The Plough announces Open-Air Theatre Festival

The Plough Arts Centre in Torrington has been closed since March 2020

The Plough Arts Centre in Torrington has been closed since March 2020 - Credit: Plough Arts

After a year of enforced closure, The Plough Arts Centre in Torrington plans to reopen with a bang this summer and one that will reverberate across 15 open-air theatre venues as the Torrington based arts charity kicks off what must be the largest Open-Air Theatre Festival in the country. 

With 54 outdoor theatre performances taking place from June 11 to September 4 across North Devon (plus one in North Somerset that crept into the mix!) there are endless reasons for lovers of theatre and open spaces to be tempted into the great outdoors this summer. 

Plough Director and programmer Richard Wolfenden-Brown said: “After being confined indoors for so long, we just can’t wait to welcome people back and to encourage them to create some long-lasting positive summer memories by being part of the sheer joy of open-air theatre. Outdoors feels like the perfect place to relaunch our programme. If there is a more extensive open air theatre festival anywhere in the UK then we’ll be surprised.” 

He optimistically added: “The great thing is that we have only booked shows on warm sunny days, but if anyone doubts that they can always bring a sunshade a.k.a. an umbrella!.” 

The cream of the U.K.s theatre companies will be sharing a grassy stage across North Devon with shows by veteran open-air companies such as Illyria, The Rude Mechanicals, The HandleBards, The Pantaloons, Horrible Histories, Heartbreak, Boxtree, Hotbuckle, Festival Players as well as younger companies like The Three-Inch Fools, The Duke’s Theatre Co, Immersion Theatre, The Last Baguette and from Exeter – Cygnet Theatre and Jack Dean & Co. 


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With shows ranging from Mr Stink by David Walliams, Alice in Wonderland, Arthur – The Story of a King, Gorgeous Georgians & Vile Victorians, to Shakespeare, Wilde, Austen, Gilbert & Sullivan and a new show about Charlie Chaplin entitled ‘Little Lily Harley’ there is something to delight all ages. Many of the family shows have pre-show drama workshops to give children aged 6-11 yrs the chance to explore the themes of the play and make new friends, whilst their adults have a look round the beautiful open-air venues. 

The arts centre’s own Plough Youth Theatre are getting in on the act with open-air performances of Merlin and Matilda in Torrington. The Plough works in partnership with key local venues such as RHS Garden Rosemoor, Hartland Abbey, Tapeley Park, The Big Sheep, Tawstock Court, Arlington Court (NT), Castle Drogo (NT), and Castle Hill Filleigh, and is also delighted to be promoting shows at newer venues such as Clovelly Court, The Lodge Eggesford, Lapford Mill Nr Crediton, Brushford Barton Winkleigh and Castle Hill Gardens in Great Torrington. 

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The Plough’s open-air programme also includes live music with four events at the Big Sheep including Paul Jones and Dave Kelly on June 16, Soul Intention, The Medicaments and Ian Holleran & Roseanna Ball on July 4, Simon & Garfunkel Through the Years on July 8 and The Beach Boyz Tribute Band on Aug 29 with cheaper tickets for those who dress as surfers! 

There is also an open-air poetry, theatre and music evening at Brushford Barton on Tues, July 20, with Liz Lefroy 'Great Master/small boy' & Carol Caffrey 'Music for Dogs'. 

Tickets for all the performances (and for a packed autumn programme of indoor arts events at The Plough) can be bought via www.theploughartscentre.org.uk or via the box office on 01805 624624. 

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