Northamptonshire royal palace provides stage as university drama students perform Shakespeare's Tempest
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University of Northampton (UON) students actors have trod the boards in Northamptonshire’s former Royal residence – Apethorpe Palace
More than 400 years ago, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest had been adapted and then performed for King James in the stately home’s grand ‘Long Gallery as a ‘court masques’.
Now the university’s second-year acting students have performed for guests in the Jacobean room paid for by James I for his 'princely recreation' and 'commodious entertainment'.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, John Sinclair, said: “I was both proud and honoured to be able to support our second-year acting students with presenting The Tempest in the magnificent and historic surrounding of Apethorpe Palace.
“Performing such a well-known piece of the Shakespeare canon in such an iconic venue allows us to showcase the immense talents of the young people who train with us and the staff who teach them.”
Court masques were dramatic spectacles popular in England throughout the first half of the 17th Century. Those in the audience included UON’s deputy vice-chancellor, professor Shân Wareing, Dean of Emmanuel College Cambridge Lt Gen Douglas Chalmers, and current residents Baron and Baroness Pfetten,
Jim Harker attended the evening’s entertainment and said: “It’s particularly appropriate a venue as the play was first performed in this very gallery in front of King James 1 in 1611, and the court masque contained within the play is typical of the Elizabethan/Jacobean court masque’s popular at that time.”
As a result of the high standard displayed by the students, Baron and Baroness Pfetten have said they intend to continue this first experience with students at the University of Northampton in the coming years.
Chairman of the Acting Supporters Circle (ASC) Martin Lawrence said: “The acting programme at the University of Northampton is supported by the ASC to raise student confidence, experience and recognise achievement. Members have raised funds for properties, sets and costumes for third-year end performances.
“We are delighted that, as a result of the generosity of Baron and Baroness Pfetten, our students have had the opportunity to perform at Apethorpe Palace. The proceeds from this fundraising event will be available for the enhancement of final-year productions, which we look forward to seeing in the coming months.”
Apethorpe Palace is now a private residence but is open to the public by pre-booked guided tours during July and August. Tours last approximately one and half hours and pre-booking is essential.
Refurbished by English Heritage using £8m to make it waterproof and restore some of the crumbling interiors, Apethorpe Palace holds a particularly important place in English history because of its ownership by, and role in, entertaining Tudor and Stuart monarchs.
The Jacobean manor was bought by French baron Jean Christophe Iseux, Baron von Pfetten, at the end of 2014 for £2.5m and renamed Apethorpe Palace.
It had previously been compulsorily purchased by the government after having fallen into decay.
As part of the deal with Baron von Pfetten, the hall will be open to the public for 50 days a year for the next 80 years.
Elizabeth I once owned the building, which she had inherited from Henry VIII. For a period, Apethorpe was a royal palace lived in regularly by James I and Charles I.