Tolethorpe Open Air Theatre

Rutland Open Air Theatre, Tolethorpe Hall, Stamford, Rutland, PE9 4BH, United Kingdom
Telephone+44 01780 917240


The magic of Tolethorpe is something special which we highly recommend you experience for yourselves. Enjoy a picnic in the beautiful grounds in front of Tolethorpe Hall, then take your seat, protected from summer showers, and see an open-air stage like no other with amateur productions from the extremely talented Stamford Shakespeare Company.

Throughout summer 2023 the Company will be performing William Shakespeare’s ‘Measure For Measure’ and ‘As You Like It’ and Alan Bennett’s ‘The Lady In The Van’ and the talented Tolethorpe Youth Drama Theatre Makers will present ‘Blue Stockings’ by Jessica Swale.

Performances take place on an open air stage set within an enchanting woodland glade facing a 600-seat, raked, and permanently covered auditorium. The Stage newspaper described it as “one of England’s premier alfresco theatre venues” and The Sunday Times described a visit here as being “one of the finest things to do this summer”. In addition to the recognised high standard of performances the theatre is known for the quality of all its facilities, making it one of the finest open air theatres in Europe.

Many visitors really go to town on their pre-performance picnic, but if you prefer you can head inside and enjoy a meal in the dining rooms of historic Tolethorpe Hall.

Measure For Measure: Shakespeare’s marvellous morality play is relocated to the glamorous world of Vienna in the early 1900s, where the upper classes danced to the music of Strauss while the Habsburg Empire began to crumble, and the underclasses relied on crime to survive. When a young novice nun is compromised by a corrupt official, who offers to save her brother from execution in return for her chastity, she has no idea where to turn for help. When she threatens to expose him, he tells her that no one would believe her. Measure For Measure is a dark comedy as relevant today as it was in Shakespeare’s time.

As You Like It: Forced into exile in the Forest of Arden, lovers Rosalind and Orlando become entangled in a beguiling game of love, lust and mistaken identity. Rarely performed in his lifetime, this play has become one of Shakespeare’s most accessible and enjoyable comedies. Reimagined as a story from the Summer of Love, As You Like It blends a feisty cross-dressing heroine with a wisecracking fool, melodic songs, questionable poetry and laughs aplenty. Will love conquer all, or is it merely a summer madness?

The Lady In The Van: Poignant and hilarious in equal measure, The Lady in the Van is based on the mostly true story of playwright Alan Bennett’s encounters with Miss Mary Shepherd, a crabby, eccentric, homeless woman whom he befriended in the 1970s. Bennett kindly told Miss Shepherd she could park her Bedford van in the driveway of his Camden home “for three months”. She ended up staying 15 years. Wonderfully bittersweet, this play was a smash hit for Maggie Smith on both stage and screen.

Blue Stockings: 1896. Girton College, Cambridge. Four young women combat misogyny and the class divide, risking everything in their fight for the right to graduate. TYD THEATRE MAKERS breathe pace and passion into this moving, comical and eye-opening story by Jessica Swale. An historical tale of a fight for change which continues to resonate around the world today.

Make sure you don’t miss out on this extraordinary experience to enjoy great theatre in a stunning and unique Rutland setting.  Discover the Stamford Shakespeare Company at Tolethorpe this summer.

In 1992, East Midlands Tourist Board named the theatre “The Middle England Visitor Attraction of the Year”.

Prices range from £15-£22.


Monday-Thursday £18
Friday £19
Saturday £22
Saturday Matinee Adult £22
Saturday Matinee Child £15
Preview Nights £15

Opening Times

2023 performances begin on 6th June and run to 26th August

Tuesday – Saturday evening performance time begins at 19:45
Saturday matinee begins at 13:30

Contact Details

Tel (1): +44 01780 917240

Email: [email protected]


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