EXTRA TICKETS RELEASED FOR A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM AT BERKELEY CASTLE DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND

Today, Split Second Productions and Berkeley Castle, have announced they are going to release 50 extra tickets for each performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream due to popular demand. The production, which has sold out all but two performances, opens at the castle on the 17th July and runs until the 27th July. 

Extra tickets available today, click this link to book http://www.berkeley-castle.com/whatson.html 

2016 marks the 420th anniversary of the wedding between Lord Thomas Berkeley and Elizabeth Carey- the wedding for which William Shakespeare wrote one of the most successful plays in theatre history- A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play was performed for the very first time at the wedding, and in July 2016 it will return to Berkeley Castle for what will be a history-making production of this play. Producer Tom Berkeley holds very close familial ties to the project as he is a descendant of the very Berkeley family for whom the play was written. 

Set in the heart of a mythical forest surrounding Athens, four star-crossed
lovers, a company of amateur actors and a fairy kingdom will collide to create one of the best-loved tales of falling in love- all in one night. But as we know, and as we are told; “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

Split Second Productions is a London-based theatre company formed in 2014. Following a highly successful Edinburgh Fringe Festival season in 2015, the company, in conjunction with Berkeley Castle, began plans for an anniversary performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Featuring live music and set amongst the beautiful scenic gardens of Berkeley Castle, this production promises to be as magical and unique as the very play itself. 

Berkeley Castle is the oldest Castle in England to be inhabited by the same family that built it. Berkeley Castle is the home of John and Gina Berkeley and the place where their sons Charles & Henry, the 27th generation of the family, grew up. 

Jaq Bessell is directing the production. Her career began at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and she was Head of Research at Shakespeare’s Globe under Mark Rylance’s tenure. Theatre credits include: Shakespeare’s Globe, London: Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Cymbeline,
Macbeth, Hamlet, The Tempest, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra; Horse Trade Theater Group, New York: punkrock/lovesong (punk rock adaptation of Love’s Labour’s Lost); American Shakespeare Center /Blackfriars Playhouse, Virginia: Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night; Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis: The Playboy of the Western World, Gross Indecency, Stags and Hens;  Live Arts, Virginia: Cowboy Mouth, The River; The Pickle Factory, Utah: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Mojo; Performance Research Group, Stratford upon Avon: Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth. She is the author of several articles and book chapters on Shakespeare, directing, and actor training, and is under contract with Arden Shakespeare for a book on Shakespeare in production on both sides of the Atlantic.

The cast includes Ross White as Oberon/Theseus, Hannah Baxter-Eve as Puck, Natasha Ravenscroft as Titania/Hippolyta, Cory Chambers as Lysander, Alex Myers-Allen as Demetrius, Alex Coppola as Bottom, Madeline Hatt as Helena, Ocean Barrington-Cook as Hermia, Jay Parsons as Quince, Angus Berryman as Egeus/Snug, Lucy-May Orange as Starveling Lou Turner as Snout and Jarrad Ellis Thomas as Flute.

Venue: Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, GL13 9BQ

Dates: 7.30 shows on the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 24th, 25th, 26th & 27th July 2016. 
2.30 shows on the 19th, 20th & 21st July 2016.

Meet the cast: Alexander Myers-Allen


Tell us a little bit about what character you are playing.
Demetrius is a very proud but fickle character who appears to have the heartless ability of falling in and out of love very easily. After an agreement with Hermia’ s father, Demetrius believes that it is his ‘right’ that they should be married even though Hermia is in love with another. He is also being tirelessly pursued by his former lover, Helena, whom he has recently discarded like yesterday’s jam.

What drew you to this project?
The challenge of performing Shakespeare in the open air and not to mention an amazing setting.

How are you finding the rehearsal process?
I’m really enjoying working with Jaq. She’s created a very comfortable and creative atmosphere in rehearsals where I feel I can just go nuts. She is really pushing us to be bold and take risks with the language. 

What is your favourite Shakespeare quote?
‘I wasted time, and now doth time waste me’ - Richard II - Act V Scene V

Other than ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, what is your favourite Shakespeare play?
Henry V – Just because Hal is such a brilliant part for a young actor and it has so many passionate speeches! ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more’. From being an immature naive kid he turns into a heroic, regal, ruthless and even romantic ruler. Story of my life… sort of.

What makes Shakespeare special to you?
One of my first school plays was A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and I was cast as Puck, probably because I was the smallest kid in our year. I was also quite energetic, but I believe the word my teachers would use was irritating. I loved to play, and in rehearsals I found that when I started to be playful with Puck’s text I would get a good response from my director and cast. I ended up treating this production as my own personal playground and that’s when I started to love Shakespeare. Shakespeare made me realise that being an actor was the best job, as my work is play!

Meet the cast: Lou Turner

Tell us a little bit about what character you are playing. Tom Snout is a tinker and is the Mechanical that is chosen to play Pyramus’s father, but ends up playing the wall which divides the two ‘lovers’. He enjoys the benefits that come with being an actor, and loves the prospect of playing for the Duke- the only trouble is he, along with his fellow thespians, aren’t very good. What drew you to this project? I was instantly drawn to this project because of so many reasons. The play alone is something I always wanted to work on and when the opportunity came to work with the genius of Jaq Bessel on a production at the beautiful, historic grounds of Berkeley Castle all on the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death- well, it’s a no brainer really! How are you finding the rehearsal process? Its early days in rehearsals but they have been great fun with some awesome actors. I’m very excited to see how they progress and see the production grow. What is your favourite Shakespeare quote? ‘If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked!’ Henry IV Part 1 Other than ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’, what is your favourite Shakespeare play? Macbeth. What makes Shakespeare special to you? To quote Ben Jonson from the First Folio of Shakespeare’s work, "He was not of an age, but for all time”. The idea that Shakespeare’s plays were written so long ago and can still be almost completely relevant is totally staggering.


Meet the cast: Jarred Ellis Thomas

Tell us a little bit about what character you playing
Francis Flute is a young and enthusiastic actor who is unsure of himself. He's presented with an opportunity of a lifetime to help present a play to the Duke and Duchess of Athens. With the golden opportunity looming he's let down by his group, The Mechanicals, as they force him into the role of Thisbe, a woman. At first he's reluctant to take part, but his enthusiastic nature doesn't let him give up, as he aims to be the best Thisbe theres ever been.

What drew you to the project?
Its the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death and I really wanted a way to be a part of these celebrations that are taking part around the country, and its a unique experience to be doing this play back where it was originally performed, at Berkeley Castle.

How are you finding the rehearsal process?
Its challenging, but in a good way. Its been a different way of working from what I've previously done, and I love working under Jaq Bessell, whom I have a lot of respect for. I love her passion for Shakespeare and her knowledge is amazing. Each day I enter the rehearsal I always learn something new from her.

What is your favourite Shakespeare quote?
"This above all; to thine own self be true."

Other than 'A Midsummer Nights Dream', what is your favourite Shakespeare play?
Embarrassingly I never really read much Shakespeare or saw any productions until I came to Drama School, but from the very few that I have read, Hamlet is the pick of the bunch.

What makes Shakespeare special to you?

I find it amazing that the stories Shakespeare has written, still, are relatable to us in the 21st Century. I don't perceive myself to be the most intellectual person to meet and I do struggle to understand the language sometimes, but once I get past that barrier and get into the heart of the story, it just sets my imagination on fire. I love a good story, I've got a few good ones myself to tell but Shakespeare's is just on another level.


Meet the cast: Natasha Ravenscroft

Tell us a little bit about what character you are playing.
I'm playing Titania queen of the fairies and Hippolyta the amazon queen. They're both ferocious women, most definitely not to be messed with, who both have such a kind and huge heart. Whilst they're similar in many ways, their differences are also great in contrast, and it's so exciting to have the opportunity to play these very iconic roles 

What drew you to this project?
Having worked on split seconds very first project at the Edinburgh fringe festival and loving it I couldn't miss out on this fantastic opportunity. To perform one of Shakespeare's greatest plays at the place it was written for is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and i feel very privileged for that. The play itself is the first Shakespeare i watched and to this day think it's the funniest thing I have ever seen. 

How are you finding the rehearsal process?
The rehearsal process is very exciting, difficult and full of challenges. I've never met a fairy queen or a queen of the Amazon, as much as I would love to one day, so my imagination is being called upon quite often. 

What is your favourite Shakespeare quote?
'There are more things in heaven and earth horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy' hamlet

Other than ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’, what is your favourite Shakespeare play?
As you like it! 


What makes Shakespeare special to you?
The fact that 400 years on we are still speaking, learning and working from his words and texts. His plays and sonnets are accessible to all who reads them no matter your age or background and his stories are still the spring board for new work, and new pieces of writing. I feel that a language that we don't all understand and certainly don't speak now is beautiful when we can all (audience and actors) relish and react in his words.

Meet the cast: Madeline Hatt

Tell us a little bit about what character you are playing.
I’m playing Helena, she is one of the four lovers who finds herself and her whole world twisted upside-down when her love Demetrius has other interests. She is hopelessly in love and will do anything, follow anywhere and love forever. 

What drew you to this project?
I was so interested to research the history of the play and to find that Shakespeare had written it for a wedding at Berkeley Castle for its first performance. To have the chance to bring it home where it was originally over 400 years ago and to be a part of that is just crazy! To find out that Split Second Productions were doing this was really an opportunity of a lifetime and an experience I so much wanted to be part of.

How are you finding the rehearsal process?
Rehearsals are great! We are working in a way I have never done before with our director Jaq Bessel. I was astounded that by the first week we had the play up on its feet ready to be refined and played with. We all have input and working with Jaq is just a blessing, she’s fabulous.

What is your favourite Shakespeare quote?
“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

Other than ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’, what is your favourite Shakespeare play?
I absolutely adore The Winter’s Tale. I think the diversity between both worlds are just magical. You never quite know how to feel, one minute you’re crippled by the cruelty of Leontes to his wife Hermione, then suddenly you’re blissful surprised by the comedic endeavours that the other characters experience across the land. Magical.

What makes Shakespeare special to you?
I always thought that Shakespeare was so assessable to a wide range of audiences. No matter if you struggle at academics the emotion is always felt by an audience.  And the language is just mesmerising. Even now I think I know a character so well but am always surprised when I find more, Shakespeare’s endless voyage of storytelling.


Meet the cast: Angus Berryman

Tell us a little bit about what character you are playing.
I am playing Egeus and Snug. Egeus is the father to Hermia and a somewhat angry man who always wants to get his way.  Snug is a joiner, a quiet man who really wants to impress people but can easily get carried away. He also strongly follows the method approach of acting.  

What drew you to this project?
It’s a great show, in a great place, with great people! The historical connection is also a once in a life time opportunity to do something so special- why wouldn’t I want to be a part of it!

How are you finding the rehearsal process?
Rehearsals are going amazingly well, it’s brilliant to work with a director like Jaq and the whole company has such a laugh and good fun throughout which is what it is all about really.

What is your favourite Shakespeare quote?
Sonnet no. 65- 
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

Other than ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’, what is your favourite Shakespeare play?
Titus Andronicus- bloody, gory and there is pie!

What makes Shakespeare special to you?
No other artist has spoken to so many people throughout so many years, his work is scarily relevant from the first time it was performed to now and will continue to do so.  Who else has had such a positive impact on the world with a piece of paper and some ink?  You also know that any problem or dilemma you have Shakespeare knows it and has a solution.