READING’S multi-award-winning production company, RABBLE Theatre, return to live performance this summer after more than a year of closed theatres, with significant support from Arts Council England.

The Last Abbot of Reading, RABBLE’s new play, will take place outdoors in the Chapter House of Reading Abbey Ruins which commemorates its 900th Anniversary at the same time as the show itself.

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Written by Beth Flintoff, who wrote the highly acclaimed Henry I, Matilda the Empress and Henry II, the dramatic play tells the tale of Reading’s unlikely last Abbot, Hugh Faringdon, and his devastating relationship with Henry VIII.

Reading Abbey Ruins are immediately beside (and underneath) Oscar Wilde’s Reading Gaol, which the company have been campaigning to transform into a theatre and cultural centre of international quality since 2013.

Toby Davies, RABBLE’s Artistic Director & Co-Founder, said: “This is a significant moment for RABBLE and the whole of Reading.

"We were forced to close at the start of the pandemic and since then have lost our base and almost everything else.

"But now, thanks to Arts Council England and others, we return with a fascinating play that celebrates our local history on the 900th birthday of our magnificent Abbey.

"Amazingly, the Abbey sits immediately beside Reading Gaol, which, of course, we hope will one day contain Reading’s theatre. It will be an emotional experience.”

Sir John Madejski, Patron of RABBLE Theatre added: "What fantastic news.

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"I’m so pleased to see that RABBLE have survived the storm and are now ready to get back to doing what they do so incredibly well.

"Perhaps the pandemic has reminded us how important it is for the region to have a vibrant cultural scene and I know that RABBLE are the heart of ours.

"I look forward to supporting this excellent company outdoors at Reading Abbey Ruins this summer.”

RABBLE explained this was only made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.