Welcome and History of the Greek Theatre

Welcome Information

Once you have booked your tickets to Event(s) at Bradfield Festival we would draw your attention to the following important information to help you make the most of your festival experience:

Child Protection

Bradfield College has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Parents of visiting children are expected to maintain reasonable levels of supervision whilst on the college site. Additionally, those attending Bradfield Festival are required to remain within the areas of the College defined on the map and use only those defined routes. Please be aware that CCTV is in operation throughout the College site and that there are separate toilet facilities for adults and children.

Arrival & Car Parking

Car parking in the festival area is limited and you are therefore requested to car share with other festival guests wherever possible. The College has five designated car parks as indicated on the map HERE. Upon arrival in the village, you will be directed to one of these car parks by the marshalls. Each car park is 5-10 minutes walk from the Event Welcome Desks and Greek Theatre, you are therefore advised to wear appropriate footwear.

Welcome Desk

Please bring your tickets to the event, these will be checked at the Event Welcome Desks. Access to the Festival Venue will not be granted without a ticket. If you have misplaced your ticket, please contact us in advance on info@bradfieldfestival.org.uk. If you are unable to report a lost ticket in advance, please report to the Event Welcome Desk on arrival where we will be able to help you.

Event Assistance

For this event there will be Marshalls, Car Park Attendants and First Aiders on hand, as well as other Front of House staff. Should you have any queries whatsoever at any time please speak to one of the Events Team who are there to help you.

Refreshments

You may picnic in the area designated on the map (know as the Hillside Rux), in addition refreshments will be on sale (see map). Please be aware that plastic glasses only will be allowed inside the venues.

Toilet Facilities

Toilet facilities are also available, location as per the map.

Open Air Theatre

Please dress for the Weather – The Greek Theatre is open to the elements, so it is advisable (depending on the weather forecast) to bring clothing/blankets, or alternatively shade from the sun and sun cream.

Greek Theatre Seat Cushions

The Greek Theatre seats are made from stone and concrete – foam cushions will be available to borrow at the venue, or you may prefer to bring your own cushion (but not chair). The cushions remain the property of theatre and the events team will be on hand to help collect them in at the end of the performance.

Taking your seat at the venues

For all venues we request that you are seated at least 10mins before the scheduled performance start time. For performances in the Greek Theatre we request that you start making your way into the theatre 30mins in advance of the performance, in order to be seated 10mins before the scheduled performance begins.

Assisted Access

Access arrangements are available for those with restricted mobility.

  • Designated Car Parking close to the Theatre is available and you will be escorted to the Theatre from there by a member of the Events Team.
  • Car access is also available for wheelchair users allowing drop-off at Theatre level.
  • A disabled toilet will be available behind the stage area to allow for ease of access.
  • Guides and helpers will be on hand throughout the evening to assist our guests.

If you have particular access requirements please allow sufficient time to reach your seat.

Some car parking space has been set aside for those with restricted mobility. If you wish to be allocated to this parking area, you should email us when you place your booking on info@bradfieldfestival.org.uk.

There are a limited number of wheelchair spaces inside the Greek Theatre, as indicated on the venue seating plan when you book your tickets (seating block D in the venue).

We regret that we may be unable to accommodate you in the wheelchair spaces unless you book those designated seats in block D, in advance.

Programmes

Souvenir Programmes will be available from the Event Welcome Desks and the Information Tents near the Greek Theatre.

Terms & Conditions
Please also be sure to refer to our Terms & Conditions with regards to topics such as photography and event cancellation policy HERE

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History and Future of the Greek Theatre at Bradfield College

It was in 1882 that the first Greek play, Alcestis, was performed in classical Greek at Bradfield. This production took place in the College’s dining hall and it was not until 1888 that the Headmaster, and inspiration behind the play, Dr Herbert Gray, decided to transform a disused chalkpit in the school grounds into a replica of a Greek Theatre.

With the help of pupils, and later professional workmen, he cut ten tiers of seats into the solid chalk, and shaped an orchestra on the model of that at Epidaurus. In 1897 the number of tiers was further increased to its current size.

The first play in the current setting, Antigone, was performed in 1890. From 1892 onwards plays were performed triennially except during the two World Wars, selected from the classical repertoire of works by the three great tragedians: Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides. Shakespearean productions were added in 1932.

With the advent of girls within the College in the late 1980s, this repertoire was further extended to include a wider range of Greek plays and musical productions. Over the years the fame of the Bradfield Greek Play has spread far and wide. Prime Ministers, poets, generals, archbishops, writers and actors, have all supported this unique event. T S Eliot, Sybil Thorndyke, Agatha Christie, Lord Asquith, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, Sir Peter Hall and Enoch Powell were all faithful pilgrims.

Despite regular maintenance, modern safety and access requirements dictated the closure of the Theatre. In May 2011 the Trustees of the Bradfield Foundation launched a campaign to restore the Theatre. The appeal was met with an overwhelming response from Old Bradfieldians, members of staff, current and past parents of the College, pupils and members of the public which enabled the restoration and rebuilding of the Theatre which exists today.

Such rebuilding gave important opportunity to review purpose and ensure relevance to the needs of the future. The modern Theatre incorporates a refurbished amphitheatre, an extended stage and a skene which can be adapted to accommodate scenery for Greek, Shakespearean and musical productions.

To celebrate the re-opening of the Theatre, Bradfield held a Gala Performance on 10 May 2014. The event was hosted by Old Bradfieldians Mark Nicholas (Television Presenter), Claudia Harrison (Actress) and Jonny Saunders (Radio Presenter and Housemaster) and included performances from pupils past and present.

From 20-26 June 2014, the newly restored Theatre hosted its first Greek play, Antigone, a fitting reminder of the first play ever performed in the wonderful space in 1890. The Theatre is once again at the centre of Performing Arts at Bradfield and will be at the centre of the inaugural Bradfield Festival. The College will open its doors and unique performance venues to the public for the event which will run from 21-25 June. Culture, creativity and community collide as the Festival delivers a week of comedy, classical music, pop music, opera, theatre, visual arts, dance and much more.

The week will host workshops for schools during the day and performances during the evening with the Greek Theatre proudly at the very heart of the Festival.