Turning 10 Years Old AND introducing our Honorary Patron!
Honorary Patron Brian Blessed with Co-Founders Sarah and Matt
Photo: Matt Pereira
It is with great pleasure that we announce that in our 10th Anniversary Year the wonderful Brian Blessed has agreed to be our Honorary Patron.
On accepting our invitation, Brian said "I am delighted to be honorary patron of the Guildford Shakespeare Company. This company is nothing short of miraculous. Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary, coinciding with the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A momentous year – a great company.”
Sarah: "In 2006 when we decided to produce an open-air play, we never dreamed that someone like Brian Blessed would one day be our patron. It is incredibly humbling and inspiring to have someone whose work and ethos you have admired and respected, publicly endorse your work.”
Ten years, 27 shows and 62,000 audience members later, the company’s energy and commitment has never been greater.
Matt: “Over the next ten years, we are committed to making GSC one of the most recognised theatre companies in the South East, a model of performance and production excellence. We will consolidate our strengths to remain Guildford-centric, broaden our cultural engagement and continue to nurture the audiences and artists of tomorrow”.
The New Beginnings Campaign
A fund-raising campaign has been set up to run alongside our 10th Anniversary Year to raise money for the company to fund their own premises. The ‘New Beginnings’ campaign is about finding a permanent home to provide private rehearsal, storage, workshop and education spaces, along with larger administrative offices. This in turn will give GSC a more holistic approach to the work we create, continuing our mission to make theatre, and Shakespeare, accessible, affordable and inclusive for everyone.
Why is our 10th Anniversary so important?
In 2006, two Guildford-based actors, Sarah Gobran and Matt Pinches had an idea:
“To create a company that, in a time when we seem to be dumbing down art and promoting uninspiring celebrity culture, will produce Shakespeare that is exciting, engaging and accessible, whilst remaining faithful to the original works. Shakespeare is not exclusive or old-fashioned, and we have made it Guildford Shakespeare Company’s passion to prove it.” from Mission Statement 2006
The Co-Founders have never lost sight of their original vision for the company to re-ignite peoples’ passion for live theatre, Shakespeare and great story-telling. Together, with leading industry artists they have produced 27 home-grown dynamic and inspiring productions that have been accessible to the widest possible audience.
In the last 12 months alone, GSC have created staged 140 live performances and created 87 jobs; have staged King Lear with the mighty Brian Blessed; commissioned three original adaptations (The Canterbury Tales, The Wind in the Willow, Alice in Wonderland); engaged 2392 people, young and old, in workshops and events.
Live theatre has the power to bring communities together, not only to experience great performances, but also for participants to share each other's stories, lives and thoughts. When that collective experience is made locally an added layer of pride is infused, which further promotes continued engagement.
Therefore another key objective for the Co-Founders back in 2006 was to create a theatre company that was at the centre of the community it served:
“Having watched and been part of a great many theatre productions over the past 8 years, we feel Guildford is missing a golden opportunity, and with the help and support of local people and businesses, there is no reason for this venture not to become a successful annual event.” from Mission Statement 2006
As a site-responsive theatre company, GSC’s use of found spaces, local landmarks, heritage sites and vacant buildings has helped to develop and nurture community interest in these sites, both culturally and economically. In 2015, GSC has attracted thousands of new visitors to venues such as St Mary’s Church, Watts Gallery, Guildford Museum, and the Castle Keep.
Such activity invites individuals to be more explorative of their town whilst encouraging pride in their community. GSC’s presence also supports improvements to venues through continued, varied use, helping to sustain our cultural heritage.
Over the next three years, GSC will be working to consolidate our strengths and remain “niche” rather than run the risk of over expanding. Our focus will be to remain Guildford-centric, with the ultimate goal of promoting Guildford as a desired theatre destination.
The key factor in making this happen will be for GSC to find a permanent ‘home’ for its expanding administrative requirements, creative output, education work, and storage, whilst providing the company with a fixed public presence.
By having its own exclusive premises, the company will able to reinforce its status as a valuable, local, high quality arts and education provider, and as a model of performance and production excellence, recognised within our industry.
By establishing a more efficient, creative working environment GSC will broaden cultural engagement and generate more opportunities.
The next 10 years is about developing GSC’s artistic excellence to nurture the audiences and artists of tomorrow.
“This young, vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic company is always worth watching, and its aim to make Shakespeare accessible and fun pays off with many who previously avoided the Bard being totally converted.” British Theatre Guide, 2014
Guildford Shakespeare Company is a professional site-specific theatre company, specialising in Shakespeare. Our approach places the audience right at the heart of the action, immersing them in the world of the play, thereby demystifying the legend that Shakespeare is for an elite, educated few but rather is immediate and accessible to everyone.
“…to be spellbound, amused and to follow every moment of text and to want the production never to end…one of the best evenings of theatre I have ever been privileged to attend.” Audience member 2011
We want our 21st Century audiences to experience the same thrill and excitement that Shakespeare’s original audiences must have felt when they first saw the Ghost appear in Hamlet, the rousing battle cry of Henry V, and edge-of-your-seat anticipation in The Comedy of Errors.
"Jaw breakingly good" Audience member 2014
At GSC we use diverse and unusual non-theatre venues to create dynamic and challenging productions. From castles to lakes, churches to pubs, our approach merges the audience and acting space so that you’re given a visceral, stimulating and, above all, unique theatre experience.
“You're one of the reasons I love living in Guildford” Audience member, 2013
GSC productions are fresh, fast and modern in their interpretation of Shakespeare, but always in the original text and NEVER dumbed down.
We hope you enjoy these fabulous stories as much as we enjoy re-telling them.
GSC is an award-winning company: