Rock ‘n’ rolling with the Bard

FairyTrioWhat do 1950s bebop music, the King of the Fairies and a tarty Titania have in common?

Well, normally, not much, but for three nights in August they will be coming together for a spectacular performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The comedy is being performed by the Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company in the grounds of Broomfield Hall at Morley and it has been given a makeover by director Tim Haywood.

It has been set against a 1950s backdrop, with a glorious soundtrack ranging from big band to rock and roll. There will be outrageous costumes and a huge company of 42 zany actors.

There are some very opinionated fairies. Titania, their queen is not the usual feminine floaty ethereal type – more a voluptuous blonde – and the Bacchanals are tipsy.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the audience don’t get up and dance it is so lively,” said Joan Chambers, a long time member of the group, who handles the publicity.

After the group has performed in the Derby College grounds from August 1-3 they will be off to Cornwall for their annual pilgrimage to the Minack Theatre.

The famous open-air theatre is a special venue for the group because it was founded in 1931 by Derbyshire-born Rowena Cade who was the great-great granddaughter of Joseph Wright.

Rowena and her family moved to Cheltenham in the early 1900s and then after the war she and her mother bought the Minack headland and built a home. Their love for performing and staging plays meant that eventually Rowena decided to build an open-air stage in a gully above the Minack Rock.

Today it is managed by a charitable trust which ensures that only the best amateur productions are invited to perform.

The Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company was founded in 1908 and is one of the few amateur companies in the UK dedicated to performing the work of the Man of the Millennium.

“It was formed by a group of people who had plenty of time on their hands and were well educated. At the time they felt Derby needed a little more culture. They were very much the country house set,” explained Joan.

Not any more of course – these days the group is open to everyone interested in theatre production and there is no shortage of supporters.

“Over the years we have moved venues quite a lot and performed at several open air venues including Elvaston Castle, Markeaton Park, Carsington Water and even the city’s streets.

“We have our own headquarters on Kedleston Road in Derby which means we have a space for rehearsals and storing our props and costumes and we even have room to stage private productions for our members.”

For more information about the group go to