More fun than you can shake a spear at

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Shakespeare at Traquair is touring two comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew, next week.

The company will present Young Shakespeare at Carlops Village Hall at 8pm on Wednesday, November 6, and then at Peebles’ Eastgate Theatre on Thursday and Friday, November 7-8, at 7.30pm.

Young Shakespeare features 20 young actors, who have been in weekly rehearsals for three months, performing two Shakepeare comedies. The first is a traditional A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with lovers’ tiffs, rude mechanicals and an extremely overworked fairy, followed by a modern day Taming of the Shrew with a maniacal Kate, a cool Petruchio and a bunch of jobbing actors. Both comedies are directed by Tim Wilcock.

Shakespeare at Traquair is a vibrant community-based group that has produced 19 annual promenade productions in the open air at Traquair House gardens. Like Shakespeare’s own company, their actors, costumiers, make-up artists and stage management team all have other jobs, but they share a passion and commitment to performing Shakespeare’s words

Shakespeare at Traquair is an inclusive group open to volunteers of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, theatrical experiences, locations and politics. It was set up for people to experience and promote the works of Shakespeare at Traquair House through rehearsal, workshop and production. During the summer, around eight performances take place in the grounds of Traquair, regardless of weather, where an audience of around 100 follows the troup from scene to scene.

The audience and cast are a nose away from each other: both demanding for the cast and an overwhelming experience for the audience, hearing Juliet’s heart beat, smelling Prospero’s breath and Macbeth’s sweat, the beer of Sir Toby, seeing Romeo’s tears, and dancing with the Clown.

The plays give the cast and crew an experience of theatre and all its craft, introducing them to the magic of the language of Shakespeare.

It proves that poetry should be heard and seen for it to live and be accessible.

Last year’s 2012 production of Twelfth Night earned a four-star review in The Scotsman. The 2014 Shakespeare at Traquair promenade production is The Comedy Errors. Tickets for the Carlops Village Hall performance are £8/£6, available from 07773 024024. Tickets for Peebles’ Eastgate Theatre are £10/£5 available from the Eastgate Box Office: 01721 725777.

There’s also Halloween Happenings at Traquair this weekend (November 2-3), with spine-tingling Historical Ghost Tours, running at 7pm and 9pm. Experience the atmosphere of this ancient house at night with a ghost tour bringing history to life –and death.

Characters from Traquair’s past will guide you through the house, and uncover secrets from their lives, of the trials and persecutions they faced as Jacobites and the Catholics, and the terror of being discovered. Tours finish in the 18th century dining room where you can soak up the atmosphere with a glass of mulled wine. You can also combine your tour with a Halloween Supper at the 1745 Cottage Restaurant ... if you dare.

Ghost tour prices, £12/£8. Combined tour and supper ticket, £22. Book tickets on 01896 830323.