2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of a dedicated Theatre Tent at Glastonbury, which, at its origins in 1990, was hailed as a new departure for the Festival. Back then we had a Box Office giving free tickets for full length shows to encourage people to stay for the duration of shows by Theatre De Complicite, Forkbeard Fantasy and full length Shakespeare from Compass Theatre.
In 1993 the format was changed, adding more diverse variety and using comperes to provide a continuous programme from 11am until 2am. There was even a Stand-up Comedy Competition, last won by Mitch Benn back in 1997. The ever-popular Jonathan Kay has performed at this tent every year since the start and in 1998 The Stephen Frost Impro Allstars made their first appearance. Over the years they have included Paul Merton, Tony Hawkes, Phil Jupitus and Tony Slattery amongst their entourage and will be back for this year. Around this time Billy Bragg & Boris Johnson staged an impropmtu double act too, not advertised but just wonderful.
2003 was the first time that the stunning BlackSkyWhite from Moscow appeared; they have regularly performed here since and will be appearing in 2014.
In 2005 the name was changed to La Belle Epoque, and in 2008 became The Astrolabe to reflect how diverse the shows now are form purely being Theatre. There’s Mime, Dance, Comedy, Visual Theatre, Kids shows and Music too.
International Dance Companies such as The Kosh and The Cholmondeleys have been regulars we’ve had Mime from Trestle Theatre and The Flying Karamazov Brothers were around in 2011.
That year saw the fabulous Insect Circus show, and last year we had a stunning hip-hop dance & electric folk music crossover show called ‘The Lock In’ with The Demon Barbers, who are returning in 2014.
So definitely one of the exciting venues you will find in the Theatre & Circus fields – it’s the red & yellow swirly striped 1,000 capacity Big Top Tent, with seating too, in Glebeland, near Pedestrian Gate 3 in the mysterious & fabulous East side of the Festival. Don’t miss it.