The REP becomes the first UK theatre to provide 9,000 meals for children in poverty

The REP becomes the first theatre in the UK to partner with Open Kitchens – 

providing 9,000 meals for children in poverty in Birmingham 

A Birmingham REP Chef prepares some of over 9,000 meals: credit Hannah Kelly 

Birmingham Repertory Theatre has become the first theatre in the UK to partner with national food solution organisation, Open Kitchens, providing 1,500 nutritional meals per week for children in poverty across the city over an initial 6 week period, totalling over 9,000 freshly prepared meals.  

The REP, and its popular restaurant Marmalade, remain temporarily closed due to the ongoing restrictions as a result of COVID-19. However, recent Government advice that allows theatres to open their doors on the condition of no live performances has enabled the venue to gain access to its kitchens once again.

The theatre will receive 1 tonne of surplus food each week from across the food industry including supermarkets, manufacturers and the hospitality sector.Meals will be prepared in The REP’s kitchens by volunteers from the theatre’s bar and restaurant team lead by Head Chef Dario Pinho, Sous Chef Marc Scott-Smith and Chef de Partie Matt Smith, working 3 days per week over an initial 6-week period. Meals will then be distributed free of charge by Open Kitchens partner organisation Fareshare, the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors. The food will be chilled for transportation and, once delivered, can be heated up easily in a microwave or oven.

Adam Roberts, Founder and CEO of Open Kitchens commented; “We are delighted that The REP is the first theatre in the UK to join Open Kitchens at a time when, according to End Child Poverty (2019), Birmingham has one of the highest percentages of children in the Midlands living in poverty after housing costs, amounting to over 130,000 vulnerable children.”

Jules Raikes, Catering Director at The REP added; “It’s fantastic to be able to open up our kitchens for such a worthy cause during a time when a lot of families will be struggling financially. Thousands of children in the city have been schooled at home during the pandemic, which also means for some that they have been missing out on vital access to free school dinners. Thanks to our partnership with Open Kitchens and our incredible team of REP volunteers, we are now preparing meals from food that would otherwise go to waste, providing vulnerable children with a regular free nutritional meal during these unprecedented times.” 

It is estimated that 8.4 million people in the UK, or the equivalent to the entire population of London, are currently struggling to afford to eat. 2 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry in the UK annually with 250,000 tonnes of the food that goes to waste each year still being edible, totalling a potential 650 million meals. 

Open Kitchens brings together organisations who volunteer to work for free to cook meals for those in need in their community. Funded by community donations, pledging restaurants work to a budget of £1.85 per meal to cover costs with Open Kitchens contributing to energy usage. The project has been made possible thanks to generous donations direct to Open Kitchens. 

The REP’s team of volunteers will be working to strict government guidelines. PPE will be issued, and strict social distancing will be in place. Temperature checks and steam cleaning will be carried out on a regular basis and staff will be working in bubbles to ensure safety and to allow work to continue should someone become ill. 

For further information about Open Kitchens go to 

No date for full theatre reopenings before November – Theatres Trust respond

I am sharing a statement in response to Oliver Dowden saying that theatres will not find out before November when they can reopen without social distancing.

Jon Morgan, director of Theatres Trust, comments:

Theatres Trust is disappointed to learn that the government will not be setting a date for theatres to reopen without social distancing before November. We appreciate the difficulty and the need for caution, but this means the vast majority of theatres will have no choice but to cancel their pantomime or Christmas show that generates the income to sustain them through the rest of the year, as November will not be sufficient notice to prepare productions and sell tickets.

This means that more theatres will need to be supported through the government’s £1.57bn rescue package. We are pleased to see that Arts Council England’s criteria for its £500m share of the £880m grants element is broad enough to include most theatres, but we are concerned that this will not be enough to save all theatres. We urge funding bodies to consider and prioritise the circumstances of theatres that rely on pantomime for a significant proportion of their turnover (as much as 40% in some cases). If the funds do not reach enough of these theatres, particularly with the furlough scheme ending in October, we will see more theatres closing their doors permanently.

VAULT Festival postpones until 2022

VAULT Festival postpones until 2022

VAULT Festival have made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the next full, live version of VAULT Festival until 2022. In consideration of the significant financial and safety risks brought about by COVID-19 and that each festival takes ten months to create, the organisers believe this decision is in the best interests of its artists, staff, and collaborators.

VAULT Festival is a celebration of the most exciting and boldest independent and grassroots artists, from all backgrounds, across all live performance styles. The team do not want to ask the artists to begin expending time, money, and energy in creating new shows when the risks remain so unpredictable in an already precarious industry.

As a non-funded, independent organisation, 100% of VAULT Festival’s income comes from ticket sales, food & drink, and fundraising. As such, the Festival doesn’t have the margins to be able to ride out a less-than-great festival, to implement social distancing effectively, and to protect their artists from exposure to increased financial and safety risks

Founders Mat Burt and Andy George intend to use this time to restructure and reorganise the Festival to better serve everyone involved. They are using this chance to re-engage with the Festival’s purpose and interrogate its place in the industry. They will be working dynamically to generate live and digital opportunities for their artists, staff, and audiences throughout 2021. They
will also be making big plans for the 10th Anniversary of VAULT Festival in 2022.

Festival Directors Mat Burtcher and Andy George comment, The prospect of not doing a festival in 2021 is daunting but our mission is now more important than ever. Our commitment is to continue working to provide an accessible platform that best serves our artists, audiences, and staff throughout 2021. We want to make our community, industry, and world more accessible, more inclusive, and more sustainable

We’re grateful to the wonderful artists, audiences, our team, and the collaborators who’ve made the Festival what it is so far – thank you for your continuing support. We’ll be back, better, soon.

Bristol Old Vic commences consultation process with staff

Bristol Old Vic commences consultation process with staff

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Bristol Old Vic has embarked on a consultation process with affected staff in the face of a significant reduction in the work it can undertake and the income it can generate. This follows similar announcements from theatres across the regions. It is anticipated that over 20 roles from its full-time workforce of 60 could be at risk

Bristol Old Vic’s Chair, Liz Forgan, said:

“It is with enormous regret that Bristol Old Vic has begun a consultation process to reduce the size of its workforce due to the COVID-19 crisis. The last 5 years have brought astonishing success for Bristol Old Vic and the Board are very clear that these successes have been achieved through the skills and dedication of our wonderful workforce. Nonetheless, by taking these steps now, we are putting ourselves in a position to emerge flexible, solvent, and fighting fit to meet the challenges of the post-COVID world.”

Executive Director Charlotte Geeves added:

“The unprecedented circumstances of this crisis, forcing all theatres to close and taking away 75% of our income at a stroke has left us in an extremely vulnerable position. The Government’s Job Retention Scheme has kept us alive, as it has kept businesses alive in every part of the economy, and we are hopeful that the Government’s Cultural Investment will support our survival further as we prepare to reopen the theatre gradually over the coming 18 months. The theatre plans to make further announcements about the programme shortly.

We are also enormously grateful for the support we have received so far and the donations made to our Reopening Fund. Donations such as these are hugely important and will directly fund our work as we emerge from the COVID crisis.

However, there is no avoiding the fact that the current circumstances mean that we will be unable to recover the income levels we’ve built up over the last decade with any speed or predictability. Therefore, in order to ensure Bristol Old Vic survives and is able to emerge, we have to reshape our business.”

Artistic Director Tom Morris said:

“Over the last 10 years, the team at Bristol Old Vic has worked with a rare passion to create inspiring work and to share this beautiful building with more and more people from Bristol and the region. This has been achieved through colossal hard work in the face of steadily declining subsidy and increasing commercial pressure. Our successes are entirely due to the generosity, skill and dedication of our wonderful staff, who have again and again achieved miracles with decreasing resource, and the talent and skill of the freelance artists who have worked with equal brilliance to create the programme which has rebuilt our reputation. Around this work, Bristol Old Vic staff have also worked tirelessly to reinvent our business as we completed the refurbishment of the site and reopened so joyfully in 2018.

Such a brilliant team does not deserve this process, which is caused by the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 disaster and the forced contraction of our economy that has followed it. We are fighting to protect as many jobs as we can, but of course have to support and implement the Board’s decision to prioritise the survival of the theatre so that we can regrow it healthily and once again entertain our loyal, generous and growing audiences as soon as circumstances allow.”


A rarely-performed Samuel Beckett monologue, a brand new play and something for all the family inspired by a classic song – all performed on and around a park bench in a COVID-Secure outdoor theatre season in York

engine house theatre presentsPARK BENCH THEATRERowntree Park, York, 12 August – 5 SeptemberFirst Love by Samuel Beckett / Every Time a Bell Rings (premiere) by Matt Aston / Teddy Bears’ Picnic (premiere) co-created by Cassie Vallance and Matt Aston

Park Bench Theatre brings live theatre back to York with an outdoor season of monologues for all ages in the city’s Rowntree Park from 12 August to 5 September.

The productions will be presented in carefully laid out and spacious gardens, allowing audiences to keep socially distanced from each other.

Matt Aston, artistic director of engine house theatre, says: “I used to do my daily lockdown exercise in Rowntree Park where I had the idea of someone sitting on a park bench and thinking about what they are going through. The isolation and the fact that she might actually have been isolated for many years. I then remembered First Love was also set on a park bench and the idea rolled on from that.

“It’s so exciting to be able to get to present some actual live theatre. A rarely-performed Samuel Beckett, a brand new play and something for all the family inspired by a classic song. All performed on and around a park bench.”

Matt directs First Love and Teddy Bears’ Picnic (of which he is co-creator) and is the author of Every Time a Bell Rings. Matt’s adaptations of the Benji Davies children’s books Grandad’s Island and The Storm Whale both proved big hits in the Studio at York Theatre Royal last Christmas.

Every Time a Bell Rings is directed by Tom Bellerby, who has directed work across the UK and Europe. He has been Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse, Associate Artist at Pilot Theatre and was Associate Director at Hull Truck Theatre 2016-18, a key part of the team who delivered the theatre’s programme for the 2017 UK City of Culture.

The Park Bench Theatre performers are Lisa Howard, whose has worked extensively with both Northern Broadsides and Slung Low; Chris Hannon, pantomime dame at Theatre Royal Wakefield for over a decade and known to Cbeebies viewers as Dad in Topsy and Tim; and Cassie Vallance, who appeared in The Storm Whale in York Theatre Royal Studio last Christmas.

First Love by Samuel Beckett A man, a woman, a recollection. One of Samuel Beckett’s most masterful stories, First Love is awash with Beckett’s signature balancing of comedy and tragedy. Performed by Chris Hannon, directed by Matt Aston.

Running time 45 minutes approx. Contains very strong language.Wed 12 – Sat 22 August, 7pm. 8 & 15 August, 4pm matinee.

Every Time a Bell Rings, premiere by Matt Aston.Lockdown. Easter Sunday 2020. Cathy emerges from her own isolation and searches for solace on her favourite park bench in her favourite park. A touching, funny and poignant look at how the world is changing through these extraordinary times. Performed by Lisa Howard, directed by Tom Bellerby

Contains very strong language. Running time 50 minutes approx.Wed 19 Aug – Sat 5 Sept, 7pm. 22 Aug & 5 Sept, 4pm matinee

Teddy Bears’ Picnic, premiere inspired by the song and based on an original idea by Julian Butler. Co-created and performed by Cassie Vallance, co-created and directed by Matt Aston.Every year Jo’s family used to have a big family gathering – a teddy bears’ picnic. It was brilliant. Then she got too old and too cool for that sort of thing. So she stopped going. But now she’s grown up … she wishes she could have them all over again.

Running time 30 mins approx. Suitable for everyone aged 3 and over. Audiences are invited to bring along their favourite teddy and a picnic.

11.30am & 1.30pm on 19-22, 27-29, 31 August & 1-5 September

Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York, said: “This is a fantastic initiative to bring live theatre back to York in the beautiful surroundings of Rowntree Park. It is a great addition to the city’s summer offering – providing a safe outdoor theatre experience designed for families and people of all ages.”

Abigail Gaines, Friends of Rowntree Park trustee, said: “We are thrilled to have open air theatre in Rowntree Park. The park has been a lifeline to many during lockdown, and hearing it inspired the writing of one of the plays makes hosting the performance even more meaningful. The park is a key place for families and we know they will love the family performances. The Friends of Rowntree Park always support Arts in the Park and are very much looking forward to the shows”.

In conversation with York City Council, and in line with current government guidance, Park Bench Theatre has implemented a range of measures to ensure the health and safety of audiences and staff. The measures are under constant review, and apply across all performances throughout the season.  

The performance area: The Friends Garden in Rowntree Park in York. There is a pay and display car park located in Terry Avenue with some disabled bays. As this car park is small, audiences are advised to park in Castle Car Park and enjoy the short walk along the river to the site.

Headphones will be required to hear the dialogue, sound effects and music in performances. All audience members will be given a receiver on entry which headphones can be plugged into. Audiences are encouraged to bring their own (no wireless or Bluetooth ones – they must be ‘plug in’ headphones or earphones). You can purchase takeaway headphones for £1 when you book your ticket online, which can be collected when you visit. 

Seating. People are encouraged to bring blankets in the first few rows and chairs in the back few rows. 

Ticketing policy. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, have been diagnosed with the virus or have been in direct contact with a diagnosed individual in the past 14 days, you must not attend the event. If unable to attend due to other illness, please contact the box office to arrange ticket transfer. Tickets can only be refunded if the booked performance has sold out. 

Arriving. Gates will open an hour before each performance before the show start time to allow everyone to arrive at their leisure and avoid large queues. All tickets will be digital, and checked without contact at a social distance at the entrance to the performance area. There will be a one-way system to enter and exit the performance area.

Social distancing. Each household or social, bubble will be seated at a safe distance from other households or social bubbles. Volunteer stewards will direct audience members to their designated bubble.

Food and refreshments. Bring your own food and drink to all performances but note that no alcohol is allowed to be consumed in Rowntree Park. 

Departure. Stewards will manage the departure so large crowds don’t all leave at the same time.

Toilets. All performances take place without an interval. The Rowntree Park toilets will be open before and after all performances.

Full details can be found on Park Bench Theatre website park bench

First Love7pm on 12-15, 17-22 Aug2pm on 15 & 22 Aug
Every Time a Bell Rings7pm on 26-29 and 31 Aug & 1-5 Sept2pm on 29 Aug & 5 Sept
Teddy Bears’ Picnic11.30am & 1.30pm on 19-22, 27-29, 31 Aug & 1-5 Sept
Tickets are unreserved and cost £10 for First Time and Every Time a Bell Rings, and £5 for Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
You can find Park Bench Theatre on




Musical Theatre Stars Perform in Streamed Concerts at the London Coliseum






Jack Maple and Brian Zeilinger, on behalf of Take Two Theatricals, in association with Jamie Chapman Dixon and John-Webb Carter on behalf of Carter Dixon Productions, are delighted to announce ‘Tonight at the London Coliseum’, a week-long series of concerts to be performed on stage at the London Coliseum by some of the UK’s most prolific musical theatre stars. The concerts will be streamed in September, with dates and streaming information to be announced. Tickets will go on sale on Friday 14 August and viewers can sign up for more information at

The seven intimate acoustic concerts will be streamed over a week with each night being headlined by a different leading musical theatre artist – Sharon D. Clarke, Kerry Ellis, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Cassidy Janson, Ramin Karimloo and Sharon Sexton & Rob Fowler. One of the seven concerts will be a performance of a new British musical, After You, written by Alex Parker and Katie Lam and starring Alexia Khadime and Bradley Jaden. The Creative Supervisor for the concerts will be Annabel Mutale Reed.

All tickets will cost £15 with a portion of each ticket sold going to the ENO Contingency Fund, a charity that is committed to bringing opera to as many people as possible.

Sharon D. Clarke’s most notable theatre credits include Blues in the Night (Kiln Theatre), Death of a Salesman (Young Vic and Piccadilly Theatre), for which she won the Critics’ Circle Award, Caroline, or Change (Chichester Festival Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and Playhouse Theatre), for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical, and The Amen Corner (National Theatre) for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her other theatre work includes The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (National Theatre), Guys and Dolls (National Theatre), Porgy and Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Ghost (Manchester Opera House and Piccadilly Theatre), for which she won the Manchester Theatre Award for Best Actress, Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre), Mama Morton in Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), Killer Queen in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, for which she won the WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice Award, and The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre). Sharon won the Black British Theatre Award—Lifetime Recognition in 2019 and received an MBE for services to drama in 2017. In 2021, Sharon will be making her Broadway debut in Caroline, Or Change.

Kerry Ellis is a renowned theatre star and recording artist, best known for originating the role of Meat, in Queen’s We Will Rock You, for being the first British actress to play Elphaba in Wicked, for which Kerry won the 2008 WhatsOnStage Award for ‘Best Takeover in a Role’. She then played the role at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway for six months, where she won the Audience Award for ‘Favourite Female Breakthrough Performance’. Her other West End theatre work includes Sara in Murder Ballad, Nancy in Oliver!, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Ellen in Miss Saigon, Fantine in Les Misérables and she took over from Nicole Scherzinger in the role of Grizabella in Cats. Kerry has achieved chart-topping success as a recording artist, releasing four albums and touring the UK and Europe with Brian May of Queen.

Carrie Hope Fletcher was starring as Fantine in Les Misérablesat the Sondheim Theatre ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. She made her West End debut in 2001 at the age of seven as Young Eponine in Les Misérables and then returned in 2013 to play (grown-up) Eponine. As a child, Carrie also appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2002) as Jemima Potts and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins (2004).She returned to Les Miserables for a second time in 2015 and, in 2016, Fletcher re-joined Chitty as Truly Scrumptious on tour around the UK. Her other theatre work includes Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (UK tour), Heathers the Musical (The Other Palace and Theatre Royal Haymarket), Fantine in Les Misérables – The All-Star Staged Concert(Gielgud Theatre).In addition to acting, Carrie has released an album called When the Curtain Falls, as well as writing a number of novels, including All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing Up Gracefully, based on her blog, which became a number one Sunday Times bestseller. She has over 600,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel. In February 2020, it was announced Fletcher would play the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical version of Cinderella, set to open at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in March 2021. 

Cassidy Janson was starring as Anne in the West End production of & Juliet before lockdown. She was one third of the Brit-nominated band Leading Ladies with Beverly Knight and Amber Riley. Cassidy has starred as Aldonza/Dulicinea in Man of La Mancha (Coliseum), Florence in Chess (Coliseum), Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Aldwych), Ruth in Dessa Rose (Trafalgar Studios), Paquette in Candide (Menier Chocolate Factory), Maggie Saunders in Lend Me A Tenor (Gielgud), Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in Avenue (Gielgud)and Susan in Tick, Tick… Boom! (Menier Chocolate Factory).

Olivier and Tony Award nominee Ramin Karimloo made his name in the early 2000s in some of the West End’s most enduring productions, most notably Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. He originated the role of the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies in 2010 before making his Broadway debut in the 2014 revival of Les Misérables. Karimloo has also performed show tunes on a series of solo recordings, including his second album, From Now On, released in 2019, which landed on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton met when cast in Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical where they played the roles of Falco and Sloane at Manchester Opera House, the London Coliseum, the Dominion Theatre and the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, Canada. They were due to reprise their roles in the 2020 UK tour, which has been postponed due to COVID-19. Most recently they starred opposite one another once again in the International Tour of Mamma Mia!. They will base their concert on their debut duets album Vision of You, which takes fans on a musical journey through the past of the much loved characters of Falco and Sloane, filling in the backstory of their romance, and offering an insight into how they were brought to life. They will be joined by a live band, under the musical direction of Steve Corley.

After You – A New Musical is written by Alex Parker and Katie Lam and directed by Jordan Murphy. Set on a cruise liner that sets sail from the south coast of England, bound for New York. He’s looking for fun and adventure. She’s just trying to keep her head down. A chance encounter gives rise to an unlikely companionship, filling their days as they speed across the Atlantic – but what awaits them on the other side of the crossing?

A new musical about the lives we choose, the paths we don’t take, and the things we sometimes need to keep for ourselves. With music by Parker and book and lyrics by Lam, After You stars Bradley Jaden (Les Misérables and Wicked) and Alexia Khadime (The Prince of Egypt, The Book Of Mormon and Wicked) and is presented in association with Quick Fantastic.

Website to sign up:

Twitter: @taketwotweets

Facebook: @taketwotheatricals

Instagram: @taketwotheatricals


On sale Friday 14 August

Tickets: £15

THE THEATRE CHANNEL – New Musical Theatre Web Series

A Musical Theatre Web Series

Adam Blanshay Productions and The Theatre Café are delighted to present a brand-new musical theatre-based web series, The Theatre Channel. Bringing together talents from the theatre world, both on and off stage, the series will showcase well-known musical theatre classics; performed by some of the industry’s most beloved performers, many of whom hold a close connection to The Theatre Café.

With artists and creatives now using the web and social-media platforms to present their eclectic talents through live-stream videos, the collective display of creativity and ingenuity from the arts, media and theatre community has been an inspiration to many and audiences are now quickly turning to the internet to indulge their theatrical appetite.

Producers Adam Blanshay of Adam Blanshay Productions and Ryan Woods of The Theatre Café – legendary for celebrating all things stagey in the West End and Broadway – have teamed up to produce this unique web series; bringing together the extortionary talents of some of the UK’s most sensational performers and West End stars to sing a selection of musical theatre favourites in a manner not seen before.

The pilot episode is set to premiere in September, with a full season of 9 further episodes planned to launch soon after. Each episode will feature a different line-up of star performers, run at approximately 30 minutes and feature a mix of 4-5 musical theatre songs, ordinarily set in a café, bar or restaurant but individually recontextualised and filmed on location at The Theatre Café. Every scene will make full use of The Theatre Café’s space – from the bar seating area to the downstairs office space – and ultimately standalone as individual performances, but each episode shall be linked by a fundamental premise.

The pay-to-stream series will be available via a new platform hosted on The Theatre Café’s website. The primary goal of this venture is to readily employ artists, creatives and stage managers while theatres remain closed or unable to operate at full capacity and to also provide audiences a slice of the best that the theatre industry has to offer. Unlike recent one-off paid live streamed concerts, every episode of The Theatre Channel series, once published and paid for, will be available to watch at the viewers leisure for an unlimited number of streams.

Naturally, the production will strictly employ the latest PPE measures and social-distancing procedures while filming and producing the series.

Bill Deamer (Follies, Top Hat, Evita) is confirmed to direct and choreograph the first episode, with Michael England (The Phantom of the Opera, Royal Scottish National Orchestra) as Musical Supervisor. Set and Costume will be designed by Gregor Donnelly, lighting design by Jack Weir, sound design by Keegan Curran and videography by Ben Hewis.

The pilot episode will feature the following performers: Tarinn Callender (Come From Away, Hamilton), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Heathers, Addams Family, Les Misérables), Olivier Award Winner* Matt Henry MBE (Kinky Boots, One Night in Miami), Lucie Jones (Waitress, Legally Blonde, X-Factor UK & Eurovision Song Contest 2017), Oliver Ormson (Back to the Future, Addams Family, Book of Mormon) and Olivier Award Winner** Jenna Russell (Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George). The series will also include 4 additional performers – ‘The Café Four’ – who will feature across each episode in variety of supporting roles. Further casting to be announced soon. 

Adam Blanshay said:

“With our UK leaders encouraging the theatre industry to think innovatively in order to endure these unprecedented times, Ryan and I were adamant about creating an eclectic digital platform where we could create an ongoing stream of engaging content for theatre fans all over the Globe throughout the continued theatre closures. Using London’s beloved hub of all things theatrical- The Theatre Café- as our palette, The Theatre Channel aims to create a steady flow of work for artists and creatives over the next six months, and we’re hopeful it will grow beyond that. Combining performance with digital streaming is the way forward, and we hope to capture the hearts and minds of viewers hungry to satisfy their theatrical appetites.”

Ryan Woods said:

“Myself and Adam had an idea to use the café as a kind of working set to bring theatregoers a live style production to then watch online, which so many have looked to during these recent times to stay connected with theatreland. The Theatre Café has remained committed to bring our audience the best quality content to watch online. We believe, with this fabulous team now assembled, we can produce something really special!”

Visit the official Theatre Channel webpage to learn more about the series and to sign up for exclusive priority viewing. The on-sale date shall be announced soon, alongside a trailer for the pilot episode and additional casting.  

Theatres Trust respond to latest government funding news for the arts

I’m sure you saw the press release yesterday with funding details for the arts –

In light of this, I’m pleased to share a statement from Jon Morgan, director of Theatres Trust

Jon Morgan comments:

We are pleased that further details have been announced about how some of the government’s £1.57bn arts rescue package will be allocated as swift distribution of this funding is essential to ensure the survival of many theatres. We particularly welcome the reference to smaller organisations and local significance in the DCMS announcement because small theatres outside our major city and town centres play a vital role in the ecology of the theatre sector, as places that nurture new talent and that serve their local communities.



  • Socially distanced ‘pop-up’ Shakespeare in The Dell Gardens from 1 Aug
  • Riverside Café and Rocket re-open for takeaway service
  • RSC Summer School goes online for 2020

As businesses across Stratford-upon-Avon start to re-open their doors this Summer, the Royal Shakespeare Company announces full details of its new outdoor pop-up Shakespeare performances taking place each weekend throughout August in the Dell Gardens.

The RSC continues to explore every opportunity to open its Stratford buildings as soon as possible and fully intends to re-open the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) with new events and re-scheduled performances of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors. Both productions were in rehearsal and due to open in the RST this spring. Further details will be announced soon, but this remains dependent on government advice on social distancing and on whether it is financially viable for the Company to perform to audiences inside our theatres.

RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, said: “Whilst we continue to await news on Stage 5 of the re-opening roadmap and the distribution of the extremely welcome £1.57bn government rescue package for arts and culture, we are delighted to see businesses across the town re-open their doors to locals and visitors from all over the UK. Our buildings may be closed but our commitment to Stratford-upon-Avon is as strong as ever. We are delighted to be working with our current acting company, who would otherwise be performing in The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors, to deliver this unique scratch programme of socially-distanced, outdoor Shakespeare, and though it may not have lights and costume, and the full bells and whistles of a normal RSC show, is sure to be a welcome treat for anyone who, like me, has been missing live theatre these last few months.”

Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England, said: “The past few months have been testing times for many, but the tourism and arts sectors have been hit massively. Stratford-upon-Avon is synonymous with the RSC and vice versa, so whilst the doors have to remain closed, it is fantastic that the RSC have found these innovative ways to engage with their audience and deliver that magic back for the Town as a whole, its residents and the visitors.

With the summer holiday season just starting, the move could not have come at a better time as many people will be looking for events and activities to do closer to home this year.

Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding towns are reawakening and now is the time to show people what we have to offer, so it is perfect that the RSC and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust along with many other attractions are adapting their offer in order to welcome people back.

‘Shakespeare Snapshots’ sponsored by Darwin Escapes

The RSC is thrilled to announce a new series of free outdoor performances, sponsored by Darwin Escapes, taking place in the Dell Gardens from Sat 1 August.

Running from Friday to Sunday until the end of the month, Shakespeare Snapshots will take place for 45 minutes at 1pm and 3pm each day.

These high-energy family-friendly performances will be different each week, taking inspiration from well-known Shakespearean texts and themes and featuring actors from the RSC’s  postponed productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors.

Featuring a mixture of socially-distanced speeches and scenes from Shakespeare’s best-loved plays, these fun, fast-paced, no-frills performances are the perfect re-introduction to live theatre and are suitable for Shakespeare enthusiasts, newcomers and Stratford day-trippers..

Performances will be first come, first served, with space for up to eight household groups (maximum 6 people each), plus some standing spaces.

Riverside Café and The Rocket

Visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon can also enjoy a daily takeaway service from the RSC’s Riverside Café, which is open from 10am to 4pm.

When in town, visitors can stop off at the Riverside Cafe or ‘Rocket’ ice cream van located at the front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Both will serve a wide range of drinks, ice cream, crisps and cakes. The Riverside Cafe will offer a full range of fair-trade tea and coffee. Alcohol will also be served from 12noon.

Customers are asked that they observe social distancing throughout their visit, using the markings on the pavement and payment is by contactless card only.

RSC Virtual Summer School

Online, the RSC’s 73rd annual Summer School continues with a virtual programme of events which delve deeper into the company’s postponed programme of plays taking place in the Autumn of 2020 and 2021.

The online Summer School will take place from 25 – 27 August 2020 and is priced at £45 for three sessions. Events taking place as part of this year’s programme include The Wars of the Roses – A taste of things to come with RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and Assistant Director Owen Horsley about Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3 and featuring performances by the RSC company, an introduction to The Winter’s Tale with Professor Michael Dobson and The Winter’s Tale – A play for today with RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran in conversation with RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman about her planned production of The Winter’s Tale. This session will include RSC actors sharing some of their work from The Winter’s Tale rehearsal rooms.



Acting for Others today announces that Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been appointed Vice President of the theatrical charity.

In April Waller-Bridge, DryWrite, Soho Theatre and Annapurna Theatre, in partnership with National Theatre Live and Amazon Prime Video streamed the stage production of Fleabag, which raised over £1 million for charities including Acting for Others. Additionally, Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag Support Fund in partnership with The Royal Theatrical Fund, together have now raised over £270,000 to support freelancers working in theatre, comedy and cabaret as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge today said, “Acting for Others has been the silver lining around the cloud that has crept over our theatre industry. I have witnessed first-hand the dedication and compassion this charity has for the people who work so hard to keep this country’s culture alive. I’m honoured to be a Vice President of Acting for Others and I promise to continue working with them to support our industry with the determination and the dignity that they afford each and every person they support.

Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, co-chair of Acting for Others today said, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Phoebe Waller-Bridge to our team of esteemed Vice Presidents; her commitment and support of the theatre industry during this critical time has been outstanding. Fleabag For Charity and the Fleabag Support Fund has raised vital funds for theatre workers and freelancers across the UK whose livelihoods were destroyed by the Covid-19 lockdown and Acting For Others will continue to distribute this money as lockdown eases.”

Waller-Bridge joins fellow Vice Presidents Paul GaneLesley Garrett CBEDame Monica MasonJoanna McCallumSir Trevor NunnSir Mark RylanceSir Patrick Stewart OBE, and President Dame Judi Dench to represent the charity.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a multi-award-winning actress, director and writer. First performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013, her show Fleabag was adapted for television in 2016 and won her a BAFTA for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme, three EMMY’s for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Television Series and Best Television Series. She was the lead writer and producer for the first series of the critically acclaimed, multi award-winning Killing Eve starring Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh. Her other television credits as a writer include Crashing; and as an actress Broadchurch, The Café and Bad Education. Her theatre credits as an actress include Crazy Love (UK tour), Roaring Trade, Mydidae, The One (Soho Theatre), 1 May 1997, Like a Fishbone (Bush Theatre), Rope (Almeida Theatre), Tribes (Royal Court Theatre), Hay Fever (Noël Coward Theatre), and as a writer and actress Fleabag (Edinburgh Fringe Festival/ Soho Theatre/ Wyndham’s Theatre).