You can’t beat that feeling, after a long hot summer’s day and then emerging into the sultry evening warmth when suddenly it hits you, the unmistakeable Mediterranean feel of a balmy summer’s night right here in Britain! With the great weather this summer and with the light still lingering long into evening, this is the perfect time to make the most of Britain’s amazing open air theatres. The Romans enduring love of the dramatic has left a legacy across Europe that thrives to this to this day. There are some fantastic and indeed spectacular outdoor venues across the country so here are some great ideas for a memorable evening in what is turning out to be an unforgettable summer.
Minack Theatre, Cornwall
Born out of the inspired vision of Rowena Cade, the simply stunning Minack Theatre at Porthcurno near Land’s End in Cornwall has been built into the cliff side at one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Britain. Literally chiselled out of the rock by hand the result is an enigmatic and atmospheric venue that is the perfect backdrop for theatre. Rowena’s sheer determination and work ethic spanning years is a staggering achievement has resulted in a theatre that is perfectly moulded into its surroundings. Performances go on whatever the weather and are very rarely cancelled but with such a dramatic setting it is worth a visit just for the view alone but in tandem with an evening’s theatre this has to be the highlight for any holiday in west Cornwall. This summer highlights include, “Wuthering Heights”, “Parade” and “The Taming of the Shrew”.
Regent’s Park, London
The nation’s capital is of course home to the best theatre productions in the country, but if you are looking for a uniquely different London theatre experience, Regent’s Park is rapidly becoming one of the most popular cultural centres in the city. This is now an established venue attracting some of the country’s most acclaimed actors. Surrounded by the greenery of the Royal Park, there are seats for over 1,200 under the stars creating an atmospheric yet still intimate feel to proceedings. With the surrounding parkland this is the perfect venue for spending a romantic picnic before an evening’s theatre. The upcoming summer schedule includes “The Sound of Music” and also comedy from Jimmy Carr.
Grosvenor Park, Chester
Chester’s beautiful Victorian Grosvenor Park is home to one of the most popular summer events in England’s North West and has become an established favourite on the cultural social calendar in Cheshire. Last year over 10,000 people enjoyed performances across a seven week stretch in this idyllic open air parkland setting. This is a family friendly venue and for 2013 children can get tickets free! This summer’s performances offer a range of productions including Othello, Cyrano De Bergerac and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and with great critical reviews it is not surprising that demand for tickets is high at this one of the most popular open air theatres in the country.
The Dukes Theatre, Williamson Park, Lancaster
The Dukes theatre company in Lancaster has been putting on summer outdoor productions at Willliamson Park for the past 27 years and is now considered to be the largest outdoor theatre event in the country. Famous luminaries of the company include Andy Serkis of The Hobbit fame and this year Robin Hood is the focus for this summer’s production which takes places at various locations across a beautiful park that overlooks the city and Morecambe Bay. It is the promenade aspect of the productions that make these events so entrancing, contrasting lakeside and woodland settings for each scene. Since its inception the annual event has attracted a staggering half a million people to what is one of the most enigmatic open air productions in Britain.
The Globe Theatre, London
Perhaps the quintessential open air theatre and forever intertwined with the history of Britain’s greatest dramatist, William Shakespeare, the reconstructed Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank is a must for all theatre lovers. Built just a short distance for the original Globe theatre, today’s venue at Bankside has been painstakingly crafted to re-create the essence of the home of Elizabethan theatre as it was in the early seventeenth century. The project is the vision of American director and actor Sam Wanamaker and was completed in 2003, opening to the public the following year. The imperative was to help develop and promote greater understanding of the Bard’s work by putting on performances in their ‘natural’ surroundings. The Globe today is a fascinating visitor experience that attracts hundreds of thousands of guests every year. This summer performances include “Henry VI”, “The Tempest” and “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream”.