Friday, 28 April 2017

Win tickets to the Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival on behalf of Stafford Festival Shakespeare

Producers of Stafford Festival Shakespeare have teamed up with the Emma Bridgewater Factory in support of Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival (8-10 June) to celebrate all things Shakespeare!

A true celebration of outstanding writing and brilliant books; the UK’s only “festival in a factory” the Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival takes place every June in the creative surroundings of the Emma Bridgewater Factory - a Victorian pot bank that has manufactured Emma’s iconic handmade and hand decorated pottery for more than twenty years. Now in its fourth year, the Festival is an established highlight of this creative city’s lively cultural scene and for three days in June author talks, panel discussions, hands-on workshops and live performances take place all around the canal-side factory in surprising spaces from the old pottery warehouse to the cobbled courtyard.

On the bill this year, renowned Shakespeare scholar Sir Jonathan Bate (above, right) will be giving a special talk,
'The Bard and his Afterlife – from the Romantics to Ted Hughes', on Friday 9th June at 4pm, and you could win 1 of 3 pairs of tickets to the Festival!

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, we want to know what your favourite Shakespeare play is and why. Using no more than 50 words, simply post your answer in the 'Comment' section of this post. The closing date for entries is 10am on Monday 29th May.

Full terms and conditions apply - for more information contact

Good luck!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Help for Men with Depression Workshop

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre will play host next week to a free workshop led by Clinical Hypnotherapist, Tracy Swift, aimed at helping men with depression.

Part of a series of free workshops available throughout the UK during the last week of April 2017, for men with depression.

The workshops are aimed at helping participants to feel free from the effects of depression and specifically for men who hide their emotions.

Limited places and advance booking only. Contact Tracy on 07764 997298
(please do not contact the venue)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Savour the ‘Golden Age’ of dining at Stafford Festival Shakespeare

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre management have this week announced the catering options for Stafford Festival Shakespeare (SFS) 2017, with Sugnall Walled Gardens once again providing the hospitality at Stafford Castle, offering picnics, pre-performance dining and food on-demand.

This year’s production of The Tempest is set against the glamorous backdrop of the1930s – the golden age of luxury cruise liners, Hollywood glitz and the dying days of vaudeville – and the dining experience at Stafford Castle will hark back to this era of elegance.

For just £12.95 per person, visitors can sample the delights of ‘Sugnall High Tea’, with a pot of tea or coffee for one, a selection of daintily cut sandwiches, a homemade scone with fruit preserve and clotted cream, and a range of cakes ‘of the day’. All this includes reserved seating in the hospitality marque – and for those who fancy splashing out on a glass of something fizzy, why not upgrade to ‘Champagne Tea’ for only £18.95 per person? Due to demand, bookings for both options are only available via pre-order.

Also on the menu, the hugely popular ‘Picnic for Two’ makes its return for SFS 2017. Prepared daily at Sugnall Walled Garden and available by pre-order only for just £25, these mouth-watering picnic hampers include a pot of olives, Anglesey Sea-Salt crisps, freshly baked Artisan sub-roll and two portions of fresh butter, homemade quiche, freshly picked salad with dressing, salami and cooked meats, smoked salmon, mature cheddar and a pot of chutney; and for desert, a Pot of strawberries (ice cream available on-site), two slices of homemade cake, as well as two bottles of spring water and a large bottle of Sugnall apple juice. There is also the option to add a bottle of one of the award-winning red or white wines on sale at the bar.

Come rain or shine, an English Summer just isn’t the same without a strawberry or two, and this year Sugnall caterers are offering a plump pot of these delicious fruits – grown on-site in the beautiful walled garden – served with either vanilla ice cream or fresh cream, and a glass of prosecco, all for £8.95 per person. 

Finally, for those seeking a quick bite on the night, there will be a daily selection of fine, artisan sub-sandwiches, with a wide range of delicious homemade fillings available from the kiosk. These fine, soft sub-rolls are freshly baked and supplied by Eccleshall’s Artisan Bakery, and also available for pre-order before midday via 01785 851556.

Orders for the picnic bags, High-Tea and/or Strawberry’s and Cream at this year’s Stafford Festival Shakespeare can be placed by telephoning via

The Tempest will open on Thursday 22nd June and run until Saturday 8th July 2017 at Stafford Castle. Tickets range from the first night saver price of £13.50 up to £25.50 for Thurs / Fri /Sat evening performances. Full information can be obtained from the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting the new website

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Spring return for Stafford’s only Cabaret and Burlesque Show

Back with a bang for the first time in 2017, Stafford's first, and only burlesque and variety show is set to return next month, with yet another evening of saucy decadence!

Since its launch in 2013, Très Très Cabaret has gone from strength to strength – performing numerous sell-out shows in the MET Studio at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre.

The first act to be announced for the forthcoming springtime show is the incredible, Good Ness Gracious! An award-winning, international burlesque artist who brings boundless fun and sparkle to the stage, this acclaimed performer has a range of hilarious acts and her cheekiness is bound to charm the pants off local audiences!

Winner of the Audience Choice Award at ‘The Neo Burlesque Awards – 2015’ and first runner up for ‘Burlesque Idol 2014′, her broad range of characters are set to leave the audience begging for more! From clown comedy to vintage starlet, Ness does it all with a twinkle in her eye and a tongue firmly in her cheek.

Très Très Cabaret has always prided itself on providing a “right royal knees up”, and the next act to be announced is certainly no exception to the rule… the finest of all royal males and king of the codpiece: Rusty Von Chrome!

An award-winning performer from Manchester, Rusty has been lighting up the burlesque scene with a wide spectrum of colourful characters – both delightfully dirty and refreshingly funny. Laughter (and slight confusion) guaranteed!

Next on the bill for the April show, Audacity Chutzpah hurtled with demure panache onto the burlesque circuit, and has been performing her unique brand of clown-burlesque on stages across the UK and Europe ever since!

Twice shortlisted for a London Cabaret Award for Best Burlesque Performer, Audacity Chutzpah has been described by ‘Time Out’ as "one of the funniest and most endearing performers on the burlesque scene". This girl is poignant and charming, seemingly innocent yet knowing, and always cheeky and surprising!

Missy Malone – a heady 1950s inspired bombshell – is also set to astound local audiences with her dazzlingly delightful act for Très Très Cabaret’s first 2017 show.
A highly accomplished and sought-after performer, Missy has been performing on the UK burlesque scene for over 13 years. More recently she has achieved international attention, including a tour with punk band The Damned as part of their ‘Twist Cabaret’ tour.

With the looks and grace of a Hollywood starlet coupled with her stunning costumes and stage presence, audiences are promised a scintillating show from Missy, and she never - but never - breaks her promises.

All of this incredible entertainment is personally selected by Très Très resident producer, promoter and performer: Stage Door Johnny

A flirtatious, lyrical lothario and seasoned comic raconteur with razor-sharp wit, he'll have audiences grinning, giggling and eating from the palm of his hand -sometimes literally. Johnny can be heard singing everything from Shirley Bassey to Guns ‘n’ Roses, as well as ridiculous self-penned medleys to surprise and delight!

Très Très Cabaret will be performed in The MET Studio at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Saturday 15th April at 8pm. Tickets are £15.50 and can be booked by calling the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting

Early booking is advised as a sell-out is expected again.

The show is strictly for over 18s only.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Young, gifted and black?

Child actors wanted for Stafford Festival Shakespeare 2017

Calling all budding stars of the stage! Producers of Stafford Festival Shakespeare (SFS) are offering two local child actors the opportunity to play a role in this year’s production of The Tempest at Stafford Castle.

Set against the elegant backdrop of the 1930s – the golden age of luxury cruise liners, Hollywood glamour and the dying days of vaudeville – SFS 2017 will transport audiences to the exotic shores of East Africa, to the Banjuni Isles off the coast of Somalia.

For the role of young Caliban, SFS producers are seeking two boys of black ethnicity aged between 8 and 12 years old, to each perform on alternative nights. The part requires a confident individual who can take direction and be comfortable performing alongside the 13-strong cast of professional actors.

This is a fantastic opportunity for two local actors to be part of a professional production and gain an invaluable insight into the world of theatre” commented Producer Derrick Gask.

Our production of The Tempest draws inspiration from African culture and mythology, and as such the character of Caliban will be portrayed as a Somalian witch doctor. In Shakespeare’s original text, Caliban is the son of a witch called Sycrorax, who prevents him from establishing a friendship with Miranda when they are both children at the beginning of the play. It is this early meeting with Miranda that our young actors will be required to portray.

This year’s show is set to be one of the most exciting in recent memory, and I would encourage any parent whose child may be interested in taking part to get in touch” concluded Gask

In ordered to be considered for the part, individuals must be able to attend a number of rehearsal held on Saturday mornings throughout May / June (dates TBC), as well as the technical and dress rehearsals (20 – 22 June), and all scheduled performances throughout June and July as detailed by the Company Manager. They would also need to arrive at the dressing room on site at Stafford Castle by the ‘half’ – 35-40 minutes before the beginning of the performance. Once their part in the play is completed, they would then be allowed to leave at a suitable time afterwards, via an exit hidden from the sight of the audience at approximately 8.30pm.

If you would like your child to be considered for the part of young Caliban, or if you require any additional information, please contact Wes Carter on 01785 619086 or email

The Tempest will open on Thursday 22nd June and run until Saturday 8th July 2017 at Stafford Castle. Established in 1991, Stafford Festival Shakespeare has fast become one of Europe's largest open air Shakespeare productions.

For the first time in its 27 year, SFS 2017 will also feature a Sunday performance on 25th June at 5pm.

Tickets range from the first night saver price of £13.50 up to £25.50 for Thurs / Fri /Sat evening performances.

Full information can be obtained from the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting the new website

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Rich Hall joins host of top comedians coming to Gatehouse in 2017

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre has added yet another stellar name from the world of stand-up comedy to its forthcoming 2017 Spring Summer season – none other than the critically-acclaimed, master of wit Rich Hall

Join Rich and his virtuoso musical mates for a mash-up of music, comedy and gratuitous coloration featuring the very best of comedy and music. Performing will be Rich’s regular band of talented and chronically unemployable urchins. The floor will reek of liquor and spent dreams.

Rich Hall’s critically acclaimed grouchy, deadpan style has established him as a master of absurdist irony and the king of rapid-fire wit. He is also well known for his television and radio work, including regular appearances on Very British Problems (Channel 4), Stand Up For The Week (Channel 4), QI (BBC1/2), Live At The Apollo (BBC1), Channel 4’s Comedy Gala Live At The O2, Have I Got News For You (BBC1), Rich Hall’s Cattle Drive (BBC4), Rich Hall’s Gone Fishing (BBC4), Otis Lee Crenshaw – London Not Tennessee (BBC2), and Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC2).

As well as Rich Hall, the Gatehouse Theatre has a veritable feast of top stand-up comedians lined up to perform later this year, including Ross Noble on Wednesday 15th February (SOLD OUT), Lee Nelson on Friday 10th March, Richard Herring on Saturday 1st April, Jasper Carrott on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th April, Henning Wehn on Thursday 11th May (SOLD OUT), Reginald D. Hunter on Saturday 20th May, and Joel Dommett on Saturday 27th May. In addition, the venue’s
monthly MET Comedy nights will continue throughout 2017, with early booking strongly advised.

Rich Hall will be performing at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Friday 26th May at 8pm. Tickets are priced at £17.50 and are available from the Box Office on 01785 619080 or online via
Age guidance 14 years + - adult content and swearing

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Knights of the Theatre kick off new season of National Theatre Live at Gatehouse

National Theatre (NT) Live is set to return to Stafford Gatehouse Theatre this month, kicking off with an encore screening of a “landmark production” featuring two of the most recognised faces of British theatre – Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen.
Following their hit run on Broadway, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart return to the West End stage in Harold Pinter’s No Man's Land.
One summer's evening, two ageing writers, Hirst and Spooner, meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst's stately house nearby.  As the pair become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the lively conversation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two sinister younger men.
Also starring Owen Teale and Damien Molony, don’t miss this glorious revival of Pinter’s comic classic.
In addition to No Man’s Land, the Gatehouse Theatre will be screening a host of other National Theatre productions over the course of 2017.
Set for live broadcast on 2nd February, Lucian Msamati stars as Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s iconic play, Amadeus – a tale of music, power and jealousy. Following this, Gemma Arterton is Joan of Arc in the 16th February screening of the George Bernard Shaw play, Saint Joan. Then on Thursday 9th March, Ruth Wilson will star as the title role in a new version of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Finally, the last NT Live broadcast of the Spring Summer season will be Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night starring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia.
More NT Live screenings at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre will be announced over the course of the year.
The National Theatre encore screening of No Man’s Land will take place at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Thursday 12th January at 7pm. Tickets are priced at £13, with a £10.50 concession price, and are available from the Box Office on 01785 619080 or online via