Express & Star

Stafford's annual Shakespeare production set to return to town's theatre to cut costs if councillors approve

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night will be staged at Stafford's Gatehouse Theatre next year if senior councillors give the go-ahead.

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Stafford Gatehouse Theatre

The town's annual Shakespeare production used to be held at the castle but was moved to the theatre this year after councillors agreed that the costs would be difficult to meet in the current financial climate.

Stafford Borough Council's cabinet will be told next Thursday that staging the play 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 more than 90 per cent 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.

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.

“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.”