Enjoy Shakespeare outdoors this summer

Shakespeare at Keats House

Shakespeare at Keats House - Credit: Archant

As midsummer is upon us the season for performing Shakespeare outdoors arrives with two touring productions seting out their stage in local parks and gardens this month

Shakespeare in the Square's 2018 production of As You Like It

Shakespeare in the Square's 2018 production of As You Like It - Credit: Archant

As midsummer approaches, so does the season for performing Shakespeare outdoors.

Two touring productions set out their stage in local parks and gardens this month starting with Shakespeare in the Squares, which plays Queen's Park, Camden Square, and Paddington Street Gardens among other venues.

Tatty Hennessy directs for the third year and says the various park owners and squares associations are always "really keen and amenable to us taking over their beautiful spaces".

"We bring high quality engaging and accessible productions of Shakespeare into neighbourhoods, parks and gardens," she says.

Shakespeare in the Square's 2018 production of As You Like It

Shakespeare in the Square's 2018 production of As You Like It - Credit: Archant

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"We really feel at the core of local communities - bringing plays to people's back gardens and front doors." This year's production is appropriately A Midsummer Night's Dream - set mostly in the forest outside Athens, it's a staple of outdoor repertoires.

"It moves really quickly and it's so much about the magic of the outdoors that it lends itself to our garden spaces," adds Hennessy.

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"We don't use artificial lights and we love that direct connection between the actors and audience that you get from performing in an outdoor space in shared light."

She has set the comedy of young lovers who get lost in the forest and are preyed upon by meddling fairies in the 1920s, as an interwar generation chafe at the strictures of their Edwardian parents.

"With no set we try to have a really strong visual aesthetic - the costumes have to work hard to convey character. Theseus talks about wooing Hippolyta after a war and there's a sense that these characters are caught in a bubble between two wars. The songs of the era are so wonderful, Music Hall lends itself to the mechanical's play within a play."

Playing to all ages from 8-80 she says the Dream is also about "generational conflicts" and portrays "every level of society."

And the company takes it "really seriously" that for many youngsters, it will be their first experience of the Bard.

"We never assume that they will be familiar with it, we treat it like a brand new play and take as much care with the storytelling as if no-one had heard a word of it before.We pride ourselves on doing very clear versions of these stories for the 12-year-old at the back who has never seen it before."


Drama Impact Theatre tours its "slick no-nonsense" 90-minute version of Much Ado About Nothing to venues with a literary connection this summer including Keats House in Hampstead.

The cast of nine will tell the story of Don Pedro's men, returning from the wars who find young and late life passion.

David Houston said the "compelling witty drama would be "the first time that a Shakespeare play has been performed in the grounds of Keats' former house and of course it's very relevant as he was a great fan of Shakespeare. "There's a painting in the house of Keats in his study with the Chandos Shakespeare portrait on the wall behind him."

Much Ado is at Keats House on July 6 at 2pm preceded by a director's talk and an interactive audience session.

Tickets from dramaimpact.com

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