Shakespeare comes to Bristol this summer
Press release issued: 14 May 2008
The Old Bowling Green on Brandon Hill will be transformed into an open-air theatre for this summer’s Bristol Shakespeare Festival, under the directorship of Dr Miles Gregory of Bristol University’s Department of Drama.
The Bowling Green, currently disused, will host the world-famous Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, with performances of their Romeo and Juliet and The Winter’s Tale in late July and August.
Romeo and Juliet returns to Bristol after last summer’s sell-out run in Queen Square. The production features many of the original cast, as well as the innovative 1960s-era Volkswagen campervan which forms the set.
“Getting the campervan to the Bowling Green, up the steep and narrow Brandon Hill paths, will be a challenge,’ admits festival director Dr Miles Gregory, “but we are confident we can do it.” The festival team will use a four-wheel drive vehicle to tow the campervan to the site.
“It will definitely be worth it,” Gregory says, “as we think the Old Bowling Green is tailor-made for open-air performance. It’s a beautiful space, overlooked by the stunning Cabot Tower.”
The Winter’s Tale, one of the last plays written by Shakespeare, contains one of his most famous stage directions, ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’. The play is a tragic-comic study of the psychopathic jealously of its protagonist, Leontes, who falsely believes his wife Hermione to be a ‘palm-paddler’, a ‘bed-swerver’. The production features a full cast in superb period costumes, and is directed by Globe director John Dove.
The Globe shows are part of the festival’s largest season since its inception in 2004. Ten full productions are being staged in spaces all over the city, from Bristol Zoo Gardens to Queen Square. The festival offers a feast of theatre, ranging from some of the Bard’s best-known plays to rarely performed gems, including a chance to see Illyria’s hilarious production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
The festival opens with the famous A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Ashton Court Mansion (17-18 June), which is followed by Peter Pan, Charley’s Aunt and, in a festival premier, Shakespeare’s stirring tale of love and war, Henry V.
Other firm favourites that come to Bristol this summer include The Lord Chamberlain’s Men’s all-male production of Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night performed by Bristol-based company Roughhouse. The festival closes with Pinocchio at Bristol Zoo on 31 August.
The festival's new website showcases details of all events in the festival and also features advice to audiences on how to get the best out of the unique open air experience.
“Open-air summer theatre is an outstanding experience, a magical way to spend an evening with a picnic and friends,” Gregory says, “and whether you are an old-hand or you haven’t yet found out just how great it is, there are no excuses for missing out this summer.”
The festival opens with A Midsummer Night’s Dream on 17 June (£5 - £10, 0117 922 3686).
The Globe perform Romeo and Juliet at the Old Bowling Green on Brandon Hill 31 July to 3 August, and The Winter’s Tale 13 – 16 August. (£10 - £15, under 10s free, 020 7401 9919).