Changeling Theatre – Love’s Labour’s Lost
Changeling Theatre has performed in Folkestone’s Coastal Park Amphitheatre many a time. The location lends itself to live theatre, particularly Shakespeare. Without the charitable support of the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust they wouldn’t be able to put on free performances. Rob Forknell, founder and Artistic Director has directed every Changeling show since its inception in 1997, he spoke to Folkelife about why Folkestone is such a great venue.
“I’ve worked in Community Arts Theatre in different towns in Kent. Changeling grew out of other work I’d been doing and the difference here is that we’re a charity. We work with professional actors and need the funding to do that. What we like to perform is reinventions of Shakespeare, Coward and so on. All the greats! But it’s important as an actor to be paid for what you do. You’ll be surprised how many people expect actors to work for free! Anyway, in 2001 we started our Open Air performances and toured around the county. This is our 22nd year and I’ve directed every single show we’ve put on.”
setting the scene in folkestone
“The first time I came down was to do Macbeth in 2006. I can remember setting up everything and then going off with my producer to get a cup of tea. At that time, the Zig Zag path was quite clearly seen from the amphitheatre – the foliage hadn’t grown up by this point. When we came back with our tea we realised that we couldn’t get near the stage at all. The whole place was packed out with people, all the way up the Zig Zag path and as far as we could see.
“We couldn’t find a place to watch the performance so had to go away. It was quite overwhelming actually! This was when the council were paying people to perform in this space and then they stopped that for whatever reason. We came back in 2017 with the help of the RDHCT, and that’s the only way we can put on this show. Without that funding we wouldn’t be able to come.”
“Each year we encourage the audience to buy a programme. This not only tells them more about what we do, but it also gives the choices for next year’s show. I like the audience to have a say in what we perform. They can vote and next year you could be seeing Cymbeline, Henry the Fifth or Richard the Second.
“Shakespeare was always meant to be seen and not read. It was meant to be listened to and watched. This year we’ve teamed up with Jam On The Marsh who put on a fantastic music festival at the beginning of July each year. They’ve lent us a composer who’s created some beautiful music. My idea came from watching Bridgerton. Basically, that’s the plot for Love’s Labour’s Lost. It’s about 4 couples who find love.
“It’s quite a hard one to put on because there are lots of sonnets and these couples play tennis with words. The poetry is beautiful. There are some Cossacks. And then for some reason the King of France dies and everyone is sad at the end. It’s a very strange play! But, it’s really Bridgerton. So I thought if I put everyone in Bridgerton costumes and have wonderful music playing and let that beautiful language wash over you, it will work. And it does! You are going to be washed with loveliness from start to finish!”
“We have a community element where we champion young talent in Kent. We put on auditions every year where young actors from 17 to 22 can come and work with us and learn straight off the hoof. We’re currently looking for a new sponsor for this work as it’s so important. Most of our young actors go into the profession. Our apprentice from 2016 was in the last series of Doctor Who so people are going places from starting out with us.”
Love’s Labour’s Lost will be performed at the Coastal Park Amphitheatre at 5pm on Sunday 6th August 2023. The performance is free but bring some pennies for a donation and a programme.