HISTORY OF THE COMPANY

Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company was formed in 1991 with a debut production of Steven Berkoff's adaptation of Agamemnon performed at the newly refurbished Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City. In 1992, Jan Palmer Sayer’s production of Berkoff's The Fall of the House of Usher toured England and Scotland, winning the Falkirk Drama Festival and the All Winners Festival in Felixstowe, and featuring original music written and performed by Patrick Bailey, a conductor then at London's Royal Academy of Music.

 

The company reformed in 1994 to begin work on some Theatre in Education.  The Tempest (at the end of the pier) Show (left) toured some Hertfordshire schools and theatres in 1995,

and the following summer a modern dress production of Hamlet (right) did the same.

 
Text Box: (Pit and the Pendulum picture here)


 

In 1997 the group took a production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the first time, and was nominated for Total Theatre's Best Newcomer award.   The show was another Poe-inspired piece - The Pit and the Pendulum (left).

In 1998, the group took a break from touring, but in 1999, celebrated the 25th anniversary of The Fall of the House of Usher by taking a new production of it (right) around the usual home counties venues, extending as far as Richmond Shakespeare Society for a one night stand before playing to sell-out houses on the Edinburgh Fringe.

 

 

What the critics said about The Fall of the House of Usher

"...in this clever little production the cast maximise the use of imaginative techniques to convey effectively a sense of menace and the unreal"

Richmond & Twickenham Times  30 July 1999

"...every feature of this production is accomplished with sheer professional imagination and dedicated focus.   Jan Palmer Sayer's direction is inspired with brilliant invention...   You'll be lucky to see it performed anywhere with such consummate skill and vitality"

The Scotsman 20 August 1999   Review rating***** (5 star)
 

For its Millennium production, the company returned to the bard, abridging A Midsummer Night's Dream, (left) with the intention of playing as many open air venues as possible. 

“...this production should add to the trophies of this award-winning troupe, if only for the sheer exuberance and enthusiasm of the cast of nine.  There were scenes in it of pure clowning… think of Shakespeare’s rude mechanicals as a zany five-a-side football team limbering up and you get the idea…This is a production for those who say they don’t really like Shakespeare…catch them if you can, you will not be disappointed.”

Herts Mercury 21 July 2000

For the 2001 production, the company took its own adaptation of Peter Barnes’ television play, Arabian Nights to the Minack Theatre, Cornwall where it played to sell-out houses. The stunning cliffside theatre, perched as it is above the dramatic Atlantic surges, proved an ideal setting for this thrilling piece:

 
 

"…it is so inventive, ingenious and inspiring, it seems a pity that the director, plus the company’s creative team, were not presented with the much-maligned Dome; given their magic and imagination they might well have made it pay….one can steal away finally, chuckling, firm in the belief that fortune favours the brave"

The Cornishman 16 August 2001

In 2002, the company prepared its own adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure - M4M - for touring. Shortened to 80 minutes, modernised and placed in the debauched 1980s, the performances sold out.

 
 

“...the cast as a whole performed with a passion....this company spectacularly laid to rest the myth that there is no such thing as good regional theatre”

The St Albans Observer 4 July 2002

The next choice of show changed the direction of the company yet again. In October 2002, the company presented Sondheim’s musical chiller - Sweeney Todd in the new 260-seater SandPit Theatre, St Albans. The company have never been afraid of a challenge and the show was a resounding success.

“...The musical thriller of the legend of Sweeney Todd made for spectacular viewing at the SandPit Theatre last week. Shattered Windscreen’s production was both polished and professional….one could have been forgiven for thinking you were in the Theatre Royal on opening night...”

The St Albans Observer 7 November 2002
 
Good God!

Lovett and Todd

Crowd

“...It may have been the first time Shattered Windscreen has ever presented a full-blown musical but its production of Sweeney Todd can only be described as sensational. Artistic and Musical Director Steve Brice superbly handled the gruesome tale. Using a flexible set, he introduced some excellent pieces of stagecraft including a complicated double-shadow sequence. But it was the performers who really made the show. Des Turner, produced a chilling, almost maniacal Todd. His partner in crime, Mrs Lovett was excellently played by Jan Palmer Sayer…The sheer enthusiasm of all those involved shone through the entire performance and they provided a gripping and entertaining evening...”

Herts Advertiser 7 November 2002
Lovett and Todd  

In 2003, the company returned to Cornwall’s cliffside Minack Theatre with Simon Callow’s translation of Les Enfants du Paradis, specially adapted for performance outdoors. It played from 11th to 15th August to sell-out houses, and much local acclaim.

“...from the booing and cheering of its pre-curtain audience warm-up to its last moment when the kissing has to stop, this is an imaginative, ingenious, impeccable piece of the theatre of dreams.”

The Changling“Directed by Jan Palmer Sayer and Simon Wallace, its staging could not be more stylish. Surprisingly simple yet spectacular, the company’s creative stage, lighting and sound teams are to be congratulated for coming up with such a captivating, convincing example of total theatre.”

The Cornishman 14 August 2003

Middleton & Rowley’s classic Jacobean ‘tragedy of blood’ The Changeling was presented at the SandPit Theatre in St Albans in November 2003. Directed and designed by Louise Wallace, this tale of sexual debauchery, depravity and dastardly murders was well-received by press and audiences alike.

The ChanglingThe Changling

“Bold, bloody and beautiful. The whole cast gave a riveting performance, bringing pace, style and wit to Louise Wallace’s intriguing adaptation of this Jacobean masterpiece.”

St Albans Observer 13th November 2003

The Changeling was revived as a touring production for a Hertfordshire mini-tour in June 2004, and attracted good audiences and excellent reviews.

The Changling

“Bloody Brilliant! …it was an extraordinary performance of an extraordinary play…..Louise Wallace’s inventive direction…..David Harrold gave a chillingly impressive performance…..and this, I feel, is the definitive interpretation of De Flores.”

Hertfordshire Mercury 2nd July 2004

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1995 — 2016