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Salisbury Playhouse

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For press enquiries please contact:

Gemma Twiselton, PR & Communications Officer
Tel: 01722 345153



Saturday 14 November 2015


Public booking opens Friday 20 November

View Spring 2016 online brochure here


Theatre Fest West’s fifth birthday plus co-productions with Pentabus Theatre Company and Myrtle Theatre Company keep the South West and Original Drama at the heart of Salisbury Playhouse’s spring 2016 season announced today.

In a collaboration with Bristol-based Myrtle Theatre Company, award-winning Brendan Murray will write and direct Up Down Man (24 February to 12 March), the sequel to the internationally acclaimed Up Down Boy about a teenager’s experiences of growing up with Down’s syndrome. Funny, provocative, and once again starring the gifted and charismatic Nathan BessellUp Down Man asks the question that faces every parent of an adult with a learning disability – what will happen when I’m not here?

Salisbury Playhouse and Pentabus Theatre Company will collaborate to present This Landan explosive, funny and thought-provoking new play by Siân Owen that looks at community through the eyes of the residents of a village when a fracking company arrives, ready to dig. This Land opens in Ludlow on 9 March before embarking on a rural tour, concluding with a run in The Salberg at Salisbury Playhouse (13 to 30 April).

Theatre Fest West, a celebration of theatre makers from across the south west, returns for its fifth year with an expanded programme of events running at Salisbury PlayhouseSalisbury Arts CentreThe Pound Corsham,Trowbridge Arts Centre and Wiltshire Music Centre over the Easter period. The full programme will be announced early in 2016.

The season will also include a major new production of the musical Singin’ in the Rain which will see Salisbury Playhouse working with the Octagon Theatre Bolton and New Vic Theatre Newcastle-under-Lyme for the first time. The production will open in Salisbury in April.

Salisbury Playhouse will also produce a new production of Brian Friel’s adaptation of Ibsen’s startling Hedda Gabler, directed by Artistic Director Gareth Machin (17 March to 2 April).

Other highlights include new productions from Told by an Idiot and The Mark Bruce Company and Alan Bennett’s Single Spies following its run at Chichester Festival Theatre.

Artistic Director Gareth Machin says “We’re proud to be offering a diverse programme of Original Drama and classic work in both our theatres. The spirit of collaboration runs through the season with co-productions and partnerships ensuring a rich, challenging and entertaining range of experiences for our audience.”

Public and online booking for the new season opens on Friday 20 November. 






Tuesday 11 August 2015


Salisbury Playhouse, in partnership with The JMK Trust, is looking for a south west based assistant director to work on its upcoming production of Deathtrap.

This is a fantastic training opportunity for someone aged 18 years or over and offers the chance to work on a professional production alongside director Adam Penford, whose recent work includes A Small Family Business and One Man, Two Guvnors, both for the National Theatre. The assistant director will work alongside the company throughout the rehearsal process and will continue to support the production during the performance period.

The successful candidate will receive a bursary funded by the Leverhulme Trust and, as they will also be responsible for supporting the JMK Salisbury Playhouse directors’ group, must demonstrate a commitment to living and making theatre in the south west region.

Jo Newman, Assistant Resident Director, says “This is an invaluable opportunity for an emerging director from the south west to be in a professional rehearsal room and to work with Adam Penford on our production of Deathtrap. JMK Assistant Director Bursaries are a fantastic way for the Playhouse to meet exciting directors from the region and provide them with a meaningful, practical experience and an insight into the work of a regional producing venue”. 

Applications must be received by 5pm on Thursday 3 September 2015. For more information and how to apply click here.

Deathtrap runs at Salisbury Playhouse from 4 to 27 February 2016. For more information or to book tickets please call 01722 320333 or visit the show page.

  • The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year. For more information about the Trust, please visit
  • The JMK Trust works to find and support the next generation of talented theatre directors. Each year it engages with over 200 young and emerging directors around the UK through its regional programme and the annual James Menzies-Kitchin Young Director’s Award (The JMK Award). The JMK Award is recognised as a vital springboard for young directors of outstanding potential at an early stage in their careers. For more information please visit      


Friday 7 August 2015 



Salisbury Playhouse is offering courses for those working with young people to train them to become Arts Award Advisers, with a special discount available for those booking before the end of August.


Arts Award is for anyone aged up to 25 and inspires them to experience the arts in whichever form they choose, including theatre, music, fashion, film making and poetry. Through Arts Award the young people will gain a nationally recognised qualification, assisting them when progressing to further education and employment. Arts Award has five levels: Discover, Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold and there are no entry requirements.


Children and young people work with an Arts Award Adviser - a trained adult who plays a vital role by supporting them as they gain experience, providing guidance and assessing their arts logs and portfolios. Teachers, teaching assistants, museum learning staff, art practitioners, youth workers and volunteers can all train as advisers. The Arts Award can be based around any arts or media activity, and can be completed in a wide variety of settings, such as youth clubs, arts centres, schools, colleges, theatres and community groups.


The training sessions equip participants with everything they need to know about running Arts Award for their organisation.


Ruth Jones, Senior Trainer for Arts Award, says “Anyone who works with children and young people should definitely consider training to be an Arts Award adviser. Advisers can be volunteer workers, teachers, artists, project managers, youth or play workers, foster carers, or arts therapists. The accessibility and range of levels means that it works brilliantly for young people with a range of skills and experience, and really helps develop creative and leadership skills, as well as confidence. I’ve seen some amazing achievements by young people – and there are many ways you can embed Arts Award into your own programmes – which I’ll be happy to share with you at training! There are loads of examples of Arts Award at work in different settings and now’s a good time to get involved - it’s Arts Award’s tenth birthday and we are about to launch some great resources and opportunities”.


As a special offer, those booking on a training course by 31 August will pay 2014/15 prices for all courses taking place before the end of December 2015. The next training course at Salisbury Playhouse is on Friday 21 August and covers the Discover and Explore levels of Arts Award. For a full list of future training courses or more information please visit 


Magna Carta Now  Monday, June 15 at 2pm 

Exactly 800 years after King John signed Magna Carta, Salisbury Playhouse will host a live debate about the importance of the world famous document today.

Celebrated actor Edward Fox will read extracts of Magna Carta which will be debated by a panel of human rights experts in Magna Carta Now on Monday, June 15 at 2pm. Joining Edward on the main stage at Salisbury Playhouse will be director of Amnesty International UK Kate Allen, author Professor Guy Standing and writer Ben Rawlence who was a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Magna Carta Now is presented in partnership with Salisbury Cathedral and Amnesty International and will be chaired by Peter Curbishley from the charity’s Salisbury branch. The audience will hear key clauses of Magna Carta read aloud before the panel debates their relevance in the modern world.

Edward, who is a patron of Salisbury Playhouse, will also be recording Magna Carta under the direction of the theatre’s artistic director Gareth Machin. The reading will be available to listen to on Salisbury Cathedral’s website and will be kept for archive and education purposes. This will be one of the few times the entire document has been recorded.

“We are exceptionally proud to be involved in Salisbury’s Magna Carta 800th anniversary commemorations,” said Gareth. “The principals laid down in Magna Carta are the cornerstone of our democracy.  We are delighted to be welcoming Edward and our panel of human rights experts as they examine and debate the enduring relevance of Magna Carta in our lives today.”

Magna Carta Now is part of a series of events being planned by Salisbury Playhouse in the 800th anniversary year of the celebrated document.

On June 20 and 21 the Playhouse’s youth theatre Stage ’65 will be performing Clause 39, a new play inspired by Magna Carta, in Salisbury Cathedral.  There will also be free interactive theatre pieces in the Cathedral Close performed by younger Stage ’65 members and Mind The Gap, a community drama group for the over 50s.

And from October 22 to November 7 Salisbury Playhouse will present the world premiere of The Magna Carta Plays – four short plays which have been specially written by world-renowned playwrights.

Tickets to Magna Carta Now, Clause 39 and The Magna Carta Plays are available from the Salisbury Playhouse ticket office on 01722 320333 or


Visitors to Salisbury Cathedral can meet Suffragettes, Chartists, soldiers from the Civil War and other historical figures thanks to a partnership between the cathedral and Salisbury Playhouse.

Volunteer guides have been given roles to play and will be performing and interacting with visitors in the cathedral cloisters throughout the summer.

As part of the Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebrations, playwright Claudia Leaf created a number of character profiles for historical figures.  They include those who fought for freedom and equality throughout the centuries - although King John and Queen Isabella also make an appearance trying to persuade the public there is no need for feudal rights and fair trials.

More than 20 volunteers became costumed interpreters after they attended a series of workshops run by resident assistant director at Salisbury Playhouse Jo Newman and community director Gemma Alldred.

“This is a fantastic project, the volunteer guides are so knowledgeable and have really brought their characters to life,” said Jo. “They are brilliant at interacting with cathedral visitors and giving them extra information about Magna Carta and other significant moments in history.

“For many of the volunteers this is the first time they have been involved with a performance project like this and they are doing a wonderful job.”

Sarah Rickett, Salisbury Cathedral’s director of learning and outreach added: “We are thrilled to have this colourful, interactive addition to the Magna Carta experience. The visitors are going away with a smile after meeting our costumed characters.”

The costumed interpreters will be in the cathedral cloisters between 11am and 1pm or 1pm and 3pm on selected days until September 1st, including daily from Tuesday May 26 and Friday May 29.

The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund South West. 


Stage ’65 presents Clause 39

Saturday June 20 and Sunday June 21


Salisbury Playhouse’s youth theatre Stage ’65 is giving four performances of a new play which draws inspiration from Magna Carta.

The young people, aged 14 – 16, will be performing Clause 39 in the nave of Salisbury Cathedral on June 20 and 21. In this promenade performance the audience will follow the action throughout the beautiful and atmospheric cathedral setting.

Clause 39 has been specially written by award-winning playwright Hattie Naylor and examines whether Magna Carta’s best known principal -“no free man shall be seized or imprisoned ….except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land”- is still achievable in a time of anti-terror legislation.

The play follows the story of Sasha, a boy who is seized, imprisoned and tortured after being suspected of an unspecified crime.  Blending original songs, live music and powerful storytelling, Clause 39 examines if it is ever justified to reject Magna Carta’s best known clause and deny people the right to a fair trial. And if in a climate of extremism, terrorism and global fear it is possible to uphold the principals set out in Magna Carta 800 years ago.

“This play pulls no punches and asks lots of questions about liberty and freedom in the light of anti-terror laws,” said youth theatre director at Salisbury Playhouse, Dave Orme, who is directing Clause 39 alongside resident assistant director Jo Newman.

“Obviously terrorism is an issue that’s in young people’s minds these days but they are also aware of the principals laid down in Magna Carta and how they form the basis of our democracy.

“The cast of 26 are really relishing the challenge of performing this new play which has been specially written for them.

“They are very proud that Salisbury is home to one of the four surviving copies of Magna Carta, it really means something to them. And to have the opportunity to perform in Salisbury Cathedral is really exciting. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and this promises to be a very powerful and moving production.”

Hattie Naylor added: “As my play states, Human Rights have been fought for slowly, often through protest and secured by legislation, from Magna Carta onwards.  The legislation that protects our rights can be compared to an old oak tree, in that it has taken years to grow but can be cut down in one blow, leaving all of us in the UK more vulnerable.” 

Clause 39 is a co-production between Salisbury Playhouse and Salisbury Cathedral with original music by Dom Coyote, designs by Hannah Wolfe and lighting by Peter Hunter. The project is part of the Original Drama programme at Salisbury Playhouse supported by Frank and Elizabeth Brenan and Salisbury City Council.

There are just four performances of Clause 39 in Salisbury Cathedral on Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21 at 7pm and 8.30pm. Tickets are on sale at the Salisbury Playhouse ticket office on 01722 320333 or




  • World premiere of The Magna Carta Plays by four leading playwrights
  • Edward Fox OBE to read Magna Carta extracts in panel discussion
  • Stage ’65 youth theatre to perform the new play Clause 39 in Salisbury Cathedral 

Magna Carta will be the focal point of the Autumn/Winter season at Salisbury Playhouse with the 800 year old document inspiring new plays by leading playwrights.

Internationally renowned playwrights Timberlake Wertenbaker, Howard Brenton, Anders Lustgarten and Sally Woodcock have been commissioned by Salisbury Playhouse to each write a short play drawing on the themes of Magna Carta.  Audiences will see all four plays performed as one theatrical event in The Magna Carta Plays from October 22 to November 7.

Howard Brenton’s Ransomed is a comedy where a detective must solve the mystery of a missing copy of Magna Carta that has been stolen from an English cathedral.  Timberlake Wertenbaker draws parallels between the King’s abuse of power in 1215 and the actions of the kings of global business 800 years later in the gripping drama We Sell Right. In Kingmakers, Anders Lustgarten investigates the threat of an uprising 10 years after Magna Carta is signed asking if it’s time for a royal wedding or a royal baby – all at the common man’s expense. And Pink Gin by Sally Woodcock throws light on the often overlooked Charter of the Forest with a play set in 21st century Africa where mysterious events occur as global investors plan to develop large areas of land.

The Magna Carta Plays will be directed by Gareth Machin, artistic director at Salisbury Playhouse, and performed by an ensemble company of actors.

On Monday, June 15, celebrated actor Edward Fox will read extracts from Magna Carta at Salisbury Playhouse as part of a panel discussion investigating the relevance of the historic document today.

And youth theatre members will also join the Magna Carta 800 anniversary commemorations with promenade performances of a new play Clause 39 by award-winning playwright Hattie Naylor in Salisbury Cathedral on June 20 and 21.

New writing is also celebrated in the premiere of Bike by Katherine Mitchell who responded to a callout for emerging writers from the south west. Bike will be performed in The Salberg from October 7-17 as part of Salisbury Playhouse’s Original Drama programme.

Other highlights of the Autumn/Winter season include in-house productions of Noël Coward’s Fallen Angels (September 10 – October 3), the magical pantomime Cinderella (December 2 – January 9) and Ira Levin’s nail-biting comedy thriller Deathtrap.

Visiting productions include Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path, Jane Wenham The Witch of Walkern and Clive Francis in A Christmas Carol. The Salberg has a wide range of family entertainment, comedy and contemporary drama including Eventide by award-winning Salisbury playwright Barney Norris.

“We are very proud that Salisbury is home to one of the surviving copies of Magna Carta and are delighted to be putting it at the heart of our new season with entertaining, thought provoking and exciting new plays about its enduring significance today,” said Gareth.

Public booking opens on Friday, May 8.  Call the ticket office on 01722 320333 or visit  



Every You Every Me by Barney Norris

A new play exploring teenagers’ mental health issues is being performed as part of an innovative collaboration between Wiltshire Council and Salisbury Playhouse.

Every You Every Me, commissioned by Wiltshire Council and written by award-winning Salisbury playwright Barney Norris, will be performed at secondary schools across Wiltshire. There will also be performances for mental health professionals, teachers and doctors, and Every You Every Me will be part of the regional theatre festival Theatre Fest West at Salisbury Playhouse.

The schools’ performances will be supported by a workshop where young people aged 14-16 can access information and advice about all aspects of mental health. 

“We all have mental health but for some reason we seem to find it difficult to talk about,” said community director at Salisbury Playhouse, Gemma Alldred.  “The transition to adulthood and events like getting your A-Level results can be very challenging and stressful.  Many young people are affected by mental health issues, they know the terminology but they wouldn’t know what to do if they, or their friends, needed help. But for this project to work it needs to be engaging and tap into youth culture. That’s why this play is so clever. It is laugh out loud funny but also informative.”

Barney, who is a former member of Stage ’65 Youth Theatre at Salisbury Playhouse and recently won a prestigious Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright, talked to students at several of Wiltshire’s secondary schools before writing Every You Every Me.  

“I found they were incredibly emotionally literate but there is a lack of awareness about the fantastic support out there for young people in Wiltshire,” he said. “There are kids self-diagnosing mental health problems and looking up symptoms on the internet when they really should see a GP.

Before writing Every You Every Me, Barney visited mental health professionals at Salisbury District Hospital, experts who help young people not in education or employment, and Devizes-based mental health charity the Richmond Partnership. Some of the young peoples’ words have been incorporated into the script.

“Its form is very different from my other work,” said Barney whose critically acclaimed plays Visitors and Fear of Music featured in previous Theatre Fest West programmes before transferring to London theatres and enjoying national success. “This is my first commissioned play and it’s such a fantastic project to be part of.”

The project has been generously supported by Wiltshire Council as part of its programme to support people with mental health problems across the county.

Public performances of Every You Every Me take place on Monday March 30 at 6pm and 8pm in The Salberg at Salisbury Playhouse. Tickets are available from the ticket office on 01722 320333 or

A limited number of free tickets are available for the 6pm performance for people using or working in mental health services. Contact Gemma Alldred on 01722 345163 for details.



Salisbury Playhouse has received a £140,000 grant from Arts Council England for improvements in The Salberg and the installation of automatic doors in the foyer.

The small scale capital grant will help the building become even more accessible and improve the popular 150-seater Salberg theatre.

The grant will fund new lighting and sound equipment, and comfortable new seating in The Salberg along with essential improvements to the insulation and temperature control.  It will also buy long-awaited automatic foyer doors making it easier for theatre-goers to enter the building.

The grant comes as Salisbury Playhouse prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2016.  This grant is a huge boost to the theatre’s 40th Anniversary Campaign which seeks to fund a range of improvements including new technical equipment, air conditioning and facilities for disabled people to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy the range of productions at Salisbury Playhouse in maximum comfort. The money will help to make the Salberg more accessible and sustainable and also enhance facilities for the BTEC students who study at Salisbury Playhouse and Wiltshire College.

Executive director Sebastian Warrack said: “I am delighted that Arts Council England has awarded us this small scale capital grant of £140,000.  This award is a huge vote of confidence in Salisbury Playhouse and recognition that our theatre is a beacon of excellence. We are so proud of the quality of all our productions and that we are also a community building that can be used by everyone.

“This is a great boost to our 40th anniversary campaign that will ensure that everyone is able to enjoy visiting Salisbury Playhouse for the next 40 years and beyond.”

Most of the improvement work will take place over the summer months. 

To find out how you can become involved with Salisbury Playhouse’s 40th Anniversary Campaign contact Development Officer Rebecca Moore on 01722 345161.