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Open-air theatre coming to Exeter’s Valley Park

Published: 18 August 2021

Estimated Waiting Time coming to Exeter

Outdoor theatre is being brought to the communities in Exeter, the City Council has announced.

People will be able to bring their picnic blankets and outdoor seats to see Estimated Waiting Time in the open air at the Sylvania Hall in Mincinglake Valley Park on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 August at 6:30pm.

The play is free of charge and everyone is welcome to attend, although it does contain some smoking and mild swearing and is therefore suitable for children aged 13 or above.  

The City Council has helped bring the touring production to Exeter and has worked with the Sylvania Hall to make the event happen.

Estimated Waiting Time is a new play by Hackney- based playwright Mark Lindow. The play received s substantial grant from Arts Council England to allow it to tour housing estates and community spaces across England this summer.

The play tells the story of local residents Alyssa (42) and Lewis (15) who meet by chance one evening while both looking for a place to escape their home lives. Isolated and lonely, the pair find a commonality and form an unlikely friendship through their shared frustration with family and the systems that are failing them, and their love of storytelling.

Exploring themes of loneliness, lack of NHS funding and delayed waiting times, difficulties within the educational system, and the pressures facing carers and young people, Estimated Waiting Time reaches out to those who have limited opportunity to experience socially relevant live theatre. 

Writer, Mark Lindow, and actor/producer, Holly Joyce, have been working together to develop the play for two years. When the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020, they saw an opportunity to share live theatre with local communities in a safe, outdoor environment once lockdown restrictions eased – the play is set solely in a housing estate playground and features only two actors with the set comprising of a simple, portable swing.

Actor and Creative Producer, Holly Joyce said: “Largely inspired by the work of the late Jennie Buckman and her company Giants Theatre, I am passionate about creating theatre that is accessible and relevant to local communities.

While the COVID 19 pandemic has devastated the creative industries in so many respects, it has given some not-for-profit theatre-makers the opportunity to focus on creating and sharing work in different ways.

The production company are grateful to Arts Council England, The Cripplegate Foundation and the Windmill Hill Big Local initiative for their generous financial contributions to the project, and to the City Council and Sylvania Hall who have worked together to help bring the play to Exeter.


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