My First Season
My first season at Theatre Royal Winchester:
By Deryck Newland, Chief Executive of Live Theatre Winchester Trust
Phew! What a whirlwind this first five months in my new role has been!
I have met so many lovely people and am relishing the challenges and opportunities of the job.
We have refreshed the staff team with new faces and recruited new people to our board. We have developed a brand new vision, mission and set of values as a foundation for the future.
We have also delivered a joyous 43rd edition of Hat Fair. My job combines responsibility for a famous Outdoor Arts Festival with a beautiful theatre. How amazing is that?
Indeed I have just returned from a busy week at the Edinburgh Fringe scouting for exciting shows to bring to Winchester in 2018.
Amidst all that I have been busy programming my very first season of performance for you to enjoy this autumn. With over 40 shows to choose from there really is something for everyone I hope. That is important to me. Performance should be enjoyed by everyone and that requires me to offer a diverse menu.
Within that menu you will start to discover some emerging themes this autumn. These will develop through 2018 and beyond.
Firstly I am keen to bring performance inspired by Hat Fair to Winchester at other times of the year. So, our season launches with The Natural Theatre Company. This internationally renowned company presents Austen Undone as part of our Open Weekend on the 16 and 17 September.
Do drop in during the weekend to have some fun and tell us what you think of us and what you want from us in the future.
On stage the following week we present Joli Vyann, a company many will remember from previous Hat Fairs. I am also delighted to be presenting Motionhouse’s latest extraordinary creation this autumn. They are a company I have presented in different venues for almost twenty years now. We very much hope they will also bring work to Hat Fair in 2018.
I would also love us to become known as a place where laughter rings out. Laughter is therapeutic but also subversive. It is life affirming and mischievous. And it comes in many guises. So, yes, plenty of well known stand up comics, but so much more too. This season you can laugh at the satire of Noël Coward’s Private Lives or the pastiche comedy of Sherlock Holmes and the Crimson Cobbles.
You can enjoy superb musical comedy with Showstoppers! or through the genius of Flanders and Swann. You can go on a nostalgia trip re-living the wonderful slapstick of Norman Wisdom with Jack Lane in Wisdom of a Fool.
Another desire of mine is to bring an international flavour to the programme. Penny Ashton who presents her light hearted romp Promise and Promiscuity comes all the way from New Zealand. I am also delighted to be presenting a Malawian inspired re-telling of The Tempest, not least because my mum was actually born in Malawi!
So, Hat Fair-inspired performance, laughter and internationalism. Three reasons to come and see shows at Theatre Royal Winchester this autumn and into the future.
I want to finish by acknowledging Christmas! Yes I know it is only August! Sorry! However, Peter Pan tickets are already selling fast. Last year people were unable to get tickets for our wonderful, traditional panto because they left it too late! So don’t make the same mistake and book early to avoid disappointment.
We are also delighted to welcome back the Locrian Ensemble with Carols by Candlelight on the 13 December. And there is something for the little ones with Santa’s Christmas Wish, exactly a week before the big day.
Finally the excellent Winchester Musicals and Opera Society are back with us to get us into the Christmas spirit with White Christmas.
So I look forward to meeting you as you enjoy laughter, spectacle, music and festive cheer at Theatre Royal Winchester this autumn.