In the next couple of weeks I'll be reviewing some much anticipated theatre at Sophia Gardens, as part of Cardiff Everyman's Open Air Festival.
Excited much? Let me think about that for a moment...
Uh, YES! And not simply for the shows (though Taming of the Shrew and Blackadder II are both definitely right up my street, not to mention the 'squeeeeeee' that I feel about a live version of The Little Mermaid), but, somewhat unbelievably, this will be my first taste of open air theatre...and I'm DANCING IN MY SEAT excited about it!
But when I think 'open air theatre' I think The Globe, I think 'ARGH, which shoes do I wear, I gotta stand up for hours, right?' or I think 'will my umbrella be big enough for a whole show?!' This is WALES remember, not Ancient Greece...
Clearly, I'm not the expert here! So instead, I've roped in a professional to answer some of my burning questions.
Cue Everyman's Toby:
So is there seating, heating, a rain cover? An intermission, refreshments and toilets?
Yup, all seating is undercover - BTW you'll find a lot of this out on everymanfestival.co.uk
Bar is provided, and yeah toilets! Running times and dates can be located on our site and on TicketSource.
What's the staging setup?
Raised stage, raked undercover seating.
What's the atmosphere like at an open air performance?
Erm, unpredictable, intimate, immediate, dynamic.
Where did the idea stem from?
The Festival started at Dyffryn Gardens in 1982, moved to St. Fagan's in 1996 then to Sophia Gardens in 2013. The festival was started to address the need of a lack of open-air theatre in Cardiff at the time.
Does it reach a different audience?
There is plenty of crossover in our Winter season and festival productions. But a significant proportion of our festival audience are tourists or are of a musical genre that Everyman does not engage much of during the Winter.
What's the biggest issue you face with open air?
Weather. But this is mitigated to some extent by the undercover seating. Also in the 30 odd years we have been doing this we have never had to cancel a performance. Though in 1997 we had to delay the start of a matinee due to lightening.
Why should people come?
Well, erm... we are the largest open air theatre festival in Wales and the only one with undercover seating. We offer a varied programme to cater for all tastes and ages in a fantastic open air environment slap bang in the city centre. We also have parking facilities and easy access for wheelchair users.
What excites me most about this is that you get everything you'd want from a regular theatre experience, but in a totally different environment. Just the word 'festival' changes the perspective of what this season is for, and how I should feel when I walk into that space.
And there's plenty on offer to please every palate, with horror/musical Sweeney Todd, comedy from Blackadder II, classic Shakespearian in Shrew and a sprinkling of magic for the kids with The Little Mermaid.
Leave those brollies behind, wear your heels, and take a seat at Sophia Gardens this summer for a theatre experience you won't regret!
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff: 4 July – 2 August
For more info on tickets, times and dates, head to: www.everymanfestival.co.uk
To view the original blog, and for more from me, head to: touringtheunknown