The Fabulous Four!

After a spectacular start to 2019, The Mission Theatre is delighted to be welcoming 4 talented companies to Bath this month. From Shakespeare to original dramas, literary classics to thought-provoking tales, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Tuesday 5th - Wednesday 6th February

Antony and Cleopatra

The first of our fabulous four is The Scullions. This talented local company are bringing to Bath a re-imagined version of the epic Shakespeare tale: Antony and Cleopatra. The ancient tale is relocated and set in the roaring 20’s - a world of decadent, party-fuelled, young and disgustingly-rich aristocrats. The company invite you for a night at the illustrious bar of Egypt’s wealthiest bright young thing, Cleopatra.

With a live band and an ensemble cast, you won’t want to miss your ticket to this party.

Tickets £12 (£10 concs) Available from Bath Box Office 01225 463362

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Friday 8th - Saturday 9th February

In Other Words

Next up we have a newly published Samuel French production In Other Words brought to The Mission by Off The Middle. It is an intimate, humorous and deeply moving love story which explores the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and the transformative power of music in our lives. This five star production follows the lives of Arthur and Jane as they tell their stories from the very beginning, connecting with the timeless music of Frank Sinatra.

Relevant and powerful, do not miss this up and coming production for 2019!

Tickets £15 (£12 concs) Available online at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/in-other-words-tickets-52009515862

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Thursday 14th - Saturday 16th February

The Ebbing Hour

Third on our list of fabulous theatre is Softsod Productions with The Ebbing Hour . This is the company’s dynamic new drama, re-crafted into a single two-act play from two previous one-act plays Fragile Man and UnSpoken, producing what is now a unique, best-of-the-best, piece of theatre.

Passionate about engaging with audiences, Softsod create unique, contemporary drama focused on crafted story-telling, creative directing, outstanding performance and high quality production.

A beautiful, fascinating and provocative tale.

Tickets £12.50 (£10.50 concs) Available online at www.softsod.com

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Thursday 21st - Saturday 24th February

Animal Farm

To round off an exciting month of theatre in February Bath Spa Productions bring this ambitious production of the literary classic: Animal Farm to The Mission Theatre. A timeless and devastating allegory of idealism betrayed by the desire for personal power.

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Among the most famous political novels of all time, this vibrant and moving production from Bath Spa University students will breathe fresh life into a classic which is as resonant today as when it was first published.

A true vintage tale, brought to life by talented local actors!

Tickets £12 (£10 concs, £6 BSU Student) Available from Bath Spa Live and Bath Box Office 01225 436632

Fun and games in the Bedroom!

The Mayor and Mayoress of Bath with the cast and crew of  Bedroom Farce

The Mayor and Mayoress of Bath with the cast and crew of Bedroom Farce

On Friday, December 14th the cast of Next Stage Theatre Company‘s Bedroom Farce were delighted to perform at The Mission Theatre in front of The Right Worshipful the Mayor - Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones and The Mayoress. Produced in-the-round and directed by Ann Ellison, Bedroom Farce had played to sell-out audiences all week.

The Mayor and Mayoress enjoyed this classic Ayckbourn romp which follows the antics of four couples, in 3 bedrooms through the course of one night. The play demonstrated the best of Next Stage’s patron’s work with moments of high humour - the couple eating pilchards on toast at midnight, or the collapse of a painfully put-together DIY bedside table - interspersed with Ayckbourn’s insightful observations of marriages and relationships.

Next Stage’s Artistic Director Ann Ellison says:

“It was lovely to welcome the Mayor and Mayoress to The Mission Theatre especially at such a busy time of year for them both. It is not their first visit to our theatre as they had previously seen another Next Stage production here - Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams. Both the Mayor and Mayoress have a keen interest in the creative arts and over a drink in the interval wanted to understand more about the history of our theatre company - which is about to celebrate 25 years of bringing excellence in theatre to Bath audiences. The Mayor congratulated me on the work Next Stage has done at The Mission Theatre and said that our successful venture in creating an independent community theatre 15 years ago stands as a beacon in the city, demonstrating what can be achieved through vision, determination and hard work. He praised the talents of the company’s actors and the fact that every penny raised through our shows goes directly back into keeping the theatre running successfully.”

At the end of Friday‘s performance of Bedroom Farce the Mayor and Mayoress met the cast and crew of the production, chatted about the play and were happy -  ignoring the smell of pilchards! - to pose on one of the beds for a company photo.

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

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As another year draws to a close and the air is full of festive cheer, we here at The Mission Theatre are delighted to reflect on what has been yet another wonderful year.

Our resident Next Stage Theatre Company strode into 2018 with a sterling production of John Osborne’s Look Back In Anger. In February the talented Next Stage Youth revisited Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Parts I and II, performing to sold-out audiences. April saw a highly successful Next Stage production of David Auburn’s Proof, with a debut from Next Stage’s youngest Director, Charlotte Claydon. We closed the Summer season with Tennessee Williams’ The Night of The Iguana, with a notably magical set.

The Autumn season opened with Next Stage's elegant production of J.B.Priestly’s Dangerous Corner, directed by Bob Constantine. In the October half term both Next Stage adult and youth actors trod the boards in a heart-warming performance of E. Nesbitt’s The Railway Children. This production was immediately followed with the moving and unforgettable Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo – an ambitious one-man show, exceptionally-well performed by Next Stage's Kris Rose. Signing off this busy and exciting year, the company closed with one of Alan Ayckbourn’s funniest plays: Bedroom Farce, set in-the-round. Those of you who were lucky enough to catch the play last week will know what a hilarious production this proved to be. 

With eight Next Stage productions this year, it certainly has been a busy one at the theatre, but that is just the tip of the iceberg! This year The Mission has been host to the Bath Fringe Festival, Bath Comedy Festival, The Jane Austen Festival and more than 50 visiting companies, including returning favourites from previous years. From magic shows to musicals, from Shakespeare to cutting-edge drama, from children’s shows to dance, we have had a marvellous range of entertainment with something for everyone to enjoy.

Looking ahead, 2019 is already set to be another exciting year, with Next Stage celebrating its 25th Birthday in May. The company returns to the Minack Theatre in Cornwall in late-July to perform the outstanding Great Expectations with a cast made up of our adult and youth actors. 

To kick off our new season, we have the elegant masterpiece that is W. Somerset Maugham’s For Services Rendered. Next Stage cast and crew are in intensive rehearsals over the Christmas period, and tickets are now on sale from the Next Stage Box Office. Don’t leave it too late to get yours, as we anticipate that this will be a popular show.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all, from The Mission Theatre!

Robert Lindsay to become Silver Anniversary Patron of The Mission Theatre’s resident Next Stage Theatre Company

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Robert Lindsay as Sebastian -  In Praise of Love  (2018)

Robert Lindsay as Sebastian - In Praise of Love (2018)

Next Stage Theatre Company, which created and runs The Mission Theatre, is about to celebrate its 25th birthday in May 2019 and is delighted to announce that Robert Lindsay has agreed to become its Silver Anniversary Patron joining the company’s other Patrons: Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Sir David Hare and Dame Harriet Walter.

Bath-based audiences have just had the chance to see Robert Lindsay in a critically-acclaimed performance as Sebastian in Jonathan Church’s brilliant production of Terence Rattigan’s In Praise of Love. Anyone lucky enough to have seen the play in the last month will know how thrilled the Next Stage Theatre Company are to have won the patronage of such a luminary of stage and screen.

Robert Lindsay has been delighting his public since graduating from RADA in the early 70’s. He has been seen in TV comedies, Hollywood films and West-End and Broadway shows with seasons at the RSC and The National Theatre. A versatile and charismatic actor, Robert is perhaps best known for such memorable shows as Citizen Smith and GBH on television, Richard III for the RSC, Me and my Girl (London and New York), The Entertainer, Onassis and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on stage.

Next Stage’s Artistic Director, Ann Ellison BEM has followed and admired Robert’s work since the 1970’s and in particular was inspired by him and Derek Jacobi when they appeared in Bath in Becket in 1991. When she knew Robert was coming to Bath with In Praise of Love, a play that Next Stage had produced in December 2016, Ann approached Robert to become the company’s Patron in its 25th year.

On Monday November 12th, Robert Lindsay emailed as follows:

“Ann Ellison asked me if I would give my patronage to Next Stage Theatre Company as it approaches it's 25th birthday. I was impressed at the volume of work that the company had achieved in the last 25 years - nearly 200 productions - and struck by the range and ambition of many of the plays. The fact that Next Stage obtained and converted a small 200 year old Chapel 15 years ago and turned it into The Mission Theatre - a thriving community theatre - also struck a chord. In this day and age, the struggle for any arts organisation to survive and prosper is a challenge and if my patronage can help in some small way I should be delighted. By endorsing Next Stage's work with both its adult and youth theatre companies I hope they can look forward to continued success in the next 25 years!" 

Fresh year! Fresh start! Fresh flowers!

Happy New Year to you all from The Mission Theatre! 

Here at The Mission we have been very busy over the festive break getting the theatre ready for the 2018 Spring/ Summer programme of events. The Mission has undergone a series of maintenance procedures throughout the end of December and beginning of January, to bring to you a fresh, vibrant theatre to enjoy this season. 

In early January The Mission's spring clean began! One of the biggest changes to the venue this year, is our Foyer and stair walls. Over the Winter we decided that in preparation for our busy 2018 line-up we would like to re-fresh and re-vamp the Foyer area by bringing a new lick of paint to the walls. For those of you who may have visited the theatre in the past couple of weeks, you will have noticed that our Foyer is now a lovely shade of light green - very fitting for the Spring season we felt. The colour change runs on up the stairs, brightening up the inviting pathway to our Bistro.

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Also on the Spring-clean check-list was steam cleaning the theatre's carpets. This year we had the pleasure of welcoming Green Man Carpet & Upholstery Cleaners into the theatre to deep clean every carpet in the building. Jon and Gareth worked hard all day to ensure our carpets were perfect for the busy schedule that we have coming up. We were extremely impressed with their service and our carpets haven't looked as good as they do now in a long time! 

With a fresh start in mind, it was also decided to replace our 13 year old sound desk which has been on its last legs for quite a while. We are improving the sound system for everyone who uses and hires the theatre, by purchasing a spanking new digital desk and acquiring new amps.

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Finally in our new season re-vamp, we are delighted to announce the collaborative relationship we have entered into with local florist - The Secret Gardens. Throughout our Spring/ Summer 2018 season the theatre's Foyer will be home to beautiful, bespoke flower displays from this boutique florist. Blossoming beautifully as we embark on our busy schedule of performances in 2018, our Foyer will be host to the vibrant, colourful and cleverly created displays changing from month to month. For more details about The Secret Gardens, please contact B Cherrington at b@thesecretgardens.co or check out their instagram at @the_secret_gardens or pick up one of our 2018 Spring/Summer Brochures today.

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In December the Foyer played host to a classical and festive flower display, crafted with pussy willow, golden leaves, gorgeous red roses, amaryllis and more. The December display was a feast for both the eyes and nose! 

 

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This January The Mission's Foyer is currently filled with a colourful, dainty and fresh display of wonderful Spring inspired flowers. Brightly coloured narcissi, beautiful pinks and oranges, all set in a spectacular vase for you to enjoy throughout this cold month.

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Back in December, the team at The Mission Theatre were grateful to have been invited to attend The Secret Gardens' first anniversary party. A warm and welcoming evening with live music, home-made mushroom soup, prosecco and of course, mince pies! The florist and gifts boutique is located inside Bath Spa Train Station, Platform 1 within the old lift room. As well as specialising in bespoke floristry, plants and arrangements, the boutique is also the exclusive partner within the UK for Granado, Brazil's oldest luxury pharmaceutical brand. We were lucky enough to test some of these luscious products at the event and especially loved the lavender hand cream! The Secret Gardens are available for weddings, events and businesses within the local area and beyond. Do get in contact - you won't be disappointed. 

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Fantastic First Night for Next Stage Theatre Company's Democracy

Next Stage Theatre Company's final production for 2017, Democracy by Michael Frayn, opened last night to a wonderful and receptive audience. The Mission Theatre and Next Stage were delighted to welcome The Chair of BANES, Councillor Cherry Beath and guests to the performance and for a photograph after the triumphant opening night.

Director John Matthews with the cast and crew of  Democracy  with The Chair of BANES, Councillor Cherry Beath

Director John Matthews with the cast and crew of Democracy with The Chair of BANES, Councillor Cherry Beath

The production has already received an excellent review for its innovative look at the political system: 


Review: Democracy – Next Stage Theatre Company – The Mission Theatre


I’m not sure quite what the usual run of plays is but if you’ve ever longed for something completely different then Democracy is probably it.

Contemporary politics isn’t a common subject in theatre and, although this is set ostensibly in 1970’s West Germany, much of the action here could apply to current situations.

There’s an East German spy in Chancellor Willy Brandt’s West German coalition government and, amazingly true, he becomes very close to Brandt. Thus we follow the action, viewed cleverly from both sides, of the internal politics involved in maintaining power with a slender majority and how spies worked.

Based largely on the truth, spy Gunter Guillaume (played by believable charming Jon Yardley) even gets to holiday with Brandt (excellent Peter Benson) while passing back information to his puppet master, Arno Kretschman.

When the Chancellor’s party get a bigger majority one worried member remarks, “Victory means you have to do something.” Ain’t that the truth, and the problem.

A perfect black, white and grey set, plus good lighting, simply done and cleverly constructed, this might not be for everyone but for anyone with an interest in Machiavellian politics it’s a rare treat.

Philip Horton

Performances are at The Mission Theatre at 7:30pm until Saturday 2nd December (Matinee Saturday 2nd at 2pm). 


Tickets are £12.50 (£10.50 concs) available from The Mission Theatre (01225 428600) or online here. Alternatively, tickets are available from Bath Box Office (01225 4633620 or online here
 

Birdsong receives outstanding reviews

Resident Next Stage Theatre Company's production of Birdsong - at The Mission this week until Saturday 1st July - has received rave reviews from critics and audience members alike. Below you can read our two official reviews, as well as some excellent comments from those lucky enough to have seen the show so far!

Birdsong is a popular and successful novel. A love story mingled with the brutality and reality of the trenches and the Battle of the Somme. The play focuses the action in the British trenches and behind the lines in France from 1916 – 1918 with earlier romantic events shown in flashback.

This is a hugely difficult play to stage, given its episodic nature and filmic quality. The constant flashbacks need to fit seamlessly into the action without breaking the flow of the script.

Ann Ellison, directing, has achieved a great balance with the use of the stage area in The Mission and the action is able to move fluidly between the defined performance spaces. An atmospheric lighting design from Kris Nuttall brings depth to the piece alongside a versatile set design.

The piece is lead with true style and conviction by Richard Matthews (Jack Firebrace) and Chris Constantine (Lieutenant Stephen Wraysford). Both men are linked by their goodness and desire to save others and tormented by the ravages of war. Hayley Fitton-Cook (Isabelle Azaire) allows the romance with Wraysford to develop under the watchful gaze of her brutal husband (Bob Constantine) and his ever present friend, Berard (Reynold Leming).

As always, supporting roles are well defined and the company work is excellent. Ben Armstrong (Private Arthur Shaw) is a loyal and faithful support to Firebrace and as the play reaches its conclusion there is much to consider.

Aside from the immense loss of life in the Somme campaign, Birdsong considers the loneliness and worries of the soldiers; the injustice of rank and the many questions that must have been asked by those who gave their lives so valiantly. This is a thought provoking play reflecting some of the very darkest days of World War One.

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To say that staging Birdsong at The Mission Theatre is ambitious would be an understatement. Luckily for us, the audience, it is managed wonderfully well.

Set in France before between 1910 and 1918 the action follows Englishman Stephen Wraysford having an affair with the wife of his employer at Amiens before the war, subsequently returning there as an officer at the Somme, where acquaintances resume.

Constant flashbacks require two sets plus a very large cast and somehow these are accommodated. Highly effective sound effects, lighting and costumes help make it all work.

While there are obviously echoes of Journey’s End, this is really a love story. Chris Constantine (Stephen Wraysford) is on stage for virtually the whole time and is impeccable, but the glue in the trenches is provided by Richard Matthews in a remarkable performance as sapper Jack Firebrace.

There are outstanding individual portraits, often heavy on pathos, from all the cast in this complex but compelling tale which commands attention from beginning to the end. Amazing.

Afterwards the play is moving on to the Minack in Cornwall where the larger stage may make it even more impressive.

Not a play to be missed – if you can get a seat.

Philip Horton

I'm sorry I couldn't stay last night to say this to everyone in person but just wanted to pass on a massive thank you for an enjoyable interpretation of one of my favourite books. The flashbacks were handled really well and the whole cast worked seamlessly together. Massive congratulations to Chris and Richard in particular who delivered such emotional and honest performances. Best of luck for the rest of the run and big love to all. HS

A huge congratulations for pulling off such an incredible show!! As good as Monday's run was, last night took my breath away, and every single actor had developed even more in the space of 2days! I felt the different relationships within the play were portrayed very well which helped us as the audience to grieve those who died as well as those who had lost friends/family. Very emotional and a 'pull at the heart strings' performance. Absolutely loved it! Thanks, and congratulations again on a very successful show. AC

To all involved in Birdsong - those on stage, back stage, hiding in lighting/sound cubby holes plus a courageous director,

How wonderful!  A seemingly impossible task (to me anyway) achieved with convincing energy and compassion.  Great performances and teamwork.   I cared about every one of the characters.  Deeply moving. I look forward to seeing it again at The Minack. All the best for the rest of the run in Bath. CG

What a fantastic opening night’s performance - so powerful and brilliantly imagined. The audience was gripped. Well done to Ann and her excellent cast! VB

Brilliant performance, very emotional and realistic. Thoroughly recommend. SBS

Thought I'd ping you an email whilst I am still buzzing from tonight's performance. What a talented group of actors you have. Congratulations on such a fantastically brilliant performance tonight. I don't think I've ever been to a performance that felt so intense and the ending, it brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat. You should be proud of your whole team (& yourself of course). Thank you for such a wonderful evening. JBS

An excellent production. The 'episodic nature' is well managed, with lighting and different location. The acting/talking was of a very appropriate speed. The pauses in the speeches were really poignant. Thoroughly recommended. PW

What fun! What Theatre! What a Fringe!

The Mission Theatre has hosted over 30 shows in under two weeks as part of the Bath Fringe Festival 2017, and has given nearly 1000 audience members the chance to experience some fantastic Fringe Theatre.

On Friday 26th May, The Mission played host to the opening night Fringe party, where organisers, audience members and performers got together to chat, network, publicise their shows, enjoy musical entertainment and catch sneak-peaks at some of the Fringe performances. 

Students from across Bath, the South West and the UK have performed classic, musical, physical and devised theatre pieces ranging from Theatre With Teeth’s visually-stunning Woolf to OnSet Productions’ moving Final Test and from Bath University Student Theatre’s hilarious version of Tartuffe to Heartbeat - a brand-new musical created by Bath Spa Students. 

ThreeDumb Theatre, a company made up of members of this year’s graduating class from the prestigious Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, brought a newly-written piece of modern drama to The Mission for three nights during the second week of the Fringe. The performances in I thought I might be Jet Li (but it turns out I’m not) went down a storm with audiences and reviewers alike. 

Other highlights of the Fringe Festival at The Mission included Novato Dance’s 10th anniversary show Encore - performed to packed houses during the second week of the Festival. The talented dancers used their innovation, diversity and energy to bring a huge variety of dance styles together and form a spectacular show. Also comedian Luke Graves entertained a very happy audience on Sunday 6th June with his show Husband of the Bride

Saturday 10th June, the final day of the Fringe at The Mission got off to a cracking start when students from Bath College performed a beautiful piece of devised theatre: A Suitcase of Memories. Using dance, song, physical theatre, plus a live band and some fantastic acting, this piece moved its audience to tears with the poignant tale of an elderly couple, Flo and Ernie, looking back at their life together.

The Mission also hosted several shows for children and families during the Fringe Festival, including the outstanding Taking Flight Theatre’s You’ve Got Dragons, Squeezy Green’s Compendium of Games and Brave Bold Drama with Alf the Highwayman

Audiences have particularly enjoyed the post-show discussions held in The Mission’s Fringe Hub after most of the performances here at The Mission, and the chance to write their own short reviews which they have then posted on our review boards. 

The Mission Theatre’s Artistic Director Ann Ellison says:
The quality and quantity of theatrical performances that have taken place across Bath in the 2017 Fringe Festival has surpassed all expectations. I doubt there has ever been such a range and number of theatrical events crammed into a Fringe fortnight. The standard achieved by so many artists was exceptional and audiences have been thrilled by what they have seen.
At The Mission Theatre the post-show Q&As have been extremely popular and have enhanced the overall experience enjoyed by our theatre-goers. Many of the acts will now be going on to further venues and Festivals whilst here in Bath, as the 2017 Fringe draws to an end, we are already looking forward to next year!