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Guildford Shakespeare Aims to Make Our Summer Eternal

Published on: 7 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 7 Aug, 2020

By Alice Fowler

Live outdoor theatre, much missed by theatre-goers this summer, is set to return to Guildford for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Over five days, the award-winning Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC) will stage a brand-new open-air theatre production in the town centre. Entitled Thy Eternal Summer, the new show will celebrate Shakespeare, community and the joy of sharing a live theatre experience once again.

GSC co-founders Sarah Gobran and Matt Pinches

GSC’s co-founder, Matt Pinches, said: “We have all had to reshape our summers this year. Whilst not being able to present our annual outdoor season was a huge blow for us, we are thrilled at the prospect of seeing our audiences again for these special performances.”

The production – whose title comes from Sonnet 18 (‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’) – will feature well-loved scenes and sonnets from plays including Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.

The cast of eleven actors will feature many faces familiar to GSC’s regular audiences. The professional theatre company has worked closely with Guildford Borough Council, who have given special permission for the event to go ahead. As well as entertaining audiences, the show will serve as a pilot to examine what safety protocols are needed for future live outdoor events.

Using UK Government and Public Health England guidelines, GSC has created extensive protocols to ensure public and staff safety. Using the principles of its popular Sonnet Walk Weekend, audience groups of no more than 25 will follow a prescribed route from Racks Close (off Quarry Street) to the Bandstand in the Castle Gardens. Each performance will last 75 minutes, and social distancing will be in force throughout.

“We’re indebted to Guildford Borough Council for making this pilot event happen,” Matt Pinches added. “Our audiences and artists are at the centre of everything we do, so naturally their safety is our top priority. We hope that the shared experience of attending a live event will be another step in helping our community continue to return to some form of normal.”

Seating will be provided at the three stopping points where performances take place. The full range of protocols can be read on the GSC’s website. Performances run from Thursday, August 27 to Monday, 31st. Tickets went on general sale today Friday, August 7 at 10am. For tickets, see: www.guildford-shakespeare-company.co.uk.

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