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Theatre.London: Director Phil Willmott Talks Free Theatre

September 1st, 2016

theatrelondon16aGetting The Scoop on London’s Free Open Air Theatre Season

Director Phil Willmott talks to Matthew Amer about bringing free theatre to City Hall.

Growing up, theatre director Phil Willmott was enthralled and inspired by pocket money-priced trips to the theatre. Now he hopes to inspire Londoners with shows that are entirely free.

“I didn’t know anything about theatre or plays,” Willmott says of his early exposure to the excitement of live theatre at Bristol Old Vic. “I would sit in the dark and this extraordinary story would happen in front of me. It was just the most brilliant education in literature and humanity. The stories I saw taught me so much about the world and different cultures. I always want to capture that for other people, to give them theatre that is that exciting.”

That is exactly what the director has been doing since 2003 at The Scoop with London’s Free Open Air Theatre Season. Each year he stages a classic text and a children’s production, and the audience can watch without having to open their wallets.

“Because we’re free,” Willmott continues, “people from all walks of life will come along, take a chance and sit down. An hour and a half later they’ve watched our play and want to talk about it. The really exciting thing about The Scoop’s audience is most of them have never dreamed of going to the theatre.”

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