A RETIRED teacher whose previous theatrical experience extends to directing a school pantomime has taken on the challenge of producing Shakespeare in a former quarry.

Liz Gill has been appointed as director of The Tempest, which will be produced by Drama in The Dale, an amateur arts group based in Weardale, County Durham, with support from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

Drama in the Dale is one of 86 theatre groups in the country to be selected to take part in the RSC’s Open Stages Project, and the group will transform the former Harehope Quarry turned eco-reserve in Frosterley into Prospero’s island for a promenade-style performance.

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Mrs Gill, who was a teacher at Wearhead Primary School for 19 years, said: “I am absolutely delighted, and quite apprehensive.

“The opportunity to be mentored by such an auspicious company as the RSC is a once in a lifetime dream, although somewhat daunting.

“The enthusiastic support of the other members of Drama in the Dale has been tremendous - I hope now that I will do them justice.”

She said Harehope Quarry lends itself well as the setting for the Tempest, and with local people producing and performing, the director said it will very much be Weardale’s version of the classic play.

Drama in the Dale was started by Jack Drum Arts two years ago to get Weardale folk involved in all aspects of play production, and earlier this year they performed the Bonny Moorhen in a lead mine.

Co-ordinator Julie Ward said: “The Tempest is about power, generational conflicts, land ownership and man’s relationship with the elements; all these themes will resonate with our community.”

Harehope Quarry is run by a co-operative who want to promote green living, and includes carp ponds, rocky crags, a beck, woodland and meadows.

The Tempest will be performed at Harehope in September next year, but work is already starting.

The group will have a stall at the Weardale Area Action Partnership’s Community Grant Fund event being held at Wolsingham School and Community College between 10am and 2pm on Saturday, November 2.

Alternatively, visit dramadale.co.uk for more information.