Disgusting in Tunbridge Wells: Shakespeare actors forced off stage after 30 years by drunken hecklers
An open air theatre group has cancelled its shows in Tunbridge Wells after groups of drunks hurled a ‘barrage of abuse’ at the actors – saying they ‘looked gay’ in Shakespeare garb.
The Pantiles Players, which were set up to provide entertainment to people during World War Two, decided to pull out of the open air gigs this week after boozers shouted and swore during the performances of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Robert Chesterton, chairman of the group, said: ‘Thirty years ago this was a very quiet place.
Smokers’ paradise: A pub on The Pantiles near the bandstand where Shakespeare actors perform
‘You would see a couple walking along and they would stop for five minutes to watch – it was a nice gentlemanly attitude, but now that’s gone.’
He said that actors were now ‘drowned out’ by drunks outside a nearby pub who shouted, swore and made fun of the shows.
He added: ‘This year the noise from the bars was intolerable – actors were subject to appalling abuse and so we have reluctantly decided we can no longer mount productions on the Pantiles bandstand.’
The Pantiles, an up-market parade of shops built in the 1680s, is host to a number of bars – where many stand outside since the smoking ban.
One of the actors, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It was truly horrible.
‘One minute you are pouring your heart out as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet or Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and the next you hear someone shout ‘You look a bit gay in those trousers’ or ‘Shut up, I’m trying to have a fag’ and that sort of thing.
‘It’s a real shame for the audience, who love to while away an hour or so watching us perform at the bandstand, and it’s obviously really off-putting for the actors.’
He added: ‘Now we’ll have to do indoor shows only, otherwise we’ll just end up constantly being harassed by these idiots.’
One regular at the Swan pub, which is near the bandstand, said the barracking did ‘get a bit much’ sometimes.
Phil Elliot, 32, said: ‘It was funny at first, but some guys just took it too far and were being really quite offensive.
‘One of them just wouldn’t shut up about this one actor’s trousers and kept on calling him gay and mincing around outside the pub.
‘Most of us found it funny, but after he kept it up for 15 minutes it was getting a bit too much. The poor actor looked crestfallen.’
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