Open-Air Shakespeare Set For Chaplaincy Gardens

Chaplaincy Gardens, St Mary's

It’ll be fingers crossed for a dry evening later with the first of two open-air theatre performances on the Islands.

The Festival Players will be performing William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the Chaplaincy gardens, followed by a performance in the Abbey Gardens on Tresco tomorrow.

Director Mike Dyer says the company has been established for 27 years and takes pride in making Shakespeare ‘understandable.’

He said people have often been put off Shakespeare after experiences of reading it at school, but he says you need to see a performance to really get a feel for one of his plays.

And Mike admits that the cast often don’t understand parts of it during the early read-throughs so they just ditch those sections. He says the company pride themselves on the fact that people go away from their productions saying they really understood the play.

The tour started in Bedfordshire on 9th June and has taken in several venues in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Mike says Twelfth Night is a far-fetched comedy, involving long lost twins and cross-dressing characters, which is entertaining and fast paced. He says they’ve got very colourful costumes that stand out in the open-air garden settings and they’ve had music and songs specially composed for the performance.

The cast of six perform several roles each and he says they like to feel that the audience are very much part of the performance rather than just spectators at a distance

Mike says the company perform whatever the conditions and it “would take a hurricane” to stop them, adding we have more open-air theatre in the UK than any other country and it’s part of our tradition.

“People are determined to enjoy themselves,” he says, “it’s part of the British stoicism.”

Mike says he knows how the weather can change quickly in this part of the world – he ran the Minack open-air Theatre in Cornwall for 8 years.

Twelfth Night will be performed at the Chaplaincy Gardens at 7.30pm this evening and at Tresco Abbey Gardens at 6.30pm tomorrow.

Tickets cost £12 for adults, £10 concessions.