Downpour's returning to the stage

21 June 2021

After the absolute rollercoaster of the last 18 months, we are so excited to be able to return to the wonderful Bristol Shakespeare Festival this July.

This year’s festival not only gives us the chance to return to the stage (it has been too long!) but also to bring an amazing new play to Bristol for the first time: Queen Margaret by Jeanie O’Hare.

Despite the fact that Shakespeare wrote more than 800 lines for Margaret of Anjou (to give you some context that is more lines than he wrote for King Lear), she remains one of his lesser known characters. This is largely in part to the fact that her lines are spread across Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy and Richard III, the former of which is infrequently performed and often heavily cut when it is shown.

Jeanie O’Hare, former RSC Dramaturg , Shakespeare’s Margaret, along with her own text to create a whole new play following the War of The Roses from the perspective of this deeply complex and powerful queen. “From the first moment I picked up Jeanie O’Hare script I couldn’t put it down, and the more I learnt about Margaret, the more I wanted to tell her story” says director Andrew Cullyer.

Rehearsing Queen Margaret has not been without it obstacles. “The added complications of early Zoom rehearsals and small bubbles of six at the beginning was definitely a new set of challenges to be overcome. Fortunately, we at Downpour we are use to rehearsing outside in all weathers, so least that wasn’t new” reflects Andrew.

“Being back rehearsing has felt amazing” says actress Sarah Cullyer “although after over a year without the opportunity to perform for most of us, I think we all felt a little rusty stepping back into rehearsals.” A particular highlight of rehearsals so far has been the stage combat, taught and choreographer by the fantastic, Maisie Carter.

We would like to say a massive thank you to all the wonderful staff and volunteers from St. Paul’s Church, Clifton, and from Bristol Shakespeare Festival.