Monday, 18 June 2012

The Elysium Theatre Company 'Wars of the Roses' press release from Dan McNiell

The Elysium Theatre Company gains Heritage Lottery Fund support for their ambitious Shakespeare and History project:

The Wars of the Roses

Henry IV will be at 3pm
on Saturday 23 June

Today, The Elysium Theatre Company has received £5,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, The Wars of the Roses. Led by student and recent graduate volunteers from in and around Exeter and based at The University of Exeter Drama Department, the project stages Shakespeare’s entire medieval history cycle and culminates in a two-day festival of theatre and heritage at The National Trust’s Buckland Abbey in Yelverton on 11-12th August 2012.

The performance will present the history plays in succession over a single weekend, interspersed with ambitious re-enactments of the wars and other Living History activities, bringing the historical setting to life: costumed re-enactors, music, dance, crafts and talks will provide an immersive medieval experience for this exciting and entertaining educational event.

The aim of this production is to promote learning through the engagement of theatre with heritage: it will bring together the different skills of actors and re-enactors, and people working professionally in both the theatre and heritage sectors, combining them to create an impressive event that showcases the period of history and the plays of Shakespeare. It will give practitioners of Shakespearean drama the chance to work with, and learn from, historical re-enactment enthusiasts and vice versa.

The audience who come to the event will have the chance to see Shakespeare’s plays in a historical setting, presented in a new and stimulating way. Through a range of activities including seminars led by staff at the University of Exeter, theatrical workshops run by theatre professionals and postgraduate students of Drama, and talks held by staff at Buckland Abbey, the young people involved in the production will be given opportunities to develop theatrical skills as well as knowledge of medieval life and Elizabethan literary and dramatic heritage.

The project gives the performers involved the unique opportunity to combine theatre and heritage in some wonderful historical locations, and in some exciting theatrical spaces. As well as the final performance of the entire cycle at Buckland Abbey, the company is also giving performances of single plays and extracts at Poltimore House on 16th June, the University of Exeter Piazza (Streatham Campus) on 22nd and 23rd June, and at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Dell theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon on 1st July. The project is part of the Royal Shakespeare Open Stages scheme, and a regional showcase of all participants’ productions in the South West is taking place at Hall for Cornwall on 20th June.

The Elysium Theatre Company is an organisation that produces innovative productions of classic plays, rendering them exciting and accessible to modern audiences. They provide people with the chance to get involved in all aspects of theatre practice – from acting to stage management, costume-making to marketing – while expanding their knowledge of literary and cultural heritage. Through this project, the company will provide many young people from a range of backgrounds with opportunities to take part in a high-profile, ambitious and unique event. Working with theatre professionals and postgraduates, and receiving educational talks from heritage experts, The Wars of the Roses participants will gain a deeper insight into medieval English history, and local historical sites, as well as having the chance to acquire valuable theatrical skills to use as they develop their careers.

Commenting on the award, Artistic Director Ellie Chadwick (aged 24) said: “We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund: everyone involved is excited about the workshops, talks, rehearsals and performances that are coming up and cannot wait to get properly started with this unique and exciting project”.

Richard Bellamy, HLF’s Acting Head of South West said: “In a year in which the works of Shakespeare are being widely celebrated as part of the cultural Olympiad, we are delighted to be able to support the Elysium Theatre company’s innovative exploration of the History plays and the period in which they are set. The project will enable the young people involved to gain a range of theatre skills, whilst learning more about their local and national heritage”


Saturday, June 16: Henry V, at Poltimore House, 7pm Tickets £5

Wednesday, June 20: RSC Showcase at Hall for Cornwall, Truro

Friday, June 22: 1 Henry IV at Piazza, University Campus at 1.30pm Tickets £5/£4.

Available from Exeter Northcott Theatre – 01392 493493

*This performance is free for schools.
Email for more details

Saturday, June 23: Richard III (11am); 1 Henry IV (3pm) Piazza, University Campus
Tickets £5/£4. Book both Saturday shows for £8/6.
Tickets available from Exeter Northcott Theatre – 01392 493493

Sunday, July 1: The Dell Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon (12pm and 3pm)

Saturday and Sunday August 11-12: The National Trust’s Buckland Abbey, 10.30am-5.30pm.
Day One: The Rise of the House of Lancaster: Richard II – Henry V.
Day Two: The Wars of the Roses: 1 Henry VI – Richard III.
Sections performed at intervals throughout the day,
with battle re-enactments and medieval Living History activities.

For more information visit:

About The Elysium Theatre Company

The Elysium Theatre Company was originally founded by students, for students, and is an organisation that combines theatre practice with education and skills-exchange. It aims to create innovative performances of classic plays, rendering them exciting and accessible to modern audiences, and has a particular interest in Shakespearean drama. The company provides exciting opportunities for young people to get involved in all aspects of theatre practice, and seeks to widen horizons and improve the career prospects of the young people involved in their productions.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 30,000 projects, allocating £4.6billion across the UK. Website:

For further information, images and interviews, please contact Emily Evans at The Elysium Theatre Company on

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