Shaw's Corner takes centre stage in Ayot St Lawrence
PUBLISHED: 11:50 09 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:19 20 February 2013
Sue Morgan, National Trust house manager at Shaw's Corner, sets the scene for some summer entertainment
Sue Morgan, National Trust house manager at Shaws Corner, sets the scene for some summer entertainment
WHEN George Bernard Shaw gave his home in the beautiful village of Ayot St Lawrence to the National Trust, he hoped that it would be kept more as a living shrine than a lifeless museum.
One of the ways we uphold this wish is through the outdoor theatre productions, held every year in late June and then in July to celebrate Shaws birthday on the 26th.
For two glorious weekends in the summer the house is filled with actors from Michael Friends Theatre Productions and becomes a hive of theatrical activity. Costumes are fitted, lights installed, lines rehearsed, props positioned and voices warmed up in readiness for the show to go on.
The house really comes alive with the theatre company. Many of the great names in theatre made their way here in Shaws time and hosting the plays is our way of keeping that tradition alive.
As Dorothy Abel Smith, a member of the East of England Regional Committee, a volunteer on several occasions, says, I know how gladdened Shaw would be to see such enthusiastic theatre goers with their picnics enjoying his plays in his beloved garden.
This year sees the 50th anniversary of outdoor theatre at Shaws Corner. In all that time only one performance has ever had to be cancelled because of bad weather. It has become established as a very popular event on the summer social calendar, and people are already buying their tickets for this year. The garden lends itself splendidly to the occasion. The actors use the path in front of the house as a stage and the audience is seated on the lawn below, enjoying wine and a picnic before the play.
Shaws work remains popular and relevant, despite the passage of over 60 years since he died. He employed his wit as a weapon against cant and hypocrisy; what made his early audiences roar with laughter provokes the same response today. We can only imagine what fun he might have had with the recent expenses scandal.
He addresses the big issues war, politics, class, relationships and makes us laugh while exposing uncomfortable truths.
George Bernard Shaws plays performed
- You Never Can Tell who you may meet on a summers day in a hotel by the seaside. Start with an intriguing family newly arrived from Madeira in search of love and a father.
Friday 25 to Sunday 27 June, 6.30pm, the garden is open for picnics from 5.30pm.
- Widowers Houses. When a father discovers his daughter in the arms of a stranger, what follows is a financial negotiation over the marriage rather than the horsewhip. A satirical comedy of passion, power and money.
Friday 23 to Sunday 25 July, 6.30pm, garden open from 5.30pm.
Please bring your own seats and rugs. Warm clothing and umbrellas are advisable just in case.
Advance tickets: adult 16, child 12, groups of 10-plus 13.50.
On the night (cash or cheque only please): adult 20, child 14.
Tickets for both plays: adult 25, child 19, groups 22.
Box office: 0844 249 1895