Abbots Langley Players and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages

We are very pleased to announce that the ALP is one of fewer than 100 groups across the country chosen to take part in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project.

Our production will take place in April 2015 and will be a revival of Peter Whelan’s The Herbal Bed, as well as a project that the whole village community can both contribute to and benefit from.

ALP’s pitch to the RSC was to involve as many local people and community groups as possible, making the production an effort that would highlight the depth and diversity of cultural activity in the village and raise the profile of Abbots Langley as a whole.

One of the main features of the project will be the growth and use of a working Jacobean herb garden for a set during the production. After show week, the garden will be donated to Abbots Langley to be used as a communal resource by the village.

We are now keen to hear from village groups or individuals that might like to be involved in the production – the more the merrier.

Although we have come up with some concepts for how various village societies could take part, we’d love to hear from anyone who has ideas on how to get more participation in the project; we’re happy to take suggestions and collaborate to make sure that as many people are involved as possible.

The production will be staged outdoors in the village, though the exact location is yet to be confirmed. If anyone would like more details about the project, you can email

The ALP’s next production will be George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, directed by Colette Holmes and taking place in the Henderson Hall between 2 and 5 July as part of the Abbots Langley Festival of the Arts.

Extra reading

The RSC’s Open Stages is the UK’s biggest amateur theatre project. The RSC, along with six partner theatres, will work with the 90 selected amateur groups to support and help them to create their own RSC Open Stages production in their own venue. Each amateur company will receive training, director mentoring, feedback and support, with the aim of transforming the relationship between amateur and professional theatre. For updated information on the project, visit

RSC Open Stages is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. It does this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change.

The Herbal Bed was written by Peter Whelan for the Royal Shakespeare Company and had its premiere in 1996. The play is based on real-life dramatic events that took place in Stratford-upon-Avon and Worcester in 1613. At the centre of the drama is Susanna Hall, daughter of William Shakespeare and wife of the town’s apothecary, Dr John Hall. When she is the subject of slander over alleged “lewd” behaviour, her response is to sue her accuser – the town drunk, Jack Lane. But this exposes her and the people she loves to scrutiny and scandal. The ALP’s original production of this play took place in November 2013 and was directed by Sylvia Poole.

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