Every year, as the lights go down for the last time on our summer production, people start to ask us 'What are you doing next year?' The answer, almost invariably, is 'We have no idea'. This year was no different.
It's not really surprising, when we have less than two weeks to produce a show of the standard our audiences have come to expect, that we don't spend much time lounging around wondering what we might do next. Richard II was full on, with a large cast, elaborate costumes, puppetry and live music. Not to mention a demanding text, particularly for Matthew, who had to hold the stage as Richard through some long, set-piece speeches with every eye upon him.
So we all dispersed in August, buzzing with what we had just done, knowing we would be back, but not what we would be doing.
It was only in November, when everyone has to start thinking about booking their holidays, renting cottages etc, that the mysterious, organic process whereby plays and directors emerge clicked into gear. An idea had been around for a while, but the director whose idea it was, Amy Levene, had just pulled off a fantastic production of Richard II. Would she be up for doing another so soon?
She would! A quick circular email canvassed the company, enthusiastic responses rolled in, and Macbeth it is. Dates are 1-4 August, performances at 8 pm.
We have a previous production in our backlist, but not since 1994, when many of our current leading men and ladies were still at primary school. And we have learned many lessons since then about how to use the space, and how to tell Shakespeare's stories in a compelling way for contemporary audiences.
Watch this space for updates on how Amy envisages setting this well-known play, set in a dim historical past but with a theme of betrayal and hunger for power that is completely up to the minute.