The magic of Wonderland comes alive this August, at the opulent Theatre Royal, Workington. Follow…
A mysterious and bewitching short play from Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem, Mojo). All is not as it first seems when a man brings his new girlfriend to the remote family cabin where he has been fly fishing since he was a boy.
Some strong language used
Workington Playgoers set for return to stage in The River production
By Tracy Walker
Times and Star 4th June 2021
Thanks to the resourcefulness and resilience of a Workington theatre group, people will soon be able to enjoy their long-awaited return to the auditorium. While life on stage appears to have ground to a halt around much of the country, Workington Playgoers is determined to ensure the show must go on. And if that means rehearsing outside, in bone-chilling temperatures, then so be it.
The group will be staging The River, by Jez Butterworth, at the Theatre Royal next week. There will be a reduced capacity in the auditorium and the number of actors and backstage crew has been kept to a minimum but otherwise it will be show business as usual.
The cast of Will Tillotson, Anne Bowmer, Ruth Hellen and Sharon Helling were delighted to finally tread the boards again – after lots of lockdown rehearsals on Zoom, in people’s gardens and parks.
Ruth said: “So many theatres cannot open for financial reasons. We are in a very fortunate position because we own our theatre and are completely run by volunteers. They run the bar, do the maintenance, front of house, etc. We have no paid staff.”
The production team chose a play which complies with regulations. There will be no bar next week but people are allowed to bring refreshments. The cast is directed by Tony Parker and started rehearsing in early March on Zoom. That threw up the usual challenges.
“We had all the joys of Zoom, the background noises and those times when you think there’s a long silence and then realise someone has frozen,” said Ruth.They progressed to meeting outside, keeping socially distanced. “There was one night in my garden when we were nearly hypothermic,” Ruth added. “Another time we rehearsed riverside, below Cockermouth Castle. While it was great to get together, it was far from perfect.” They were delighted to get back in the theatre when lockdown eased in mid-May. “That made things a lot easier. It was such a joy to all be back in the theatre together doing what we love doing,” said Ruth. “It really makes you realise what you value.” They are all looking forward to welcoming audiences back to the theatre. “People are saying it will be lovely to see a live performance again. There are lots of things being screened online but it’s not the same; the actors feel distant and the audience want to feel part of it.”
The River will run from June 8 to June 12. The play starts with a man taking his new girlfriend to a remote fishing cabin; it isn’t long until there is a surprising twist which continues throughout the play. It may be a short play, but The River packs a powerful punch with surprises right the way through.
There will be optional post show discussions for the audience following the Tuesday to Friday performances.
Cast in rehearsal
Photographs by Chris Lewis
Backstage photographs by Anne Bowmer
Your Visit to the Theatre Royal:
- Face masks to be worn by the audience
Hand sanitiser units upon entry
One way system for the audience in place
- Covid 19 distanced seating applicable.
Here’s some information about the changes we’ve made to help keep our audience and volunteers safe.
- The Theatre Royal is Covid Secure. We have a range of measures in place to keep you safe and our risk assessments are available on our website.
- Please do not attend the Theatre Royal if you are feeling unwell or have a temperature. This is to keep you, our audience, and our volunteers safe.
Please book your tickets before performance night. We are working on a reduced capacity and so it is vital that you book your tickets before show night. Only visit the theatre with people from your household and always follow the ‘rule of 6’.
- Please book your tickets online, or, if you don’t have access to the internet call 01900 603161. The Box Office will be closed on performance nights.
Please remain in your seats as much as possible. You will be allocated a seat that is socially distanced from other audience members so it is important that you only sit in your allocated seat.
Please wear a face mask while on the premises.
The bar will be closed on performance nights. You are welcome to bring your own soft drinks to the theatre.
Please follow the one-way system while in the theatre and respect our stewards.
Doors open: 7.00pm
Running Time: 80 minutes without interval
Date: Tues 8th – Sat 12th June 2021