University of Exeter: Apprentices ready to bring traditional seaside entertainment back to Devon this summer

The group have been learning the art of outdoor seaside performance such as “barking up a crowd”, escapology, blade box routines, magic and storytelling and other family fun enjoyed historically by holidaymakers. The training will ensure the skills involved in beach shows are passed down to the next generation of artists.

Beachside shows with slapstick, songs and Punch and Judy have become rare as holiday habits change.

The performances will bring joy to locals and holidaymakers in Devon this summer, as well as providing employment and training for new performers, particularly during a period when the artistic industries have been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

All the seven trainees are from Devon. The covid-safe performances will take place at Exeter Quay, The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter and Teignmouth throughout August.

Performances will take place in Teignmouth seafront on Tuesdays and Wednesday throughout August, and on Exeter Quayside on Friday 20 and Friday 27 August. There will also be performances outside the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery on 5, 12, 19 & 26 August.

The apprenticeships are funded by the Arts Council of Great Britain and led by Tony Lidington, a renowned seaside performer and a member of Britain’s last professional seaside pierrot troupe – ‘The New Follies’ ( . Dr Lidington, now also an expert in the history of popular theatre at the University of Exeter, will be performing with the trainees, and has been leading rehearsals.

Dr Lidington said: “I am so pleased we are able to provide this opportunity for some of our talented young performers. It gives them new skills and experiences, and ensures the art of seaside performance are passed to future generations. They have been working really hard and we are looking forward to putting on some brilliant shows this summer.

“The beauty of outdoors performances is anyone can watch and join in, and we hope lots of people will enjoy our covid-safe entertainment throughout August.”

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