The 500-seat amphitheatre that has grown from the Cotswold landscape
- Credit: amphitheatreberrybankpark.co.uk
A glorious green amphitheatre has emerged from the earth in the heart of the Cotswolds
The newly-built Amphitheatre at Berrybank Park, Oddington, is set on the ancient wold between Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton and Chipping Norton and has sweeping views across the beautiful Evenlode valley. Sculpted in harmony with the surrounding topography, the beautiful, grassed 500-seat amphitheatre looks as if it has always been part of the landscape.
Created in memory of Janet Cockell, whose love of the performing arts and the Cotswolds inspired her family to build the venue to celebrate performance in all its magic, while creating a space for everyone, from internationally-renowned performers to local groups and performers. Janet’s husband Keith had the vision to create the space, along with co-owner and local farmer, Jono Dudfield, who sculpted and tends to the stunning venue and newly-planted orchard. Janet’s daughter Judy Reaves heads the creative programme, together with her husband, production manager David Hamblett.
An integral part of the venue is the sumptuous 18-metre pavilion, that glows in the dusk like a lantern-lit Brighton Pavilion, providing front-of-house facilities, including a bar and restaurant celebrating local produce, while also doubling as an alternative performance space in case of bad weather.
The Amphitheatre is home to an exciting new performing arts season that runs from June 14 to September 4. A rich and varied programme sees the launch of the Cotswold Comedy Festival, featuring Marcus Brigstocke, Arthur Smith, Jo Caulfield, Hal Cruttenden and Shaparak Khorsandi, among other well-known comedians.
With jazz, opera, an evening of Broadway and West End hits, outdoor cinema, family events, cabaret, and the Real Garden Festival – a day of outdoor discovery, ecology and music – there is something for everyone to enjoy. You can also enjoy Shakespeare on bicycles, Illyria Outdoor Theatre’s flying Peter Pan, and Opera Anywhere’s sing-along Pirates of Penzance, plus Marcel Lucont’s witty gameshow for adults and children, Les Enfants Terribles.
A Words and Music event will be celebrating Gloucestershire writer, Laurie Lee with Anton Lesser, Charlie Hamblett and the Orchestra of the Swan.
- 1 22 of the best South Devon pubs with views of the coast
- 2 11 of the most Instagrammble locations in Kent
- 3 10 famous (and not so famous) castles in Cheshire
- 4 Win a Dunlopillo king size diamond mattress worth £2,500 from Peter Betteridge
- 5 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 6 WIN a weekend escape at St. Mellion Estate, Cornwall
- 7 Win a year of farm shop food from Hinchliffe's worth £500
- 8 10 of the best pubs to visit in Hampshire
- 9 16 beautiful beaches in Devon you have to visit
- 10 10 reasons you should visit Canterbury
‘The Laurie Lee event is especially close to my heart,’ says Judy. ‘Everyone loves Cider With Rosie, and this follows Laurie Lee through Cider and his other books, as he walks out of the Slad Valley one midsummer morning to go to Spain, and ends up fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Laurie Lee can be both funny and heartbreaking, and this event really captures that. We were delighted when Jessy Lee, Laurie Lee’s daughter, got in touch. She has been incredibly supportive, and is really excited that her father’s writing is being celebrated in a beautiful green setting in the Cotswolds!’
David LePage, director of the Orchestra of the Swan, has devised a musical programme that weaves around Lee’s writing, and takes the audience from the lush Gloucestershire countryside Lee made famous in Cider With Rosie, to the dry landscapes of Spain, via the music of Vaughan Williams, Walton, Holst, Elgar, Britten, Segovia and de Falla.
David says, ‘Laurie Lee was a fine natural musician, and he was intensely proud of Gloucestershire’s rich musical heritage: Gustav Holst, Elgar, and Vaughan Williams. I have been tracking down Gloucestershire folk songs, and it is fascinating – moving from English pastoral music to Spanish rhythms, as Lee’s story darkens with the coming of the Spanish Civil War. In many ways, it is a haunting, and very moving, echo of what is playing out now in Europe.’
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s touring production of Julius Caesar is equally relevant to what is happening now in the world. It is a modern, vibrant and very powerful take on Shakespeare’s epic play. The company will be recreating how a company would tour in Shakespeare’s day – a small group of actors, heading out of London to entertain audiences – in a green amphitheatre in the heartland of Shakespeare’s country.
Director Diane Page (winner of the JMK Award for most promising young director) says, ‘Conspiracy to kill, public broadcast of cunning rhetoric, a divisive fight for greatness... Ancient Rome has never felt closer to home.’
Amphitheatre at Berrybank Park, Main Road, Oddington, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0XW, amphitheatreberrybankpark.co.uk