RSC Open Stages

RSC Open Stages, is a project that aims to embrace, develop and celebrate amateur theatre, re-forging the bond with the world of professional theatre while opening up access to Shakespeare for performers and audiences alike.
Quaintwood Player’s journey began March 2011 when we put in our pitch to participate in the Open Stages project. Performing Shakespeare was a real step change for QP, a group traditionally linked with Pantomimes and Murder Mysteries, our forays into ‘grown up’ theatre have seen us tackling Ayckbourn, but we had always felt that somehow Shakespeare might be beyond us. With the opportunity of the Open stages project, we thought that if we couldn’t do it with the support of the RSC we probably never would.
We heard on the 17th June that we along with 263 other amateur groups had been accepted to join in and our work began.
Because of the local links with A Midsummer Night’s Dream – the inspiration for the wood was reputedly Doddershall Woods, which sits in the parishes of both Grendon and Quainton, it was a natural choice. Shakespeare was a regular visitor to Grendon passing through en-route between Stratford and London. We were originally planning to perform in the garden of Shakespeare House, the coaching house he stayed in on his visits. Unfortunately, the owners put the property on the market and that left us with a venue to find. Luckily our resident wardrobe mistress and her husband allowed us access to her beautiful garden and we found ourselves at Collett Farm.
To help us ‘Skill up’ for the task, February 11th and 12th saw 5 of us heading off to participate in the Open Stages Skills Exchange. Our theatre partner – Stratford RSC no less – hosted the event in the theatres and vast rehearsal spaces owned by The RSC all around Stratford town.
The Performers Day consisted of an acting workshop, a movement or stage combat workshop and a voice and text session lead by RSC practitioners and theatre professionals at the top of their game. We were also lucky enough to tour around the transformed theatres, going backstage and being allowed to covet the fantastic technology, sets and costumes.
The Director’s Day consisted of a practical master class with professional RSC Actors and Directors as well as a look at rehearsal processes, and the stage designing process.
On the 19th Feb – those of us lucky enough to attend the skills exchange – shared our learning with the rest of QP, in a workshop day. There is no doubt that the skills we learned stood us in great stead for the task of learning and rehearsing our roles.
Open Stages productions were performed from April 2011 through to the end of 2012 as part of the cultural Olympiad and Shakespeare’s 100 year celebration.
We performed MSND on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd June, managing one very chilly performance outside in the lovely gardens of Collett Farm as planned but unfortunately due to the inclement British weather we had to perform the evening shows in Grendon Village Hall.
We really enjoyed our Shakespeare journey and the resulting performances. So much so that we’ve agreed to perform more Shakespeare in the future.