While actors like Judi Dench and Steven Berkoff take to the airwaves to decry the death of arts funding, The Studio Theatre Company (based at South Hill Park Arts Centre) are spending 2020 celebrating 9 years and 50 shows of independent community theatre.
“Our 2020 season revives 3 sell-out shows that we’ve produced in the past, and an extra-special show to celebrate the 50thproduction”, says creative director Luke Burton (who we interviewed in 2019: https://www.wokinghampaper.co.uk/interview-luke-burton-of-the-studio-theatre-company-south-hill-park/).
In 2011, Luke was tasked with turning an unused & haunted theatre space within the Arts Centre into a thriving venue for modern plays, offering the sorts of experience you don’t find elsewhere – along with abundant opportunities for the community to get involved.
“The Company actively seeks out new talent – we urge the community to get involved and try out something they may never have done before, be it acting, directing or working on one of the many backstage roles”, says Luke. “The company has welcomed so many new faces to South Hill Park and given them that opportunity to shine.”
And while funding for the arts has declined in recent years, Luke’s efforts have been a resounding success – the theatre has produced sell out shows and rave reviews.
So to commemorate the huge milestone of reaching 50 shows, take a look at the upcoming season he’s planned for your enjoyment, and witness the wonderful work the company has produced over the last 9 years…
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (adapted by Charles Vance)
A Dark and Gothic tale of romance and revenge, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heightsis brought to life in this adaptation by Charles Vance. As children, Cathy and Heathcliff are inseparable – but as they grow circumstances get in the way…and Cathy allows her head to rule her heart choosing to marry the wealthy Edgar Linton instead. Heartbroken Heathcliff flees, returning only to have his revenge on those he deems responsible with tragic results.
Wuthering Heights was the 17th show produced by the Studio Theatre Company, first performed in August 2014. Playing at The Studio Theatre 4th– 7th March 2020 7.30pm, £14/£12 members and concessions (tickets available from South Hill Park Box Office 01344 484123 or online at https://www.southhillpark.org.uk/events/wuthering-heights/)
Rope by Patrick Hamilton
First produced and performed in 1929, Rope was later turned into a film by Alfred Hitchcock and remains to this day one of the classics of the thriller genre – and, being the Studio’s 50thshow, it’s being staged in The Wilde Theatre!
College student Brandon wants excitement and little cares how he gets it. He persuades his weaker minded friend, Granillo, to assist him in the ‘perfect’ motiveless murder of a fellow undergraduate. The two place the body in a wooden chest and, to add a little spice to the proceedings, invite a few guests round to a party that very night including the dead student’s father; the chest with its gruesome contents serving as a supper table.
Loosely based on the real events of the Leopold and Loeb murder case of 1924, the horror and tension in the play slowly build alongside the thunder outside and the suspicions of their former tutor, Rupert Cadell…
Playing in The Wilde Theatre 9th– 12thJune 2020, £16/£15 Concessions/£14 Members (tickets available from South Hill Park Box Office 01344 484123 or online at https://www.southhillpark.org.uk/events/rope/)
Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore
Alan Turing was a mathematical genius whose work at Bletchley Park helped crack the German ‘Enigma code’ – which was credited by Winston Churchill as the greatest single contribution to the Allied victory in WWII.
But in a dramatic turn of events, he was later prosecuted for homosexuality, and chose chemical castration as an alternative to prison…before committing suicide. How could the state treat such a great man so appallingly, purely because of his sexuality – only apologising for this treatment as recently as 2009?
Described by one reviewer as “another thought-provoking, enlightening, insightful and wonderfully directed piece by the Studio Theatre that leaves you all the more enriched for having the pleasure to view it”, Breaking The Code is the true story behind the Hollywood film The Imitation Game.
Playing at the Studio Theatre 7th-10th October 2020 7.30pm, £14/£12 members and concessions (tickets available from South Hill Park Box Office 01344 484123 or online at https://www.southhillpark.org.uk/events/breaking-the-code/
The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh
In an oppressive police state, a storyteller is dragged in for questioning following a series of brutal child murders that mirror his own stories. The good cop/bad cop antics of his interrogators mask a dark undertone as the author is pressured into revealing the events of his own childhood that inspired his writing.
Disturbing, hilarious and thought-provoking in equal measure, this play is suitable for ages 15+ and contains very strong language and adult content!
Playing at the Studio Theatre 25th– 28th November 2020 7.30pm, £14/£12 members and concessions (tickets available atfrom South Hill Park Box Office 01344 484123 or online at https://www.southhillpark.org.uk/events/the-pillowman/)
Please note that you’re able to book all 3 Studio Theatre shows for £36 per person (£30 for members and concessions please phone the South Hill Park Box Office on 01344 484123).