We caught up with Wendy Wilshere, head of volunteer casting and engagement at Kynren, to find out how groups can make the most of a trip to the huge open air show in County Durham.

For those that have never seen Kynren before, can you describe it?

Wendy Wilshere, Kynren

Wendy Wilshere.

Kynren is a multi-award-winning live action outdoor theatre spectacular which transports audiences through 2,000 years of English history. On a seven-and-a-half-acre outdoor stage, a cast and crew of 1,000 bring to ground-shaking life the story of invasions, royal splendour, war, heroic sacrifice, daily life, and seismic change.

Viewed from an 8,000-seater tribune which provides panoramic views across the giant outdoor stage, the family-friendly experience begins with a boy called Arthur accidentally kicking a football through a window of a hunting lodge at Auckland Castle.

Tell us a little bit about your role and day to day tasks?

My role is head of volunteer casting and engagement at Kynren and as part of this, I look after, organise and develop the huge number of volunteers that we have here at 11Arches (the company that promotes Kynren). That could mean arranging schedules and rehearsals, or doing outreach at local events to tell people about what we do. The volunteer journey and spirit is something that I am incredibly passionate about and it has a huge impact on our local area – I try to make sure that every volunteer here at Kynren has the best time they possibly can and enjoys every minute.


Source: © North News & Pictures

The show includes special effects to help bring the story to life.

See Boudicca’s courageous but doomed uprising against the Romans and the clash of Viking and Anglo-saxon leaders at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Experience the excitement as daring jousting knights on horseback charge at full speed, witness the future King Arthur as he draws the sword Excalibur from the stone and join the lavish celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Diamond jubilee.

What can groups benefit from on a visit?

Groups of 20 or more enjoy preferential rates as well as exclusive complimentary on-site coach parking, offered on a first-come first-served basis up to our maximum capacity. A complimentary ticket for coach drivers is also provided.

What would you say is your favourite part of the experience?

My favourite scene in the show (of which I also get the chance to perform!) is the Miners Gala as it is such a joyful scene and is just before the grand finale. We come on stage and perform a rapper sword dance, followed by the whole cast dancing in the Miners Gala through to the spectacular firework finale.


Source: © North News & Pictures

The Kynren grand finale in front of the lake, features the whole cast.

What sets Kynren apart from other big shows?

I don’t think there are many – if any – shows out there that can say they have a cast and crew of 1,000 volunteers.

The spirit of volunteering and the journey of each Archer (this is what we call our volunteers) is something that is truly special. Whilst the training, preparing, rehearsing, and performing are great experiences, we have also developed and built a community for all Archers. Whether it is for friendship, upskilling or wellbeing, there are many opportunities available for those who wish to make the most of it and we genuinely want to make a difference to the community in which we all live and work in.

Where should groups sit for the best view?

Everyone gets to witness a different aspect of the show and all the action wherever they sit and there are no restricted views as it is an open-air show. The VIP seats do have the luxury of being padded and right in the middle, however my family and friends who visit are quite happy in the standard seats too.

Blacksmiths Forge in Viking Village at Kynren, Bishop Auckland

A Blacksmith’s Forge makes up part of the pre-show entertainment.

Tell us your favourite fun fact about Kynren?

A lot of people often ask me what ‘Kynren’ means as it is an unusual word. Kynren, spelt with a ‘c’, echoes the old Anglo Saxon word meaning family/generation. To me, that is exactly what we are all about, from the generations of families that volunteer to the aim of the charity to use culture, education and arts to regenerate the town in which we live.

For more information about group visits to see Kynren - An Epic Tale of England, go to www.kynren.com