The show must go on! Welwyn Drama Festival heads online this year

Lily Peterkin and Peter Heppelthwaite of Limitless receiving a trophy from the then-mayor Councillor Barbara Fitzsimon

Lily Peterkin and Peter Heppelthwaite of Limitless Academy receiving a trophy from the then-mayor Councillor Barbara Fitzsimon at the Welwyn Drama Festival in 2019. - Credit: Supplied by Welwyn Drama Festival

This year's Welwyn Drama Festival will go on – with an online version being staged in May.

When the 86th Welwyn Drama Festival was cancelled last year following the COVID-related closure of the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City, nobody imagined that the shutdown would still be in force in May 2021.

The cast of College Players' The Welsh Job.

The cast of College Players' The Welsh Job, which was performed at the 2019 Welwyn Drama Festival. - Credit: Supplied by Welwyn Drama Festival.

However, the festival's organising committee decided earlier this year that they were not prepared to lose two festivals to the pandemic.

So they decided to sound out local, and not-so-local, theatre companies to see if there was enough interest in entering an online event. And there was! Within a week or two of floating the idea, 16 companies had signed up to having their work streamed, rather than performed on the Barn stage.  

Most of the teams will have recorded their performances prior to the screening, although one company, CADS of Royston, is actually going to stream a live performance.  

The 16 entries include WGC’s Barn Theatre Club, Hertford’s The Company of Players, The Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company, the Digswell Players, and St Albans' Company of Ten.

The fully digital celebration of drama will run every evening at 7.30pm from Monday, May 17 to Saturday, May 22, with a matinee at 2.30pm on the Saturday.

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A festival spokesperson said: "The overall concept is to keep the festival vibrant and alive in the spirit of celebration, rather than competition."

The opening night is due to feature Big Squirrel presenting A.I. Love You by Kattreya Scheurer-Smith, Gate Productions' performance of Dreamers by Linda Dyne, and Woodhouse Players' version of Two the Same by Sarah Flanagan.

You can watch CoPs' The Strange Case of Henry Jekyll & Edward Hyde by Laura Ilinca on the Tuesday.

Thursday, May 20 sees Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company present Girl Walks into a Bar by Matthew Wilkie, Digswell Players' Book Club by Emma Northcott, and The Company of Ten with Wordsworth Writes by Mial Pagan.

The Barn Theatre Club's production of Glyn Maxwell's The Best Man is among the Saturday afternoon entries. 

Although the usual silverware trophies are not being awarded this year, the event is to be professionally adjudicated by Walker Ewart OBE, who will be joining the proceedings via Zoom from his home in Northern Ireland.  

And, there are to be ‘Alternative Trophies’ which bear a very strong resemblance to yellow rubber ducks!

Tickets are £4 per session.

Tickets for this year’s exciting online festival are available from

For more on the festival, visit

Welwyn Drama Festival Programme 2021

Monday, May 17, 7.30pm

  • Big Squirrel: A.I. Love You by Kattreya Scheurer-Smith
  • Gate Productions: Dreamers by Linda Dyne
  • Woodhouse Players: Two the Same by Sarah Flanagan

Tuesday, May 18, 7.30pm

  • The Company of Players (Hertford): The Strange Case of Henry Jekyll & Edward Hyde by Laura Ilinca
  • Spiral Curtain: Nightmare on Downing Street by Rodney Pearson

Wednesday, May 19, 7.30pm 

  • Corvus Amateur Drama Society: Seven Movies by Roy Maddox
  • Out of Ideas Theatre Company: Throw Me A Rope by Sarah Ridley

Thursday, May 20, 7.30pm

  • Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company: Girl Walks into a Bar by Matthew Wilkie
  • Digswell Players: Book Club by Emma Northcott
  • The Company of Ten: Wordsworth Writes by Mial Pagan

Friday, May 21, 7.30pm

  • Biggleswade Amateur Theatrical Society: Trammel Net by Mel Wilcox
  • Tiger Theatrical Productions: The Tenant by Alan Smithee

Saturday, May 21, 2.30pm

  • Barn Theatre Club: The Best Man by Glyn Maxwell
  • Woodhouse Players: Perceptions by Ian Powell

Saturday, May 22, 7.30pm

  • Nantwich Players: Girl in the Machine by Stef Smith
  • The College Players: Bing and Bong’s Am-dram Special Report – Unstaged by Nick Wilkes

This programme is subject to alteration.

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