Horrible Histories’ car park production takes a leaf from ‘ancient history’

Horrible Histories is taking a leaf from the past by performing to an audience in their cars, the writer of the best-selling books has said.

Theatres and concert halls can reopen from July 4 in England but will not be able to stage live performances.

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain is keeping the show on the road amid the pandemic by touring car parks.

Author Terry Deary, who penned the Horrible Histories books, said it was “really ancient history” for theatre to go out on the road during an epidemic, and take theatre to the people.

Horrible Histories author Terry Deary (PA)

When the “plague hit Shakespeare’s London in 1593… theatres were closed because of social distancing, which is an amazing thing, to think that people were aware that crowding people into a theatre was not a healthy thing to do”, he said.

“Theatres responded brilliantly. Shakespeare went off and started writing poetry but he probably also went on tour.

“They just loaded everything onto a cart because the plague wasn’t seen as a problem, outside of London. So they could pull up to a country inn and play in the courtyard there and keep going.”

Audiences will drive in and see the production, with sound transmitted through each car’s radio.

This summer come and see Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn as Barmy Britain tours the country as part of the brand-new @carparkparty initiative. 6 venues announced so far with more to follow https://t.co/9RZgZb3h2fpic.twitter.com/6eSXip9EhK

— Horrible Histories (@HHLiveOnStage) June 17, 2020

The show is produced by the Birmingham Stage Company, which usually performs Horrible Histories’ productions in the West End.

Its actor/manager Neal Foster quipped that the audience “should have a clean windscreen. It might be the first time for some! Give the car a bit of a brush-up!”.

Foster, who plays several figures, including Richard III and Queen Victoria, in the production, said it was not a permanent fix for theatre.

He said: “Theatres are very, very keen to get back to normal as soon as possible otherwise things are going to become incredibly difficult for so many.”

And he added: “If Christmas doesn’t happen, it is going to be an absolute disaster. It could signal the death knell for an awful lot of theatres around the country.”

The show is part of Car Park Party 2020. Information is at https://www.carparkparty.com/#carparktheatre

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