50 years of the Watermill Theatre in Bagnor
PUBLISHED: 12:44 16 January 2017
One of Berkshire's precious theatres will mark a special year by sharing a feast of fine entertainment with us
With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the Watermill Theatre at Bagnor, Newbury, the celebratory year will start in style with a stunning range of productions already announced to take us all the way to summer.
Highlights include the British stage premiere of Murder For Two, a recent hit Off-Broadway which will be directed by Luke Sheppard, director of The Watermill’s hugely successful 2015 production of Oliver! and Olivier award-winning musical In The Heights. Then there’s Faust x 2, starring Olivier and Tony award-winning actor Ian McDiarmid, well known for his role in the Star Wars film series as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
The ensemble of actors who created Romeo + Juliet in 2016 will reunite for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, but with a time shift to a new production, re-imagined in the 1920s when prohibition was rife, directed by Paul Hart, The Watermill’s Artistic Director.
More of all this shortly, but with half a century ‘under its belt’, we should take a look back to the early 1960s when David Gollins, with the support of his mother Judy, had the vision and the foresight to create one of the smallest and most beautiful professional theatres in the country from a derelict watermill. On the banks of the River Lambourn, in the hamlet of Bagnor, the mill, dating from 1830, was used as a corn mill, a fullers mill and a fine paper mill before conversion to the present day use.
The first professional theatre season was in 1967 and included Under Milk Wood in which a young David Jason performed at the beginning of his career. Over the years The Watermill, seating just 220 people, has built a national and international reputation. It creates award-winning work with a bold artistic ambition, from Shakespeare, classic plays and new writing to the reimagining of large-scale musicals. The intimate setting has seen The Watermill shortlisted twice in the UK Theatre Awards ‘Most Welcoming Theatre’ category.
Alongside West End and Broadway transfers, and national tours, The Watermill also creates productions for small-scale touring, ensuring that those living in rural isolation are able to enjoy high quality theatre on their doorstep. Attracting the very best artists and creative teams, both established and at the early stages of their careers, The Watermill has earned itself a reputation as one of the most successful producing theatres in the country.
The team is proud to be a leading force in cultivating the theatre-makers of tomorrow, offering opportunities for professional development to directors, designers, composers, stage management and technical staff, with creative teams all living and working on site. The Watermill also trains administration staff for careers in the arts from casting to marketing and fundraising, with an extensive outreach programme.
To book a show call the box office on 01635 46044, see watermill.org.uk.
• Berkshire events for your diary in 2017 - Here’s a pick of events we can look forward to all the way to the height of summer, so start planning your social calendar