Open-air theatre in London

Dig out the kagoul; London's open-air theatre is worth risking the rain for

David Jensen
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Read our round-up of open-air theatre events for the summer ahead. You'll find London's best outdoor productions at venues as world-famous as Shakespeare's Globe, in parks as pretty as Regent's Park or at festivals as vibrant as More London Free Festival. Not sure what you'll need for an open-air theatre trip? Then don't miss our guide to all the practical open-air theatre info you could need.

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Peter Pan

JM Barrie's original play is revived by Regent's Park artistic director Timothy Sheader to open the theatre's 2015 season. 'Peter Pan' is Barrie's well-known tribute to youth which tells of the Lost Boys, their leader Peter Pan and their lives in Never Land. The magical park setting of the Open Air Theatre should add to the dream-world atmosphere of the play, which features a nice dose of adventure, fairies and pirates.

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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Friday May 15 2015 - Sunday June 14 2015

The Seagull

Anton Chekhov's tragic masterpiece 'The Seagull' is staged at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in a new version by Torben Betts. Matthew Dunster directs the play, where guests at a country house assemble to watch a show in the open-air. What with the theatre's unique setting in the grounds of Regent's park, there's sure to be some meta-theatrical moments Betts' version.

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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Friday June 19 2015 - Saturday July 11 2015

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

The team behind the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre's 2013 hit show 'The Sound of Music' reunite for the summer of 2015 on this new production of the golden oldie musical 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers'. Rachel Kavanaugh returns to direct the show, which follows a man looking for a wife to help him run his household of seven brothers in Oregan, USA, in the 1850s. Some classic tunes are featured including 'Bless Your Beautiful Hide', 'Going Courtin' and 'Barn Dance'.  Tickets go on sale Dec 6.  

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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Thursday July 16 2015 - Saturday August 29 2015

Lord of the Flies

Open Air Theatre revive their production of William Golding's classic, if a bit horrifying 1954 novel about human behaviour 'The Lord of the Flies'. It's one of those texts that get studied at school, but its startling plot is likely to resonate with pretty much everyone. Marooned on a tropical island, a load of schoolboys begins to run riot when left without authority. Timothy Sheader's production was a secure hit last time it was staged at the Open Air theatre in 2011 and is adapted for the stage by Nigel Williamson.  

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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Thursday September 3 2015 - Saturday September 12 2015
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Shakespeare's Globe

King John

It has taken two artistic directors 18 years, but by 2015 Shakespeare's Globe will have finally staged all of the Bard's plays. The final one, a notoriously under-performed piece is 'King John', the Bard's history play about the king of England who ruled between 1199 and 1216. The son of Henry II, King John was a big player in producing the Magna Carta in 1215. Next year is the 800th anniversary of the document, which is part of the reason why Dominic Dromgoole has decided to stage it for his final season as artistic director.

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Shakespeare's Globe Monday June 1 2015 - Saturday June 27 2015

The Merchant of Venice

Dominic Dromgoole's final season as artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe opens with 'The Merchant of Venice', directed by Jonathan Munby following his successful production of 'Antony and Cleopatra' this summer. The bard's controversial play, about Antonio who bargains with his enemy Shylock with a pound of his own flesh, has one of the juiciest court scenes of all his plays, where Portia manages to outwit Shylock. The great Jonathan Pryce stars as Shylock.

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Shakespeare's Globe Until Sunday June 7 2015

As You Like It

Rising star director Blanche McIntyre returns to Shakespeare's Globe in 2015 to direct the Bard's pastoral comedy 'As You Like It'. McIntyre directed a chaotic and joyfully funny 'Comedy of Errors' last year at the Globe, and 'As You Like It' covers similarly inane goings-on. It's fun though and features some of Shakespeare's most loved speeches. It features as part of Dominic Dromgoole's final season as boss of the Globe. McIntyre's recent productions include the revived 'Accolade' at the St James Theatre, which marked her out as one to watch when it was first staged in 2011. Times and dates TBC.

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Shakespeare's Globe Friday May 15 2015 - Saturday September 5 2015

Measure for Measure

Exiting artistic director Dominic Dromgoole directs Shakespeare's Vienna-set play, which fits neatly into his final season's theme of 'Justice and Mercy'. When the city's duke goes on a diplomatic mission, he leaves the reins in the hands of judge Angelo, who then struggles to keep control of Vienna's bawdy brothels and loose morals. When a good nun pleads Angelo to help her brother, it stirs some lusty urges. Dates and times TBC.

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Shakespeare's Globe Saturday June 20 2015 - Saturday October 17 2015

Richard II

Shakespeare's misguided monarch King Richard II returns to London in 2015 as part of Dominic Dromgoole's final season heading up Shakespeare's Globe. Simon Godwin directs 'Richard II, which follows the downfall of the fickle king in the final two years of his life as Henry Bolingbroke forces him off the throne. Dates and times TBC.

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Shakespeare's Globe Saturday July 11 2015 - Sunday October 18 2015

The Heresy of Love

Shakespeare's Globe's more modern offerings begin in 2015 with 'The Heresy of Love', a piece by Helen Edmundson about the 17th century Mexican nun and playwright Juana Ines de la Cruz. First staged in 2012 at the RSC, the piece is revived as part of Dominic Dromgoole's final season at the Globe. Dates and times TBC.

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Shakespeare's Globe Friday July 31 2015 - Saturday September 5 2015

Romeo and Juliet

A new production of Shakespeare's love tragedy opens at the Globe Theatre before a small-scale tour on an Elizabethan-style stage. It's a stripped down production of the tale, which follows two doomed star-crossed lovers as they battle to allow their love despite their warring families.

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Shakespeare's Globe Until Friday May 8 2015

Nell Gwynn

The final show in Shakespeare's Globe's 2015 season is this new piece from Jessica Swale, which follows her 'Blue Stockings' and 'Thomas Tallis' at the Globe in 2013 and 2014. This is, of course, a play about theatrical charmer and mistress of Charles II, Nell Gwynn. The life of the Restoration actress, from her time as an orange seller to starring onstage and her life as the King's escort, helps to tell the tale of theatre in the 17th century. Exact dates and times TBC.

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Shakespeare's Globe Saturday September 19 2015 - Saturday October 17 2015
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The Scoop

Check back soon for announcements on what's on at The Scoop in 2015

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Greenwich + Docklands Festival

Check back soon for announcements on what's on at Greenwich+Docklands Festival in 2015

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Other Open-Air Theatre Shows

Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival

Critics' choice

The annual Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival (which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2015), brings together Punch and Judy professors from around the country for a day of jolly old-fashioned fun. The grand procession at 11am is led by a brass band, and culminates with a birthday toast to Mr Punch, who was first seen by Samuel Pepys 353 years ago on the day. Mr Punch also takes pride of place in the pulpit during the special church service at noon, and the afternoon (12.30pm-5.30pm) will be filled with puppet shows and workshops, folk music from The Lost Marbles String Band, maypole dancing and clowns. Admission is free.

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St Paul's Church, Covent Garden Sunday May 10 2015 Free


The tale of the little wooden boy and his ever-growing nose is told by Iris theatre in their annual promenade summer season at St Paul's Church - or the Actor's Church - in Covent Garden. Daniel Winder directs the show, following his 'Alice in Wonderland' last year, which takes place in the church and in the church's gardens. Carlo Collodi's 'Pinocchio' is here staged in a new version commissioned by the company, from Winder and Candida Calidcott and features fairies, puppets, carnivals and talking animals.

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The Actors' Church Monday June 29 2015 - Saturday August 29 2015

Citizen Squid

Head down to the square outside the Lyric Hammersmith and you'll likely stumble upon some exciting outdoor performances, including this puppet show from Puppets with Guts. It's a piece about shifting cultural identities where a gigantic squid is in need of a home. 

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Lyric Hammersmith Tuesday June 23 2015 - Wednesday June 24 2015

Monotone Man

The Lyric Hammersmith's square outside hosts a season of outdoor theatre this summer, beginning with this piece from The Human Zoo Theatre Company. Monotone man lives in a monotone world where he avoids contact with strangers and tries his hardest to disconnect with the world around him.

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Lyric Hammersmith Tuesday June 16 2015 - Wednesday June 17 2015

Twelfth Night

Iris theatre company return to Covent Garden's St Paul's Church (or the Actor's Church) for their yearly summer season with a promenade production of Shakespeare's bawdy comedy 'Twelfth Night'. Vik Sivalingham directs the piece, which is set in the kingdom of Illyria where twins get separately shipwrecked and cause a ruckus with cases of mistaken identity. The beautiful gardens of the church are usually a truly lovely space for outdoor theatre.

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The Actors' Church Wednesday June 24 2015 - Friday July 24 2015



Would have paid double to see this. Was terrific. Love site specific open air theatre. Standing ovations from the whole audience!