Events Walthamstow

Open-air Shakespeare coming to Walthamstow’s little-known amphitheatre this summer

The Greek Theatre Players have been staging shows at the open-air venue in Walthamstow Village since the 1950s, writes Sharon Trotter

credit Greek Theatre Players
credit Greek Theatre Players

This July you can enjoy the delights of Walthamstow’s little-known open-air theatre: a picnic, a glass of fizz, live music and a performance of one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing comedies!

Built in 1924, the ‘Greek Theatre’ in Walthamstow Village was the vision of Mary Norris, headmistress of Walthamstow Girls School, who had a passion for the culture of ancient Greece.

The opening production was Medea, starring famous actress Dame Sybil Thorndike, who happened to be an acquaintance of Mary’s. The theatre was financed by the council as a public works scheme to address the high rate of unemployment at the time.

The circular arena was dug into the slopes of the school’s garden with concrete tiered seats, forming a perfect acoustic. With a backdrop of laurel, mulberry and cherry and a classical stone portico to the east, no wonder actors from many Waltham Forest drama groups have come together year-on-year since 1958 to perform in this magical setting!

The Winter’s Tale tells of the near-tragic consequences of a king’s irrational jealousy, mixed in with artful comedy and touching romance. In Sicily, a sudden fit of jealousy costs King Leontes his wife, his best friend, his young son and his new-born daughter. Sixteen years later in Bohemia, that best friend risks losing his own son when he violently opposes his marriage to the beautiful orphan shepherdess Perdita.

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But an old prophecy from the Oracle at Delphos holds out hope for redemption and reconciliation. Probably written in 1610/11, the play contains Shakespeare’s best-known stage direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

The Greek Theatre Players hope you will join us for our 2023 production. No booking is required, just come along. Gates open 45 minutes early, with live music. Bring a cushion and a picnic. Refreshments are available and there is an alternative indoor venue if wet. There is also wheelchair access.

We welcome new members either as performers or backstage. We usually hold auditions in February for the next year’s production, but there will always be a part in the chorus or carrying a tankard!

The Greek Theatre Players present The Winter’s Tale from Wednesday 26th July to Friday 28th July at 7:30pm and on Saturday 29th July at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, at The Open Air Theatre, Woodbury Road, Walthamstow E17 9RZ. Admission is £10, concessions £8, students £5. For more information:
[email protected]

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