Performing arts have been part of England’s history for hundreds of years, and remain as popular as ever today. Around the country, there are still some old fashioned open air theatres offering performances to those looking to experience something a bit different. Read on to see our guide to 5 of the top open air theatres in England…
The Globe Theatre, London
For theatre in the round, that is, with the stage not at one end of the theatre but in the very centre, just as Shakespeare would have known and experienced it, then a visit to the Globe theatre in London is essential. The theatre season is short: from April to October but the programme includes works of Shakespeare and other playwrights of the day, as well as more modern offerings.
The attention to detail in this loving recreation of the playhouse that originally stood on the site in 1599 is truly awe inspiring and even if you are lucky enough to catch a play there book yourself in for a guided tour to learn of the history and rebirth of this unique theatre.
The Minack Theatre
If the drama of the Cornish coastline into which the Minack Theatre is embedded and the sea beyond weren’t enough, then sit back and enjoy comedy, tragedy and yet more drama on this unusual theatre’s stage whose very back drop is the waves themselves.
Performances are staged from May to the end of September and tours of the theatre and the sub tropical gardens with which it is surrounded are also available. If you are going to see a play at the Mincack theatre is is advisable to bring a cushion as the seats are tiered stone!
For What’s on, tour details and box office visit: http://www.minack.com/
Scarborough Open Air Theatre
Currently the largest open air theatre in Europe, the Scarborough Open Air Theatre put on its first performance in 1932. Theatre goers were treated to a two act light opera “Merrie England” composed by Edward German.
After hosting performances of little more import than television’s “It’s a Knock Out” the theatre ostensibly fell out of public use but, in 2010 after extensive refurbishment and restoration work was well and truly back in business hosting concerts by the likes of Elton John and the Festival of Folk and World Music.
For what you can expect in 2012 visit: http://www.theatrestrust.org.uk/resources/theatres/show/2384-open-air-theatre-scarborough
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Actors and audience alike are totally at the mercy of the elements at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, unless, that is they decide to take refuge in the bar. The theatre is the only permanent outdoor theatre in the UK with its own theatre company. Its season runs from May to September with four major productions a year each made unique and unforgettable by the interplay of actors, audience, theatre and weather. There is no lack of diversity in the theatre’s offerings, in 2011 you could have seen Shakespeare’s Pericles do battle with the high seas or toe tapping and raised voices in their Gershwin musical Crazy for you which is currently playing at the Novello theatre”
For 2012 bookings and information, visit : http://www.openairtheatre.com/
Kilworth House Theatre
Nestled in the woods of Leicestershire, the Kilworth House Theatre, in the grounds of the listed hotel of the same name is the youngest on this list as it was only established in 2007. Its website boast is that this is the outdoor theatre “Where rain won’t stop play,” comes from the fact that the auditorium (if an outdoor area can be said to have such, that is) is tented.
This is high tech al fresco entertainment and the theatre can and does put on shows coming straight from or heading straight to London’s West End. This had all the comforts you would expect of any modern theatre and its 540 capacity makes productions in this rather special setting wonderfully intimate.
For bookings and performance information go to: http://www.kilworthhousetheatre.co.uk/