A roof over your head…

Without losing the ambience of the great outdoors, we are introducing – new for 2012  -a limited number of covered seats.  75 seats at each performance will now be treated to a little more protection from both sun and rain.

You might not feel you need it (we’ve never lost a performance yet.  Chester seems blessed with a summer evening micro-climate..…) but if you’re looking for a extra insurance from on high, these Roman style canopies may well be for you.

We’ve modelled our design on the valarium that used to cover the back of the great Roman amphitheatres.

Simply select the covered terrace option when you book your tickets.

We Have a Cast!

After weeks of scouring the nation for the best acting talent the country has to offer, we have a cast!

Playing Malvolio in both plays (one of 5 characters from Twelfth Night who make a re-appearance in the sequel Masters Are You Mad?) is Matthew Rixon, son of Northwich born Matthew Kelly. Matthew recently starred in Endgame at the Liverpool Everyman with his father.

Also joining the cast as Curio is Liverpudlian and former LIPA student Chris Lindon, who recently starred in chester based soapHollyoaks. His theatre credits include Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet at York Theatre Royal.

Welsh native Scott Arthur, has just finished filming for the BBC’s cult show Being Human, he’s also starred in ITV’s Lewis and numerous radio plays. Theatre credits include The Cherry Orchard, Great Expectations, West Side Story and Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. He’ll play Twelfth Night’sAguecheek.


LAMDA graduate Lorna Beckett will play Twelfth Night’s Olivia. For television she has appeared in the hit CBBC series MI High while her theatre credits include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Sheffield Crucible, As You Like It at the Oxford Playhouse and The Taming of the Shrew for Ouds Theatre.

From Drama Studio London Krupa Pattani will play Twelfth Night’s female lead Viola, who deceives her kinsmen into believing she is a man. Krupa has starred in MI High and Casualty.  She has performed in theatres across the UK.

Recent graduate of the Old Vic Theatre School, Sarah Lambie will play Valentina, the female lead inMasters Are You Mad? She’s appeared in Measure for Measure, Othello, The Country Wife andThe Crucible.

Victoria Gee will play Maria in Twelfth Night, she recently performed in Othello for the Northern Broadsides and in the Liverpool Everyman’s Billy Liar.

The cast of 14 will perform in ‘rep’ for 2 productions, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and a new play Masters Are You Mad? The Search for Malvolio. 

Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre set to get even bigger!

We have  announced plans to make the unique theatre, dubbed by critics as the “northern alternative to Shakespeare’s Globe”, even bigger from 2013.

The 320 seat theatre, designed by city based Chester Performs, is set to have an extra 120 seats from 2013, raising total capacity to 22,000 seats.

Already hailed as the highest quality open air theatre season outside the capital and a smash hit since its debut in 2010, we expect demand in excess of 80% over the 49 shows this summer. Plans have been put in place to increase seating to cope with demand.

Andrew Bentley of Chester Performs said  “Our aim has been to achieve international acclaim for the work we are doing in Chester. We’ve had an amazing start and this year we are trying to raise our aspirations again. We expected to outgrow our capacity in 2014 but it is looking like we are going to get there a year early. When we designed the theatre we allowed for the addition of two further rows of terraced seating to be added to the back.  It will lose none of its intimacy and certainly none of its friendliness.”


The season, taking place between 6 July – August 19, features Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night andMasters Are You Mad? …The Search for Malvolio, a hilarious sequel written by Glyn Maxwell, writer of last year’s hit Merlin and the Woods of Time.


Chester Performs’ Cultural Champion

Geoff Clifton, the chairman of Chester Performs, has been honoured for his contribution to the arts at a ceremony at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

Twenty-five cultural champions from the North West were honoured for making a significant contribution to the arts through volunteering, business advice or philanthropic giving. Guests at the reception were treated to a recital by Chetham’s students before the Cultural Champions collected a certificate in recognition of their support.

Geoff has being instrumental in the development of Chester Performs since its inception in August 2005 and director Andrew Bentley has said: “Geoff has shown unwavering commitment not only to Chester Performs but to the art and cultural offer across the city. This ceremony provides organisations with the opportunity to thank their champions amongst fellow supporters of the arts, whose work is truly invaluable.”

You can find out more about the event which was organised by Arts and business here.


Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre announces ESSAR OIL as production sponsor.

Chester Performs has announced that this summer’s Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre production of Shakespeare’s much loved comedy Twelfth Night is to be sponsored by Stanlow-based Essar Oil UK.


The announcement came last Monday at a glamorous evening reception held in the Abode Hotel’s Champagne Bar to mark the official launch of the new summer season of high-quality theatre.


Andrew Bentley of Chester Performs has said of the announcement “Having Essar on board as production sponsor is fantastic news and testament to the success of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre. Now in its third year, it has already established itself as one of the most respected outdoor theatre experiences in the country.”


Cllr Stuart Parker, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s executive member for culture and recreation, added “It is critical that such high quality cultural ventures like the Open Air Theatre have the support of local business. The event has come to be something the city is hugely proud of and we’re very grateful to Essar as we announce their sponsorship this evening.”


Essar’s public affairs manager Ed Brady is also delighted with the new relationship saying “All of us at Essar are looking forward to this summer’s season. The unique event has clearly come to mean a lot to the people of Chester and the surrounding areas and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. The relationship with Chester Performs is a very welcome addition to our sponsorship portfolio.”


The critically acclaimed theatre is set to return from 6th July – 19th August with two new productions. -Alongside Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, sponsored by Essar, a newly commissioned work by multi-award winning writer Glyn Maxwell called Masters Are You Mad? will be performed by the same cast of some of the country’s finest actors.


The 2011 productions were described by the critics as ‘simply stunning’ and ‘nigh on perfect’ while Maxwell’s comedy Merlin and the Woods of Time received national praise as ‘a warm-hearted, family friendly hoot’.


Tickets for this summer’s Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre season are already on sale and can be booked online at or by phoning the box office on 0845 241 7868.


Young Writers Call

Another exciting opportunity is up for grabs here at Chester Performs. We are inviting writers aged 16 – 24 years to submit script proposals for a one act play, to be performed in August at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.

We are looking for a 30 – 40 minute prequel to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. However, what, where and when the action takes place is entirely up to you!

Up to five writers will be selected to attend a workshop led by the multi-award winning writer Glyn Maxwell. The session will cover script proposals, offer feedback, advice and next steps.

One writer from the session will then be given the opportunity to develop their ideas into a play directed by the Bolton Octagon’s Associate Director Elizabeth Newman. The play will be performed by the 2012 Grosvenor Park Young Theatre Company on 12th and 13th August.

Click here to find out more, including how to submit your proposal.

New covered seating for 2012 Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre!

We have officially unveiled plans to create new covered seating for this summer’s highly anticipated Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre season!

The custom made 320-seat wooden structure is set to see an exciting new development with the introduction of a gladiatorial-style canopy over part of the terrace seating.

“Now in its third year, the theatre hasreally established itself as a major cultural venue in the North West and is the only full time professional open air theatre company outside London.

“The addition of a canopy reflects the needs of a wider audience and the new covered seats will offer both shelter and great views. They are already proving popular and are being snapped up by eager theatre-goers taking advantage of the opportunity to plan ahead and book early.

”It is anticipated that the 2012 season will see 11,500 customers descend on the unique picnic theatre from the across the region and beyond to enjoy the high-quality productions.

From 6thJuly – 19thAugust, 49 performances of two new productions; Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy Twelfth Night and a new sequel from award-winning writer Glyn Maxwell entitled Masters Are You Mad? will be played out in ‘rep’ by a full-size cast of some of the country’s leading acting talent.

Tickets start from just £12.50 and audiences can now choose from picnic spaces -grassed areas to spread out with chairs and rugs, picnic terraces, wide bench-style seating, and the new covered picnic terraces which will provide some of the best views of the entire theatre. The ever-popular VIP packages are also available.

For more information including how to book, visit

We’re off! Tickets on sale now for Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre!

At 6pm on Thursday 19th January, we officially opened the box office for this summer’s Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre. 

2012 marks the unique picnic theatre’s third year and over 46 days and balmy nights this coming summer, you have the chance to find out why its making such a splash!

Described by the national press as ‘the northern alternative to Shakespeare’s Globe and Regents Park Open Air Theatre’, Grosvenor Park is the only full time professional theatre company outside the capital.

The 2012 season will include two new productions of Shakespeare’s much loved comedy Twelfth Night and a new play by multi-award winning writer Glyn Maxwell entitle Masters Are You Mad? The two shows will be brought to life by a full-size cast featuring some the country’s leading actors, directors and designers.

As ever, it pays to book early -we operate an ‘airline’ pricing policy which means that ticket prices rise according to demand. But, tickets start at an amazing £12.50 and there are lots of concessions available.

So, if you’ve got the winter blues, why not start planning your summer now and head on over to the Grosvenor Park Website to find out more, including how to book.

Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.


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Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre 2012 season announced!

This is it! We can now announce the programme for the 2012 Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre season, which will return to Chester this summer from 5th July – 19th August.

Our nationally acclaimed picnic theatre debuted in 2010 and in just two years has seen nearly 15,000 customers enjoy high-quality productions which have seen the theatre hailed as a natural alternative to Shakespeare’s Globe and London’s Regents Park Open Air Theatre. It is the only professional open air theatre company outside the capital.

This year’s seven week run will include 49 performances of two new productions; Shakespeare’s classic comedy Twelfth Night and a newly commissioned sequel, entitled Masters Are You Mad?

After the huge success of 2011’s Merlin and the Woods of Time which attracted four-star reviews from national critics, multi-award winning playwright Glyn Maxwell returns as writer of Masters Are You Mad?

The two plays will have a closer connection than usual, as Masters Are You Mad follows dramatically from Twelfth Night. It tells the tale of Malvolio, Shakespeare’s wronged servant whose famous “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you” exit from Twelfth Night sets up a hilarious sequel.

Andrew Bentley of Chester Performs has said of the announcement “This is an amazing programme, with Britain’s greatest ever dramatist alongside one of its greatest living talents.   We enjoyed rave reviews from the national theatre critics in only our second year and this has just raised the stakes again. Within a few years the open air theatre will be one of the great tourist draws in the city and we are sure we can top the £1.3m of economic benefit of last year’s event”

Both shows will once again be performed in ‘rep’ with a full size cast of some of the country’s finest acting talent, on a Shakespearean thrust stage,  a format which has also been adopted this year by Regents Park.

Tickets will be on sale from 1st March 2012. For more information, please visit the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre website.

Cinema Deva

This month will see our community cinema project come to life at Blacon High School when we put on four film screening events over three days.

From 24th-26th November, the school hall will be turned into a cinema, complete with ushers, ice cream, popcorn and even an interval.

The event will be open to all and tickets are on sale now.

Tickets are available to buy online here

You can also book by telephone on 0845 241 7868 (a 10% booking fee applies) or in person at Chester Visitor Information Centre.

Over the last few weeks, we have been putting a number of film options up for public vote and here’s the final selection…

drum roll please…

Thursday 24th November, 6:30pm

The Apartment (PG)
A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Directed by Billy Wilder (1960) 125 minutes

Friday 25th November, 6:30pm

Napoleon Dynamite (PG)
A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.

Directed by Jared Hess (1994) 82 minutes

Saturday 26th November, 11am

Ponyo (U)
An animated adventure centered on a 5-year-old boy and his relationship with a goldfish princess who longs to become human.

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki (2008) 101 minutes

Saturday 26th November, 6:30pm

The Illusionist (PG)
A French illusionist finds himself out of work and travels to Scotland, where he meets a young woman. Their ensuing adventure changes both their lives forever.

Directed by Sylvain Chomet (2010) 80 minutes


You can find our more about the films and the Cinema Deva project here

Up the Wall 2011

Excited crowds descended on the city this weekend to explore Up the Wall, a major showcase of performance and installation art.

Now in its fifth year, Up the Wall has established itself as a leading North West live art event and this weekend, it welcomed thousands of visitors through the gates of Chester Castle.

We were able to work closely with English Heritage to make Chester Castle open to the public for the first major event in decades. The historic site was dazzlingly lit up against the night sky and the usually abandoned castle grounds came alive with sounds, lights, games and performances.

Showcasing 14 different pieces, all created by local and international artists and artistic companies, this year’s Up the Wall was a diverse and eclectic mix of performance, installation, games, films and interactive artworks.

As visitors entered the castle grounds, they were first invited to take part in a series of hop scotch games by artist Camilla Brueton.

The next highlight of the evening was a semaphore piece by mother and son duo Frajul Systems. Their choreographed movement piece with sweeping signalled gestures and light batons created a powerful impact across the night sky.

Meanwhile, established Irish artist Denis Buckley performed in front of a projected film, which showed his journey to Chester from Ireland, while setting alight his 12ft shovel to the delight of onlookers.

The story of Eleanor Cobham who was imprisoned at Chester Castle in 1441 was revealed by London artist Marcus Orlandi in his emotional and atmospheric performance piece.

And, Katherine Johnson and Stacey Allen added a pinch of humour into the evening with their work Make Do and Mend where, in a nod to ‘Broken Britain’, audiences were invited to tear up maps of the UK while the artists went about their thankless task of returning them to their original state.

The event also saw a diverse group of visitors passing through the gates of Chester Castle including groups of tourists, locals, young families, students and couples.

Roll on next year!

You can view a selection of photographs here


Its the Odeon!

It’s settled – Chester is to have a new theatre – a project we have been championing and involved in for a fair few years – and it’s going to be built in and around the old Odeon cinema in Chester….

We think it’s a fantastic decision – it will place the new theatre at the heart of the city and make a fantastic contribution to the regeneration of the city.

Cheshire West and Chester voted the decision last night (13th October). You can watch the historic decision on webcast here!.

Watch this space for more news on this fantastic news…

Cinema Deva

Blacon Community Cinema

Between September and December 2011, Chester Performs will collaborate with the people of Blacon to programme, promote and deliver a number of film screening events.

The film programme will be made up of a selection of independent and specialist films, with each screening specifically aimed at a different audience, although anyone will be able to attend. The programme will include screenings for 3-7 year olds, family audiences and those aged 55+.

The film screenings will take place in Blacon on Thursday 24th, Friday 25th and Saturday 26th November. The programme will be selected by the  people of Blacon, who will vote for which films they would like to see most.

As well as coming to see the films, we are looking for people aged 16+ to take part in the project by attending one or more of the Community Liaison Sessions detailed below. Each session is FREE and will focus on a different area of developing and delivering film screening events, offering an opportunity to gain new skills, learn more about independent and specialist film, as well as meet new people. Each session will be fairly informal and are scheduled as follows:

Session 1: Introduction to Cinema Deva and Independent Film
Saturday 8th October, 2pm – 4pm, Blacon High School

Session 2: Marketing Film
Tuesday 11th October, 7pm – 9pm, Blacon High School

Session 3: Programming Film
week beginning 31st October, time tbc, Blacon High School

Session 4: Planning and Delivering a Film Event
week beginning 14th November, time tbc, Blacon High School

Session 5: Project Evaluation
week beginning 28th November, time tbc, Blacon High School

If you would like to take part any or all of the above sessions please

Alternatively, if you would just like to either vote for or come along to one to one of the film screenings, you can register your interest by emailing, and we will keep you posted.

We’ve also set up a facebook group, for anyone interested in the project to ‘Like‘.

Cinema Deva forms part of Screen Deva, Chester Performs’ programme of film events and digital media projects, find out more…

Cinema Deva has been enabled by Vision+Media and the British Film Institute’s Film Culture Programme supported by the National Lottery.











Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre was launched by us in 2010 and has already been described by The Guardian as “an attractive northern alternative to Regent’s Park and Shakespeares’s Globe”. They are probably not wrong, but 9,109 customers certainly aren’t! Find out more here….