West Sussex-based theatre company This Is My Theatre head out on the road this summer with a double bill of The Wind In The Willows and The Importance of Being Earnest, under artistic director Sarah Slator.
Simon Stallard is delighted to be in both – two productions which come with the smallest of casts.
“For The Wind in the Willows, there are only four of us in the production,” says Simon. “As always with Sarah’s adaptations, she has reduced the story down to its key elements. It follows Mole’s journey from when he comes out of his hole and meets Ratty and his friends. Toad is part of that journey.”
And Toad is one of the characters Simon will be playing.
“Toad is someone who is described as being hospitable and kind, but he is someone who does tend to become obsessed with always seeing himself in a new light. He wants to see himself as the great boater or the great driver or the great whatever. He tends to keep seeing himself in a new way and losing sight of what is really important.
“His obsessions are his main flaw and his obsessions cause everyone a lot of trouble. He is very lucky to have friends that are prepared to sit him down and talk to him and tell him where he is going wrong.
“He doesn’t always listen before he goes on to do more damage, but he is never mean and he has got no ill will about him.
“And I do think he learns something by the end. He learns that he has to be more careful. He is slightly reformed.
“I don’t think he is entirely reformed. I don’t think he comes round in full, but he does get stung and I do think he learns to change his ways a bit.
“The story is definitely a lot of fun and it is a great journey to explore all the characters, but there is definitely a moral there that we keep coming back to, and it is about not losing sight of your friends and what you mean to them and what they mean to you and about all our friends’ capacity to look after each other and to look after us.”
Simon is looking forward to great fun on the road: “It is going to be a very busy schedule with quite often two shows in one day, but it is going to be great fun, and we are going to be going to some amazing places.”
Dates for The Wind in the Willows include
July 25, 3pm, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Warminghurst Near Ashington
July 27 and 28, 3pm, The Walled Garden, Tilgate Park, Crawley
August 10, 3pm, The Guildhall, Chichester
August 13, 3pm, St Wilfrid’s Church, Church Norton, near Selsey
August 18, 3pm, Danny House (open-air), Hurstpierpoint
August 27, 3pm, St Peter’s Church, Preston Park, Brighton
August 28, 7.30pm, Church of St Mary Magdalene, Tortington, near Arundel
Dates for The Importance of Being Earnest include
July 24, 7.30pm, St Botolph’s Church, Botolphs, near Steyning
August 10, 7.30pm, The Guildhall, Chichester
August 13, 7pm, St Wilfrid’s Church, Church Norton, near Selsey
August 27, 7.30pm, St Peter’s Church, Preston Park, Brighton