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New production of The Tempest marks end of York theatre group’s mission to perform all of Shakespeare’s plays

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022 1:00pm

By Barbara Constable

Photograph: John Saunders

​​​​​​​The end of a 20-year journey to perform all of Shakespeare’s plays is in sight for York Shakespeare Project, who today announce that their ambitious mission will complete with a performance of The Tempest at York Theatre Royal on Saturday 1st October.

The end of a 20-year journey to perform all of Shakespeare’s plays is in sight for York Shakespeare Project, who today announce that their ambitious mission will complete with a performance of The Tempest at York Theatre Royal on Saturday 1st October.

The production will also be going on tour across North and East Yorkshire prior to this final performance, marking a first for the company as it takes The Tempest to Selby, Goole, and other towns and villages. It will be directed by Philip Parr, director of the York International Shakespeare Festival, and Chair of the European Shakespeare Festivals Network.

Forming in 2001, and performing its first production, Richard III, in 2002, York Shakespeare Project (YSP) has been a central part of the theatrical fabric of the city, with hundreds of residents participating as either actors or members of the crew over the last two decades, many of whom had never been involved in theatre before.

Director Philip Parr says, "It’s impossible not to plan this production of The Tempest without thinking about the context of it being the end of this remarkable 20-year mission. We’ve been able to recruit a cast full of people who have performed in different YSP productions across the years, along with some who are performing with YSP for the first time.

The Tempest deals with many themes that are relevant both to this moment for YSP, but also ones that our society continues to grapple with today - disconnect, corruption, reconciliation and the difficulty of generational change. I’m excited about the way we are approaching telling this story, using the performing collective to create the island and the ‘magic’ that permeates it, and using the musical skills of many of the performers to ensure the “isle is full of noises”. We can’t wait to share it with audiences this autumn.”

Janet Looker, Chair of York Shakespeare Project and former Lord Mayor of York, says “It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 20 years since our very first production. We thought we were being rather ambitious when we started - would we really be able to keep this going for 20 years? And we weren’t always sure we’d get there - especially with the events of the last two years.

“But the commitment of the many supporters who have participated in our productions over the years has seen us reach this last play. We always knew we wanted to finish with something special, and this tour and a finale at York Theatre Royal, will be an exciting and unique experience for all the actors and crew, and give us a chance to share not just the story of The Tempest, but the community ethos of York Shakespeare Project, with a much wider audience. It is a very fitting way to mark the end of this journey.”

The Tempest tour takes place from Friday 23rd September to Saturday 1st October, and will play Thorganby Village Hall (Friday 23rd September), Selby Town Hall (Wednesday 27th September) and The Junction at Goole (Thursday 28th September). Other dates to be confirmed soon. Tickets available from www.yorkshakespeareproject.org or venue box offices.

The final performance at York Theatre Royal takes place at 7.30pm on Saturday 1st October. Tickets are available from 1.00pm on Tuesday 26th July, priced at £16 (£10 concessions) on www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

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