Stories are at the heart of our project to create The International Centre for Shared Reading at Calderstones Mansion House. A tradition we will continue once the refurbishment works are complete is sharing stories on the Garden Theatre’s stage.
Calderstones Mansion House has a rich history of theatre, with some of our own locally-grown actors treading the boards here over the years. In 1952, a performance of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost on the Garden Theatre stage, starred an actor named Gerard Makinson, otherwise known as Gerard Hely during the height of his acting career.
Local to the area, Gerard starred in movies and television shows between the 1950s and 1980s, including playing Prince Murat in BBC’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace as well as appearing in locally-linked shows Z Cars and The Liver Birds.
Although Gerard sadly passed away in 2013, his family members have kept up a connection with Calderstones, through visiting the park regularly and even taking part in a Shared Reading group. We are very grateful to his niece and nephew, Paul and Rachel Hemmings, for sharing these brilliant pictures of Gerard along with a programme from the performance.
Shakespeare’s plays have been performed publicly since they were first penned and there is a long history of performances on parkland specifically, with official Shakespeare in the Park festivals originating in 1950’s New York and occurring all over the world to this day. Indeed, The Reader hosted Shakespeare performances of by The Globe Theatre’s touring company in the park between 2013 to 2015.
Love’s Labour’s Lost is one of Shakespeare earliest comedies, written around 1594 – it follows the attempts of the King of Navarre and his young noble companions to swear off the company of women for three years, choosing to study and fast instead. Their resolve is however tested by the untimely arrival of the Princess of France and her ladies.
To celebrate the 66th anniversary of this performance in the park, we will be reading excerpts from Love’s Labour’s Lost at our Calderstones Shared Reading groups over the next week and celebrating this classic comedy play that includes the marvellous word ‘honorificabilitudinitatibus’ – the longest word in the English language featuring only alternating consonants and vowels!
Read on to experience the King’s articulate right hand man, Berowne, wax lyrical about the importance of Love.
“But love, first learnèd in a lady’s eyes,
Lives not alone immurèd in the brain,
But, with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious seeing to the eye;
A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind;
A lover’s ears will hear the lowest sound,
When the suspicious head of theft is stopped:
Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible
Than are the tender horns of cockled snails:
Love’s tongue proves dainty Baccus gross in taste.
For valour, is not love a Hercules,
Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?
Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical
As bright Apollo’s lute, strung with his hair;
And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were tempered with Love’s sighs.”
William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Do you have a story to tell?
Did you attend this performance? Or have you seen any other performances in the Park? Perhaps you attended a wedding at the Mansion House or used to visit the park as a child. We want to hear your stories.
To get in touch and be part of the story email firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you help?
The refurbishment of Calderstones is a massive project and we need a lot of help! Do you have skills you can share? There’s lots of ways to get involved: