White Cobra co-director RICHARD JORDAN reminisces about 2019's outdoor summer tour, and how covid has inspired us to tackle a whole new medium.

In 2019 we staged our first dedicated outdoor touring production. Shakepeare’s Twelfth Night was a delight to do, and we were lucky to perform in some stunning locations across Northamptonshire and beyond. Locally the magical walled garden at Delapré Abbey in Northampton was our home for three nights, but we also did a series of one night stands at Stanwick Lakes and Pitsford
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Martin Borley-Cox as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Richard Jordan as Sir Toby Belch, and Kate Billingham as Maria in Twelfth Night at Stanwick Lakes. Photo: Peter Borley-Cox

We also achieved a White Cobra first taking the show to a National Trust property, Benthall Hall, which is just outside Ironbridge in Shropshire. Several of us visited the site in early 2019 to do a recce and work out where the stage would be set, how we could provide lighting and refreshments for cast, crew and audience and a date was set. A couple of months prior to the scheduled performance, National Trust asked us if we could perhaps change the date due to reasons they couldn’t let us know about just yet. 

Twelfth Night cast and crew at Ironbridge - shortly after a rather lovely breakfast, and just before the heavens opened!

As it turned out the house and grounds had been transformed into a film set, and Hollywood A listers including Henry Cavill (yes, as in Superman himself) and Helena Bonham-Carter were working on the movie Enola Holmes, based on the stories of the sister of Sherlock Holmes. 

If you haven’t had the chance to see the film, it’s on Netflix and is well worth a couple of hours of your time. 

Without wishing to spoil the magic too much, we arrived the day after filming had wrapped. And the run down dilapidated house you see in the film was being restored to its former glory with all the carefully overgrown elements being removed with the wire and string holding them in place being cut off.
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Benthall Hall, July 2019


The performance space in the Kitchen Garden - with the cast and crew hard at work... or is that hardly working?!

The tour and the production was a great success so we set out with plans for our second summer show, with Kenneth Graeme’s classic story of Wind in the Willows our choice for 2020. Sadly that tour had to be postponed due to Covid, but with everything currently crossed, we’ll be bringing the story of Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger to life during the summer of 2021.

Which brings me neatly to our YouTube channel. Instead of packing our bags and heading out to perform for crowds in beautiful country gardens, we packed spare masks and hand gel, and, when covid-regulations allowed, began socially distanced filming for a series of short films inspired by the stories in Wind In The Willows.

Kate Billingham and Richard Jordan on set for the Wind In The Willows short films

You can catch all the films on our YouTube channel - and we'd love it if you subscribed (it's free!) as there's so much more to come!