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The Changeling Theatre Company's 2015 outdoor theatre season in Kent

There’s double the outdoor fun for theatre-lovers as Changeling Theatre Company return with not only their latest Shakespeare adaptation but also a second production by Noël Coward.

Winner of a public vote for this year’s Changeling performance was one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays, The Two Gentleman Of Verona. Coward’s Hay Fever was selected by artistic director Rob Forknall, who once portrayed the playwright himself in Making Dickie Happy.

It will be the first time Changeling has put on two plays alongside each other since 2007.

Ben Wiggins, who starred in the leading role of last year’s production of Romeo + Juliet, takes a turn for the wicked as he plays the villainous Proteus.

Changeling Theatre Company present Noel Coward's Hay Fever
Changeling Theatre Company present Noel Coward's Hay Fever

He said: “He starts off very ‘Romeoesque’ but then suddenly becomes not a nice guy at all. It’s more fun to play the villain. I’m relishing the opportunity to dismantle the hard work I did last year.”

The 24-year-old, who will also be playing Simon Bliss in Hay Fever, studied politics and psychology at the University of Exeter but pursued his passion for drama, performing with the Exeter University Theatre Company (EUTCO).

After graduating in 2011, he starred as an extra in TV and music videos before getting his big break as Ralph in the Lord Of The Flies UK tour with Sell A Door Theatre Company.

On not knowing what’s next, he said “Being optimistic is the only way to get through this industry”, an attitude that has clearly worked well for him so far.

A Changeling previous production, Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona
A Changeling previous production, Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Changeling Theatre Company
Changeling Theatre Company

Having grown up in East Sutton, near Maidstone, Ben is especially excited about performing in venues he once admired as a child.

“The view from Boughton Monchelsea Place is spectacular. You can see the whole of Kent,” he said.

Artistic director Rob, who has been with Changeling since it was founded in 1997, says outdoor theatre allows people to feel free: “You don’t need a seat and you can eat and drink and admire the beautiful surroundings. The Kentish audience like our style.”

The gardens at Great Comp
The gardens at Great Comp


Boughton Monchelsea Place, Maidstone: Friday, July 3, Sunday, July 5, and Saturday, August 15, times vary

Walmer Castle, (for Deal Festival): Tuesday, July 7, 7.30pm

Egerton House, (nr Ashford): Thursday, July 9, 7.30pm

Belmont House, Faversham: Friday, July 10, 7.30pm

Swarling Manor, Canterbury: Wednesday, July 15, 7.30pm

Great Comp Garden, Platt: Thursday, July 16, 7.30pm

Main Sands, Margate: Saturday, July 18, 7.30pm - FREE

Dandelion Time, East Farleigh: Sunday, July 19, 5pm

Dog & Duck Leisure Park, Plucks Gutter, Stourmouth: Thursday, July 23, 7.30pm

The Friars, Aylesford: Friday, July 24, 7.30pm

Walled Nursery, Hawkhurst: Saturday, July 25, 7.30pm

Upnor Castle, Medway: Tuesday, July 28, 7.30pm

Nurstead Court, Meopham: Thursday, July 30, 7.30pm

Tithe Barn, Lenham: Friday, July 31, 7.30pm

Eastwell Manor, Ashford (no picnics): Sunday, August 2, 7.30pm

Rochester Castle, Medway: Wednesday, August 5, 7.30pm

Central Park, Dartford: Thursday, August 6, 7.30pm - FREE TO DARTFORD RESIDENTS ONLY

Kennington Hall, near Ashford: Friday, August 7, 7.30pm

Whatman Park, Maidstone: Saturday, August 8, 7.30pm

Biddenden Vineyard: Sunday, August 9, 7.30pm

Enbrook Park, Sandgate (for Saga group): Tuesday, August 11, 7.30pm

Severndroog Castle, Shooters Hill: Thursday, August 13, 7.30pm

Outdoor theatre at Great Comp, near Borough Green
Outdoor theatre at Great Comp, near Borough Green


Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Sevenoaks: Saturday, July 4, 7.30pm

Boughton Monchelsea Place, Maidstone: Sunday, July 5, Friday, August 14, to Sunday, August 16, times vary

Pines Calyx (for Deal Festival): Wednesday, July 8, 7.30pm

Eastwell Manor, Ashford (no picnics): Sunday, July 12, 7.30pm

Great Comp Garden, Platt: Friday, July 17, 7.30pm

Swarling Manor, Canterbury: Wednesday, July 22, 7.30pm

Walled Nursery, Hawkhurst: Sunday, July 26, 5pm

Upnor Castle, Medway: Wednesday, July 29, 7.30pm

Belmont House, Faversham: Saturday, August 1, 3pm

Central Park, Dartford: Tuesday, August 4, 7.30pm

Nurstead Court, Meopham: Wednesday, August 12, 7.30pm

With the exception of the Margate and Dartford performances of The two Gentlemen of Verona, tickets cost from £8 to £19.50. Visit changeling-theatre.com

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