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Watermill's responsibly-sourced, repurposed, recyclable summer season

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Artistic director Paul Hart and the team at The Watermill today announced a new summer season of outdoor performances. Audiences from far and wide will once again be able to enjoy alfresco theatre from socially distanced tables seating two, four or six people in the Bagnor theatre’s glorious gardens.

A limited number of individual seats will also be available. Young people aged 18-30 will be able to access a limited number of discounted solo tickets priced at £15 for each show.

The opening show, on the front lawn on May 21, is the return of the critically acclaimed comedy version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Devised by the company, a trio of actors bring this production to life, directed by Abigail Pickard Price. Performances will run to Saturday, June 19.

Paul Hart said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to announce another joyous summer season after the sell-out success of last year. Audiences absolutely loved our production of The Hound of the Baskervilles which was devised in the midst of the pandemic. I was struck by the idea of a group of individuals trying to solve a murder whilst observing social distancing measures(!) and we’re delighted to bring back the production for a very limited run.”

This will be followed by the Watermill Ensemble’s new sustainability-focussed production of Shakespeare’s As You like It, adapted by Yolanda Mercy and directed by Paul Hart, with a cast of 12 actor-musicians and an atmospheric modern folk soundscape, inspired by the music of Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Taylor Swift. It will open on the main lawn on Thursday, June 24 and run until Saturday, July 24.

Using responsibly sourced, repurposed or recyclable materials to create the set, props and costumes, this production of Shakespeare’s famous pastoral comedy will celebrate the unique environment of The Watermill gardens. With a focus on eco-friendly practices both on and off stage, this season marks a new direction for the venue in terms of sustainability and access for future generations.

Paul Hart said sustainability was an issue the theatre was really passionate about, not least because of its stunning location which backs onto a nature reserve in the heart of the Berkshire countryside.

“Our Shakespeare ensemble return with a radical new version of ‘As You Like It’ which focuses on the importance of connecting with nature and as ever, will be filled with glorious music performed live by our cast. After this we’ll be presenting a very special concert performance of our summer musical, ‘Just So’. The show began its life at The Watermill to great acclaim in 1989. It feels like a perfect moment to celebrate this uplifting musical and to bring it to life once again, this time in our beautiful gardens! I couldn’t be more excited to welcome back audiences and to be creating brilliant theatre again.”

The third production will be a new semi-staged concert version of Stiles & Drewe’s Just So. This wondrous family musical blends five of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories to tell a tale of courage, friendship and the power of an individual to make a difference. Directed by Abigail Pickard Price, with Tarek Merchant as musical director, the show will run from Friday, July 30 to Saturday, September 4.

To ensure the safety of all, the season will take place outside in the theatre’s beautiful gardens with shows performed to a socially distanced audience, who can book their own socially distanced seating area, with aisles and space between each area. Tables are reserved, and audiences will be able to select a seating area when booking their tickets. Seats will be uncovered, and performances will go ahead whatever the weather. Audiences are advised to bring appropriate clothing for the conditions and may also wish to bring extra cushions and blankets.

Face coverings, unless exempt, will be required to enter indoor spaces, such as the toilets. There will be hand sanitiser stations, a one-way system for accessing the toilets and signage to indicate routes and procedures. There will also be free onsite parking in the main car park. All current government guidelines will apply throughout the season and The Watermill will keep these under constant review.

A two-course pre-show menu from the restaurant will be available to enjoy from 5pm before evening shows starting at 7pm and from midday before matinée performances starting at 2pm. Cream teas will also be available to enjoy in the riverside gardens after matinée performances.

To help The Watermill rebuild its artistic programme and resume its important outreach and education activities on-site, the theatre has also launched ACT 2 - a new fundraising appeal. The ACT 2 appeal invites supporters to help The Watermill Celebrate Theatre, Inspire Creativity and Connect Communities. Visit watermill.org.uk/ACT2

Paul Hart said: “The past year has undoubtedly been a challenging time for us, but the generosity of our community has truly blown us away. Buoyed by your encouragement we are delighted to be reopening, and hope that you feel able to continue to support our mission to uplift and inspire people through great theatre.”


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