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The Bard comes to Merseyside’s great outdoors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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The course of true love never did run smooth

We love a bit of Shakespeare and we love outdoor performances of the Bard’s work. And what better than the fabulous romp, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Award winning MATE Productions in partnership with Shakespeare North and the RSC Open Stages programme present this spectacular promenade indoor and outdoor production, premiering in the beautiful 15th century church and woodland gardens of Prescot Parish Church, and touring woodlands and community gardens across Knowsley, Liverpool and Stratford Upon Avon between May – August 2015.

Gaynor La Rocca, Artistic Director of MATE Productions is working with Shakespeare North to develop and lead their community engagement and is launching the programme in the summer of 2015 with this exciting three way partnership between MATE Productions, Shakespeare North and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Over 100 local community actors, dancers, musicians, singers, sewers, crafters and volunteers aged 8 – 79 years have been working for the past 7 months with MATE Productions’ team of professional practitioners; including theatre designer Adele Hayter, winner of the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Design prize 2014, musical directors and composers Aimee and Taran Harris, choreographers Alan Pugh and Rachael Farrell, and practitioners from the Royal Shakespeare Company, to create this magical outdoor promenade performance of Shakespeare’s most loved comedy.

With live musicians and singers, fairy dancers, stunning design and a talented local cast, this production promises to be magical, unique, family-friendly and fully accessible for wheelchairs. Community engagement also includes an exciting programme of free arts and craft workshops in local schools where children will make dream catchers and magical artefacts to hang on the trees and transform the woodlands into a midsummer’s fairyland. Families are encouraged to bring their children to performances dressed as flower fairies or naughty sprites. There will be facepainters before the show and during the interval and children can choose fairy flower designs or the tribal markings of a sprite.


Sat 30th May – 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sun 31st May – 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sat 6th June – 7.30pm Prescot Parish Church woodland gardens, Church Street, Prescot, L34 3LA

Sunday 21st June – 2.30pm & 7.30pm St Nicholas Church gardens – Church Road, Halewood, L26 6LA

Sat 11th July – 2.30pm & 7.30pm Calderstones Mansion House gardens, Calderstones Park, L18 3JB

Sunday 2nd August – 12pm The Dell at the RSC in Stratford Upon Avon

Sunday 9th August – 3pm Woodlands Rest Home gardens, Wood Lane, Netherley, L27 4YA


Come prepared!

msndblogSeating in the woodland in Prescot and Halewood will be on hay bales or bring a blanket. For other venues, please bring a folding garden seat or a blanket to sit on. Don’t forget waterproof clothing in case of rain – please no umbrellas as it will obscure the view for other audience members.

For tickets telephone: 0151 281 8461 or purchase online from:

I wandered lonely……into the Victoria Gallery and Museum…

……and came upon the ‘Dorothy Wordsworth, Sister, Writer, Friend’ exhibition, exploring the life and works of the little known sister of one of Britain’s most famous poets, William Wordsworth.

With time to spare, before a meeting at one of the universities Brownlow Hill buildings, I wandered into this magnificent museum, passing the café and then mused over the plethora of diaries, journals, personal letters and memorabilia making up this fine exhibition of material on loan from the Wordsworth Museum Grasmere in the Lake District.

The Wordsworth Trust has certainly compiled a vast collection of artefacts, all on loan here, even with a full museum up north catering for the hundreds of foreign visitors who make a pilgrimage to the homestead of this hallowed literary genius.

I was fascinated by the written pieces on display which dated from the 1800’s and I scrutinized the ink, handwritten scripts, noting the language of text and the words, familiar today and some not so.

The letters gave me an insight into her life and her relationship with her better known brother, William whom she showed an uncommonly ‘strong bond’. Was I trying to find some E L James stuff here, yes I was.

This exhibition is her story.
A story that shows her creativity, but one that has been obscured and overshadowed by her brother. He was a leading literary figure and member of the Romantic movement who transformed British poetry. But didn’t they all then, the Romantics, with an emphasis on nature rather than science, its exponents valued individual experience and intuition sharing a belief in idealism. If you ever get the chance to read some of Byron, Keats and Shelly or better still get your hands on some of the BBC romantic period costume dramas depicting these characters then hold onto your …..its lusty wenches, dastardly villains and dashing heroes will bewitch you and give you a compelling urge to read more.
That’s what this exhibition will do, give you a taste of the literate world of the eighteenth century. Then, if this collection of memorabilia grips you, sign up for the Poetry Workshop, 18th March 10.30-12.30 when Poet Eleanor Rees explores the relationship between poetry and prose and then help you write your own poems and prose inspired by Dorothy’s writing.

I’d have loved to have walked into the exhibition room with the sound of twittering birds, skylarks and finches, all in a chorus of mellow fruitfulness….. giving one the atmosphere of a bright summers day,
but perhaps, that’s the romantic in me!.
0151 794 2348

“Off the Page”…. hundreds of thoughts, dreams and ideas trapped in words, so make them live for you as they once did for the people who thought them.

I can’t help thinking what a joy it is to be able to read and write, so reading recently about Andrew Bailey, a blind man who had a note put in a shop window seeking someone to read to him and was inundated with hundreds of volunteers willing to help, shows that we do live in a very caring and supportive society.

Andrew Bailey was unable to read properly for 15 years through a degenerative disease, he said “There has been a huge space left in my life. I got much pleasure from reading”.

It’s sad that there are still pockets of our society that struggle with day to day reading.

‘City of Readers’ is the Liverpool Learning Partnership’s campaign to transform Liverpool into the UK’s foremost reading city. It’s aim is for every child who has the ability to do so to learn to love reading.

Events in Liverpool this weekend certainly put reading on the shopping list. Take a look at our own Calderstones Mansion Reader Organisation, bringing books to life for children and adults, with their exotic events. I was amazed at their new weekly events calendar just published.

Don’t miss though, a chance to engage this weekend with the Merseyside Literature Partnership at the Bluecoat this Saturday 18th October.
All day, there will be a full range of activities set to showcase a range of readings, workshops, games and displays for all the family to enjoy.

Beginning at 11am, the activities cascade until 9pm. Visit or call 01517025324 for updates on the days events.

‘Off the Page’, who will be at the Bluecoat, is a coordinated consortium of venues, organisations and university departments offering a wide range of literature based activities in the region. Activities which you can get involved in and support with many developing your ideas into a springboard career opportunity.
Watch community projects to readings by established authors and get a taste of the richness of literature.

Well worth a visit to, is the ‘Writing on the Wall’ taster workshop led by the professional poet and creative writing teacher, Colin Watts. He will be sharing his expertise and guiding aspiring writers through the creative process with a range of different writing genres.

If you fancy yourself as an author then come along. If you fancy a career change and a challenge to become a writer, then bring a sample of your work for on the spot advice and free details of publishing opportunities.

If you are staying in town for a while, especially during the early evening after partaking of the fabulous Bluecoat eatery then don’t miss a showcase event at 7.30pm when Curtis Watt and Clare Shaw, two of the regions most dynamic and celebrated poets perform. Expect an eclectic mix of poetry, spoken word and outstanding performance.

For a literary entertaining day with events for all the family from Storytellers, poets and authors then tune into the Bluecoat and you never know, it could change your life!.

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