Shakespearean troupe The Three Inch Fools are set to play their part in Britain’s cultural revival this summer, with a whirlwind tour of open-air venues. The popular thespians will be dusting off their instruments and stepping back into the great outdoors, with a riotous, three-hander version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Following the eruption of the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown in March, the Cumbrian troupe were forced to cancel rehearsals, and put plans for their annual summer tour on hold. But when Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced last month that outdoor theatre could go ahead in England, they quickly seized the moment, and started planning for a comeback tour visiting well-known and distinctive sites across the country.
After opening their season at Cumbria’s Lowther Castle, the five-week tour will take in venues including Southwark Cathedral, Knebworth House, The Holburne Museum in Bath, and The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe. The company will also be performing as part of the line-up at The New Normal Festival, a post-lockdown celebration of culture taking place at The Royal Victoria Patriotic Building in Wandsworth.
The strictly limited tour will look and feel slightly different to the Fools’ usual summer adventure, involving socially distanced audiences, one play rather than their usual two, and just three actors instead of the company’s customary five. They will between them take on over 20 characters in one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, making this an even greater feat for the versatile performers to master.
The summer tour is only possible thanks to the enormous generosity of The Three Inch Fools’ many fans, who clubbed together to keep them on the road. After the company was forced to cancel its original tour and was faced with an entire year of lost income, they asked their fans for support. Over 200 donors helped them exceed their target of £10,000, enabling the company to survive through the lockdown period and begin to recover from the costs of their cancelled season.
A portion of the money raised by fans is also going towards the creation of a new digital project, which will continue to bring the spirit of theatre to audiences throughout the months ahead. Working with young Cumbrian poet Phoebe Power and their own acclaimed composer Stephen Hyde, the company will be re-telling Shakespeare’s plays as short narrated animated films. These hand-illustrated videos will be free to access online for schools, drama clubs and families – a continuation of the company’s long-held commitment to make Shakespeare accessible to as many people as possible.
Three Inch Fools co-founder and producer James Hyde said: “After a difficult few months, we are absolutely delighted to be preparing to perform for our fans across the country once again. The theatre industry is facing one of its biggest challenges ever, and the road ahead remains uncertain. But for companies like ours, the opportunity to bring culture back to some of our nation’s most-loved spaces is exciting and humbling. After months of lockdown and hardship for so many, the joy and vitality of live performance is today needed more than ever.”
Title A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Dates and Times 3rd September Picnics at 6pm / Show at 7pm
Running Time 90 minutes plus a 20 minute interval
Location The Holburne Museum Garden Great Pulteney St, Bathwick, Bath BA2 4DB
Ticket Prices £8- £40
Cast Hazel Monaghan
Samuel Nunes de Souza
Creatives Director and Composer – Stephen Hyde
Social Media Twitter – @threeinchfools
Instagram – @threeinchfools
Facebook – @threeinchfools