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Outdoor theatre production with the National Trust
It seems like an age since summer. 2023 wasn’t the best when it came to the weather. This summer we went to a couple of outdoor theatre productions with the National Trust and on both occasions we needed waterproofs. But that didn’t spoil the enjoyment of the productions.
Jane Austin’s Persuasion
On July 22nd 2023 we went to the home of the famous playwright and critic, George Bernard Shaw, who wrote Pygmalion, St Joan and many other plays. Thinking back having an open-air theatre in George Bernard Shaw’s Garden stands seems like an appropriate place to see a play by another famous writer, Jane Austin.
While many of the properties owned by the National Trust are grand affairs with acres of land and houses with many rooms, the grounds of Shaws Corner are quite small by comparison to many places yet very beautiful in the summer. From the garden, you can see the rotating hut where George Bernard Shaw wrote his plays.
Jane Austin’s Persuasion was acted and produced by Dot Productions, there are around six actors who play multiple parts in Persuasion. The main character in the play, Anne Elliot, was the only character in the play who never changed roles, other characters were played by the rest of the company.
The play was both lighted and where mishaps happened due to the weather the cast made us laugh by making jokes about them.
The story if you haven’t seen it is about Anne Elliott, who was persuaded by people close to her not to get engaged to and marry Fredrick Wentworth. There was a lot of humour around potential suitors or marriage partners, whom Anne Elliott had no interest in.
On several occasions, Anne nearly bumps into Fredrick, but friends and family sort to keep them apart in amusing ways. Eventually, they did meet and realise that they were meant for each other, and I can only assume that they lived happily ever after as I have not read the book or seen the TV and film production.
My memories of the play on that day were first how wet it was. It only stopped raining towards the end of the play. But also, how much I enjoyed the play. The production and staging props were good. The actors kept my attention, even though I could feel the rain beginning to work its way through my waterproof jacket.
It is well worth seeing if Dot Productions puts on the play near you and be prepared for all kinds of weather, especially in the UK.
William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
The second outdoor theatre production with the National Trust that we saw was William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night which took place at Wimpole Estate, Cambridge, on July 30th 2023. The rain came down heavier that evening and even with waterproofs it got uncomfortable with the water seeping through my jacket by the end of the evening but that didn’t spoil anything for me.
Twelfth Night is probably one of the best plays I have seen written by William Shakespeare. The play was produced and acted by The Dukes Theatre Company. The company from what I understand comprises seven actors. The play itself was set during the Second World War and the costumes they wore were also around that period, with some adaptions of course.
The story is about a brother and sister, twins who are separated when a ship they were on sank. The sister Viola pretends to be a young man and ends up working for a Duke named Orsino The story becomes about the relationship between 3 people, Duke Orsino who loves Olivia, Olivia doesn’t accept Orsino’s advances as she is mourning her late brother and Viola loves Orsino.
William Shakespeare uses this idea to great comic effect, this has been done in films many times, but Shakespeare did it first.
Whenever I write I honestly don’t like to give the ending away from anything I see. I never thought I would enjoy a William Shakespeare play until I saw one. You don’t have to be a scholar to appreciate a play by William Shakespeare, you don’t even have to understand every single word in Shakespeare’s language. You will understand because the acting will speak for itself.
Twelfth Night for me is about love, humour and family I am sure you would enjoy it.
A little secret
I will let you into a little secret, before I saw my very first William Shakespeare play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre I read a children’s book about the play I was going to see. It gave me the plot, the characters in the play and what to look for throughout the play.
I enjoy seeing a play by Shakespeare and there are so many adaptions of the play it never becomes boring, so never be put off going to see a Shakespeare play, you will love the experience.
If you get a chance to attend an outdoor theatre production with the National Trust then jump at it, it will be a good night sharing an evening with like-minded people around you. There will be refreshments you can buy when you are there or even take a picnic as we did, even though it was raining.
Share your thoughts
What is your favourite play? Have you ever attended and open-air theatre before? let me know what you saw and what you thought of the play as well as the production
If you enjoyed reading this article about my experience at a production by an open-air theatre then you can read more on Reviewing Life Experiences. You can read about my experiences by clicking here.
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