Q&A with Tales Through Time show director

27th May 2022

Performances of a new production, Tales Through Time – A Right Royal Gallop, are coming to Westenhanger Castle this Jubilee weekend.

Tickets are now fully booked and with just a week to go, we sat down with show director Nicola Pollard from Up The Road Theatre to find out everything you need to know.

Tell us about Up The Road Theatre

I founded Up The Road Theatre in 2015 to create opportunities for myself and other creatives as getting work in the theatre industry is really difficult.

I had an idea for a show introducing primary school children to Shakespeare’s plays, and a producer I had worked with offered us an opportunity to develop the show with them. That became Up The Road’s first show.

We’re based in Kent and we’ve toured extensively, often to non-theatre spaces such as libraries, village halls and a few other more unusual spaces, such as LV21, the lightship in Gravesend; a boathouse and a boat yard!

Our aim is always to take work into communities with little or limited access to professional theatre, which introduces us to some wonderful places to perform. Tales Through Time is our third show, and is the first to be performed outdoors.

Without giving away any spoilers, what’s the show all about?

The team at Otterpool Park approached us with the opportunity for a new play to mark the Jubilee. We were asked to include some of the history of Westenhanger Castle and the surrounding area in the play, so we have a rapid ride through many centuries of Hythe’s history! Then we explore the coronation of Elizabeth II and the major moments and memorable events of her reign. It’s a celebration of all things, the good, the weird and the not-to-be-forgotten! There may well be more than a few opportunities for the audience to join in too…it’s all designed to be family friendly and funny, with oodles of energy from the cast.

Who are the main characters and who will play them?

We have two actors in the cast, Liz Garland and Jessica Saunders. Liz plays the aristocratic Lady Rosamund, a character inspired by Rosamund de Clifford, the reputed mistress of King Henry II and who Rosamund’s Tower is named after. Jess plays her flustered PA/woman-of-all-jobs Miss Marshall. Lady Rosamund has a great sense of humour, which Miss Marshall has to keep up with. Together, they lead us on our gallop through time.

What makes Westenhanger Castle a good venue for this?

As soon as I saw the castle grounds, I knew we wouldn’t need much by way of set. There are beautiful trees and the crumbling towers, they are the backdrop for the show.

It’s just an ideal performance space. As it was privately owned for so long, very few people have seen the castle (or even knew it was there!) so this is a brilliant opportunity to see it. Also, it’s right next to Westenhanger station which is great for people getting there.

Why is the show a good way to celebrate the Jubilee weekend?

Theatre is always about people coming together, and that’s how we should celebrate a Jubilee – together. Particularly after the last two years, being together is something to be grateful for. The show has more than a nod to the Queen and her extraordinary reign, it will be fun, family-friendly and hopefully a great time in some sunshine! We do have a wet weather option, it is a Bank Holiday after all! I remember a street party in Kingsdown for the Golden Jubilee in 2002, I hope people will remember coming to our show in years to come.

What do people attending need to know?

I’m hoping they will be ready and raring to enjoy the experience. I hope they will enjoy the humour and engage with the characters.

There is also an opportunity for people to share a joke as part of the show, so come prepared with your favourite, family friendly joke!
The show itself will last about 50 minutes, but you’re welcome to arrive earlier and have a picnic or drinks. We do have a wet weather option so the show will go ahead regardless of rain.

And finally, what do you think the Queen herself would think?

Unfortunately, we couldn’t have any horses in it, which she would have loved! But I think she will be touched to see people coming together to celebrate her Jubilee, and the work that goes into shows like this over many months. There are one or two mentions of her public appearances over the years, so it would be a bit of a trip down memory lane for her. And I’m sure she has a soft spot for Kent, as her mother enjoyed her time at nearby Walmer Castle so much and Deal was a home for the Royal Marines for so long.