Open air community play coming to Yorkshire Dales

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Richmond)

A THEATRE company has got the go-ahead to stage a major community play after securing £25,000 lottery grant funding.

It will be performed at various outdoor venues across the Yorkshire Dales next summer.

North Country Theatre, based in Richmond, has been working on the project for six months but its future was in question until the Arts Council England National Lottery Fund grant was confirmed.

The cash will allow it to stage a production inspired by Ibsen's folklore play Peer Gynt – called Blame it on Bartle.

Artistic director Nobby Dimon said:  “One of the great things about this community play is that we can create epic, exciting and spectacular theatre because we will be working with large numbers of volunteer performers.

“This will certainly make a change from our usual professional cast of four actors, though it brings its own challenges of course.

“It is also a great opportunity for amateur participants to develop their skills under a professional director and by working alongside professional actors and musicians.”

More than 80 people have been involved in theatre  workshops at venues across the Dales thanks to support from the Rural Development Programme England and European Leader Fund.

Mr Dimon said all are keen to be involved in the production in some way – as performers, musicians and as stage crew.

“The play is based on Peer Gynt but the story will depend on the cast we get and we will devise scenes around those people," he added.

The grant will fund half the cost of the project - with the remainder coming from donations from Richmond Town Council, Richmondshire District Council, friends of North Country Theatre and Angels, company supporters who agreed to donate £100 a year for three years.  

"We have also had some sizable anonymous donations and funding from lots of other parish and town councils and organisations in the Dales.”

The grant will be ring-fenced so it can only be spent on the production – which means the theatre company still relies on donations.

It has been in discussion with the town twinning association in Vinstra, Norway which stages an annual  outdoor spectacular of Peer Gynt.

It is hoped that Blame it on Bartle will incorporate performers from Richmond’s twin town.

For information call North Country Theatre on 01748-825288 or search for the Facebook page.

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