The show must go on - as councillors discuss Shakespeare in Stafford


Gatehouse Theatre in Stafford

The popular Shakespeare production in Stafford will return to the town’s Gatehouse Theatre in 2024, if senior councillors agree.

The cabinet at Stafford Borough Council will hear next week (Thursday 7 December) that staging Twelfth Night at the theatre in the heart of the town will ensure a quality production can still go ahead.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was well received by audiences this summer with more than 5,000 people seeing the Bard’s work - and over 90 percent who gave feedback said the experience and quality was either ‘excellent or good.'

Senior councillors will be asked to agree to next year’s Twelfth Night being hosted at the Gatehouse with the report saying it would be difficult in the ongoing financial climate for it to take place at Stafford Castle.

Staging the event at the castle incurs significant infrastructure costs due to the terrain and the provisions needed to protect the important heritage site and requires a substantial subsidy to run.

Local businesses also benefitted from the play being at the Gatehouse Theatre and the venue is more accessible to those with mobility issues - while performances are not at risk of cancellation due to inclement weather.

Freedom Leisure Trust, the not-for-profit organisation, run a range of leisure and cultural services on behalf of the borough council.

Councillor Gillian Pardesi said: “Our priority is to make sure that we have a superb production taking place in Stafford. We appreciate people may be disappointed if it is not at the Castle but we have to take difficult decisions based on the ongoing, challenging, financial situation we and our partners, Freedom Leisure, face.

“The production at the Gatehouse in the summer was impressive; audience feedback was very positive and if it returns to the Theatre in 2024 then I am confident we will see a fabulous performance.”

Cllr Pardesi added: “It was great to hear that people who came to the 2023 production said they were more likely to visit the Gatehouse for other shows - which is good news and I hope people will continue supporting their local theatre.”

Press Release No 6091


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