Back to blog

Mythology, weddings, and proms in the woods: This is Thorington Theatre one year on

One year on from our first chat with Oscar, and as Thorington Theatre is about to enter another busy season of plays, comedy, weddings and much more, we get the low-down on how things are going.

a person speaking into a microphone in front of a crowd

Picture this: a natural amphitheatre carved into the ground by a WWII bomb, shrouded by beautiful woodland. A soundtrack of birds warbling and wildlife rustling in the nearby trees. Filling out the sustainably coppiced timber benches of the theatre; a hushed audience, waiting in eager anticipation for the magic that’s about to unfold before them.

It can only be Thorington Theatre – the unique oasis that gives the concept of outdoor theatre a new, irresistibly ethereal lease of life.

Born in 2021, this nature-shrouded host to the performing arts was the “result of good timing”. Speaking to us last year, Oscar Brennecke-Dunn, Theatre Manager at Thorington Theatre, told us how “locals had always felt that the landscape [...] was crying out to be transformed.” When the pandemic hit, it turned out that some local carpenters had time on their hands. At the same time, the farm the amphitheatre is situated on had chestnut trees in need of coppicing. And of course, at the same time as that, there was a rising demand for outdoor venues… enter: a genius new theatre crafted from sustainably sourced timber.

As if all that weren’t impressive enough, the venue has always placed an impressive amount of emphasis on sustainability, having been built with the smallest carbon footprint possible.

Now, one year on from our first chat with Oscar, and as Thorington Theatre is about to enter another busy season of plays, comedy, weddings and much more, we get the low-down on how things are going.

Ticket Tailor: Give us a quick recap of Thorington Theatre’s Summer of ‘22…

Oscar: The biggest show of the year was our Proms in the Woods celebrating the Platinum Jubilee. We had a full house and huge swathes of the audience came donning Union Jacks and royal merch. 

Alongside that we had captivating storytelling from Andrew Harrison, who will be returning this summer with a new one-person biopic about Michael Faraday. The Spooky Men’s Chorale was also a personal favourite; audience members were invited on stage to feel the full force of the chorus’ voices.

We also had some beautifully performed new writing hit the stage, including a reimagining of the mythology around Tiresius, and a feminist rewriting of Great Expectations, called Estella. In other exciting news, we won the New Tourism Business of the Year award at the 2023 East of England Tourism awards!

a group of people sitting on a wooden platform in a forest and watching performance

Ticket Tailor: Sounds epic. What were the biggest challenges of your last season?

Oscar: We unfortunately had to cancel the majority of our comedy line-up a couple of months away from the theatre opening. Stand-up comedians and comedy in general attract a different audience to the theatre and from audience feedback we know this was sorely missed. This year we’re compensating for this with five different stand-up shows, including Nina Conti, Rosie Jones, Rhys James and John Kearns, as well as improv shows from The Comedy Store Players and Impromptu Shakespeare.  

Another ‘challenge’ we faced and continue to face is competing with the sounds of nature – be that bird song, the buzz of insects or the whistle of wind. Admittedly it’s quite a nice challenge to have.

Ticket Tailor: You’re a few years deep into running your theatre now. What’s your biggest piece of advice to budding event organisers who are just starting out?

Oscar: In the words of our founder and Artistic Director: “Life is a cabaret, so keep dancing.” It’s very easy to get stuck in the trap of taking yourself too seriously. We don’t get everything right and some mistakes we make more than once. But we learn, we ask for help and we keep dancing. 

Ticket Tailor: Love it. Now to summer ‘23 – tell us a bit about what you’ve got in store… what are you most looking forward to?

Oscar: This summer we’re hosting over 70 performances. Picking what we’re most looking forward to is like picking a favourite child (of course we have one but we’re not going to say it publicly). We are, however, looking forward to working with the Crick Crack Club (a performance storytelling collective) and FolkEast (local music and festival organisers) for the first time. They are both bringing a series of beautiful and tailored shows to Thorington which will be taking full advantage of our beautiful surroundings and the intimacy the space offers. 

Ticket Tailor: They sound fantastic. On a slightly different topic, we gather it’s not only performances that Thorington lends itself to. Tell us a bit about Thorington Theatre weddings…

Oscar: The beautiful thing about Thorington Theatre is the intimacy the space creates. During a wedding, the couple can stand in the sweet spot on the stage (the place where even a whisper can be heard throughout the theatre) and the energy they give off then spreads throughout the congregation. To date we have only hosted a couple of weddings but it’s something we’re keen to do more of. Thorington really is a fairytale location for a magical, romantic and nature-filled day.

a person standing on a stage with a crowd watching

Ticket Tailor: What about the general running of things – how have things evolved for your theatre over the past couple of years?

Oscar: Of course, some things have become a lot easier. We have built good connections with a wealth of fantastic performers, promoters, producers and touring companies. But we don’t want to move out of the discovery phase. Every artist that comes to Thorington uses the space in a slightly different way, we’re still learning what works best and to push ourselves to bring new and exciting shows to this small corner of the world. 

This year we’ll have stage lighting for the first time, which opens up a whole world of possibilities. We’ll be spending this season trying to make the most out of this new feature. 

Ticket Tailor: And what about the more practical side of things – selling tickets, general logistics… biggest learnings there?

Oscar: Get things done early. Everything takes longer than you think. 

Ticket Tailor: Succinct – we like it! Last time we spoke you talked about word of mouth being a powerful marketing tool for your theatre. A year on, is this still the case?

Oscar: We want the theatre to be a badly kept secret; if people discover it for themselves they’re more likely to come again and again. As such, word of mouth is hugely important to us. While we have lots of beautiful pictures of the space and plenty of enticing action shots from shows, they don’t describe the space in the way an excited audience member tells a friend. 

The aesthetic and feel of the space is one of an escape. A place to find stillness and forget the outside world. This is our USP (unique selling point) and we have to remember that. It’s easy to be drawn into the trap of just promoting the individual shows coming to the theatre, but there are always other venues where people can see these shows. We need to convince people that Thorington Theatre is the place they want to see the show in. 

This year we have a budding photographer joining our team, whose artistic eye is going to help capture the space better.

a wooden deck with railings and trees in the background

Ticket Tailor: We’re sure our readers will be sold from that description alone! How are things going from a sustainability point of view?

Oscar: Last year was all about measuring our impact and creating an emissions baseline. Through that process we’ve been able to identify where our emissions come from and as such which areas we can improve on. This year’s going to be all about actioning those changes. The first step has been to reevaluate the products we use around the theatre, hence we’re teaming up with great companies like Spruce (for our cleaning products) and Bumboo (for our toilet paper). At the bar, we’re ensuring that all of our products are locally sourced and/or produced. 

Ticket Tailor: And of course, we have to ask… How are things going with Ticket Tailor? 

Ocar: Ticket Tailor was one of the theatre’s greatest discoveries. It’s a B Corp. It fits in with our environmental credentials. It’s a very user friendly platform and the team is super helpful. We constantly get approached by other online ticketing platforms but none can compete with the service we get at Ticket Tailor.

Ticket Tailor: Definitely blushing over here! Thank you for your kind words. Finally, what does the future hold for Thorington Theatre? 

Oscar: We are going to continue our mission of becoming a destination venue for the east coast.  

Ticket Tailor: We have no doubt you’ll succeed with that, and then some!

To find out more about Thorington Theatre and book your tickets for one of its many wonderful shows with a big nature-drenched difference, head here >

And to find out more about how Ticket Tailor can help with seamless theatre ticketing, just head here >

Continue reading

View all

We ticket events of all shapes and sizes.

Don’t just take our word for it!

Google

Capterra

G2

Back to Top