Ocean Recovery Project backs Stafford Shakespeare

Ocean Recovery Project backs Stafford Shakespeare

Gatehouse Theatre teams up with Ocean Recovery Project for TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale

The Gatehouse Theatre has teamed up with one of Britain’s top ocean conservation projects to work together on this year’s Stafford Shakespeare production, TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale.

Bosses are working with Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project, which will see litter and debris washed up on beaches in the south west used to create the set for the annual production.

The Bard’s much-loved play begins with a shipwreck and the producers have set this year’s Shakespeare production in 1960s Cornwall.

Almost half a tonne of fishing nets, life buoys, fish boxes and other detritus from Cornwall and Devon has been delivered to the Eastgate Street venue, where the play will be staged from June 21 to July 7.

Neil Hembrow, Ocean Recovery Project manager, said: ‘We’re delighted to be working with the Gatehouse Theatre.

‘We get tonnes of material washed up on the shore and in harbours. A lot of it is plastic and we work with fishermen, trawler companies and volunteers to recycle it.

‘Not only does it mean the material is re-used, but it also keeps our beaches and harbours tidy.

‘Our work is also important because we collect many lost nets. Often these are giant trawl nets rolling around in our oceans, snaring fish in what is called ‘ghost fishing’, as the catches are never landed.

‘The nets are catching fish long after they are lost by trawlers and fishermen because they are plastic and will last for hundreds of years, potentially.

‘So it’s important we collect them when they wash ashore to stop that happening.

‘I think this is the first time we’ve worked with a theatre, so it’s a really innovative solution to making use of this debris and I can’t wait to see how it all looks on stage and around the building.’

TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale producer Mike Groves is the driving force behind the initiative and he said: ‘We’re always looking for theatrical solutions that help with environmental sustainability so we’re delighted with this partnership.

‘As our play is TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale, we were looking to source lots of fishing nets etc and we struck upon the idea of contacting Keep Britain Tidy and their Ocean Recovery Project.

‘They have very kindly donated a huge van-load of material with all sorts of things on board – there’s even a rusty old anchor in there, so everything is very authentic.

‘It’s come straight from the harbours and beaches - it only washed up a day or so before it all arrived and you can genuinely still smell the sea on it.

‘Stafford is probably one of the most inland towns you can find, but we still have an environmental responsibility and it’s great to be able to play even a small part in helping keep our beaches and oceans safe and clean.’

Some of the material will also be used to dress the theatre’s front of house area and afterwards it will be sent for recycling in Gloucester.

Freedom Leisure, one of the UK’s leading charitable and not-for-profit leisure trusts, manages Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on behalf of Stafford Borough Council.

Angela Brown, Group Sustainability and Environmental Manager at Freedom Leisure, said: ‘Incorporating tangible environmental initiatives into the theatre realm is a noteworthy and commendable accomplishment. This is a wonderful example of Freedom Leisure’s commitment to collaborating with partners to showcase environmental responsibility and creating awareness on the impact our actions have on the environment.’

TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale will be directed by Sean Turner, who also directed last year’s hit Stafford Shakespeare production A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, which drew a record drama audience of more than 5,000 people to the Gatehouse.

It will star Natalie Anderson from Netflix hit FOOL ME ONCE and the producers are set to reveal more star names shortly.

For information on the Keep Britain Tidy Ocean Recovery Project, visit www.keepbritaintidy.org/get-involved/volunteer/ocean-recovery-project