an hour a week threading cuttings from the gardens into mesh fences to produce the wings for the performers to wait behind until their entrance and I remember we’d always try and leave subtle holes so we would be able to peer out and spot our parents on the day.
As you can imagine things often didn’t run smoothly, which is the same in all live theatre and certainly adds to the element of excitement both on and off stage. For our performance we had no staging other than the ‘hedge’ wings so we’d be dancing directly on the lawn – not very easy and I’m amazed there weren’t more injuries. We also had no head mics for the actors so would have one cast off stage on microphones while the second cast, performed on stage by miming!
People have delighted in watching and performing in outdoor theatre for thousands of years. This archived Guardian article sums up some of the reasons why outdoor theatre is so special.
Taking your children to see some outdoor theatre could be a wonderful thing to do this summer. Here’s a selection of what’s on offer:
Regents Park Open Air Theatre are putting on Oliver Twist from 17th July – 5th August for ages 6+ https://openairtheatre.com/production/oliver-twist-created-for-everyone-aged-six-and-over
Much Ado About Nothing will be on at Shakespeare’s Globe from Friday 14th July throughout the summer http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/whats-on/globe-theatre/much-ado-about-nothing-2017
And closer to home, The brilliant Sixteen Feet have the Jungle Book for ages 3+ locally at Walpole Park, Ealing from 18th – 21st August http://www.sixteenfeet.co.uk/portfolio/the-jungle-book/
Yourstage Drama will be concentrating the great British tradition of outdoor theatre. We are offering two weeks of holiday courses this year, with the first one running from Monday 31st July – 4th August being themed ‘A Festival of Outdoor Theatre,’ with a final day performance on the outdoor stage in the beautiful grounds of St Augustine’s.
It will be great to see how all the children enjoy the freedom that comes from performing outside with the new friends that they will have made from participating in the course. Every new experience brings heightened confidence in a child.
For more information on our courses see our website: https://www.yourstagedrama.com/yourstage-courses/
Fill out our Enquiry Form for further information or to book a place.