stf Theatre | The Place At The Bridge
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The Place At The Bridge


The Place At The Bridge

Writer and Dramaturg Chinonyerem Odimba
Director Helena Middleton
Shakespeare’s Sonnets are brought to life through five contemporary characters as we explore our relationship with the city and each other.

Watch Livestreamed At Home
Thu 27 and Fri 28 May 2021 8.00pm
Or Live In Person (sold out!)
Weds 26, Thu 27 and Fri 28 May 2021 8.00pm
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Raleigh Road, Bristol. BS3 1TF
Tickets £12/20 Duration 45 Mins (approx.)
(10am – 1pm Monday to Friday excluding public holidays plus 10am – 2pm Sat 24 April only)

Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory (stf) is thrilled to work  for the first time with Writer and Dramaturg Chinonyerem Odimba, (Medea, Bristol Old Vic and Princess & The Hustler Eclipse Theatre/Bristol Old Vic/Hull Truck) and Director Helena Middleton, (Hercules Bristol Old Vic, Education Education Education, The Wardrobe Ensemble/Royal and Derngate/Trafalgar Studios) on a new performance of Shakespeare’s sonnets, The Place at the Bridge.

With thanks to the University of Bristol.
Research and Creative Collaborators: Lesel Dawson, Rachel Hare and Gina Walter

The Place at the Bridge

Never to be summed up and made up of plentiful parts. Stories of love for/from Bristol, inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnets, come pouring out of every corner of these modern re-imaginings.

The city’s emotional heart becomes a background to explore the strange, the messy, the human, the splattered, and the unseen love that holds us all together. Characters whose words we may recognise, but whose truths remain unheard. With music, images, and curation that will bring a wider sense of the city, these stories hope to reclaim Shakespeare’s words to more modern feelings, for a contemporary audience.

The Place at the Bridge is Bristol. The time is now. Before. Now. And After.

Image Design: Craig Fuller

‘The invitation to work with Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory on this project around the sonnets is a big YES moment for me. It has been such a wonderful adventure, with a wonderful team, to reshape and reimagine the sonnets, and to explode who and what they speak to. The Place at the Bridge feels like a collision of so many things, and yet all the pieces land in Love. In Bristol. In Hope. I am super excited to share that with an audience.’ Chinonyerem Odimba Writer and Dramaturg

“As a Bristolian born and bred, it has been such an exciting challenge to reimagine and repurpose the sonnets to reveal the love stories of Bristol. This is my first collaboration with Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and writer Chinonyerem Odimba, together we’re reworking the original text to tell new and urgent stories about the city we live in and the people who live in it.” Helena Middleton Director

Lesel Dawson University of Bristol:Gina, Rachel and I have loved being part of the creative team in this reimagining of Shakespeare’s sonnets. In Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory’s exhilarating new production, the poems not only evoke eternal themes of love, alienation and desire, but also address urgent questions about who we are and where we love.”

stf is grateful for Arts Council England and DCMS Cultural Recovery Funding received in round two which supports this performance. With thanks to the Garfield Weston Foundation and University of Bristol.

Alexandra Wollacott as Laurie
Nadia Williams as Preacher
Shane David-Joseph as Artist
Zachary Powell as Jaz
Heather Williams as Frances
Sura Susso kora player and composition, live performance

Chinonyerem Odimba Writer and Dramaturg
Helena Middleton Director
Alana Ashley Designer
Rachael Duthie Lighting Designer
Jack Drewry Sound Designer
Nic Prior Production Manager
Xahnaa Adlam Assistant Director
Madeleine Coward Stage Manager
Artwork by Bristol Graffiti artists: Inkie, Mollymural, Zed in the clouds, Stivs, Rozalita

Chinonyerem Odimba is a Nigerian British playwright, screenwriter, and poet. Her recent work ranges from Medea at Bristol Old Vic, We Too, Are Giants for Kiln Theatre, Unknown Rivers at Hampstead Theatre, Prince and the Pauper at Watermill Theatre, The Seven Ages of Patience at Kiln Theatre, and   . She is also Writer-in-Residence at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Her work for theatre includes The Bird Woman of Lewisham at the Arcola; Rainy Season, and His Name is Ishmael for Bristol Old Vic; Joanne for Clean Break, and Amongst the Reeds for Clean Break/The Yard Theatre.  Her work for young people includes a modern retelling of Twist for Theatre Centre and Sweetness of a Sting for NT Connections.

She has been shortlisted for several awards including the Adrienne Benham and Alfred Fagon awards. In 2015 her unproduced play Wild is De Wind was shortlisted to the final ten for the Bruntwood Playwriting Award. She is the winner for the 2018 Sonia Friedman Award (Channel 4 Playwright Bursary) for a new play How to Walk on the Moon, and a finalist for the inaugural Women Playwriting Prize 2020 for her play Paradise Street.

Chinonyerem’s TV credits includes Scotch Bonnet for BBC Three and A Blues for Nia for BBC/Eclipse Theatre, Adulting for Channel 4, and more recently My Best Friend Married a Warrior for CBBC. For radio, credits include The Last Flag, and Eve as part of This Is Your Country, Now series on Radio 4.

As a director, Chinonyerem has worked for Bristol Old Vic, Theatre503 and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She will be co-directing her new play Black Love for Paines Plough, as well an audio drama for Live Theatre/BBC Radio 4 in 2021.

Helena Middleton is a Bristol based theatre and film director and co-founder of The Wardrobe Ensemble.

Helena’s Theatre directing credits include  Pippi Longstocking (Royal and Derngate),  Hercules (Bristol Old Vic), Education Education Education (The Wardrobe Ensemble/Royal and Derngate/Trafalgar Studios), The Star Seekers (The Wardrobe Ensemble/National Theatre), Onwards and Upwards (The Rondo Theatre), Then Again (King’s Head), Eloise and the Curse of the Golden WhiskEdgar and the Land of Lost (The Wardrobe Ensemble/Bike Shed Theatre), The Time Seekers and The Deep Sea Seekers (The Wardrobe Ensemble/The Wardrobe Theatre/Theatre Royal Plymouth), Monkey Puzzle (Discover Children’s story centre), Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain (The Wardrobe Ensemble/Bristol Old Vic), The Assembly Women (VAULT festival), Islanders (Theatre West) and The Oil and the Shard (Camden People’s Theatre)

Helena’s film directing credits include: Breadline (Calling the Shots), My Mama, A Man (Spinster Films) and KIN (Vine Hill Films)


★★★★ The TimesFreestone and her cast take this ever-strange mix of comedy and pain, emotional jousting and emotional torture, somewhere touching as well as teasing.’ Dominic Maxwell

★★★★ The Daily Mail ‘Elizabeth Freestone’s vigorous production ensures the language feels like office banter… robust and enjoyable.’ Patrick Marmion

★★★★ The Stage ‘A complexly rendered and charismatic performance’ Ben Kulvichit

★★★★What’sOnStageIt’s a Much Ado that reminds of sunny summer evenings and young love and in this increasingly dark and cold part of the year, it’s a welcome balm.’ Daisy Bowie-Sel

★★★★ The Spy In The Stalls ‘Reaching new heights without pretension this production feels fresh, striving to relate to its audience.’ Phoebe Cole

★★★★ London Theatre Reviews ‘The brilliant cast from Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory (stf) delivered an incredible performance. I felt every emotion, flinched at every angry outburst and heartily laughed at every insult and joke bounced around the stage.’ Abigail Kathleen 

★★★★ My Theatre Mates ‘On a chilly, Autumnal night, when the football made parking all but impossible, there is no greater praise than people leaving with a jig in their step and a song in their heart. The city’s love affair with the company continues.’ Kristopher Hallett

★★★★ A Younger Theatre ‘In an essentially fun and heartfelt production, there is a seamless blend of the vibrant modern with the poetic old, with neither aspect ever really detracting from the other.’ Nick Ferris

★★★★★ Stage Talk Magazine ‘The mixed aged audience cheering at the end is testament to the freshness that persists.  With productions of this calibre, STF has got at least another 20 years in it’ Bryan Mason

★★★★ Epigram ‘It is a testament to the strength of the cast that all of them deserve notation’ Katie Chalk 

Bristol 24/7 ‘This Much Ado is a true delight and – like so many stf productions – will hopefully show people that Shakespeare really can be just as spellbinding to a modern audience as any high quality Hollywood blockbuster. Go and see it.’ Toby Morse

British Theatre Guide Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory’s reputation for clear and compelling storytelling lives on … this dynamic yet thoughtful and nuanced interpretation treads the fine line between comedy and tragedy with consummate ease.’ Claire Hayes

A Writer’s Blog ‘Elizabeth Freestone’s direction is not only exciting but emphasises nuances in the plot.’ Crysse Morrison