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What a brilliant season!

2017 was probably our most successful season yet with two Edinburgh try-outs, performances of four major Shakespeare plays, a story-teller, Mid Powys Youth Theatre and a devised show about Shakespeare's Dreams. Our worry about the weather is a thing of the past. The amazing Circus Tent, courtesy of The Big Lottery, The Foyle Foundation and the generosity of Friends saves the day! Below a shot from Macbeth performed by the Factory:

 

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Christopher Hunter and Alison Skilbeck previewed their respective Edinburgh shows here at The Willow. This is what was said about Chris:
 

'electrifying ... gem of a show ...'

The Times

'... I thought I would not see anything else so finely crafted, so movingly delivered for the rest of the fringe.' 

The Observer 

'Spellbinding and heart-tugging. My best hour at the Fringe this year.'

Audience Member 

'Remarkable success ... exquisitely enunciated, deft actions, focussed movements ...'

Broadway Baby

'... moving with seemingly complete liberation ... beguiles belief that this could be anything but a modern day piece of theatre ... wonderfully adapted for the stage, it is performed in a way that will grip audiences from the very outset.' 

Theatre Weekly 

'...I was left completely in awe at his performance.... It is one of them most incredible performances I've ever seen - an absolute masterclass of acting.  I give Christopher Hunter all the stars and any students of acting should go and see it....'

Always a Critic (Podcast)

'Christopher Hunter literally exploded into life in a highly strung, thundering performance that kept us enthralled from beginning to end. I can honestly say I have never seen anything quite like it before ... This is a bright hour of excellent, fast paced, passionate and exhilarating entertainment. A real treat!' 

Daniel Donnelly, Mumbles

'Wow. This was a real revelation ... this was so clear, so close up, that I felt inside the story. Christopher Hunter is amazing. It is funny and terrifying, and thought-provoking.' 

Audience member 

' ... you cannot fail to be mesmerised by this powerful performance from Christopher Hunter. Totally compelling.' 

Audience member  

'You cannot take your eyes off Christopher Hunter. He forks you in the ribs and doesn't let you go ... Erotic, funny, dark and mesmerising, Shakespeare and Hunter do each other proud. You'll come out exhausted, thinking and a better person for it.'  

Audience member

 

 And the reviews for Alsion include:
 

THE POWER BEHIND THE CRONE

11/07/17

Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

The Power Behind the Crone is a wonderful piece of theatre, an exemplar of a Fringe show: perfectly suited to its space and time-slot, beautifully scripted, and acted with precision and panache. In case I haven’t made myself clear: I liked it. A lot.

Alison Skilbeck plays Professor Artemis Turret, a Shakespearean scholar, delivering a lecture to a group of mature students (that’s us). The topic is a refutation of the dictum,’There are no good parts in Shakespeare for older women’ and the big draw is Artemis’s old friend, Dame Bunti Smart, an internationally acclaimed actress, who is supposed to be performing the illustrative speeches. But, not for the first time it seems, Bunti lets Artemis down, and the Professor is forced to play the parts herself. Reluctant at first, she throws herself into the performances, unearthing her own talent in the process.

Skilbeck’s delivery is flawless. From the Grenfell-like humour of the Professor to the pride of Paulina, from the bitterness of Queen Margaret to the bawdiness of Mistress Quickly, Skilbeck has absolute control of the material and creates distinct, believable characters. It’s fascinating: the fictional lecture serves the same function as an actual lecture, albeit the most engaging one I’ve ever sat through. I’m learning as I watch; plays I know well are re-positioned, the older women highlighted.

It’s genuinely illuminating.

5 stars

Susan Singfiel

and from Fringe Guru:

At the University of the Third Age Enfield Chapter, Professor Artemis Turret sets out to refute Helen Mirren’s claim that there are no good parts for older women in Shakespeare. But she's been let down by her actress chum, Dame Bunti Smart – so Turret has to tackle the seven different parts herself. In The Power Behind The Crone, actor and writer Alison Skilbeck has managed to pull off that most difficult of tricks: making an informative show entertaining, and vice versa.

The subject of women in Shakespeare – and older women in particular – is ripe for discussion. At the time he was writing, no women were permitted to act, and their parts were played by boys; even allowing for less enlightened times, it must have further discouraged playwrights from writing female roles. Modern productions find ways round it – gender-neutral casting, changing male roles to female (such as Mirren's Prospero) – but this production concentrates on the older women as originally written by Shakespeare.

The professor appears to sounds of rain and thunder; a nice nod to the most famous of Shakespeare’s old crones, though the witches aren't actually featured here. She's harassed, and full of apologies for the non-appearance of her friend, who has been held up by a Game of Thrones style film shoot that is “still a few murders short of a massacre”. This clever device allows the frustrated actor in Turret to perform the roles, and also leavens the mix with some comedy at Bunti’s expense. Of course, Turret turns out to be a very fine actor, and while there may be plenty of humour, the Shakespeare is still taken seriously.

The seven crones featured are presented in the order that Shakespeare wrote them, which allows Skilbeck through Turret to demonstrate how the roles developed over time. And her knowledge (she is an Associate Teacher at RADA, specialising in directing Shakespeare) is the real gem in this production. While we're being entertained by these excerpts from Shakespeare, and some very funny jokes and asides, we are learning so much. About how the two duchesses, Gloucester and York, neatly bookend Richard II; how the move to indoor theatres in the Jacobean period allowed for more intimate scenes later in Shakespeare’s career; and insights into the “super-crone” Paullina, the ringmaster of The Winter’s Tale.

It's an eloquent response to Mirren's claim: there are great roles for older women in Shakespeare. You could argue that they're not meaty enough – after all, we got seven extracts in an hour, though I did wonder if we might get more depth from fewer. And I suspect it’s a show for the Shakespeare fan, as I got the most out of the parts I was already familiar with. But I left intrigued with others – such as the grand Volumnia, Coriolanus’ mother, a part that Skilbeck herself says she'd love to play.

 

We were so lucky to have them both here.

 

 

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What's On

Have-a-Go Shakespeare Llandrindod Wells

Next Showing: 04th Oct 2017 @ 10:00

Final Showing: 13th Dec 2017 @ 10:00

Have-a-Go Shakespeare at Celf o Gwmpas Llandrindod Wells. Don't bother to buy on line - you can pay on the door!...read more

Have-a-Go Shakespeare Rhayader

Next Showing: 05th Oct 2017 @ 14:30

Final Showing: 14th Dec 2017 @ 14:30

Have-a-Go Shakespeare at CARAD Rhayader. Don't bother to buy on line The sessions are £25 for the year or £5 each time...read more

Have-a-Go Shakespeare Builth

Next Showing: 06th Oct 2017 @ 10:30

Final Showing: 15th Dec 2017 @ 10:30

Don't bother to buy on line - you can pay on the door!...read more

The 2017 Season......

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 NICE THINGS SAID:

"Perhaps Britain’s most enchanting outdoor drama experience” 

The Sunday Times