Al-fresco theatre opens in South Downs National Park

Three people were reported to be stuck in mud off Hayling Island

Three people rescued after becoming stuck in mud off Hayling Island

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TV STAR Rupert Penry-Jones was jubilant as he unveiled a new outdoor amphitheatre in the heart of the South Downs.

Rupert, best known for his role in the series Spooks, officially opened the theatre, which is in the grounds of Bedales School at Steep, near Petersfield.

More than 5,000 tons of soil was moved to create the facility, which will be the setting for this year’s Petersfield Shakespeare Festival.

And it will be for use by local theatre groups, as well as for productions by the school.

With its grassy banks, natural flowers, medieval barn and beautiful pond, the site is set to provide the perfect backdrop for open air performances.

To launch the amphitheatre and open the festival, 25 professional and local actors will be performing Much Ado about Nothing and Twelfth Night.

Director Jay Green said: ‘We are delighted to have the support of Bedales in opening this wonderful venue.

‘It’s a beautiful setting in which to stage two of Shakespeare’s greatest and best known comedies.

‘We have an excellent and experienced cast, and it’s our hope as many people as possible enjoy high quality theatre in such an atmospheric location. We want this to be an integral part of the Hampshire summer for years to come.’

Much Ado About Nothing runs from July 16 to 21, and Twelfth Night from July 13 to 18. Visit