It’s a pact with the audience, an unwritten, unspoken negotiation, says David Davies, company manager with GBShakespeare who have been fighting dismal weather on a summer tour which culminates at the Arundel Festival.
“If it is drizzle, then we carry on – if we sense that the audience want us to carry on. Overhead lightning is the only thing that will make us run away or if we feel that the audience is just too uncomfortable.
“If the rain gets too heavy and all the umbrellas are coming up and people just can’t see or hear, then you have to be reasonable.”
But it’s not going to rain in Arundel. No, surely not.
The company are determined to finish their soggy summer on a gloriously-sunny high when they return to the Arundel Festival.
Their shows this year are The Taming of the Shrew (Thursday, August 23 and Saturday, August 25) and The Tempest (Friday, August 24). The venue is The Collector Earl’s Garden at Arundel Castle
“We have not really gone into linking the two plays, but we do try to do a light comedy and a play that has got darker overtones. Last year we did Romeo & Juliet and Twelfth Night. We always try to offer a lighter play and a darker play in tandem.”
And David, who is playing Petruchio (Shrew) and Antonio (Tempest), is convinced that the outdoor setting will always be to the plays’ enhancement.
“It’s likely that Shakespeare would have seen actors on the back of carts travelling around. A lot of his plays have references to the natural habitat. We know that outdoor performances were happening in Shakespeare’s time, and quite often he is just grabbing flowers from the gardens and putting them into his language.
“So when you do Shakepeare outdoors, it just seems to suit. I am not saying that it doesn’t work in the studios, but fortunately Shakespeare really does complement the setting when you are outside.
“In the speeches, Shakespeare is often talking about the elements, and when you are on stage talking about the clouds and you look up and see clouds, then of course it is much more evocative.”
And when you talk about rain and look up and it’s raining?
“Well, that at least gets a laugh!”
Tickets for the Arundel Festival on www.arundelfestival.co.uk.