Get set for a summer of Shakespeare as the Stamford Shakespeare Company launches a season of plays at the stunning Rutland Open Air Theatre at Tolethorpe next month. Described by The Sunday Times as “One of the finest things to do this summer” and The Stage as “One of England’s premier alfresco theatre venues” it’s an experience not to be missed.

This summer the Company are proud to present three fantastic plays:

Twelfth Night – June, July & August (opens June 11)

Set in Albania in the early 19th century, garnished with live music and glorious costumes, Shakespeare’s greatest comedy, Twelfth Night, containing some of his finest comic characters, is a merry tale of unrequited love, shipwrecked twins, cross dressing, mistaken identity and drunken revels. The hilarious antics of roguish Sir Toby Belch, foolish Sir Andrew Aguecheek, pert Maria and prim Malvolio delight audiences young and old.

Julius Caesar – June, July & August (opens June 18)

Shakespeare’s epic tragedy Julius Caesar, where political and military rivalries spiral out of control, is one of his most gripping plays and features some of his greatest characters. In this powerful drama set in Ancient Rome, Brutus and Cassius, fearing the growing domination of Julius Caesar, plot his death. But when, on the Ides of March, the dictator is assassinated, Mark Antony unleashes the rage of the people against the conspirators.

Blithe Spirit – July & August (opens July 9)

Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, a wonderful, supernatural comedy set in the late 1930s, portrays the trials and tribulations of novelist Charles Condomine, who foolishly holds a séance to research his latest book. When the eccentric medium Madame Arcati accidently summons the spirit of his first wife, Elvira, his life descends into chaos. How will Charles cope caught between two wives, one dead, the other very much alive?

The theatre is situated in the grounds of historic Tolethorpe Hall, where last summer over 33,000 people experienced the magic of a visit to this unique venue. The auditorium faces an open air stage set within an idyllic woodland glade. The permanent canopy above the audience means no performance is ever cancelled because of inclement weather. Enjoy a picnic in the glorious gardens, then take your seat, protected from summer showers, and see a stage like no other.

Also to be seen at Tolethorpe Hall are two stained glass windows, believed to be the only example anywhere in the world of stained glass portraying scenes from eight Shakespeare plays. There is also a stunning long-stitch tapestry, designed and made by American Kaffe Fassett, the internationally known knitwear designer. The tapestry hangs in the orangery and depicts hollyhocks, a feature of the beautiful Tolethorpe gardens, which were enhanced by leading gardener Bunny Guinness, a regular on BBC television and radio. The gardens overlook classic English parkland, where every night hundreds of people enjoy picnics before heading into the auditorium to sit back, relax and be entertained. If you would like something more formal than a picnic, you can dine in the restaurant, where more than 5,000 meals are served during the season. There is also a theatre bar for enjoying pre-performance and interval drinks and a spacious orangery where interval coffee is served

Tickets £11 – £19; Box office: 01780 756133 or www.stamfordshakespeare.co.uk