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Pendley Shakespeare Festival

You are in: Beds Herts and Bucks > Entertainment > Pendley Shakespeare Festival > Pendley people!

Sarah Whitehouse

Sarah Whitehouse

Pendley people!

Some of this year's performers talk about working at Pendley!

Pendley Festival 2009

4-8 August 2008

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Will Edwards’ first production at Pendley is Shakespeare’s quintessential romantic comedy. Notorious thespian Peter Broad (Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night 2008) plays the notorious thespian Nick Bottom.

11-15 August 2008

Macbeth

Following his magical production of The Tempest in 2007, Stephen Artus returns to Pendley to direct Macbeth. With Sarah Whitehouse (Viola, Twelfth Night 2008) as Lady Macbeth, the production promises to be “bloody, bold and resolute”!

Eves: 8.00pm
Grounds open at 6.00pm for picnicers and refreshments are also available.

Box Office open from 2.00pm on the 7 July 2009

Tel: 01442 820060

SARAH WHITEHOUSE playing Lady Macbeth

Sarah trained at the Birmingham School of Acting. Recent Theatre includes: Separate Tables (Regent Centre, Dorset), Requiem for Frida Kahlo (George Wood Theatre), The Magic of Christmas (Birmingham NEC) and An Inspector Calls (Bridge House Theatre, Warwick). For The Pendley Shakespeare Festival, Sarah played Viola in last year's Twelfth Night. Sarah has just completed filming as Dia’s Friend & Goneril in the feature Life Goes On for Stormglass Productions, set for cinema release next year.

Have you performed at Pendley before? What makes the experience so unique?

Sarah: I was lucky enough to perform at Pendley last year as Viola in 'Twelfth Night'. I learned more about verse speaking from the director and the other actors in those two weeks than from three years at drama school and four years in the business and I have been able to apply what I learned to subsequent Shakespeare jobs. I think what makes it so unique is that no matter what everyone does for a living, whether they act professionally or have another career, everyone is working towards the same thing and will do the job to the best of their ability, despite only having about nine days rehearsal.

How did you find out about it, and what made you interested in taking part?

Sarah: I found out about it through a professional trade paper for actors and I was drawn to playing such a wonderful part and the challenge of performing in the open air. With peacocks.

Have you done anything interesting lately, theatre, or otherwise?

Sarah: My last theatre job was 'Brenda-Marie' in 'Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis' at The Pier Theatre, Bournemouth and I must admit, I loved being by the sea and the weather was brilliant! The role was a real challenge as she's a young woman with learning difficulties who desperately wants to be a famous ice skater. Very different from Lady Macbeth. I have also just finished filming a small role in a feature film called 'Life Goes On' starring Soha Ali Kahn and Om Puri.

Won't Pendley cut into your summer?

Sarah: No, I'm really looking forward to it. There's usually two weeks in August when the whole acting industry goes on holiday and nothing happens and Pendley tends to coincide with that. I don't really have holidays and so Pendley kind of IS it. It's great being able to use the hotel's facilities whilst we're rehearsing. It'll also be fantastic to see all the friends I made at the festival last year, as well as new ones of course.

Playing in the open air must have its problems – do you find that daunting?

Sarah: I did at first. I was really worried that it just sounded like I was shouting all the lines, but you find little techniques to get round it. The most difficult times to be audible are in the wind and the rain, but hopefully the weather will be nice this year. I will also be interested on working on how to get across the intimacy of certain scenes in Macbeth, but the director has lots of ideas about that. What I think will be really different about performing Macbeth in the open air, will be that the sun will set during the performance and so it should be really atmospheric.

If something went wrong during performance, what would be your worst nightmare scenario?

Ooh, that's a tricky one, there's so many things that could go wrong in open air theatre, animals walking across the stage or adverse weather conditions. Things go wrong in the theatre all the time and you just have to carry on and hope the audience either don't mind or notice. I was in a production earlier this year where we had a complete power cut during the performance and had to carry it on in the emergency lighting and perform all the sound cues live from side stage. Eventually the battery in the emergency lighting ran out and we had to stop the show and evacuate everybody. The audience didn't mind, they just had a second interval and we received a round of applause when the show started again. Audiences tend to love it when things go wrong, they feel like they've seen behind the scenes and are part of something no one else has seen. Audiences are very generous that way.

Lane Paul Stewart

Lane Paul Stewart

LANE PAUL STEWART playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream

After completing his BA Honours Degree in Performing Arts, Lane furthered his training at TVI Actors’ Studio, New York. Theatre credits include; The Bacchae, The Beaux’ Stratagem A Midsummer Nights Dream, An Inspector Calls, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Aladdin, Lilo & Stitch Catch A Wave (Walt Disney Studios, Paris), The Night Before Christmas and Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late! (UK Theatre Tours).

How did you find out about Pendley, and what made you interested in taking part?

Lane: I applied for the role like any other acting job, saw the casting breakdown and submitted myself for casting. Having performed in an open-air production of 'The Sword In The Stone' last year, performing outside is something that really appeals to me as a performer. I consider open-air theatre to be quintessentially British and offers a unique challenge for a performer - especially considering that the UK's summer weather is less than predictable. I also have a great love of performing Shakespeare's plays. I think that playing such classics in this environment is the best way to make these fantastic pieces of drama easily accessible to everyone. Pendley's choice of plays this year is very exciting indeed.

Have you done anything interesting lately, theatre, or otherwise?

Lane: This year the roles I have played have taken me from playing a toy robot, in 'The Night Before Christmas', to performing in the chorus of the Greek tragedy 'The Bacchae' in London. This is what I love most about my job as an actor. I am also a fully qualified Cheerleading Coach and work in a lot of schools throughout London and have been very busy on the run up to the summer holidays.

Won't Pendley cut into your summer?

Lane: Not at all. I have a very busy summer coming up which is very exciting. If anything, the festival has given my summer a bit of structure. Directly before the Pendley Festival I will be in California for almost four weeks on a road-trip with my best friend...a perfect way to mark my 30th birthday, the day before we start rehearsals for A Midsummer Nights Dream!!!

Playing in the open air must have its problems – do you find that daunting?

Lane: There is nothing I find overly daunting about performing in the open air. It is certainly a challenge and offers lots of obstacles but in my opinion this is theatre in is rawest form, open to the elements and any other distractions that may be thrown your way. I think the audiences that come to watch open air performances are really supportive of the performers. I particularly love the British perseverance of sitting in the rain and seeing the production through to the bitter end.

If something went wrong during performance, what would be your worst nightmare scenario?

Lane: Definitely aliens landing in the middle of Act II!! I am confident that the chosen cast will work together to overcome any obstacle thrown at them!

Helen Mumby

Helen Mumby

HELEN MUMBY plays Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Since starting at the festival in 2001, Helen has played numerous roles including Rosalind in As You Like It, Olivia in Twelfth Night, Luciana in The Comedy of Errors and Jessica in The Merchant of Venice in 2008. She has performed twice before in A Midsummer Night's Dream, playing Titania at school aged 15 and a fairy at Pendley in 2004. She has always wanted to play Helena, and is delighted to have been given the opportunity this year. As her "day job", Helen works "behind the scenes" rather than on stage as a trainee Agent for a Literary and Theatrical agency in London.

Have you performed at Pendley before? What makes the experience so unique?

Helen: 2009 will be my 9th summer in a row performing at Pendley. It has become an integral part of my year ever since I was 17. There is something highly addictive about the Festival that makes people want to keep coming back year after year. Every year there is something different and the experience is one that constantly changes, while always being enjoyable and extremely artistically rewarding.

Have you done anything interesting lately, theatre, or otherwise?

Helen: After initial dreams of acting professionally, I came out of drama school training and soon found myself becoming more interested in the planning/production/representation side of theatre. I have been training as a theatrical and literary agent for the past year and a half, and have found that it has afforded me some wonderful opportunities to gain a greater knowledge and insight of the inner workings of the theatre. I go to the theatre on average twice a week and I continue to be amazed by the offerings of theatre in London - what a wonderful way to spend my evenings at work!

Won't Pendley cut into your summer?

Helen: Since working full time, it has become a little more difficult taking time off for Pendley, but it has become such a huge part of my life, I couldn't imagine sitting in the office knowing it was going on without me there!

Playing in the open air must have its problems – do you find that daunting?

Helen: Playing in the open air is certainly exhilarating. You are constantly battling with the elements and noisy outside world, but I think it makes you a far more robust actor, you just have to get on with it and make sure the back row can hear you. There are so many more things that can change from night to night, and so much more that can go wrong, so I think it keeps you on your toes and there is never a dull moment.

If something went wrong during performance, what would be your worst nightmare scenario?

Helen: My worst nightmare, as with any performing, is forgetting my lines. It's always there as a real possibility and it is the stuff of nightmares for every actor. All you can do is learn them as best you can, and have a good enough knowledge of your character to be able to get out of any embarrassing situations... although it's not easy to make up Shakespeare!

STEPHEN ARTUS Director, Macbeth

Stephen’s first experience at the Pendley Shakespeare Festival was as an actor in 2003 with roles in Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives and The Winters Tale. In 2007 he directed The Tempest and was Company Manager in 2008. Stephen is a Drama teacher and is currently Director of Drama at Cranleigh School in Surrey.

Have you performed at Pendley before?

Stephen: I have performed minor roles in the two plays in 2003. In 2007 I directed The Tempest. The combination of old and new is what makes it exciting, working with a true range of people, ages and experiences from those that are on their 40th Festival to those at their first. Those who are fresh out of Drama School to those who can bearly remember how they started! It is also satisfying playing to audience that are knowledgable, experienced and keen to see something new.

Have you done anything interesting lately, theatre, or otherwise?

Stephen: I have directed productions at the school where I work, most recently Romeo and Juliet (I do direct non Shakespearian shows - honestly)

Won't Pendley cut into your summer?

Stephen: People with proper jobs get upset when I start to talk about this...I work in a boarding school and I get 9 weeks summer holiday. So three weeks isn't really cutting into it!!!

Playing in the open air must have its problems – do you find that daunting?

Stephen: The stage is beautiful but it is wide and it does require the actors to belt out their lines, so it does require a careful balance to allow the quiet intimate scenes to communicate their way to the back row. Peacocks often are heard but not seen, however last year one did manage to make it on stage in Act 2!!

If something went wrong during performance, what would be your worst nightmare scenario?

Stephen: As the director I am sat at the back writing notes... if it goes wrong I concentrate on the taking pf detailed notes - this prevents me from shouting out rude words! With a show like Macbeth it is always the fight scenes that are the most dangerous and so they will be rehearsed over and over again until they are perfectly safe. So in fact my worst nightmare is that there is so much rain that a show is cancelled... that has NEVER happened in living memory and this summer looks like it is going to be a corker.So fingers crossed that won't happen this year.

last updated: 03/07/2009 at 15:07
created: 03/07/2009

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