Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 25 July 2008

A dream summer's evening

The weather forecast predicted a perfect warm sunny and dry evening – we had to put our plan into action, now or never!

A few years ago we discovered the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, and although tickets can be booked we realised that if you arrive early with a picnic there's are always enough tickets available on the gate. This year we had been waiting for the perfect evening and last night it looked like this was it, so I cooked some picnic food – home-made pasties (feta, cavolo nero and pine nut, and curried squash, green bean and pea); ham; gherkins; tomatoes; some nice bread; home-made banana, raisin and pecan muffins; cold beers and lemonade – and packed it all in a basket. I also found the picnic rug (a Christmas present yet to be used!). We grabbed a shawl, thick jumpers and socks for later when the temperatures would fall.

It's difficult to choose which play to go to, our system is to eliminate the plays we've seen performed before, and then eliminate the venues we've been to. So last night we plumped for 'The Taming of the Shrew' in the gardens of Robinson College. Many years ago it was possible to wander in and out of Cambridge college gardens and quads and use them as short-cuts to cross the town, now in days of more vigilant security they are mostly closed to visitors) so to spend an evening in one of the beautiful college gardens and have high quality entertainment too is a dream treat.

The play was performed on the stage of the open air theatre, the surrounding trees and grassy paths providing the backdrop and entrances. The Shrew has been a deeply unfashionable play to be performed and one to be avoided by any company not wanting to to be embroiled in a heated debate. But this performance brought out the feistiness of Kate and although she was tamed, I think she had also tamed Petruchio, and there was some great slap-stick and verbal banter to keep young and old in the audience happy. "Don't you get any ideas!" the lady behind us whispered to her husband as the actors took their final bow.

The performances continue until 6th September – check the forecast, grab a picnic, select a garden – have a dream evening!


  1. We did this a couple of years ago and I'd forgetten how much fun it was. Think we saw King Lear in Trinity Gardens. Your picnic sound divine!

  2. I went to Robinson last year for their performance! Such a lovely thing to do.

    Wow, you made such delicious things to eat - great use of cavolo by the sounds of things. You've made me hungry.

    Glad you had such a great time - I'm rather envious!

  3. that sounds like such a fun evening. Where I used to live (in the city) they have an annual Shakespeare festival with outdoor performances in a beautiful open air park -- they still have it but we live 6 hours from there so can't join in. Your picnic sounded delicious!! Actually, I might just make a picnic type of lunch and my husband and I can pretend we're having a picnic in our yard :)

    It's always a pleasure to read of these great happenings where you live.

  4. Theatre as it should be! I've seen and performed in open-air Shakespeare, but never in such glorious grounds. And as for that picnic--as cast, we made do with (cold)toasted sandwiches and lager!

  5. I love your photo of the actors, the colours in their costume is shown so well. It sounds like a lovely way to spend a summer's evening, along with a delicious picnic. x

  6. Gina - we're so lucky to have events like this.

    Silverpebble - I thought some special picnic food was called for!

    Hi Diane - Oh do have that picnic!

    Moreidlethoughts - sarnies and lager sound good to me!

    Louise - the acting was superb! Shakespeare really comes alive when performed like this.



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