AN internationally renowned theatre group is returning to the UK this week to perform Shakespeare for the first time in 15 years.

Footsbarn Theatre, a much-acclaimed Anglo-French theatre group, originally started its life in the UK over 50 years ago before relocating to its new home in Maillet, France.

The group's vision was born out of a dream to create theatre that was popular, generous, and accessible to all with a varied cast of international performers involved in productions.

Whilst Footsbarn has returned to the UK since to perform, its York performance will be the group's first doing a full Shakespeare production on British soil in more than 15 years.


The group will perform Twelfth Night at York St John University Creative Centre Auditorium on Saturday, April 27, at 7.30pm and Sunday, April 28, at 2pm.

Speaking to The Press, artistic director Sadie Jemmett said: “It’s a great piece for an ensemble as there are roles for everyone really – I thought that was a real plus. It’s just a fantastic play – it’s a love story, it’s funny, it’s tragic.

“Twelfth Night also brought inclusive themes in its writing; it was an innovative thing for Shakespeare to do – to play with gender, identity, and to make a statement about how gender is a perception and can change. I do think that for this generation now, Gen Z, it makes the play very relatable for them with the journey that Viola takes.”

York Press: The cast at rehearsal ahead of their first UK performance in 15 years (photo by Jean-Pierre Estournet)The cast at rehearsal ahead of their first UK performance in 15 years (photo by Jean-Pierre Estournet) (Image: Jean-Pierre Estournet)

The group prides itself on its inclusive approach to theatre having performed multilingual plays in the past and featuring actors from across the world.

A Yorkshire native herself, Sadie spent much of her childhood growing up on Botton, a small village within the North York Moors National Park, amongst performers and in a community that supported those living with learning disabilities.

She said she couldn’t be more delighted to return to the region with a performance in Botton taking place on May 1 to follow the York show.

Sadie said: “I’ve always been big on inclusivity in theatre; growing up with people who had learning disabilities and having worked for a charity that supports them in the arts, it’s very important to me. Theatre should be for everyone and if you can create theatre with a varied group of people, then it really enriches it and that creates a richer piece of art."

York Press: Footsbarn in rehearsals (photo by Jean-Pierre Estournet)Footsbarn in rehearsals (photo by Jean-Pierre Estournet) (Image: Jean-Pierre Estournet)

Speaking about the group’s future plans to return to the UK, Sadie said: “Well, you never know. For me, it’s been really important to enliven the connection that Footsbarn has with the UK and it’s something I hope to expand on.”

The group will be touring the UK from Friday onwards with performances scheduled at York International Shakespeare Festival on April 27 and 28. The Botton show is planned for May 1, and a final performance on May 3 at the Glasshouse, Stourbridge. Afterwards, the group are scheduled to perform across Europe.

Tickets for their York performance can be found here.