A glorious green amphitheatre has grown from the earth in the heart of the Cotswolds. The Amphitheatre at Berrybank Park, in Oddington, is set on the ancient wold between Stow, Moreton and Chipping Norton.
Sculpted in harmony with the surrounding landscape, the beautiful, grassed 500-seat Amphitheatre looks as if it has always been here. Situated between Stow-on-the-Wold and Adlestrop - inspiration for Edward Thomas’ famous poem – the Amphitheatre has sweeping views across the beautiful Evenlode valley.
The Amphitheatre is home to an exciting new performing arts season that runs from 14 June to 4 September. A rich and varied programme sees the launch of the first ever Cotswold Comedy Festival, featuring Marcus Brigstocke, Arthur Smith, Jo Caulfield, Hal Cruttenden and Shaparak Khorsandi, among other well-known comedians.
With Jazz, Opera, Broadway and West End music, 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, from Shakespeare on bicycles, to Illyria Outdoor Theatre’s flying Peter Pan and Opera Anywhere’s sing-along Pirates of Penzance, and master of Cabaret, Marcel Lucont (‘The UK’s favourite Frenchman’) and his witty Gameshow for Adults and Children - Les Enfants Terribles.
This is Shakespeare country, so the Amphitheatre is proud to open with Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour’s production of Julius Caesar – a blistering take on modern events – along with The HandelBards’ bicycle-powered, laugh-out-loud production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and an exciting new version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by The Duke’s Theatre Company later in the season.
The Gloucestershire-born writer, Laurie Lee is celebrated in an event that weaves music with his much-loved writing, from Cider with Rosie to A Moment of War. As I Walked out one Midsummer Morning tells Lee’s journey from the Cotswolds to the Spanish Civil War, with music – including Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Albeniz, De Falla and Pete Seeger – from the Orchestra of the Swan, and featuring Anton Lesser (Endeavour, Game of Thrones) and Charlie Hamblett as Laurie Lee.
The Orchestra of the Swan’s The Eight Seasons presents a thrilling fusion of Italian baroque and Argentinian tango, combining Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Astor Piazzola’s astonishing and unexpected Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.
The Amphitheatre’s first season closes with a rousing Picnic in the Park Proms and Fireworks with the Jaguar Land Rover Band, in aid of Kate’s Home Nursing.
The Amphitheatre was created in memory of Janet Cockell, a local woman, whose love of telling stories, the performing arts, and the Cotswolds inspired her family to build a venue to celebrate performance in all its magic, while creating a space for everyone, from internationally renowned performers, to local groups, schools, and performers. Janet’s husband, Keith Cockell, had the vision, and co-owner and local farmer, Jono Dudfield sculpted the stunning venue, and tends to every blade of grass and the newly planted orchard.
Janet’s daughter, Judy Reaves, heads the creative programme, together with her husband, Production Manager, David Hamblett. A former West End theatre designer, Judy sparks magic with her visual imagination. She has created designs for the BBC, Edinburgh Festival, Lake District National Park, and Chelsea Flower Show among others, along with the nearby Also Festival. David’s career has taken him from the Marines to Moscow State Circus, and he is currently involved with Coventry City of Culture. Their son, Charlie Hamblett, is an actor, (Killing Eve, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Secret Agent). Charlie reprises his role at the Everyman, Cheltenham’s Cider With Rosie, when he takes on the role of the young Laurie Lee for the Orchestra of the Swan’s As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning.
A sumptuous marquee, that glows in the dusk like a lantern-lit Brighton Pavilion, provides Front of House facilities, including a bar and restaurant celebrating local produce and - because who can count on the British weather? – the Pavilion also provides an alternative performance space in case of bad weather.
Amphitheatre at Berrybank Park, Main Road, Oddington, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0XW