Posts Tagged ‘guildford shakespeare company’

Between 14-26 July 2014 the Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC) will be staging Henry V, the second production in their Summer 2014 Open-Air Season, in the grounds of Guildford Cathedral (being used as a location for the first time). Shakespeare’s anthem to England will star Matt Pinches, Chris Porter, Richard Galazka, Morgan Philpott and Emily Tucker. Five actors tackling 30 roles. GSC’s first Summer 2014 production Twelfth Night was an acclaimed sell-out and Henry V is bound to follow suit.

More information on GSC, and tickets for Henry V, at



Brilliant, riotous and just plain bloody funny. That’s Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy of drunken revelry, unrequited love, and confused identity, as magnificently brought to life by the Guildford Shakespeare Company.

GSC Twelfth Night

412 years after its first recorded performance in February 1602 at Middle Temple in London, Twelfth Night delights once more thanks to the talented people drawn together on and off the stage by the Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC). Tickets for this one are selling fast. Many performances are already sold out, as has become the norm.

Twelfth Night, or What You Will (to give the play its full title) is one of Shakespeare’s most accomplished comedies. It’s also a rare Shakespearian beast by not relying upon a sweepingly dominant figure such as Hamlet, Richard III, or Macbeth, to drive proceedings. Rather it gives flight, and fully-drawn life, to a memorable host of joyously entertaining and nuanced characters, including Sir Toby Belch, Feste the Fool, Olivia, Malvolio and Viola. (more…)

The Tragedy of Macbeth Part IIAs part of their supplementary programme for their hugely successful production of Macbeth, the Guildford Shakespeare Company made theatrical history on 20 February 2013 with the UK Premiere of The Tragedy of MacBeth Part II: The Seed of Banquo.

This sequel was penned in 2008 by American author Noah Lukeman after he concluded that Shakespeare had planted several seeds for a follow-up in the original play, including a hint from Lady Macbeth of a child she had bourn, the unfulfilled prophecy that Banquo’s descendants would come to reign over Scotland, and Donalbain’s flight to Ireland and non-return in the final conflict against Macbeth.

Unlike 18th century forger William Henry Ireland who tried to pass off his self-penned Vortigen and Rowena as a previously unknown work by Shakespeare, Lukeman has always made it perfectly clear that this is his personal extrapolation of potentially unresolved plot lines.

Enacted as a staged reading the sequel came to life within Guildford’s St Mary’s Church, a building dating back to the same time as the real events depicted in Shakespeare’s play.

In the scale of sequels this is certainly no The Godfather Part II but thankfully it’s no The Godfather Part III either. Once again framed by the prophecies of the Weird Sisters Macbeth II continues the threads of treachery, paranoia and bloodshed present in the original. Audience-pleasing moments include a second appearance by the Porter and the classic “something wicked this way comes” line.

It’d be fascinating to see Macbeth II come to life as a full scale production but whether any theatrical company would be willing to undertake such a big project remains to be seen.

Ultimately it was fun to be present for a moment of history.

More information on Macbeth II can be found on Noah Lukeman’s website here.

GSC MACBETH: Boys With Swords. Short film featuring actors Morgan Philpott (Macduff) and Tom McGovern (Macbeth) discussing what it’s like to rehearse a stage fight, and GSC’s Macbeth (runs 4-23 Feb 2013 in Holy Trinity Church, Guildford). Film by Silvertip Films.

Actors Tom McGovern and Johanne Murdock discuss playing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth during rehearsals for site-specific MACBETH by Guildford Shakespeare Company (4-23 Feb 2013). Film by Silvertip Films.

HI! Magazine From the start of 2013 I am contributing articles to the Entertainment section of HI! MagazineEK McAlpine, the new Editor-in-Chief, is someone I follow on Twitter and when she started asking for volunteers to contribute I cheekily put myself forward – being quite surprised at being told that my pieces on this blog showed me to be a good writer. Self-confidence about what I “scribble” about has never been one of my strong suits and probably never will be.  Anyways, I have now contributed two articles to HI! and hopefully there’s more to come.

The first piece was about the Guildford Shakespeare Company entitled An Ode to the Guildford Shakespeare Company. The second, and most recent, is part of HI! Recommends: The Best Film and TV Show Marathons and I wrote about Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner.

The main trial of writing to someone else’s “vision” is having to adjust my “voice”. On this blog I can ramble about anything and everything with no word count, no structure, and no restraints. Writing for HI! is a different kettle of fish and it’s a good learning curve for wanting to take my writing further.

GSC 2012 SummerAfter the excellent production of Richard III back in February I’ve booked myself up to enjoy the Open Air Season that the Guildford Shakespeare Company has coming up.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Guildford Castle Gardens, 14 – 30 June 2012

The fat knight Sir John Falstaff is in love again (or is that lust?) with two respectable ladies, and their husband’s money. Unbeknownst to him, the two merry wives hatch a plan to teach the old rogue, and their frantic husbands, a thoroughly good lesson…join us in Guildford Castle Gardens for Shakespeare’s irresistibly fun feel-good farce, set in the early 1950s! Directed by Caroline Devlin (Richard III 2012; Hamlet 2011)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Guildford College of Law, 12 – 22 July 2012

Four young lovers find themselves lost in a mystical wood populated by warring fairies, mischievous sprites and an earnest group of amateur actors, one of whom seems to have grown a donkey’s head…we return to the beautiful gardens of the College of Law for a magical trip into Shakespeare’s comic masterpiece. The production reunites director Charlotte Conquest and designer Neil Irish, responsible for last summer’s runaway hit The Merchant of Venice.

Download the flyer here.

After attending the Guildford Shakespeare Company’s gloriously polished staging of William Shakespeare’s Richard III at the Holy Trinity Church in Guildford a sickening realisation struck me. By having not viewed one of their productions earlier I had missed out on six years of entertainment from a group of dedicated and talented individuals. Thankfully I have numerous years remaining to me in which to attend many more such productions.

Guildford Shakespeare Company - Richard III (large)

Established by Matt Pinches and Sarah Gobran, the GSC have produced critically acclaimed and sold-out interpretations of many of the Bard’s greatest works, from The Tempest to Romeo and Juliet, throughout Surrey since 2006 in site-specific venues.

Now some may frown upon the choice of non-theatrical environs such as a church for a dramatic production but this merely reflects how things were done in the era of Shakespeare himself. Often the plays came to life in locations as diverse as inn courtyards, royal palaces, and the decks of sailing ships. With the use of a location such as the Holy Trinity Church the GSC is remaining true to the spirit of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras in which Shakespeare’s plays were first staged.

Richard III could be labelled as being akin to a soap opera, though with slightly less blood and more royalty. Characters engaged in personal conflict and intrigue with questionable love affairs and killings aplenty, though most of the latter take place off-stage – the notable exception being the final battle at Bosworth between Richard and the Earl of Richmond. You really can’t beat a good sword fight in a Shakespearean production.

The final battle brought the skills of the actors and the resources of the backstage team to the fore with hand-to-hand combat in the aisles and upon the stage, blood-red lighting, and shadowplay against backdrops to represent the horses that would have been involved in the real battle. Unlike the lead character in Shakespeare’s great history play, this production of Richard III was certainly not “Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time”.

Guildford Shakespeare Company

As slick as the set, costumes and props may be, any play thrives or expires in relation to the actors bringing the text to life. This is especially true of Richard III where the lead character is required to carry the majority of the tale and is barely off stage. If Richard is truly poor in realisation instead of truly bad in character then the entire proceedings will collapse in upon themselves. Thankfully Tim Allsop provided a malevolent and note (as well as line) perfect rendering of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The best way to define his interpretation to a non-Shakespearean orientated individual would be as Lord Voldermort complete with hunch and withered arm – only scarier.

A few aspects of the production did slip through the cracks and after all the damning praise that has come before it would be remiss not to mention them, though I hasten to point out that they did not bring the evening of enjoyment tumbling down around my ears. The French accent used by Queen Margaret was difficult to understand at many points and a few other characters did not project their voices clearly enough to reach the groundlings lurking at the rear of the seating. During the interval I heard another audience member comment that there was a tendency amongst some of the cast to rattle through some of the lines which rendered them unclear to those not totally familiar with the dialogue. However, these are minor and personal issues with what was one of the best theatre experiences I have had in many a long year.

Richard III runs until Saturday 25 February 2012 and if you are lucky you may be able to obtain a ticket for one of the remaining performances. It’s not many towns or cities that have their own band of Shakespearean performers so go along and throughly enjoy yourself whilst supporting an important local resource.

Find out more about the Guildford Shakespeare Company here