On the 6th of December, I wrote an open letter to both Freedom Leisure and Stafford Borough Council regarding the future of Shakespeare at Stafford Castle. The concerns I had and the ideas around making the production more sustainable.
From the letter, I was pleased to meet with representatives from Stafford Borough Council, Freedom Leisure, at the Gatehouse today.
I wanted to share a few thoughts and updates from that meeting.
It is clear that both the Gatehouse and the Council did not want to make the decision and decided to do so out of financial necessity.
Most importantly for me, It was also made explicitly clear that this is not a definitive change. While it is certain the Gatehouse will stage a Shakespeare production next year and likely the year after, following that no future has been decided.
It was also made clear that even if the production is a financial success, should the indoor staging negatively impact the variety of audiences the Castle attracts, this will be part of the review.
All parties were clear to emphasise that while they made this decision out of necessity, they will work solidly to make the production as successful, if not more so. This is an assurance I will keep them to.
I would be untruthful to say I still don’t have reservations, but I have been assured that the concerns raised will go into any final decision made and some of which have been considered already.
Similarly, I’m happy to be proven wrong. If audiences double, families aren’t put off, young people develop an interest in Shakespeare, then who am I to stand in the way of this?
Will the two star names rumoured bring the success the Gatehouse hopes? Can the production be as reputable, if not more so, as well as attrcting a broad range of audiences?
Only time will tell. However, I will give the Gatehouse, Freedom Leisure, and the Council the time they need to demonstrate that.