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Remembering the birth of Edward Hall's Propeller at Newbury's Watermill

Producing theatre's vital role in nurturing talent

Trish Lee

Trish Lee


01635 886663

Edward Hall

Edward Hall picture Geoff Fletcher

I came across this 90s picture in my archives, of fledgling director Edward Hall in the rehearsal room at The Watermill, taken by Geoff Fletcher, writes arts editor Trish Lee.

The Watermill's artistic director, the late great Jill Fraser had recognised his immense talent and gave him free rein to produce a Shakespeare production for The Watermill. And thus the mighty all-male company Propeller was born…

Edward Hall said: “The idea grew from a production of Henry V in which Jill allowed part of the performance to be played outside the auditorium, sometimes even taking to the roof of the theatre to represent the battlements of a French town under siege.

This promenade-style performance was repeated on tour, most amusingly at the National Theatre of the Philippines in Manila, where a company of 12 actors took nearly 2,000 people into the streets to enact the battle of Agincourt."

Propeller grew into a hugely successful Shakespeare company, one in which actors employed a range of skills to vivify Shakespeare's stories - having particular success with younger audiences.”

Fraser and Hall took the award-winning company from the Watermill all over the world before it outgrew the Bagnor Theatre space.

One of many success stories. The Bagnor theatre nurtures talent. This is why it’s vital to save The Watermill - one of the few remaining producing theatres in the country.

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