FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: Bard and Bagnold at West Dean

Long renowned for their Shakespeares, New Theatre Productions join this year's 400th anniversary commemoration of the Bard for the 2016 Festival of Chichester.

Thursday, 23rd June 2016, 11:40 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:54 am
Georgina Jackson and Peter Coxon in a Midsummer Night's Dream.ks16000772-1 SUS-160620-104600003
Georgina Jackson and Peter Coxon in a Midsummer Night's Dream.ks16000772-1 SUS-160620-104600003

Running from Monday, June 27- Saturday July 9, they will be offering A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Pergola Open Air Theatre, West Dean Gardens.

Directed by Richard Kinder, it will alternate with Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden, directed by John Hyatt.

For Peter Breskal, who runs the company, The Dream this summer is the perfect chance, ten years on, to revive his Bottom. But as Peter says, the joy of each and every Shakespeare production is that each is different.

“I was Bottom in 2006, and I loved it. It is great fun, and this play is the ideal way to celebrate the 400th anniversary. This year, it is being directed by Richard, and he has got some lovely ideas. He is going to set it in the 30s era, the Noel Coward era, and there are some nice innovations and ideas he is planning.

“I am very lucky to get to play the role again. It is the kind of part that you can never get tired of playing. It has got everything really, and it is so much fun. (But when you play it again), I think you do wipe the slate clean. Different directors mean different productions, with always something new to discover. He is such a lovely character to play that it is great to be doing it again.

“The essence of Bottom is the comedy, obviously. He is very lovable and very enthusiastic. He gets a lot of things wrong, but his enthusiasm and all his good points shine through the comedy. He is a wonderful character, as are the other characters in their own way, and from an actor’s point of view, to be in The Dream is just a dream!

“We have done quite a few Shakespeares over the years. I have played Caliban in The Tempest more than once, but the thing about Shakespeare and all the different productions is that you will always find something fresh. And it is still so relevant. It is unbelievable that somebody who died 400 years ago still has his finger on the pulse, that it is all still so relevant. And also the lovely thing about The Dream is that it is a great way to get younger people in to see Shakespeare and maybe come back to discover other Shakespeare plays.”

Peter believes The Chalk Garden will offer the perfect foil: “It is definitely a comedy, but there is some very sharp dialogue and some very interesting encounters among the characters; and all the characters have something to commend themselves.”

Adding to the ambiance this year is the fact that the West Dean Gardens restaurant will be opening on theatre nights. Peter stresses people are still very welcome to bring their own picnics, very much a New Theatre Productions tradition; but there is now the option to order a picnic in advance from the restaurant. The restaurant will be open for pre-theatre dinners and drinks until 7.15pm. Pre-order on 01243 818215.

Midsummer Night’s Dream: Monday, June 27, Wednesday, June 29, Friday, July 1, Tuesday, July 5, Thursday, July 7 and Saturday, July 9. The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold: Tuesday, June 28, Thursday, June 30, Saturday, July 2, Monday, July 4, Wednesday, July 6 and Friday, July 8. Performances start at 7.45pm.

Tickets £10; children under 16 £8. Available on the door or from the Festival of Chichester website.

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