Stamford Shakespeare Company
Set in the Rutland countryside, Tolethrope Hall and the Rutland Open Air Theatre is the home of the Stamford Shakespeare Company. Every year from June to August, the theatre company produces plays by William Shakespeare and other playwrights. Recent performances have included The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2013. In 2013, the Stamford Shakespeare Company also reunited cast members of the BBC's Dad's Army to perform The Lost Episodes.
Founded in 1968, the Stamford Shakespeare Company is an amateur theatre group in Stamford, Lincolnshire. The company's first performance was A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Monastery Garden in Samford's historic George Hotel. The performance was organised by the Stamford Arts Centre Committee and helped raise funds for the restoration of the Georgian Theatre on St. Mary's Street. In 1971, the theatre group became independent of the Arts Centre and reformed as the Stamford Shakespeare Company.
Since its beginnings, the theatre company performed at the George Hotel until 1976. With the hotel no longer able to accommodate the open air theatre, the company looked for a new venue for larger audiences. In 1977, the Stamford Shakespeare Company acquired the derelict grounds of Tolethrope Hall. The first performances at Tolethrope Hall were Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew that same year. Beginning in 1985, the company increased efforts to attract theatregoers from surrounding counties and beyond as a way to assist with the cost of restoring the historic hall.
In 2001, the Stamford Shakespeare Company launched the Tolethrope Youth Drama programme. The initiative provides local youth with affordable tuition in the performing arts. Participants have access to the theatre company's resources at Tolethrope Hall and workshop-based courses.
Performances by the Stamford Shakespeare Company are held on the ground of Tolethorpe Hall. With a history dating from the early 11th century, the manor house and estate were first owned by a Norman family during Norman Conquest. Overlooking beautiful parkland and the Rutland countryside, the site also features an 18th century mill that was once part of the estate. The restored landscaped grounds of Tolethorpe Hall date from 1867.
Known as the Rutland Open Air Theatre, the 600-seat auditorium is set among lawns that are ideal for picnics. The site is also home to picturesque flowerbeds and shrubberies, and a pond. The amphitheatre features a concrete stepped and raked auditorium. The seating was once covered by a temporary canvas canopy, which was replaced annually for the first 16 years of the theatre's operation. In 1993, the tent was replaced with a permanent high-tensile canopy. The site also includes a theatre restaurant (The Orangery), a backstage workshop and store, and function and rehearsal rooms.
Stamford is located in the Welland Vale tourist region of England. The Georgian town is easily accessible from London and York via the A1. From Birmingham and the West Midland, Stamford can be reached via the M6, A14 and A1. Stamford is served by regular rail service from Central London and the Midlands. To reach the Rutland Open Air Theatre by car, follow "Shakespeare Tolethrope" signs and signposts from Stamford and surrounding areas. The theatre is located in Little Casterton village. The rail station is 2.5 miles from the theatre at Tolethrope Hall, which can be reached by taxi from the station and town centre.
For general enquiries, the Stamford Shakespeare Company can be reached on 01780 756133 or 01780 480216 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The box office for the Rutland Open Air Theatre can be reached on 01780 756133.
The mailing address for the Rutland Open Air Theatre and the Stamford Shakespeare Company is:
Stamford Shakespeare Company
Rutland Open Air Theatre