The Best Al Fresco Theatre
Read on for our pick of the loveliest located outdoor theatres this summer in Warwickshire and beyond.
Grab your picnic blanket and olives, ’tis the season to sit under a parasol (or umbrella!) and enjoy some outdoor thespian action.
Coughton Court, Alcester, Sun Aug 12
The beautiful gardens of this imposing Tudor house will be the setting for Shakespeare’s The Tempest by all-male acting troupe, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, on Fri July 20. Illyria Theatre Company will back with their adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s eerie Sherlock Holmes detective story, The Hound of the Baskervilles, on Sun Aug 12. Both 7.30pm – 10.30pm.
Heartbreak Productions – The Railway Children, The Midnight Gang & Pride and Prejudice, across Warwickshire, until Aug 24
This acclaimed open-air touring theatre Leamington Spa-based company will be travelling far and wide across the country to perform this year’s plays in stately homes, castles, woods and botanical gardens. But don’t worry you can catch them across Warwickshire too! Get your hanky ready for E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children at Ryton Pools country park in Bubbenhall on Aug 3 at 6pm and in Foundry Wood, Leamington Spa on Aug 24 at 2.30pm. David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang will be performed in the spectacular setting of Coventry Cathedral on Sat July 21 at 3pm & 7pm, followed by Bruton Park, Solihull, another nature reserve on Tues July 31 & Wed Aug 1, both at 7pm. Finally, their adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will be staged in the lovely Jephson Gardens as part of Leamington’s wonderful Art in the Park festival, on Sat Aug 4 at 2pm.
You may also catch them if you’re on a staycation. For bookings and all national dates see here: tickets.heartbreakproductions
The Dell, Avonbank Gardens, Stratford-upon-Avon, every weekend in July & Aug
Every weekend during July and August, there is free live theatre at the RSC’s open-air theatre close to the river, The Dell, hosting a range of lively student, community and semi-professional productions of Shakespeare’s plays. They include The Oratory Foundation from Trinidad and Tobago, who will be performing their version of The Taming of the Shrew on Aug 4, and Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group’s Much Ado About Nothing on Aug 18.
Charlecote Park, Wellesbourne, nr Warwick, Fri Aug 10 & Sat Aug 11
The Three-Inch Fools are five actors, with all manner of musical instruments. They’ll be presenting an inventive take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Fri Aug 10, 7 – 9.15pm and Hamlet on Sat Aug 11, both at 7pm – 9.15pm in the grounds of this stunning Victorian home and landscaped deer park.
Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden, The Tempest, Fri Aug 10
The all-male troupe. the Lord Chamberlain’s Men will be acting out Shakespeare’s magical tale of shipwrecks and revenge in the stunning setting of Kenilworth Castle, gates open at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm start.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Peter Pan, Aug 11
Soar away to Neverland and embark on an exciting musical adventure with Immersion Theatre’s Peter Pan – you’ll be HOOKED! 4+. 2.30pm. You can also be part of Threads of the Unsaid: a crowd-scripted retelling of Romeo and Juliet, (July 21 – Sept 1).
Packwood House, Lapworth, Warks, Sat Jul 28
Boxtree Productions are returning with their brand new interpretation of classic children’s story Treasure Island. With inventive staging, original songs and magical storytelling they invite audiences to enjoy this classic tale in the open air. Gates open at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm
Book tickets here
Oddsocks are back with their quirky musical Mods and Rockers’ take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Doors open 6.30pm, performances start 7.30pm. shakespeare
Mary Arden’s Farm: Oddsocks, The Tempest, Sat July 28
Shakespeare’s tale of illusion and revenge has a sci-fi re-imagining. Doors open 6.30pm, performances start 7.30pm. shakespeare
Canons Ashby, nr Daventry, Fri Aug 17
Children’s favourite, The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle, will be performed by Illyria theatre company in the terraced gardens of this Tudor Manor house, 6 – 8pm.
Hall’s Croft, The Winter’s Tale, Aug 19
The Festival Players, an all-male theatre company will be performing A Winter’s Tale in the beautiful walled-garden, 7.30pm.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, nr Stratford, Sat July 21, plus Sept 22 & Oct 31
This year’s Muddy Award-winning Children’s Business, Warwickshire-based puppet theatre Castle Small, is going to be making a few appearances at Shakespeare’s Family Homes over the summer and autumn starting off with this Sat July 21 at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage for their big family fun day, following two dates at Mary Arden’s Farm in Wilmcote, on Sept 22 and Halloween Oct 31.
Open Air Theatre, Regents Park, London
The most famous of them all, Regent’s Park’s theatre is set within beautifully landscaped grounds where you can picnic on the lawns, enjoy food from the barbecue, café or covered dining and prop up the West End’s longest bar. This summer you can catch As You Like It (6 – 28 July) followed by The Little Shop of Horrors (3 Aug to 15 Sept) and Dinosaur World Live (14 Aug to 9 Sept). Prices £25 – £55 apart from dinosaur tickets which are £16.50. Pretty good value for top notch theatre.
Oxford Castle Quarter, Oxford, now until 11 Aug
Their eight-week Shakespeare Festival is well underway with A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tomahawk Theatre) from 2 July to 28 July and concluding with Romeo and Juliet (Siege Theatre) from 30 July to 11 Aug. Fabulous setting in the old castle yard, bring a picnic or pre-order with your tickets from £16 for the performance and £8.95 for a standard picnic.
Hanbury Hall and Gardens, Droitwich Spa, Worcs, Sat July 28 & Sat Aug 25
Chapterhouse Theatre Company is performing Louisa May Alcott’s classic American Civil War story of four sisters, Little Women, in the beautiful gardens of this William and Mary-style National Trust country house on Sat July 28, 7.30pm – 10pm. You can also enjoy a swashbuckling evening of comedy, satire and memorable music watching Illyria’s performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance on Sat Aug 25, 7.30pm – 10pm.
Oxford University Parks, Oxford, until Aug 11
Creation Theatre’s adaptation of childhood classic Swallows and Amazons takes place in Oxford’s beautiful University Parks. First performed at Bristol Old Vic, this adaptation written by Helen Edmondson and featuring music from Neil Hannon has been restaged to be performed outside but fear not, they have a big top on hand in case the heavens open. Adult tickets from £19, children from £14.
BEEN & GONE:
Ballet Under the Stars, Hatch House, Tisbury, Fri 20 to Sun 22 July
This one’s not strictly theatre, but dance… Under canopy in the beautiful 17th century walled Dutch garden at Hatch House you’ll enjoy a sumptuous dinner gala….oh, and you get to watch world class ballet while you’re at it. This year the theme is ‘Best of British,’ showcasing dancers, choreography, design, music and food from all corners of the kingdom. Presented by the Covent Garden Dance Company, this is a magical evening that we can’t recommend highly enough. It’s sure to be fab!
Rain or Shine: Much Ado About Nothing, Bacon Theatre, Tuckwell Amphitheatre, Cheltenham, Fri 20 July
Join Rain or Shine theatre company in their production of the loved classic Much Ado About Nothing. Pack yourself a picnic and enjoy some theatre while the sun sets in the beautiful amphitheatre. bacontheatre.ticketsolve.com