Titchfield’s theory celebrated with new play

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Shakespeare’s lost years have always been something of a hot topic for historians. For several years in his life there’s hardly any information on him, and then suddenly he’s being written about in London as an actor.

But one such theory, that was explored on the BBC’s The One Show last week, was that he spent some time as a schoolmaster in Titchfield.

Celebrating his connection with the area, Titchfield Festival Theatre is holding the Titchfield Shakespeare Festival throughout May until October.

Staged at The Great Barn on Mill Lane, Titchfield, the first production is Our Cousin Will. Running from May 23-26, it was written by playwright Stewart Trotter and commissioned by the company.

Speaking about how the production began, director Kevin Fraser says: ‘We have known Stewart Trotter for a long time and he was looking at Shakespeare being in Titchfield and his relationship with the Earl of Southampton through all his sonnets.

‘Through tme you get a good idea of his life. It developed from there and we managed to get our hands on the Great Barn again to perform.’

Titchfield Festival Theatre ran an annual Shakespeare Festival throughout May until October until 2006 and this year have brought it back.

Kevin says: ‘In order to get it off to a good start we asked Stewart if he would write a play about the theory, which is Our Cousin Will. He was on The One Show last week about Shakespeare’s connection with Titchfield and the idea that he spent time here is really starting to gain momentum.’

Our Cousin Will starts with Shakespeare near the end of his life looking back and thinking about what he has been through.

Kevin adds: ‘It goes through his time in Titchfield and how he eventually went back to Stratford-Upon-Avon and died as a Catholic, and it’s all interpreted through his sonnets.’

Titchfield Festi al Theatre is putting three more plays on as part of its Titchfield Shakespeare Festival, one of which is Romeo and her Juliet from July 18-28, which is based on the two star crossed lovers who aren’t teenagers, but pensioners in a care home.

Shakespeare’s iconic Comedy of Errors will also be performed from August 15-25 and The Taming of The Shrew from September 26 until October 6.

Tickets for Our Cousin Will cost £9 to £11 from Titchfield Festival Theatre on (01329) 556156 or go to titchfieldfestivaltheatre.com.