• A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation

    A Play for a Nation - Copyright RSCThe Royal Shakespeare Company is delighted to announce the 14 amateur theatre groups who will play the Mechanicals alongside a company of professional actors in the national tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Led by Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman, the RSC’s creative team have travelled 2360 miles to audition 586 amateur theatre makers in 95 workshops. Each group represents a region or nation of the UK. A trailer featuring all 14 Bottoms is available to watch here

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation sees the RSC working with 13 partner theatres, 84 amateur performers and 580 schoolchildren, alongside 18 professional actors and the creative team for a major tour of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. This national celebration of Shakespeare will visit each region and nation of the UK. In each area local amateur theatre companies will play the Mechanicals with Titania’s fairy train played by local schoolchildren. The production opens in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in February 2016, before embarking on a nationwide tour and returning to Stratford-upon-Avon with the entire company in June 2016.

    WEST MIDLANDS: The Nonentities from Kidderminster and The Bear Pit from Stratford-upon-Avon
    NORTH EAST: The Castle Players from County Durham and The People’s Theatre from Newcastle
    SCOTLAND: The Citizens Dream Players from Glasgow
    NORTH WEST: Poulton Drama from Blackpool
    YORKSHIRE: Leeds Arts Centre from Leeds, performing in Bradford
    SOUTH EAST: The Canterbury Players from Canterbury
    EAST OF ENGLAND: The Common Lot from Norfolk
    EAST MIDLANDS: Lovelace Theatre Group from Hucknall, performing in Nottingham
    SOUTH WEST: Carnon Downs Drama Group from Truro
    LONDON: Tower Theatre from East London
    WALES: Everyman Theatre from Cardiff
    NORTHERN IRELAND: Belvoir Players from Belfast

    The amateurs are cast from all walks of life. In Glasgow the Bottom owns an estate agency and Snug is a former policeman. The Newcastle Bottom, from County Durham, is a pub landlord. The Canterbury Bottom completed the London marathon last year. A local primary school principal plays Snout in Belfast, and Snug is a painter and decorator. Bottom is a teacher and rugby player in Truro, Snug’s a caretaker and Starveling is a council officer in waste management. The Cardiff Flute works for the railway and Snout works in a patisserie.  In the Midlands, Flute is the vice-captain of a local rugby club and Quince is an ex-army officer. In Norwich an IT trainer will play Flute with a customer support worker playing Bottom. And in London, Snug is a private hire driver and Quince a GP – just a flavour of some of the people who are now set to perform on both their local theatre’s main stage and at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

    Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, and director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, said: ‘It has been a thrill and a privilege to meet so many talented and dedicated amateur actors from all over the United Kingdom.  We have cast people from all kinds of backgrounds, with a wonderful range of voices, shapes and sizes, but every single one of them has already demonstrated tremendous courage, skill and hard work to have survived the audition process and be selected to star in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.   And they have done all this whilst holding down a huge range of demanding jobs in the daytime. These first steps in creating a true “Play for a Nation” have been inspiring, humbling and very refreshing.  Theatre is alive and well and practised with infectious enthusiasm and impressive talent right across the country, and Shakespeare’s magical comedy has proved to be a very affectionate and fitting way to celebrate amateur actors everywhere.’

    The BBC will be capturing all of the action in ‘The Best Bottoms In the Land’ (Title TBC), which will follow the Royal Shakespeare Company’s journey as they put on the production with both amateur and professional actors, during their UK wide tour.

    Overseen by BBC Birmingham, nine regional programmes will be produced by the BBC English Regions teams. The 30 minute documentaries will show the pressures and pitfalls of such a project, culminating in the opening night of each region’s local performance.

    Craig Henderson, Head of Programming, BBC English Regions said: ‘We’re delighted to be working so closely with both the RSC and some of our regional theatres across England. We’ll be following the ups and downs, as local amateur performers rub shoulders with some of our finest Shakespearean actors, giving regional audiences a fascinating inside track on the productions over the coming year.’

    The Best Bottoms in the Land’ will follow individual stories from around the country and will air in spring 2016 on BBC One. This series of programmes is part of the BBC’s Shakespeare celebrations in 2016. The BBC Two screening of the RSC’s Shakespeare Gala, on Saturday, 23 April 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death was announced earlier this year and the BBC will announce further details of its 2016 Shakespeare programming later in 2015.

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation is a co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur theatre companies across the UK. This is an arrangement developed between the RSC and Equity. A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation is supported by Arts Council England Cross-Border Touring Fund


    The Nonentities

    Chris Clarke (Bottom); Alex Powell (Flute); Sue Downing (Quince); Simon Hawkins (Snout); Andrew Bingham (Snug); Patrick Bentley (Starveling); Stephen Downing (Amateur group Director)
    The Bear Pit
    David Mears (Bottom); Dominic Skinner (Flute); Roger Ganner (Quince); David Southeard (Snout); Charlotte Froud (Snug); Shirley Allwork (Starveling); Nicky Cox (Amateur group Director)
    Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon Wed 17 Feb – Sat 5 Mar 2016
    On sale September 2015. Tickets: www.rsc.org.uk / 01789 403493

    The Castle Players

    Peter Cockerill (Bottom); Andrew Stainthorpe (Flute); Harry French (Quince); Ben Pearson (Snout); Graham Fewell (Snug); Ian Kirkbride (Starveling); Jill Cole (Amateur group Director)
    The People’s Theatre
    Pete McAndrew (Bottom); Reg White (Flute); Jo Kelly (Quince); Stuart Douglas (Snout); Gordon Russell (Snug); Mike Smith (Starveling); Chris Heckels (Amateur group Director); Laura Halford-Macleod (Amateur Group Assistant Director)
    Northern Stage, Newcastle Wed 16 – Sat 26 Mar 2016
    On sale today. Tickets www.northernstage.co.uk / 0191 230 5151

    The Citizens Dream Players

    Martin Turner (Bottom); Alistair Wales (Flute); David Scanlan (Quince); Katy Thomson (Snout); Bill Whiland (Snug); Emma Tracey (Starveling)
    Citizens Theatre, Glasgow Tue 29 Mar – Sat 2 Apr 2016
    On sale today. Tickets citz.co.uk / 0141 429 0022

    Poulton Drama

    Anthony Henry (Bottom); Garry Houghton (Flute); Catherine Lloyd (Quince); Huw Rose (Snout); Ian Rowe (Snug); Roger Lloyd-Jones (Starveling); Tony Stone (Amateur group Director)
    Grand Theatre, Blackpool Tue 5 – Sat 9 Apr 2016
    On sale today at 10am. Tickets www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk  / 01253 290190

    Leeds Arts Centre

    Barry Green (Bottom); Ben Hopwood (Flute); Tazmin Bennison (Quince); Fiona Galloway (Snout); Ed Corbet (Snug); Rachel Brewin (Starveling); Ken Taylor (Amateur group Director)
    Alhambra Theatre, Bradford Tue 12 – Sat 16 Apr 2016
    Tickets www.bradford-theatres.co.uk / 01274 432000

    The Canterbury Players

    Lisa Nightingale (Bottom); Adam Summers (Flute); Sarah Gooch (Quince); Hannah Lloyd (Snout); Sid Moon (Snug); Jim Newberry (Starveling); Sally Elkerton (Amateur group Director)
    Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr 2016
    Tickets www.marlowetheatre.com / 01227 787787

    The Common Lot

    Owen Evans (Bottom); Dan Fridd (Flute); Amelia Hursey (Quince); Victoria Stone (Snout); Eve Pandolfi (Snug); Emma Trindall (Starveling); Simon Floyd (Amateur group Director)
    Theatre Royal, Norwich Tue 26 – Sat 30 Apr 2016
    On sale late July 2015. Tickets www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk / 01603 630000

    Lovelace Theatre Group

    Becky Morris (Bottom); Daniel Knight (Flute); Linda Mayes (Quince); Jen White (Snout); James McBride (Snug); Tom Morley (Starveling); Pat Richards (Amateur group Director)
    Theatre Royal Nottingham, Tue 3 – Sat 7 May 2016
    Tickets www.trch.co.uk  / 0115 989 5555

    Carnon Downs Drama Group

    Peter Collett (Bottom); Nicholas Vale (Flute); Dorothy Nelson (Quince); Charlie Springthorpe-Warner (Snout); Colin Groom (Snug); Esther O’Bearagh (Starveling); John Frankland (Amateur group Director)
    Hall for Cornwall, Truro Tue 10 – Sat 14 May 2016
    On sale Autumn 2015. Tickets www.hallforcornwall.co.uk / 01872 262466

    Tower Theatre

    John Chapman (Bottom); Adam Moulder (Flute); Maria Waters (Quince); Al Freeman (Snout); Peta Barker (Snug); Tom Tillery (Starveling); David Taylor (Amateur group Director)
    Barbican, London Tue 17 – Sat 21 May 2016
    On sale September 2015. Tickets www.barbican.org.uk  / 020 7638 8891

    Everyman Theatre

    Steven Smith (Bottom); Ricky Valentine (Flute); Cari Barley (Quince); Philip Jones (Snout); Henry Nott (Snug); Paul Fanning (Starveling); Simon Futty (Amateur group Director)
    New Theatre, Cardiff Tue 24 – Sat 28 May 2016
    On sale Autumn 2015. Tickets www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk  / 029 2087 8889

    Belvoir Players

    Trevor Gill (Bottom); Christopher Curry (Flute); Maggie Gorman (Quince); Christopher Darcy (Snout); Robert McGregor (Snug); Jessica McGreevy (Starveling); Tanja Jennings (Amateur Group Assistant Director)
    Grand Opera House, Belfast Tue 31 May – Sat 4 June 2016
    Tickets www.goh.co.uk  / 028 9024 1919

    Categories: Theatres

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