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Michael Pennington brings an evening of Shakespeare to Hastings.

Michael Pennington brings an evening of Shakespeare to Hastings.

Shakespeare and a musical medieval tale at Opus Theatre this weekend

A wealth of entertainment is on offer at Opus Theatre this weekend, when Michael Pennington presents his acclaimed one-man show on Shakespeare, Sweet William, while The Telling open a window on life and love in medieval times with their story Unsung Heroine. Preview by Nick Terdre.

Michael Pennington is a leading Shakespearean, co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company and honorary associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has played many great classical parts, most recently King Lear in New York and the UK, as well as the title roles in Hamlet, Timon of Athens and Hippolytus.

His one-man show Sweet William, which he brings to Hastings on Saturday, has been lavished with praise. The Guardian’s Michael Billington called it “brilliant,” combining “his performance skills with textual scholarship to give us as well rounded a portrait of Shakespeare as you could hope for,” while The Sunday Times said, “You are mesmerised; he is steeped in Shakespearean knowledge and he shares it with you with the modest generosity of a drinking partner.”

To medieval Provence with The Telling

A fascinating trip back to medieval times is in store on Friday with The Telling’s new show Unsung Heroine, which charts the secret life and love of the instinctively creative Countess Beatriz of Dia (1140-1212) as she channels dark personal experiences into impassioned song.

Picture1The troubadour countess would most probably have been regarded in a similar vein to Amy Winehouse if she had been alive today, the group says. Like most people in the 12th century, Beatriz couldn’t write and so expressed her difficult personal experiences through passionate song which she improvised.

Half concert/half play, Unsung Heroine blends history and fiction, taking you back to the heady atmosphere of 12th Century Provence with plaintive songs and foot-stomping medieval dances.

The Telling has a growing reputation for intimate, staged concerts to bring medieval music off the page and reach wider audiences. “We create a different concert experience, combining ballads and upbeat instrumental dances with narrative, readings or film”, they say. “We often perform some numbers while moving around the audience and using lighting and/or candlelight.”

Unsung Heroine is written by Clare Norburn. Anna Demetriou is Beatriz, Clare Norburn and Ariane Prüssner provide the voices, Joy Smith plays the harp and percussion and Giles Lewin medieval fiddle. The director is Nicholas Renton and lighting design is by Natalie Rowland.

Both events are part of Hastings LitFest, which takes place from Friday 30 August to Sunday 1 September. As part of the programme, Opus Theatre will also host the inaugural Catherine Cookson Lecture which will be given by author Kerry Hudson at 3.15pm on the Saturday.


Opus Theatre is at 24 Cambridge Road, Hastings TN34 1DJ (opposite ESK).

Friday 30 August, 7.30pm The Telling present Unsung Heroine. Tickets £15, students £10, available on the door or online.

Saturday 31 August, 7.30pm Michael Pennington presents Sweet William. Tickets £15, students £10, available on the door or online.

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Posted 19:14 Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 In: Performance

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