A traditional summer theatre season which has been running in two Suffolk seaside towns for over 60 years has been saved from closure by an award-winning local producer and is being relaunched for 2019.
Matthew Townshend has taken over production of what was ‘Suffolk Summer Theatre’ which will now be called ‘Theatre on the Coast’. It will present four shows, each playing for a fortnight, opening on Wednesday, July 10, at Southwold Arts Centre and running until August 31.
From 1953, several repertory theatre groups performed at the St Edmunds Hall in Southwold (now the Arts Centre) before the Summer Theatre was taken over by Jill Freud & Co. in 1984. Since then the season has enjoyed more than 30 years of success, providing professional theatre in repertory for both residents and holidaymakers of Southwold and Aldeburgh. Now, the Summer Theatre has been re-branded and refreshed under new ownership.
Matthew said: “We are thrilled to be taking on the heritage of Suffolk Summer Theatre and continuing the legacies of all who have contributed to this staple of the East Anglian arts scene for the last few years. Our aim is to bring a fresh new look to the repertoire, whilst making sure that we honour the great tradition of entertainment on the coast. I’m very excited to rebuild the sense of ownership held by local people of their own Theatre.”
“I am honoured to have the task of continuing a long heritage of professional theatre in repertory which has almost disappeared in the UK. Over generations, the summer theatre has provided work and training for performers, directors, designers and technicians and quality entertainment for its audiences.”
The season will start with ‘The End of the Line’ by Patrick Marlowe, who is an East Anglian writer and actor who has appeared at the National Theatre and closer to home with Eastern Angles. He has written many plays for Frinton Summer Theatre, which is where ‘The End of The Line’ was first produced in 2011.
Next up will be ‘A bunch of Amateurs’ by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman: Ian Hislop (editor of Private Eye, star of BBC TV’s Have I got News for You) and cartoonist Nick Newman first wrote ‘A bunch of Amateurs’ as a film; released in 2008, it would be one of the last cinema releases to star Burt Reynolds.
The third show in the run is ‘The woman who cooked her husband’ by Debbie Isitt. Debbie Isitt is now as well known for her hit comedy films Nativity and Confetti.
And, to end the season, one of the greatest classics of the British stage, Harold Brighouse’s immortal Lancashire comedy ‘Hobson’s Choice’. Starring John D Collins, best known from BBC TV’s smash hit Allo! Allo!, this new production has already earned four-star reviews across the board and will tour again following its Suffolk revival.
Tickets can be bought in person, by telephone or via an email order through the Arts centre box office. Public booking opens on 02 April and will be available online via the Ticketsource website (booking fees apply).
Alongside the season of plays, mtp is also planning several associated events, including a music night with upcoming young Ipswich musicians the Ben Goble trio with J S and the Lockerbillies, who’ve appeared over the last two years at Glastonbury and Latitude, a ‘meet the playwrights’ event and two days of drama workshops for younger people in Aldeburgh with actors from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
For more information please contact Angharad Pearce at Prominent on 01473 276126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image caption (L-R): technical director David Hermon, producer Matthew Townshend and general manager Liz Cook. Photo credit: Alex Hermon