Summer outdoor theatre festival begins this weekend

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 22 July 2020 8:00

Summer outdoor theatre festival begins this weekend

It might not be in your year planner – which you probably binned post lockdown anyway – but there a new festival has been announced for Gloucestershire, and it begins this weekend. 

The Barn Theatre in the Cotswolds has launched what is being billed as its first Summer outdoor theatre festival - BarnFest – on Saturday (July 25) and it will run until September 5. 

Held within the grounds of Ingleside House adjacent to the Cirencester theatre, the programme will bring the award-winning establishment outdoors with productions from children’s entertainment to re-imagined Shakespeare. 

The festival will feature performances from West End and television stars including Natasha Barnes, Rosie Day and Aaron Sidwell. 

“Since the government statement allowing outdoor theatre to take place just over a week ago, the team has worked tirelessly to bring together a month-long programme of events featuring everything from children’s entertainment to Shakespeare. So, there’s something for all the family,” said Iwan Lewis, artistic director at the Cirencester institution. 

“I’d like to assure everyone thinking of attending that your safety has been paramount in planning this event. All precautions have been taken to ensure you enjoy a safe and friendly festival environment and we cannot wait to have our audiences back at the Barn.” 

Giffords Circus star Tweedy the Clown will launch the inaugural BarnFest season with his new family entertainment extravaganza Tweedy: Al Fresco! The clown, who over lockdown starred in the Barn Theatre produced online series Tweedy’s Lost & Found, will bring his new 60-minute show outdoors for two performances at 1pm and 4pm on July 25 and 26. 

The season will be followed by Natasha Barnes and Vikki Stone in their musical mashup Funny Gals: A History of Women Being Hilarious In Musicals from August 5 to 8. The show explores the comedy music written for women in musical theatre. 

Outdoor theatre company Illyria Theatre will be bringing three of their acclaimed productions to the festival: The Wind in the Willows (August 10 to 15), The Emperor’s New Clothes (August 17 to 22) and The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle (August 24 to 28).

Rosie Day, who starred in the Golden Globe award-nominated television series Outlander, will star in her play Instructions For A Teenage Armageddon from August 10 to 15. 

The production, directed by Georgie Staight and featuring the voice of Maxine Peake as Sensible Scout Leader Susan, previously had a successful run at The Old Red Lion Theatre in London. Instructions For A Teenage Armageddon is co-produced by Studio POW and the Barn Theatre. 

New theatre company SCOOT Theatre will bring their re-imagined production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a 60-minute retelling set within the world of cricket, to the festival from July 29 and 30. 

The production, directed by Joseph O’Malley, features a cast including past Barn Theatre actors Aaron Sidwell (EastEnders, Henry V) and Max Hutchinson (The Woman in Black, The 39 Steps). 

The season will also feature two brand new co-productions from the Barn Theatre. The first will be a new production of Simon Reade’s play adaptation of Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, directed by Alexander Knott, will run at BarnFest from August 17 to 22. The show is co-produced by Take Two Theatricals, BoxLess Theatre and the Barn Theatre.


A new production of the Kander & Ebb musical revue The World Goes ‘Round will complete the run.  

The new co-production with Piers Cottee-Jones features songs from Kander & Ebb’s greatest works including Chicago, Cabaret and Kiss of the Spider-Woman. The production will be directed by Kirk Jameson with musical direction by Nick Barstow. 

The theatre is reassuring everyone that it will be adhering stringently to all government guidelines during the festival and has released further details and information regarding the venue and procedures to keep audiences, staff and performers safe on its website here. 

Areas will be divided into boxes which individuals or families can purchase. 

Pricing for boxes begins at £40 for up to four people with disability and premium options are also available.