Hi Everyone! It's summer time! The summer time brings us outdoor theatre. Where I live there is always a performance on somewhere n...

A Hobbit's Adventure in Lancaster

Hi Everyone!

It's summer time! The summer time brings us outdoor theatre. Where I live there is always a performance on somewhere nearby since outdoor theatre has become more and more popular. I don't know if it's our love of history as it's like being back in the old days before theatres were even built, or our love for being British. There is something very traditional and British about sitting outside with our picnic chairs and blankets munching on a good old sausage sandwich. I myself was in an outdoor performance a week ago which was great fun, despite the cold weather. Luckily there was no rain and the heat picked up for our final night. It seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by our audiences and we all had such an experience. I made some fantastic friends throughout the rehearsals and production too!

Being a drama student (I may only just be going to University in September but I did study drama and performing arts at college too) I think going to watch a production is a great way to take your mind off things, enjoy yourself and indulge in a little fantasy. I made it one of my top things on my bucket list of 2016 and so far I'm not doing too bad. Tickets can often cost quite a bit of money but with a bit of research you'll find something that really catches your fancy.

Around three weeks ago, Ed sent me a message letting me know that there was a production of The Hobbit on in Lancaster, which is about an hours drive away, and being a fan of the movies and the book I immediately bought the tickets!

Follow me on instagram for more photos! - @kiralcurtis 
After finding our way there (thank you google maps) the car park was already full at half past 6, despite the 7:15pm start. Everyone was already loading out their chairs and blankets and trotting off into the park. Luckily we found a parking space just around the corner which we didn't have to pay for like everyone else did who managed to get a space in the car park. We had a chair each and a bag with a blanket and umbrellas inside. Upon entrance, we purchased a programme between us and then we trotted off too.

I have been to Lancaster a few times but never noticed the park. Right in the middle of Williamson Park there is a large, grand-looking building. I now know that this is Ashton Memorial; I have never seen a memorial quite like it before. The performance took place all round the park. You begin on a sloped area which had a Hobbit's house down at the bottom. Obviously this house belongs to Bilbo Baggins of Bag End. Both myself and Ed had the same first impressions being that we thought the set was very impressive but were worried that the performance was going to be a little too much family and child orientated. There were also a few jokes that I had heard a thousand times before but that's just a problem of being a drama student. 

Ashton Memorial - Williamson Park
 Moving on through the story, you follow the characters on their adventure. After the scenes and songs at Bilbo's house, you move onto the forest, and I literally mean move. That means pick up your picnics and enter the forest (a pathway in the park that's covered over by trees. There were logs you can sit on at this point too). There were a couple of scenes and then you were up and moving again to a hilly section that was the last place you see before a 20 minute interval. The second act begins at the top, just to the side of the memorial and the last scene takes place deep down in the cave (lowest part of the park that is set out a bit more like an amphitheater). At times I thought the moving around took away that sense of being fully engrossed in the performance. I did enjoy it, however, as it was unusual and we got to see a bit more of the park, which is always good considering we'd come such a way. It did make you feel more involved in the performance itself, like you were on an adventure too. Particularly on the final move from the beside the memorial, all the way down to the amphitheater. They took us the long way down and everybody followed one another so there wasn't much chance to escape and go a different route, especially not at night and we didn't know where we were anyway. They had a few extras in the cast that played wood elves who would stand on trees and rocks making their noises as you passed them on the way down. That was a nice little touch.

I wish I could've taken some photos but there were strict rules against it. The sets were simplistic yet quite inspiring to someone like me who wants to study theatre. At first there was the house, as I mentioned, and then the forest scenes were just performed on the path with a few movable props. It was really interesting to see how the performance space itself can really change how you watch and take in a performance. Also that there are so many places outdoors that you wouldn't normally think of where you can create great drama. It's really made me want to write a script based outdoors! The costumes were also very good in showing you exactly who a person was which helped a lot because of the multiple roles a lot of the actors played.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the play and would recommend you go see it if you can. It's on until the 13th August and you can get your tickets from The Dukes website. All the actors did a phenomenal job, especially those that had more than one role to play. I appreciated the little lines about how some of the dwarfs would catch up when really those people were playing other characters. I've tried not to say too much just in case you do go see it. The element of surprise for me was the best thing about it. I had no idea how they would fit such a big adventure into a single play (I will say that at times I felt they rushed parts of it on so you didn't get the full story but it was definitely comprehensible) and when you are walking to the next scene, you have no idea where you are headed so I was often amazed by the scenery and costumes.

Let me know what you thought if you've already seen it, and if you go to see it!
Ciao for now!
- KC xx

Are you a Hobbit fan? What was the last play you went to see?

Search This Blog