Fringe Box



Guildford Shakespeare Comes of Age – 18 Years of Theatre-making

Published on: 15 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 15 Nov, 2023

By Alice Fowler

Guildford Shakespeare Company, renowned for creating exceptional theatre in Guildford and beyond, has just announced its 18th birthday programme.

In 2024, GSC will mark its coming of age with a brand-new adaptation of Pride & Prejudice in February, and a huge site-specific, open-air production of Romeo and Juliet in the summer. Featuring a community chorus of local performers, schools and colleges, GSC will retell Shakespeare’s timeless love story across some of Guildford’s most iconic landmarks.

Founded by Sarah Gobran and Matt Pinches in 2006 – both of whom still lead the company – GSC seeks to re-ignite passion for theatre-going, disproving the notion that theatre is only for the few.

Its site-responsive approach places audiences right at the heart of the action, using churches, castles, galleries, museums, quarries, lakes and even, this winter, a real Boeing 747.

Shows have included an interactive multi-venue production of Alice In Wonderland, celebrating Guildford’s connection to Lewis Carroll, and a promenade staging of The Tempest using six different venues in Stoke Park. King Lear starring Brian Blessed, and Hamlet, with Freddie Fox, have garnered national and international acclaim.

“When we began making theatre in 2006, we never dreamed we would be embarking on such an incredible journey,” says GSC co-founder, Matt Pinches. “In fact, when Sarah suggested staging a play in Guildford’s Castle Gardens, I said I’d help out for a year, and now look where we are!

“To have survived the wettest summer in 100 years, two financial crises and a pandemic (all with no core funding), has certainly been a rollercoaster. But it has been an absolute privilege to work with hundreds of talented artists over the last 18 years, and I am so proud of the impact GSC has had on the lives of so many people in our community.”

GSC co-founders Matt Pinches and Sarah Gobran

Crucial to the theatre company’s objective is a thriving education and outreach department. With 13 in-house drama clubs every week and an outreach programme that supports the most isolated members of their community, GSC creates some 17,000 engagement opportunities every year.

Of these, some 11,000 are delivered ‘free-to-access’, for those living with the challenges of poor mental health, young carers, the elderly, homeless, excluded teenagers and their families, and touring to the least advantaged schools across the South East.

“In our industry we all know how theatre can effect change,” says GSC co-founder Sarah Gobran. “To experience that first hand, to speak to participants and audiences for whom GSC’s work has had genuine life-saving implications is both humbling and inspiring.”

Tickets for Pride & Prejudice, staged in Surrey’s largest Georgian church, Holy Trinity in Guildford High Street, are on sale now. Three actors will bring to life a cast brimming with unforgettable characters in Jane Austen’s much-cherished romantic comedy. To book, and find out more about GSC’s 18th birthday celebrations, see, Box office: 01483 304984.

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