Plays in the Park to return to Sunderland - here’s what you can see and when

A right royal battle will commence in a city park after it’s been announced that the popular Plays in the Parks series will return to Sunderland this summer.

Due to lack of funding the series, which sees Shakespearean classics and other plays performed in parks in the city, was unable to take place last year.

Launch of Threatre Space NE Plays in the Park, in Mowbray Park, Sunderland, Sam Elliott, Calum Bruce, Laurence Neale and Matthew Nicholson.

Launch of Threatre Space NE Plays in the Park, in Mowbray Park, Sunderland, Sam Elliott, Calum Bruce, Laurence Neale and Matthew Nicholson.

But Sunderland Libraries has stepped in as a core funder for Theatre Space North East’s productions which attract thousands of audience members across the series.

Their return this summer will see them perform Henry V from July 18-21 at Roker Park; The Tin Soldier from August 10-11 at Mowbray Park and Comedy of Errors from August 29 to September 1 at Barnes Park.

Corinne Kilvington, artistic director at Theatre Space North East, which has been staging the series since 2012, said: “We have a patchwork of funding and we lost various different pots last year, which meant we couldn’t even afford to pay our actors or pay for the costumes, which was a huge shame. I cried when I realised we couldn’t afford to stage it last year and I cried again, with relief, when I found out Sunderland Libraries would be a core funder this year, meaning we could bring it back.

“I was over the moon.

Corinne Kilvington with l-r Sam Elliott, Matthew Nicholson, Laurence Neale and Calum Bruce.

Corinne Kilvington with l-r Sam Elliott, Matthew Nicholson, Laurence Neale and Calum Bruce.

“All our actors are professionals and this is a great opportunity for emerging actors, as well as more established actors, to perform Shakespeare, which they don’t get to do very often.”

Performances take place each evening throughout the run and audiences, young and old, follow the actors around the park as they perform the plays on the move.

Corinne added: “In good weather we get 200-300 people coming along each night and even in the rain we get around 150 people.

“There’s something quite beautiful about 150 people watching Shakespeare in the rain. Each year we get new faces coming along, but also people who come back time and time again which is wonderful.”

A scene from Henry V

A scene from Henry V

Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: “Sunderland Council are pleased to be able to support Plays in the Park providing opportunities for everyone to become involved in a fun and interactive experience and the works of Shakespeare through a local theatre company. The city has a real wealth of literary and creative talent and it’s only right that we should celebrate that,”

l Entry is free but there is a suggested donation of £10.

Performance Dates

•Henry V – July 18-21, 2019 at 7pm, nightly, Roker Park.

This begins at the Beach/Lower Promenade Entrance to Roker Park.

•The Tin Soldier – August 10-11 at 11.30am and 2.30pm Daily, Mowbray Park.

Performance begins at the Museum and Winter Gardens Gate.

•Comedy of Errors – August 29 – September 1 at 6pm, nightly, Barnes Park.

This performance begins outside the Coach House Café.