The Tempest with RSC Open Stages

The Tempest with RSC Open Stages


From the company that brought “The Bonny Moorhen” to life in a lead mine the next Drama in the Dale flagship project will be a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in a Weardale quarry in September 2014.

Drama in the Dale is thrilled to be one of 86 amateur theatre groups from across the UK invited to take part in the RSC Open Stages project which aims to build the skills of amateur theatre companies so that they can tackle the demands of putting on Shakespeare productions.

We have chosen The Tempest because it has something to say to our participants and to our local audience as well as something that might appeal to visitors. The Tempest is about power, generational conflicts, land ownership and man’s relationship with the elements; all these themes will resonate with our community. It is also a play that includes comedy whilst not shirking difficult questions; we want to provoke our audiences as well as entertain them.

Drama in the Dale’s production of The Tempest will be an outdoor promenade performance at Harehope Quarry, Frosterley in September 2014.  The project will use the diverse environments offered within the boundaries of this local environmental education site to recreate an island.  Harehope Quarry is run by a local co-operative and includes carp ponds, rocky crags, a beck, woodland, meadows and lots of tracks and pathways. It also has toilets, car parking and an amphitheatre, making it an ideal location for audience and performers.

Our aim is to guide our members in their first experience of tackling Shakespeare together as a diverse group of people who find commonality in the therapeutic power of theatre. The bard’s script allows a good deal of creative interpretation with its use spirits, monsters, lovers and drunkards as well as a complex father-daughter relationship. Mounting the production in September helps to make links with harvest and bountifulness as the Roman Goddess of Agriculture, Ceres, also makes an appearance in the play.  September is the time when all the local agricultural societies have their annual shows so we hope to build on this connection.

Liz Gill, a retired teacher from Wearhead, has been chosen by Drama in the Dale to direct this flagship production. Along with all the other 85 directors Liz began her new creative learning journey at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Stratford upon Avon base in September 2013.

“I am absolutely delighted, and quite apprehensive, at being offered the role of director for our production of The Tempest next year. Working alongside amateur directors from all over the country will be exciting, sharing thoughts, discussing problems and giving each other support. The opportunity to be mentored by such an auspicious company as the RSC is a once in a life-time dream, although somewhat daunting! The enthusiastic support of the other members of Drama in the Dale has been tremendous – I hope now that I will do them justice.” Liz Gill

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The RSC’s Open Stages is the UK’s biggest amateur theatre project. Having received over 150 applications from across the UK, the RSC along with six partner theatres will work with the 86 selected amateur groups to support and help them to create their own RSC Open Stages production in their own venue. Each amateur company will receive training, director mentoring, feedback and support, with the aim of transforming the relationship between amateur and professional theatre.

The RSC is partnered in the project by some of the country’s leading theatres including:

The Lyric Theatre, Belfast, covering Northern Ireland
Sherman Cymru, Cardiff, covering Wales and the adjacent area
Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, covering the Midlands
Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, covering the South of England
Questors theatre, London, covering London and the surrounding area
Contact Theatre, Manchester, covering the North of England
Dundee Rep Theatre, covering Scotland
For updated information on the project visit

RSC Open Stages is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. We do this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change. The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK.  We make grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, education and learning, the environment and social change. We also operate a £21 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit.