“I always thought it was an otherworldly and magical location, a place where imagination meets reality, and I can think of nowhere more fitting to perform in,” enthuses the Creative Director of the Pleasure Dome Theatre Company, Helena Payne, who is putting on a series of theatrical outdoor performances at the iconic Valley of Rocks on Exmoor this summer.

The Importance of Being Earnest is being staged from 8 – 26 August and Lorna Doone from 29 August – 2 September. Lorna Doone was an obvious choice; a local story woven into the very fabric of the Exmoor landscape. The Importance of Being Earnest is perhaps less so. However, Helena liked the idea of trying something completely different. “The play is a parlour farce where the characters engage in glittering witticisms and immaculate manners, so why not stick them on a cliff edge, amongst the goats and buffeted by the elements to see how they cope? By making bold decisions, we force ourselves to be more creative. We are looking forward to staging both plays enormously.”

The Pleasure Dome Theatre Company is a young, professional collective keen to bring accessible, open-air entertainment to both the local community and the many holidaymakers visiting Exmoor. The company also provides outreach programmes and offers local opportunities to work within a professional company to aspiring youngsters and enthusiastic older members of the locale alike.

Helena spent her childhood summers scrabbling up and down the Valley of Rocks, creating plays and dreaming of pirates and fairies, so when it came to finding an outdoor location in which to perform, there was no contest.

Jennette Baxter, Development Manager for Visit Exmoor, welcomes the productions. “We are delighted the company has chosen Valley of Rocks as its setting this summer. The dramatic productions combined with the sheer theatricality of the landscape is a real draw for visitors and local alike.”

Tickets cost £15 per adult, £10 for under 16s and over 65s and £45 for a Family Ticket. Shows start at 7.30pm (or 3.00 pm for the matinees) but visitors are free to arrive at any time to explore valley or enjoy a picnic in the sunshine. A percentage of every ticket sold goes towards CareMoor www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor  for Exmoor.

People can book tickets online by going to the PDTC home page www.pleasuredometheatrecompany.com and click on the links (easy to see) – they can download the tickets to their smartphone or print them off. Alternatively, if they prefer to pay by cash, they can pop in to one of the National Park Centres where their tickets can be booked through the online system.

Please note: It can get chilly in the evening, so bring warm clothing, blankets and cushions.

If rain is due, the production will be moved to Lynton Town Hall www.visitlyntonandlynmouth.com/about/lynton-town-hall (updates will be available on the Pleasure Dome Theatre Facebook page www.facebook.com/Pleasure-Dome-Theatre-Company-1715218008763869/).
More info: www.pleasuredometheatrecompany.com

PHOTO: Valley of Rocks by Mike Watson, from our autumn 2014 walking feature.