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Salisbury Playhouse

Photo credit: Chris Zuidyk


For press enquiries please contact:

Jill Harding, PR & Media Officer
Tel: 01722 345153



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  


For press inquiries contact PR and Communications officer Jill Harding on 01722 345153 or







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.

National Theatre Connections Festival at Salisbury Playhouse

April 20th – 24th in The Salberg


Youth theatre groups and schools from across the region are performing at Salisbury Playhouse as part of the National Theatre’s Connections Festival.


Ten leading playwrights have written new plays for young people aged 13-19 to perform at theatres across the country. Salisbury Playhouse is hosting one of 27 regional Connections Festivals and will welcome youth theatre groups and students from the south to its Salberg studio from April 20th – 24th.


Over five days there will be 10 performances by schools and youth theatre companies. The programme includes performances of Hospital Food written by Eugene O’Hare by Kings Youth Theatre and QE School Wimborne, The Accordion Shop by Cush Jumbo from Lytchett Minster School and Sherborne Girls’ School and The Edelweiss Pirates by Ayub Khan-Din by young actors at Bay House School and the YT2 drama group.


Btec students working towards an Acting qualification at Salisbury Playhouse will perform Remote by Stef Smith and In Yer Face youth theatre has also chosen to present this play about teenage protest and power.


BACStage youth drama group will present Elinor Cook’s disturbing tale of missing women in The Boy Preference and Groundlings Theatre Company is performing a riotous satire of teen politics in The Crazy Sexy Cool Girls’ Fan Club by Sarah Solemani.


From dangerous rebellions in Nazi Germany, to street riots and life in a teenagers’ cancer unit, the hard-hitting plays cover a wide range of topics that have affected young people throughout history.


Now in its 21st year, the National Theatre’s Connections Festival gives 5000 young people across Britain the chance to tackle challenging and dynamic new plays from some of the country’s most highly regarded playwrights. Many more will get to work behind the scenes creating sets, costumes and marketing campaigns.


Devon Smith,17, plays the lead role of Antler in the Salisbury Playhouse Btec students’ production of Remote.  “It’s a really interesting play about a girl who makes a mountain out of a molehill and tries to escape the apathy around her by stamping on her phone, running away and climbing a tree,” she said. “But in doing that she’s becoming more apathetic herself and she needs to see the world from a new perspective. This is a really relevant play for teenagers and it’s great that we’re having the chance to perform it at the Playhouse as part of the Connections Festival.”


Youth theatre director at Salisbury Playhouse Dave Orme added: “National Theatre Connections Festival is a fantastic scheme that sees young companies working with scripts that are for them and about their experiences. This creates a truly unique experience that emboldens young people in their own right.  Our festival will celebrate this and young people as theatre artists and audiences.”


Tickets and full listings for all the National Theatre Connections Festival 2015 events at Salisbury Playhouse are available from or the Salisbury Playhouse ticket office on 01722 320333.



Theatre Fest West March 30th – April 11th 2015


Theatre from the south west region will take centre stage at Salisbury Playhouse during Theatre Fest West this Easter.


Now in its fourth year, Theatre Fest West gives audiences the chance to see a huge array of productions made by regional theatre companies including several telling the stories of the south west.


This year’s festival includes performances in a bell tent on the main stage, in an ice cream van and from a specially created forest in the Salberg.


The programme includes new work that is part of Salisbury Playhouse’s commitment to Original Drama. Every You Every Me, written by award-winning Salisbury playwright Barney Norris and supported by Wiltshire Council, is a specially commissioned play that tackles teenagers’ mental health and opens the festival on Monday, March 30.   Audiences will also get the chance to see a new play by Elizabeth Crarer, Our Girl On The Western Front, about Dorothy Lawrence an aspiring journalist from Salisbury whose dreams of recognition ended in tragedy amongst the wreckage of the First World War.


Other true stories include Stalin’s Daughter, an incredible account of how Josef Stalin’s daughter Svetlana came to make her new life in Bristol shortly after the fall of Communist Russia.  And The Piano Man discovers the remarkable tale of Andreas Grassi who was washed up on the Kent coast in 2005 with no recollection of where he came from. Silent for four months, The Piano Man played Tchaikovsky while the whole world speculated on his identity.


Theatre Fest West also provides a host of Easter treats for children of all ages. Tiny theatre-goers will love the shadow puppetry and sing-a-long songs in Arnold’s Big Adventure, performed in a bell tent on the main stage, and families can enjoy the welcome return of Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company with Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  There’s also a fun-filled introduction to numbers with Two, Four, Six, Eight and families can explore the interactive Forest of Arden in Beneath The Trees (Where Nobody Sees).


Hampshire’s abandoned railway lines form the backdrop of Forest Forge Theatre’s Leaves On A Line while the history of ice cream and its links to the concept of Britishness are told from a Mr Whippy van that will be parked outside the Playhouse in I’ll Keep Waiting On The Pavement For The Ice Cream Van To Come.  And Theatre Fest West moves from the past to the future with Streaming - Welcome to Webcamland a funny and disturbing rites of passage story for the modern age.   


“We have an incredible variety of theatre makers working in the south west and Theatre Fest West is a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work,” said artistic director at Salisbury Playhouse, Gareth Machin. “As our audiences’ appetites for new experiences increase we are able to bring them a wide range of exciting productions and Theatre Fest West really does have something for everyone. We are very proud of the theatre made in the south west region and this gives us a chance to raise its profile and celebrate it.”


Full listings and details of Theatre Fest West productions can be found at



Salisbury Playhouse Thursday April 23rd – Saturday May 16th


Mercury Theatre Colchester Wednesday May 27th – Saturday June 13th

Full casting has been announced for a major new production of Little Shop of Horrors opening at Salisbury Playhouse on Thursday, April 23rd (press night Tuesday, April 28th).

Ben Stott (Wicked, West End and Sweeney Todd, West Yorkshire Playhouse) will play Seymour, the down and out shop worker who becomes an overnight sensation when he grows a plant that feeds on fresh blood.  The love of his life, Audrey, is played by Frances McNamee (Love’s Labour’s Lost RSC and  Pride and Prejudice at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.)

Shop owner Mushnik will be played by Simeon Truby (Sweeney Todd, West End) and Jez Unwin (Once, Ghost, Top Hat) plays the sadistic dentist Orin.

Gareth Cassidy, Leon Craig, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Karis Jack, Andrew London, Frances Mayli McCann and Carole Stennett complete the cast.

Little Shop of Horrors is the second co-production between Salisbury Playhouse and Mercury Theatre Colchester. Last summer they co-produced the regional premiere of Betty Blue Eyes which was followed by a national tour.

This production will be directed by Gareth Machin, artistic director at Salisbury Playhouse.

Little Shop of Horrors is essentially a Faustian story but it is also a tremendous amount of fun,” said Gareth. “It has a fantastic musical score with a great mixture of styles that we are sure our audiences will love. I’m delighted that we are, once again, collaborating with Mercury Theatre Colchester on this exciting production that’s full of energy, sass and style, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Little Shop of Horrors, is designed by James Button with Richard Reeday as musical director, choreography by Nick Winston, lighting by David W Kidd and sound design by Alex Twiselton. The original book and lyrics were written by Howard Ashman with music by Alan Menken.




Salisbury Playhouse March 12th to April 4th 2015

As Britain prepares for a General Election, Salisbury Playhouse and Nottingham Playhouse are presenting a timely production of Laura Wade’s biting political comedy Posh.

Drawing inspiration from Oxford University’s elitist Bullingdon Club, which counts David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson amongst its former members, Posh is a hilarious and razor-sharp look at the connections between privilege and politics.

After a series of unfavourable press articles forced them to lay low, the 10 members of The Riot Club have reunited in a country gastro pub with the aim of getting totally ‘chateaued’. But as the evening progresses and the drink flows, things get disastrously out of hand with the dark side of wealth and excess becoming brutally exposed.

Laura Wade’s highly acclaimed play brings into focus the sense of entitlement amongst members of the ruling classes, highlighting what Boris Johnson himself described as “superhuman arrogance, toffishness and twitishness.”

This new co-production by Salisbury Playhouse and Nottingham Playhouse is the regional premiere of Posh which opened at the Royal Court in London in 2010 before transferring to the West End two years later.  Laura Wade also adapted it for the 2014 film The Riot Club.

“I'm delighted that Nottingham and Salisbury Playhouses are producing the regional premiere of Posh.  No doubt class, privilege and power will continue to be big issues this year, and I look forward to the debate continuing in the theatre foyer,” said Laura. “It's great that a whole new audience will get to peek behind the door into the heady world of the Riot Club.”

Posh has an all-female creative team and is directed by Susannah Tresilian, designed by Ellan Parry, with sound by Isobel Waller-Bridge, who has composed a specially commissioned requiem for the production, and lighting by Alexandra Stafford-Marshall.

 “Political theatre, particularly when it is funny - which this play is - can be, at best, a source of revolution through entertainment,” said Susannah.

The cast includes Tom Palmer, Jordan Metcalfe, Simon Haines, Tom Clegg, Phil Labey, Tom Hanson, Kaffe Keating, Dario Coates, Robbie Jarvis, Jamie Satterthwaite, Joanne Evans, Laurence Kennedy, Neil Caple and Charlotte Brimble.

For more information, interviews with the cast and creative teams, photographs or ticket requests  please contact Jill Harding at Salisbury Playhouse on 01722 345153 or 





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.







Tuesday 23 September 2014

Public asked to vote for Salisbury Playhouse in UK's Most Welcoming Theatre Award 

Salisbury Playhouse is one of over 220 arts venues taking part in the Most Welcoming Theatre Award in association with Smooth Radio. The winner will be announced at the annual UK Theatre Awards ceremony in London’s Guildhall on Sunday 19 October 2014.

Online voting for this public award is open via the Smooth Radio website – -and closes on Monday 29 September. To ensure a fair and competitive process, the public voting system will be partially weighted by theatre capacity to ensure smaller venues have as equal a chance of winning as larger theatres.

Presented by UK Theatre, the annual UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide awards to honour creative excellence and the outstanding achievement seen on and off stage throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Julian Bird, Chief Executive, UK Theatre, said: “It has been great to see the tremendous level of public support for regional theatre since the launch of My Theatre Matters! last year. Following the success of last year’s inaugural public vote and with the support of Smooth Radio, we are delighted to be running this exciting Award again. Theatres play important roles at the heart of our local communities and this vote provides a platform for the public to get more involved in the UK Theatre Awards and shout about how much they value the work of their local venue.”

Sebastian Warrack, Executive Director of Salisbury Playhouse, says “We know we have a very loyal and supportive audience and would love the public to get behind us by voting for Salisbury Playhouse.  Winning the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre Award would be a fitting way to acknowledge the hard work our staff members and volunteers do here”.

UK Theatre Awards are supported by a number of major organisations involved in theatre across the UK including The Stage, Harbottle & Lewis, Theatre Tokens, Big Group, White Light, John Good and Smooth Radio.

Further details about UK Theatre and the UK Theatre Awards can be found at

To vote please visit Voting closes at 11.59pm on Monday 29 September 2014. 

Friday 19 September 2014

Janie Dee to star in new production of 84 Charing Cross Road at Salisbury Playhouse


Public booking opens Friday 17 October

84 Charing Cross Road
By Helene Hanff
Adapted for the stage by James Roose-Evans

A Salisbury Playhouse Production in the Main House
Thursday 5 – Saturday 28 February 2015

Janie Dee will star in a new production of 84 Charing Cross Road at Salisbury Playhouse, where the play was premiered in 1981. James Roose-Evans, who wrote the stage adaptation and directed the original production, returns to direct this new production which runs from Thursday 5 to Saturday 28 February 2015.

84 Charing Cross Road tells the story of Helene Hanff who, in 1949, wrote to Marks and Co. Booksellers of 84 Charing Cross Road, in search of the rare editions she was unable to find in New York. Her books were dispatched with polite but brisk efficiency. Helene soon found herself in regular correspondence with bookseller Frank Doel, laying siege to his English reserve with her warmth and wit. As letters, books and quips crossed the ocean, a friendship flourished that would endure for twenty years.

Janie Dee’s recent theatre credits include Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre and Noises Off at the Old Vic and the subsequent West End transfer. She has won Olivier Awards for her roles in Carousel at the National Theatre and Ayckbourn’s Comic Potential.

The stage adaptation of 84 Charing Cross Road premiered at Salisbury Playhouse in 1981 before going on to huge success in the West End and on Broadway, winning numerous awards for writer and director James Roose-Evans. It was also made into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. This new production is designed by Norman Coates.

84 Charing Cross Road runs at Salisbury Playhouse from Thursday 5 to Saturday 28 February 2015. Public booking opens on Friday 17 October. For tickets or further information please contact the Box Office on 01722 320333 or visit

Thursday 18 September 2014

Salisbury Playhouse announces cast for its pantomime, Mother Goose

Salisbury Playhouse is delighted to announce the cast for its 2014/15 pantomime, Mother Goose, which runs from Wednesday 3 December to Saturday 10 January.

Salisbury’s favourite panto dame, Kieran Buckeridge, returns in the title role and Ella Vale, who has recently performed at the Playhouse in Sleeping Beauty and Dick Whittington and His Cat, will play Demonica Baddegg.

Completing the cast are Lucy Faint as Milly Dillydally, Howard Coggins as Squire Dillydally, Lacy Jordinson as Priscilla the Goose, Johanne Murdock as Fairy Flutter and Simon Nehan as Billy Goose. The chorus will be made up of two teams of local young performers.

The creative team from last year’s hugely popular pantomime is back including writer Andrew Pollard, composer Kieran Buckeridge, director Joyce Branagh, designer Keith Orton, musical director Rebekah Hughes, choreographer Maggie Rawlinson,  lighting designer Peter Hunter and sound designer Mark Noble.

With lots of laughs, live music, a magical goose and plenty of audience participation, Mother Goose promises to be the perfect family treat this Christmas. Mother Goose runs from Wednesday 3 December to Saturday 10 January with morning, afternoon and evening performances. For tickets or more information please contact the Box Office on 01722 320333 or visit the show page.


Tuesday 16 September 2014

Free Open Day 

Salisbury Playhouse will be opening its doors and offering everyone the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes at the free Playhouse Open Day.

Visitors will have the opportunity to take part in backstage tours that will take in little-seen parts of the theatre, such as the costume department and the scenery workshop, and will be able to tread the boards in the transformed Main House.

A selection of family activities will be running, suitable for all ages, and there will be the chance to look back through the decades as the Archivists display vintage photographs, posters and programmes.

There will be the chance to join question and answer sessions with actors and to meet the staff and volunteers who make Salisbury Playhouse one of the UK’s leading regional theatres and an important part of the community.

With competitions to enter and a range of food and drink available, this is a perfect family day out. The free Playhouse Open Day takes place on Saturday 25 October from 10am. 

Monday 15 September 2014

South West theatre companies invited to join regional celebration

Salisbury Playhouse is calling out to South West theatre companies and performers to take part in Theatre Fest West 2015 – a celebration of the most imaginative theatre from the region. Now in its fourth year, the 2015 festival will be bigger and better than ever.

Submissions are being accepted for productions that are available during March and April 2015 and Salisbury Playhouse would like to hear from artists and companies that are either based in or have stories to tell about the South West.

Companies that have performed at Theatre Fest West in the past include Hampshire theatre company Forest Forge, Exeter-based Theatre Alibi and Up in Arms with Barney Norris’ Visitors, a new play set on Salisbury Plain. Performances have also taken place in more unusual spaces, such as Kilter Theatre’s The Last Post which was performed in a converted Luton van parked outside the Playhouse.

Gareth Machin, Salisbury Playhouse’s Artistic Director, says “Theatre Fest West has become an important part of the region’s theatre calendar. It allows us to celebrate the variety of excellent work that is produced within the South West and gives us the opportunity to collaborate with a wide range of theatre practitioners”.

Submissions are welcome from professional companies who have work ready to showcase. Companies interested in taking part in Theatre Fest West 2015 should e-mail with a summary of the production and company and details of the scale and costings. Please put Fest West in the e-mail subject line. The deadline for submissions is 1 October 2014.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Fun for all at Salisbury Playhouse this half term

Salisbury Playhouse has a wide range of shows and activities for all ages this half term as part of the 2014 Family Arts Festival.

The UK-wide Family Arts Festival launches its second year with award-winning writer Michael Morpurgo as the 2014 patron and a major partnership with Center Parcs. With over 500 organisations hosting over 2,000 family friendly arts events, Salisbury Playhouse will be one of those taking part.

Activities at Salisbury Playhouse include a free Playhouse Open Day on Saturday 25 October when the Playhouse will open its doors to allow visitors a rare glimpse behind the scenes, as well as demonstrations, displays, family activities and questions and answer sessions. On Thursday 30 October there is another opportunity to take a look at rarely-seen parts of the theatre in the Children’s Backstage Treasure Hunt.

On Wednesday 29 October there is a special laugh-out-loud experience for under threes as Curious comes to The Salberg. Cake making gets messy, the kitchen meets the garden and mischief conjures up a birthday surprise in this perfect introduction to the theatre. At the end of the performance children are invited to create their own recipes by digging in the soft soil.

An enchanting story of a young child’s hopes and dreams, pleasures and losses, Match is in The Salberg on Friday 31 October. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic The Little Match Girl, this is a heart-warming, magical tale for those aged 2 and over, with beautiful storytelling, puppetry and live music.

In Tony & Mike (or The Country Owl and The City Squirrel), Tony the Owl has his peace and quiet ruined by the arrival of Mike the Squirrel, who is loud, cheeky and likes to party. Featuring puppetry, music and a squirrel flying machine, this is a story about making friends, being different and why that’s OK. Perfect for those aged three plus, this production is in The Salberg on Saturday 1 November at 11am and 2.30pm. The 2.30pm show will be a Relaxed Performance, which is particularly suitable for those who might find it difficult to sit quietly and still for an entire performance, or who are uncomfortable with sudden lighting changes or loud noises. Extra spaces have also been made for wheelchairs.

For those who would like to take to the stage themselves there is the opportunity to work with directors and technicians, using props, costumes and lighting to make a special show. Five to seven year olds can create a play called Halloween Adventure on Monday 27 October while Vicious Victorians will be the theme for eight to eleven year olds on Tuesday 28 October. 

Former Children’s Laureate and bestselling author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo comments: “I am delighted to be Patron of the 2014 Family Arts Festival. The enormous range of events presented across the UK means there will be something to delight, and share with, all members of the family across the generations. I encourage you to make a day - or a week - of exploring the fun, interesting and entertaining events in your area this autumn half term.” 

For tickets or more information on Salisbury Playhouse’s activities and shows please contact the Box Office on 01722 320333. All events taking part in the Family Arts Festival are listed on


Friday 29 August 2014

Casting announced for Separate Tables at Salisbury Playhouse 

Casting has been announced for Salisbury Playhouse’s production of Terence Rattigan’s Separate Tables which runs in the Main House from Thursday 16 October to Saturday 8 November.

Jane How, who will be familiar to television audiences as Den Watts’ mistress, Jan, in EastEnders and Don’t Wait Up, will play Mrs Railton-Bell. Her recent stage credits include Trevor Nunn’s Fatal Attraction at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Robert Perkins, who played Sergeant Ray Steele in The Bill and was recently in the touring production of Dial M for Murder, will play Major Pollock and Mr Malcolm.

Following his run in the Playhouse production of Bedroom Farce, Graham Seed, best known for playing Nigel Pargetter in Radio 4’s The Archers, will play Mr Fowler. He will be joined by fellow Bedroom Farce cast members Penelope Beaumont, Mawgan Gyles, Emma Noakes, Emily Wachter and Eleanor Wyld.

Completing the cast are Kirsty Besterman, who last performed at Salisbury Playhouse in Dangerous Corner, Petra Markham and Carol Starks.

Separate Tables is a funny and moving portrait of the lives, loves and quirks of the guests of a Bournemouth hotel in the Fifties. The production is directed by Salisbury Playhouse’s Artistic Director, Gareth Machin, and designed by Tom Rogers. Lighting is by Howard Hudson with sound by John Leonard.

Like Bedroom Farce, this production of Separate Tables is performed in a transformed Main House with seating surrounding the stage. Separate Tables runs from Thursday 16 October to Saturday 8 November. For tickets or further information please contact the Box Office on 01722 320333 or visit the show page

Thursday 24 July 2014

Young people wanted to join special panel at Salisbury Playhouse

There is the opportunity for young people to learn more about the theatre and to share their views as Salisbury Playhouse is looking for volunteers aged 14-21 to join its new Young Ambassadors scheme. The group of ten will meet monthly to work on a range of projects and to discuss how the Playhouse’s work links to young people within the community.

The Young Ambassadors will have the opportunity to meet with members of Salisbury Playhouse staff and other professionals working within the theatre industry, to attend VIP nights and will manage a blog series detailing activities and events. They will have the chance to review productions and will be advocates for the theatre, sharing information and opportunities with young people in the local area.

Gareth Machin, Artistic Director, says “The Young Ambassadors scheme is one of a variety of ways in which we work with members of the community. It is a fantastic way for young people to learn more about the theatre, to share their views with us, and would reflect well on college, university and job applications. I am very much looking forward to working with the panel over the coming year”.

Meetings will take place on the last Thursday of each month during term time. For more information on how to apply to be part of the scheme please contact Dave Orme, Youth Theatre Director, on 01722 345167 or The closing date for applications is Monday 1 September 2014.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Casting announced for Bedroom Farce at Salisbury Playhouse

Casting has been announced for the first show of the Salisbury Playhouse autumn/winter season, Alan Ayckbourn’s ingenious comedy Bedroom Farce, which runs from Thursday 4 September to Saturday 4 October.

Graham Seed, best known for playing Nigel Pargetter in Radio 4’s The Archers for nearly 30 years and whose many theatre credits include Accolade at the Finborough and the national tour of Journey’s End, will play Ernest with Penelope Beaumont, who recently appeared in Mark Rylance’s production of Much Ado About Nothing at The Old Vic, playing his wife, Delia.

They are joined by Mawgan Gyles, who was in last year’s Salisbury Playhouse production of Dangerous Corner, and David Partridge, who last performed at the Playhouse in The Recruiting Officer. Completing the cast are Niall Costigan, Emma Noakes, Emily Wachter and Eleanor Wyld.

Bedroom Farce takes place in three bedrooms as three couples prepare for a night out. Each couple is interrupted by the overbearing Susannah and Trevor and their ‘relationship problems’ in one of Ayckbourn’s most popular plays that shines a light on the trials and tribulations of Seventies marriage.

Bedroom Farce is directed by Salisbury Playhouse’s Artistic Director, Gareth Machin, who most recently directed the hit production of Chris Chibnall’s Worst Wedding Ever. The production is designed by Tom Rogers, whose recent work at Salisbury Playhouse includes The Recruiting Officer and Joking Apart. Lighting is by Howard Hudson and sound by John Leonard.

This funny and touching play is performed in the round in the specially reconfigured Main House and runs from Thursday 4 September to Saturday 4 October. For tickets or other enquiries please contact the Box Office on 01722 320333 or visit the show page on our website. 

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Salisbury Playhouse to offer 18 month placement as part of national training scheme 

Salisbury Playhouse is delighted to be working again with the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme to offer a young director an 18 month placement, working alongside Artistic Director Gareth Machin.

The RTYDS is committed to providing unique opportunities for early career and emerging directors to work with professional regional theatre companies to develop their craft as a director and to learn about the operations of theatre buildings and about cultural leadership.

The RTYDS selects up to four theatre companies to take part in this scheme and works with the artistic directors of the selected theatres to choose four young directors from a pool of some of the brightest new talents in the UK. The scheme can claim an impressive list of past participants – many directors have been or are now artistic directors of the UK's leading theatres.

Gareth Machin says “RTYDS is the most prestigious and successful training scheme for theatre directors in Great Britain. We are proud to be hosting the scheme for the second time in three years, particularly as it is absolutely consistent with our commitment to nurture and offer opportunity to the very best emerging theatre artists. I am excited about the new creative energy and ideas the director will bring to the organisation and am looking forward to working closely with the successful director over the coming months”.

For more information or to apply please visit The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Monday 4 August 2014. 


Monday 7 July 2014

Mind the Gap works with primary school pupils

Members of Mind the Gap, Salisbury Playhouse’s drama group for over 50s, have been working with young people from St Mark’s CE Junior School as part of The Milford Street Bridge Project.

The Milford Street Bridge Project is a community heritage and arts project, best known for the two large murals under the bridge which takes the ring road over Milford Street.

In 2013 they received funding to produce a website and Educational Resources for local schools. The Educational Resources, aimed at children in Salisbury primary schools, consists of six PowerPoint presentations on themes arising from their archives: Growing Up, Celebrations, Shopping, Schools, Eileen O'Leary (a young Salisbury woman who died on the Titanic) and the Titanic. As well as photos, information and audio clips, the presentations also include ideas for expanding children’s learning through oral history, dance, drama and art. To go alongside the presentations there are five boxes of handling objects for children to hold, play with, examine and wear.

Over the last few weeks children at St Mark’s Junior School have been trialling the packs and enjoyed some sessions working with experts. Mind the Gap has been working with children in Year 5 on the "Growing Up" theme, focussing in particular on playing games. They have explored games "then and now", at home, at school and on The Greencroft.

Rebecca Seymour, Project Manager of Mind the Gap, says “It is really moving to see Mind the Gap working with Year 5 pupils.  The work they created in last week’s session based on children’s playgrounds was lovely.  They are all getting on so well and the children have been very caring and respectful to the members of Mind the Gap”.

More information about The Milford Street Bridge Project can be found at

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Playhouse maintains its Arts Council funding to 2018

Salisbury Playhouse is delighted that Arts Council England will continue to fund the organisation at the same level to its current funding, until 2018, as part of the National Portfolio Funding Programme announced today.

As an arts and educational charity and a nationally recognised producing theatre, last year Salisbury Playhouse’s work reached over 110,000 people through its productions and community activities. It contributed more than £9 million to the local economy and regularly draws audiences from Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and further afield.

In the past year Salisbury Playhouse has had tremendous success with the world premiere of Worst Wedding Ever from Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, while its participation activity has included the culmination of the START and Beginners Please projects which have introduced young people from 17 local schools to theatre for the first time.

Sebastian Warrack, Executive Director, says “This news is a vote of real confidence from the Arts Council in the organisation and means we can continue to entertain and engage with the people of Salisbury, Wiltshire and well beyond”. 


Monday 23 June 2014

Playhouse project introduces hundreds of local teenagers to theatre

Nearly 600 young people from across Wiltshire have been learning more about theatre and the arts thanks to START - a project run by Salisbury Playhouse. 

This year the project has seen six local schools taking part: Clarendon Academy, Oak Lodge Secondary Special School, Pewsey Vale School, Hardenhuish School, Wellington Academy and Avon Valley College. Some of the schools will be sharing their work in a performance on the Main House stage at Salisbury Playhouse on Thursday 26 June.

The project began in 2012 with support from The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts to work with local secondary schools throughout the academic year, introducing young people to theatre. This scheme was designed to provide vital access to the arts at a time when financial constraints and the curriculum are putting pressures on drama education and can be delivered through English, Music, Performing Arts or other subjects.

The students, aged 11-18 years, have explored the world of theatre, how Salisbury Playhouse creates its work, and have seen a wide variety of productions. They have also benefited from backstage tours and workshops on a range of themes including careers, musical theatre, technical skills and Shakespeare.

Marnie Forbes, Project Leader, says “START has really developed this year and we have worked with schools from all over Wiltshire. Each school has a different need and we have been able to facilitate these, especially when curriculum changes and requirements are making studying the arts more problematic. The young people have been able to discover how productions are made, watch them on the stage and transfer useful creative skills such as leadership and problem solving to their own creative practise across the school”.

Schools taking part from September include Hardenhuish School and South Wilts Grammar School. There is still time for schools to join the project. For more information or to get involved please contact Eugenia Whitby on 01722 320117 or e-mail

Friday 20 June 2014

Primary schools perform at Salisbury Playhouse as part of Beginners Please 

Over the next week local primary school children will be taking to the stage in The Salberg to perform for friends and family.

Over the last academic year Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils from 11 schools have been learning more about the theatre as part of Beginners Please, a project run by Salisbury Playhouse. They have had the opportunity to follow the work of the Playhouse, learn about the people who work there and the skills they need, whilst taking part in workshops and producing their own play to perform in the Salberg Studio.

This year the participating schools have been Woodlands Primary School, Amesbury Archer Primary School, St Martin’s Primary School, Broad Chalke CE Aided Primary School, Dinton CE Primary School, Bemerton St John CE Primary School, Pembroke Park Primary School, St Marks CE Junior School, Manor Fields Primary School, Pimperne Primary School and Harnham Infant School.

There is still time for schools to sign up to join the next Beginners Please project which begins in September 2014. For more information please visit the Participate section of the website or contact Eugenia Whitby on 01722 345165 or


Wednesday 28 May 2014

Stage '65 Youth Theatre and Musical Theatre Salisbury perform together to commemorate start of First World War 

Rehearsals have begun for Oh What a Lovely War, the first collaboration between Salisbury Playhouse’s Stage ’65 Youth Theatre and Musical Theatre Salisbury, which will be performed in the Main House at Salisbury Playhouse from Monday 4 to Saturday 9 August. 

This stirring and satirical musical entertainment was an immediate hit for Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop when it opened in 1963. Through sketches and songs, such as Pack Up Your Troubles, Keep the Home Fires Burning and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, the optimism of the Home Front and the horrors of the fields