Brighton Festival 2020Public booking opens: Wed 19 Feb, 9am

Past Festivals

Past Event

Marc Rees

Digging for Shakespeare

World Premiere
Commissioned by Brighton Festival

Meet James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, 19th-century joker and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar who lived on the outskirts of Brighton. There in his 'rustic wigwam' (a series of conjoined sheds), he obsessively curated a huge hoard of Shakespearean rarities.

Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, artist Marc Rees has devised a unique promenade performance through Roedale Allotments, close to the site of this eccentric recluse's former home. Explore sheds and hideaways, discover an assortment of Shakespearean characters reborn in knitted form, and gather a wealth of horticultural tips along the way.

You’ll also meet the Allotmenteers and other community participants, so bring your favourite packeted variety and join in with the final seed swap! 

Creative team

Artist - Marc Rees
Producer - Polly Barker
James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps - Guillermo Weickert Molina
Expert - Charles Nicholl (read his article in The GuardianShakespeare's Scholar Tramp)
William Shakespeare image - Pure Evil
Map & Plant Illustrator - Rose Waterson
Knitted Characters - Annie Hardy

Community Cast

The Allotmenteers - RAGS (Roedale Allotment and Garden Society)
Birnam Wood - Hollingbury Park Bowls Club
The Fairies - Community Youth Cast

We would like to specially thank Amos from RAGS, for all his horticultural knowledge & hard work over the past year. We are grateful to Hollingbury Golf Course and the Friends of Hollingbury and Burstead Woods for their support. A big thank you also to the Community Cast members that we are working with to create this production.

Get involved

If you are interested in taking part in the Youth Cast please email or find out more here.


There is no parking available at this location. Remember that the return bus journey from Old Steine (included in your ticket) is part of the performance, so it's best not to miss it!

Useful Information

Being green fingered isn't necessary, but please wear sensible shoes and dress for the weather. We advise you to leave all bags and valuables at home as there is nowhere to leave them, and the performance is best experienced without carrying anything. The route is not suitable for pushchairs. If you have specific access requirements, email

Sat 7 & Sun 8 May
Sat 14 & Sun 15 May
Sat 21 & Sun 22 May

10.30am & 2.30pm

Meeting point: Old Steine bus stop S (opposite Royal Albion Hotel)
Festival Standby £10

There is a £2 per order charge. Additional postage charges (50p or £1.50) apply