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West Acre theatre embraces the great outdoors this summer

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Westacre Theatre returns to its original roots using the very latest in canopy design to enjoy the fresh air this summer.

Over 30 years ago the theatre staged Shakespeare and other classic drama in the wonderful outdoors on glorious summer evenings. Older members of the current audience still reminisce about those joyous performances directed by Andy Naylor and Issy Huckle.

Then the Westacre Theatre Company moved over the road to the village’s converted Methodist chapel where they have presented countless productions on the intimate studio stage.


But re-opening part way through last summer, they were keen to make the most of better ventilation outdoors for the sake of the airborne virus. So came the launch of their new canvas canopy.

Following favourable feedback at the end of last summer, the Theatre’s new directors, Matt and Sadie Grist, looked for ways of improving the audience’s experience even further.

The solution - a reconfigured canopy which will bring two important benefits for 2022.


Firstly, the landscaped lagoon with its bevy of swans will now form the backdrop to drama on stage. Secondly, acoustics will be enhanced by the high section of the canvas roof being positioned over the performance area.

The newly-named Summer House is just a gentle wander across the grass from the sheltered south-facing terrace.

Which leads to up and coming plans and for the first complete summer season post-Covid, there will be three thrilling productions from the Westacre Theatre Company. A new version of Animal Farm in July is very full of vim and vigour - George Orwell’s timeless tale is certainly a play for today.

The second summer production is a fast-paced spoof adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles.

A stunning score by multi-award winning Stephen Schwartz underpins Pippin The Musical.Opening mid-August, it will add a new magic to the story of an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey.

To enjoy the informality afforded by the great outdoors, audiences are encouraged to bring along an evening picnic. For selected performances, they can be thoroughly spoiled by pre-ordering a prepared picnic from the Theatre’s catering team. Tasty food, reviving drink, good company and the beautiful setting in rolling Norfolk countryside will, for many, be as important as actors on the Westacre stage.

Sandwiched between these shows are several Sunday picnics with a programme of wide- ranging music. Long established favourites DixieMix Jazz Band pay Westacre two visits in June and August. Exuberant string quartet Bowjangles make their much-anticipated return in July.

Off-beat but on-key are The Testostatones and the end of summer Sunday show stars the Sheringham Shantymen

Elsewhere indoors will be the ongoing events for all the arts and crafts people. Following the lead by some London venues, life drawing comes with an exciting theatrical twist; a follow-up day to the spring sell-out is scheduled for mid- June. Later in June, Isobel Bartholomew creates a stimulating environment to explore watercolour painting of early summer flowers and Carolyn Ash’s mosaic workshop delivers fun for all ages.

Fans of new mainstream film releases are served by matinee screenings on the second Wednesday monthly. For those whose preference is viewing classic films as the sun sets, the drive-in cinema returns on Friday evenings.

Full details of these events - with new ones being added all the time - are at www.westacretheatre.com where you can book your tickets too; or call the box office on 01760 755007.

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