As the sun sets and the heat of the day softens into a cool summer evening, Cloudehill Gardens in Olinda takes on a subtle glow – soft light, the sound of birds, the fragrance of summer blooms all combine to create an experience that is one of owner Jeremy Francis’ favourite times of day. Twilight in the summer is a special time in the spectacular Cloudehill garden that is made even more compelling by the addition of music, theatre and performances such as the upcoming OZACT Shakespeare production of ‘Much Ado about Nothing.’ There is a special quality to a Dandenong twilight at this time of year, and the Twilight Summer Series provides a perfect opportunity for people to relax and enjoy the garden well into the evening (and after usual closing time).
The theatre in the garden tradition at Cloudehill started almost 15 years ago, and a Shakespeare performance is a much-anticipated part of the summer program every year. Much Ado about Nothing (Decmeebr 28 and 29), always a popular production for its light-hearted take on love and life, will be performed as a streamlined version which also makes it perfect for families.
The outdoor theatre space is on one hand an empty architectural space that simply provides the bones and contrast to the rest of the structure of the gardens. But it is also the most central part of the garden, a pivot from which all the other garden rooms take their lead. The theatre space has been built with an amphitheatre-like feel reminiscent of the great theatres of the Renaissance gardens of Europe.
A colossal tapestry hedge wraps around the theatre space, which creates a natural acoustic buffer that means there is no need for amplification. “We’ve had opera singers here who have marvelled at the natural acoustics – quite unusual in outdoor settings and one of the reasons why this venue is so special,” says Jeremy.
An intimate space for performances, the garden theatre provides the audience with a sense of being in the lap of actors, who may even move throughout the space to bring immediacy to their characters and the audience’s experience. During the Summer Twilight series, there is time to wander the gardens and enjoy the summer borders, which are carefully planted in the spring to ensure there are magnificent and ever-changing blooms from the start of November through to the late summer. Enjoy a picnic in the garden after your wander and settle in for a night of exquisite beauty and enjoyment!
Tickets for Much Ado about Nothing are available now. Shakespeare was a master of comedy and this witty play is one of his best. A story of gossip, rumour and overhearing, Hero and Claudio use every trick in the book to get headstrong singletons Benedick and Beatrice to admit their love for each other and, of course, everything goes exactly according to plan. Well, almost!
Enquiries to Jeremy Francison at Cloudehill Gardens on 03 9751 1009