Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Five-star 1623 theatre company will be in Kent on August 1, when they perform Shakespeare's Leading Lady, a brand-new play celebrating the life and work of Ellen Terry, the brightest star of the Victorian Theatre.

The play will premiere in the Barn Theatre at Smallhythe Place, Tenterden, Ellen's final home, for one night only and will explore a number of Shakespearean roles that Ellen was famous for playing and redefining.

Ben Spiller, artistic director and producer of 1623, explained: "Two of our associate actors, Adam Buss and Jane Upton, visited Smallhythe Place last summer while on holiday and fell in love with its beauty.  When they returned, they insisted that 1623 perform something there.

"So I contacted Paul Meredith, the manager at Smallhythe, and we discussed a number of ideas before settling on a play that focuses entirely on the property's most famous resident.  Since then, a team of 1623 associates has been researching, writing and rehearsing the play.  It's been a fascinating process."

Paul added: "I am very pleased to be welcoming 1623 to the property.  It's always great when a theatre company writes a show especially for the Barn Theatre - it's such a magical place."

The performance will begin at 7pm on Saturday August 1 and will run for approximately two hours including an interval.  Tickets, priced £12, can be booked through the National Trust office on 0844 249 1895.


Information on 1623 theatre company

1623 theatre company performs Shakespeare in non-traditional theatre spaces to engage new and existing audiences with the playwright's inspirational language, vibrant characters and exciting sense of theatre.

Venues and events have included BBC Gardeners' World Live, Derby City General Hospital, Glastonbury Festival, Milton Keynes Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Poole's Cavern, RSC Fringe, rural village halls and city spaces.

Shakespeare learning projects have taken place in primary, secondary, middle and high schools throughout the UK, as well as at colleges, universities and away days for organisations.

Patrons are top British playwright Mark Ravenhill and leading Shakespeare expert Professor Carol Rutter at the University of Warwick.

For more information on 1623 contact Ben Spiller, artistic director and producer, on 07867 996959 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Information on Smallhythe Place

Smallhythe Place is a half-timbered late-15th century farmhouse and the country retreat of the great Shakespearean actress Dame Ellen Terry from 1899 until her death in 1928.

Ellen first saw the house in the company of Henry Irving, the manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London's Covent Garden, with whom she shared a famous theatrical partnership for nearly 24 years.

The attractive house was constructed in around 1480 and, although it has been altered from time to time over the years, it still retains its essential character.

Today the house is preserved as a theatrical museum, full of mementos of the great actress and the world in which she moved. The rooms were preserved by Ellen Terry's daughter, Edith Craig, who kept the house as a memorial to her mother and who ultimately gave the house to the National Trust.

For more information on Smallhythe Place contact Paul Meredith, property manager, on 01580 762334 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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