York pub gets a Shakespearean twist

TELLING THE TALE: Performing Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale are, from left, Mark Edwards, Sarah Davies, Jonny Neaves and Rebecca Beattie.                                               Picture: David Harrison

TELLING THE TALE: Performing Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale are, from left, Mark Edwards, Sarah Davies, Jonny Neaves and Rebecca Beattie. Picture: David Harrison

First published in News
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IT was a case of time at the Bard for one York pub which has been transformed into the setting for a Shakespearean tale.

Touring theatre ensemble Common Ground has been taking its version of A Winter's Tale around Yorkshire and beyond since the beginning of February, and The Gillygate was the latest venue for the story of tyrannical king Leontes and his abandoned daughter Perdita.

The production, Common Ground's debut, has gone on the road in a year which marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. It had already been performed in Coxwold, Helmsley, Barnard Castle, Leeds, Bridlington, Malton and Hartlepool, as well as other York venues, before Friday night regulars in The Gillygate enjoyed a play to go with their pint.

"Theatre is of the people, for the people, which is how Shakespeare saw it, and we wanted to replicate that and take it to people rather than expecting them to come to us," said Hannah Davies, who adapted the play with her co-director Tom Cornford.

"Our piece is lively and has lots of music, and we've looked to remind people that Shakespeare can be fun and accessible and fit into lots of different places.

"We've had such a good reception - it's our first production so we're building up an audience from scratch, and we're so glad people have warmed to it and found it refreshing as a piece of Shakespeare which doesn't take itself too seriously and is loyal to the original while also being contemporary."

Common Ground's production has also been staged at Poppleton Tithe Barn, Dunnington Village Hall, the Yorkshire Terrier in Stonegate and the Friargate Theatre in York, as well as the Milton Rooms in Malton and Helmsley Arts Centre.

Starring York-born Rebecca Beattie, Sarah Davies, Mark Edwards and Jonny Neaves, its run ends this Friday at the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond. More information is at commongroundtouringtheatre.co.uk.

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