Open Air Theatre comes to Rowntree Park this summer!

We are pleased to announce that ‘Park Bench Theatre’ will run in Rowntree Park from the 12th of August to the 5th of September. There are three shows by Engine House Theatre and tickets are available through the Theatre Royal Box office (links below).

A rarely-performed Samuel Beckett monologue, a brand new play and
a family performance – all performed on and around a park bench in the Friends railed garden in the park. The Friends of Rowntree Park are happy to support this event and some of our volunteers will be helping at the shows.

The performances

First Love by Samuel Beckett

Wed 12 – Sat 22 August at 7pm.
8 and 15 August, 2pm matinee.

A man, a woman, a recollection. One of Samuel Beckett’s most masterful stories, First Love is awash with Beckett’s signature balancing of comedy and tragedy. Performed by Chris Hannon, directed by Matt Aston. 
Running time 45 minutes approx. Contains very strong language.

Every Time a Bell Rings (premiere) by Matt Aston

Wed 19 – Sat 29 August at 7pm.
22 & 29 August, 2pm matinee

Lockdown. Easter Sunday 2020. Cathy emerges from her own isolation and
searches for solace on her favourite park bench in her favourite park. A
touching, funny and poignant look at how the world is changing through these
extraordinary times. Performed by Lisa Howard, directed by Tom Bellerby.
Contains very strong language. Running time 45 minutes approx.

Teddy Bears’ Picnic (premiere) co-created by Cassie Vallance and Matt Aston 

11:30am and 1:30pm
Wednesday 19 Saturday – Saturday 22 August
Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 August
Monday 31 August – Saturday 5 September

Teddy Bears’ Picnic, premiere inspired by the song and based on an original
idea by Julian Butler.
Every year Jo’s family used to have a big family gathering – a teddy bears’
picnic. It was brilliant. Then she got too old and too cool for that sort of thing.
So she stopped going. But now she’s grown up … she wishes she could have
them all over again. Audiences are invited to bring along their favourite teddy and a picnic.

Matt Aston, artistic director of engine house theatre, says: “I used to do my
daily lockdown exercise in Rowntree Park where I had the idea of someone
sitting on a park bench and thinking about what they are going through. The
isolation and the fact that she might actually have been isolated for many
years. I then remembered First Love was also set on a park bench and the
idea rolled on from that

Matt’s adaptations of the Benji Davies children’s books Grandad’s Island and The Storm Whale both proved big hits in the Studio at York Theatre Royal.

COVID measures
The Park Bench Theatre season follows the government go-ahead for open
air live performances to take place. The monologues will be presented in a
safe and controlled way ensuring all audience members are socially
distanced. In conversation with York City Council, and in line with current government
guidance, Park Bench Theatre has implemented a range of measures
ensure the health and safety of audiences and staff. The measures are under constant review, and apply across all performances throughout the Park
Bench Theatre season. 

Useful information
More information available from includes details on use of headphones for the performances – bring your own or hire them. People are encouraged to bring blankets in the first few rows and chairs in the
back few rows.
Tickets are £10 for First Time and Every Time a Bell Rings, and £5 for Teddy Bears Picnic. Maximum of 70 tickets for each
Food and refreshments. Bring your own food and drink to all performances
but note that no alcohol is allowed to be consumed in Rowntree Park. 

Tickets available from:

Please note – all ticket sales and questions to Park Bench Theatre please. We are supporting the event but not running this.

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