2020 Bear Pit Theatre Company Season Announced

Issued 12/9/2019 

Bear Pit Theatre Company Announce Artistic Programme for 2020 Season

 The Bear Pit Theatre reconfigured for the season with an emphasis on company to reflecting the company’s principle of ‘Artists Working Together’.

  • THE NORMAN CONQUESTS directed by Nicky Cox
  • HUMBLE BOY directed by Tony Homer
  • HOBSON’S CHOICE directed by David Draper
  • ONE WEEK OF ONE ACT PLAYS curated by Steve Farr & Nicky Cox
  • THE CHERRY ORCHARD directed by Colin Lewis Edwards
  • THE RAILWAY CHILDREN directed by Emily Myerscough


The Bear Pit Theatre’s Artistic Director David Mears announced today his ambition for 2020

He said today:

This venue is the home for theatre makers, professional or amateur, where we as individuals can positively work collaboratively, under one roof, supporting one another to produce the best work we possibly can. All our current and new volunteers can make a difference to help to continue to develop this venue; to create theatre memories.

I believe, in this venue, we’ve achieved so much in the last 10 years. We’ve put our money where our mouth is and made huge leaps to develop and promote this community performance space.

Next year is a leap year, where we will be making even more leaps. When I first entered this building through the big blue front doors and walked through the length and breadth of the building, it reminded me of Dr Who’s Tardis – it looks small on the outside but bigger on the inside. At the end of one Doctor’s premiership and the introduction of a new Doctor, the Tardis, like its owner, regenerates, a refresh, a new life. Next year, we are going to regenerate. In 2020 The Bear Pit Theatre will see some exciting changes, such as regenerating the auditorium, specifically for this season, and permanent changes for our front of house areas.

From January, we will be lifting up our end-on seating and redistributing to an in-the-round configuration – creating a pit, a Bear Pit! 108 seats, a 3D audience experience and an opportunity to celebrate what this venue can do. I think this space works at its best in this new configuration. We will also see our Front of House areas permanently changing including a new Café Bar arrangement.  In May, we will regenerate again into the end-on configuration that you now see but with a few adjustments. When moved back to the end-on layout, we hope to make improvement to the sightlines for each seat, to alter the layout of the technical desk, whilst attempting to increase the seating capacity.

With all Dr Who regenerations there is a fanfare to hail in the new occupant of the Tardis. So, as The Bear Pit is regenerating…then we need a fanfare, a theatrical spectacle to open our 2020 season and what better show to open with than a comic trilogy… Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests.

As part of this season we will also be producing, for the first time, a series of one act plays in one week. This is an opportunity to nurture new directing and acting talent without the pressures of producing or being involved with one of our larger productions. This is an opportunity for actors and directors to play at Bear Pit, looking at play scripts written by established playwrights: Pinter, Beckett or Mamet for example. Today, I am inviting any potential directors to get in contact with Bear Pit to express an interest in this project that will be brilliantly curated by Steve Farr & Nicky Cox.

I want to see new directors, new to Bear Pit who want to take on the challenge of directing and further understanding the directing / rehearsal process, whilst collaboratively working with and being guided by well-seasoned directors. A taster maybe to see if in the future they decided to take on the challenge of larger scale plays with a longer rehearsal process.

I hope that our season of plays will both entertain and engage our audiences, whilst encouraging new and current volunteers to be part of the only ‘little theatre’ in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon. I believe that this is the theatre company to be part of next year, this is theatre company where one can learn, develop and make friends. After all an amateur is one who loves the theatre, who performs because he or she is dedicated to it, not merely earning a living. All of us who really care for the theatre are amateur.


We will be holding our next round of auditions on Wednesday 18th September at 7:30pm in The Bear Pit and I look forward to welcoming those who attend.

If you would like more details about auditioning, please email: info@thebearpit.org.uk


The Norman Conquests by Alan Ayckbourn

Directed by Nicky Cox

21 February – 14 March 2020

Press Day: Saturday 22 February, 10:30am, 3pm & 7:30pm

The Bear Pit Theatre Company brings Alan Ayckbourn’s comic masterpiece, The Norman Conquests, to Stratford-upon-Avon with an ensemble cast of six actors, directed by Nicky Cox in The Bear Pit’s newly reconfigured 108 theatre-in-the-round.

The three interconnecting plays, Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden, follow Norman, his in-laws and the local vet over a summer weekend in an English country house.

Norman is intent on making all the women in his life happy and takes every opportunity to seduce his sister-in-law Annie, charm his brother-in-law’s wife Sarah and woo his wife Ruth – embroiling everyone in the action along the way with both tragic and comic consequences.

On these award-winning plays, Ayckbourn focuses his inimitable, sharp, acerbic wit to reveal the secrets, lies and deception, which bubble beneath the surface of family relationships.

Just choose a perspective, the dining room (Table Manners), the living room (Living Together) or the garden (Round and Round the Garden) Or of course you can piece the puzzle together and get the whole picture by seeing all three in any order you like

Alan Ayckbourn is one of Britain’s most popular and prolific playwrights, with over 80 full-length plays to his name, which have been translated into more than 35 languages. These multi-award-winning plays include Absurd Person Singular, recently revived in the West End plus Just Between Ourselves, A Chorus of Disapproval, Woman in Mind and House & Garden to name but a few.

Bear Pit Associate Artist, Nicky Cox returns to The Bear Pit after assisting on a sell-out success of Tartuffe at the RSCs’ Swan Theatre. Nicky’s other recent productions at The Bear Pit include, The 39 Steps, One Man Two Guvnors & Brief Encounter. Nicky was also part of the directing team for the RSC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation.


Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones

Directed by Tony Homer

24 April – 2 May 2020

Press Day: Saturday 25 April, 2:30pm & 7:30pm

Winner! 2000-2001 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Winner! The Critics’ Circle Best New Play Award, Winner! The People’s Choice Best New Play Award

Charlotte Jones’ play, Humble Boy, is a modern play inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet and will be directed by Tony Homer.

The play begins when news of the sudden death of Felix’s father is announced. Felix, a Cambridge astrophysicist who is in search of a unified field theory, returns to his family home and his difficult and demanding mother, where he soon realizes that his search for unity must include his own chaotic home life. Simon Russell Beale and Diana Rigg first performed this play at the National Theatre in 2001, Charlotte Jones’ witty, original, intelligent and touching comedy.

Bear Pit Associate Artist, Tony Homer, recently directed Visitors by Barney Norris and as a performer for Bear Pit has been involved with productions such as God of Carnage, Toad of Toad Hall & A Christmas Carol.


Hobson’s Choice by Harold Brighouse

Directed by David Draper

19 – 27 June 2020

Press Day: Saturday 20 June, 2:30pm & 7:30pm

First performed in 1916 and made famous by David Lean’s 1954 film starring Charles Laughton, Harold Brighouse’s Salford comedy, Hobson’s Choice will be performed in June.

Directed by Bear Pit Associate Artist, David Draper with Associate Artist, Paul Tomlinson taking on the cantankerous, drunkard shop keeper, Henry Horatio Hobson.

David Draper returns to the Bear Pit following his inaugural outing directing On Golden Pond. He has performed in various Bear Pit Theatre Company production, including Habeas Corpus and Private Lives. David is well known at the Talisman Theatre in Kenilworth, both as a performer & director.


One Week of One Act Plays

Curated by Steve Farr & Nicky Cox

14 – 19 September 2020

Press Night: Monday 14 September, 7:30pm

One Week of One Act Plays, curated by Steve Farr & Nicky Cox

A series of one act plays in one week. An opportunity for actors and directors to play and learn at Bear Pit. We will be producing play scripts written by established playwrights such as Pinter, Beckett & Mamet. Curated by Steve Farr & Nicky Cox.

Steve Farr is a Bear Pit Associate Artist and local playwright. His most recent work as a director with The Bear Pit Theatre company includes: The Pillowman & Moira Buffini’s, Dinner.


The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, adapted by Michael Frayn

Directed by Colin Lewis Edwards

6 – 14 November 2020

Press Day: Saturday 7 November 2:30pm & 7:30pm

Written in 1903, The Cherry Orchard is widely regarded as a classic of 20th-century theatre, with the play being translated and adapted into many languages and produced around the world.

The play focuses on an aristocratic Russian landowner Madam Lyubov Ranevskaya, who returns to her family estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. Unresponsive to offers to save the estate, she allows its sale to the son of a former servant; the family leaves to the sound of the cherry orchard being cut down.  Directed by Colin Lewis Edwards this play offers nearly 20 actors to be part of a magical ensemble full of eccentrics, tragedians, comics and clowns.

Bear Pit Associate Artist, Colin Lewis Edwards, has enjoyed an extensive career first as a professional actor and then as a teacher of drama both here and in the USA. Colin has advised on curriculum development in the UK, taught courses in Shakespeare for the Department of Education as well as being a Theatre Studies examiner.

Colin became Director of ITV’s Children’s Television Workshop in Birmingham in 1989, winning a special BAFTA for its contribution to Children’s television. Colin’s previous directing credits at The Bear Pit Theatre include, Noel Coward’s Hay Fever & Blithe Spirit & Yasmina Reza’s, God of Carnage.


The Railway Children by E. Nesbit, adapted for stage by Mike Kenny

Directed by Emily Myerscough

11 – 19 December 2020

Press Day: Saturday 12 December, 2:30pm & 7:30pm

Mike Kenny’s imaginative stage adaptation of E Nesbitt’s much-loved children’s classic ‘The Railway Children’ directed by Emily Myerscough.

Famously filmed, this is the story of a prosperous Edwardian family forced into poverty in the rural north of England and captures the anxieties and exhilarations of childhood with great tenderness and insight.

Mike Kenny’s version of The Railway Children was first staged at the National Railway Museum in York in 2008, before receiving a major production at London’s Waterloo Station in 2010 a featured a real steam engine.

This version of The Railway Children, which offers three plum roles for young performers and an ensemble of actors to play a multitude of roles.

Emily Myerscough is a Performing Arts & LAMDA Specialist, Outdoor Educator and Coordinator of the Arts. Emily has been teaching drama and performance technique to children of all ages for over 10 years. As an experienced classroom drama and LAMDA teacher, she has helped young people to build their communication and performance skills and boost their self-esteem and confidence.

Emily now runs a theatre workshop business called Green Room which specialises in providing performance workshops and event entertainment. They are now offering acting and performance workshops during the school holidays and term time as part of the Flourish at the Farm Team.

Emily will be directing The Bear Pit Theatre’s family production of Goodnight Mister Tom running this year from 6 – 14 December 2019.


Priority Booking

The season will be on sale from Monday 7 October 2019 at 10am. Bear Pit Theatre website, Bear Pit tickets hotline: 01789 333935 (10am – 6pm Monday – Saturday) or in person at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Box Office (10am – 8pm Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm Sundays) A pick ‘n’ mix ticket package offer will be available for all performances of The Norman Conquests.

One Week of One Act Plays Directors

If you are interested in being consider for this project, please email info@thebearpit.org.uk with details about why you would be like to be involved and how you can contribute to The Bear Pit Theatre. CVs welcome.


The Bear Pit Theatre Company creates theatre at its best, in Stratford-upon-Avon’s only ‘little’ theatre in the heart of the town. We produce an inspirational, engaging and educational artistic programme each year, by programming a mix of modern and classical work throughout the year. The Bear Pit does not charge a membership fee and welcomes volunteers to support the work that is created on stage.


We have trained and worked with the very best of amateur theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with live theatre.


The Bear Pit Theatre is located behind the United Reformed Church, Rother Street. This 100 seat community venue is the only sustainable, affordable performance space in Shakespeare’s town and a permanent home for Stratford’s amateur theatre makers and Arts community.


The venue is also home to our in-house company, The Bear Theatre Company which produces productions throughout the year.


Everyone at The Bear Pit Theatre plays a vital part in creating and supporting the work that you see on stage. Everything that has been achieved so far, could not have happened without the continued dedication of our volunteers and the support of our audiences. The Bear Pit thanks all volunteers as we work to raise funds and fulfil the need for local live theatre and a community arts space in the town. To volunteer visit: www.thebearpit.org.uk/about-us/volunteer/


The Bear Pit Theatre Limited is a not-for-profit company. Registered charity no: 1156259.


Twitter: @The_Bear_Pit

Facebook: thebearpittheatre

Ticket Hotline: 01789 331111 Email: info@thebearpit.org.uk