Shakespeare at the Arundel Festival


As GB Theatre Company artistic director Barrie Palmer says, there’s going to have to come a time when they stop making losses and start turning in a few profits.

But the company, now a staple of the Arundel Festival, is still riding high, with plenty of successes to its credit and probably two more this year.

They return to the Collector Earl’s Garden at Arundel Castle with Much Ado about Nothing on Friday, August 28 and Twelfth Night on Saturday, August 29.

“It would be nice to break even one day!” laughs Barrie who will be playing Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night and Leonato in Much Ado. “But for the moment we only make losses! We don’t get any funding at all. I am hoping next year we might be able to get some funding sorted out.

“My other half said to me ‘When are you going to give up this hobby?’ I said ‘It is not a hobby! It is a business!’ She said ‘A hobby is something you put money into. A business is something you take money out of.”

And as Barrie concedes, for the moment, there really wasn’t much he could reply to that.

“But really we do it for the love of it, and these plays this year really are the best so far. I know I say that every year, but this year it is really true. We have got an amazing cast, and everyone gets on so well. And I think that shows in the performances.

“A couple of years ago we had a group of people where a couple were not actually the nicest people. The performances were still good, but it wasn’t as easy as this. But since then, I have taken a lot more interest in the casting. I didn’t used to do the casting, but now I make sure I am in the casting process. We are on tour, and I am having to think ‘Now, can I get on with this person?’ I have to think ‘Now, can we all get on together!’

“But definitely this year has been great. We have got live music in the show and before the show to get people into the mood. We have got drums and ukuleles, and we have also got beautiful six-part harmony singing.”

Why it works, Barrie believes, is because they get the best people: “We pay Equity rates. So many companies don’t. So many companies will pay actors less than half what they should pay because they know actors are so desperate to perform. But we pay the proper rates, and we get the best people. We had more than 5,000 applicants this year, which was absolutely incredible, and we had to whittle that down to ten, which was quite a job. But we can afford to pick the best.”

Ticket holders are invited to arrive early and enjoy their picnics in the Castle grounds before the performances start in the Collector Earl’s Garden.

Tickets and times: August 28 – Much Ado About Nothing; August 29 – Twelfth Night. 5.30pm Castle grounds open; 6.30pm The Collector Earl’s Garden gates open; 7.30pm performances start. Book online at:

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