Interview with SESSIONS Set and Costume Designer

Ahead of Paines Plough’s latest touring show SESSIONS by Ifeyinwa Frederick coming to South Hill Park on Wed 27 Oct, the company took a few moments to speak with the show’s designer, Anna Reid, to find out about her work, what it takes to create the look of a Paines...

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day Fri 8 Oct Join us for a walk or tai-chi session in South Hill Park's beautiful grounds, Bracknell. Tai Chi: 11am-12noon Walk: 12.30-13.15pm Join us for an optional tea or coffee, cake and a chat to find out more about local mental health...

Auditions for the Studio Theatre Company’s next production Road

Come audition for the Studio Theatre Company's next production Road, by Jim Cartwright on Mon 27 Sept 7.30pm, and Fri 1 Oct 7.30pm. They will be group auditions, nothing to prepare. The company are looking for 7 actors most of whom will multi role. The performance...

Shrek 2022 Auditions

We are excited to share that our 2022 Easter Production will be Shrek The Musical - coming to the Wilde Theatre in April 2022! If you would like to be part of the greatest fairy tale never told, that's guaranteed family fun, then book your audition here. Auditions...

RARE Productions Hairspray Auditions

Visiting company RARE Productions will hold open auditions for their production of Hairspray at South Hill Park from Thu 3 - Sat 5 Feb 2022. Auditions will take place at South Hill Park on Tue 5 & Sat 9 Oct and are open for anyone aged 8-21yrs. Audition event...

Excellent results for South Hill Park’s LAMDA students

Eleven learners took their LAMDA exams at South Hill Park this summer under the tuition of Mark Hooper (Director of Learning, Participation and Community Engagement). The learners (10 Grade 8 & 1 Grade 1) had their exams cancelled at the start of the pandemic and...

Bracknell resident completes 500km run for South Hill Park Trust appeal

On 12 June 2020 Bracknell Forest resident David Baker pledged to run 500km in aid of South Hill Park Trust’s major public fundraising campaign following the potentially devastating impact of Covid-19. On Saturday 12 June 2021 David will complete this mammoth feet at...

An acting debut in Rope 2021

Gordon Vince, who will make his acting debut in the Studio Theatre Company’s 50th show celebration performance of Rope from Wed 23 – Sun 26 June, has shared with us what made him want to audition, what audiences can look forward to, and some behind the scenes...

Live events return to the Wilde

‘The social distancing at this was amazing; lines and rows of seats physically removed to keep all groups apart with a fantastic one-way system and oodles of sanitiser everywhere. It was lovely to support a local production and the cast were insanely good.’ – Louise,...

Calling all 8-18yr olds to audition for this year’s Pantomime, Cinderella (2021)

Panto Auditions – Junior Ensemble Want to be in panto? Oh yes, you do! Audition for South HiIl Park’s in-house pantomime production this Christmas Cinderella (Fri 26 Nov 2021 – Mon 3 Jan 2022). We are looking for 30 young performers who can dance, sing and act to form...



South Hill Park

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Remembering Simon McCartan

July 6, 2018

Simon in Brassed Off 2011

This month we were devastated to lose a dear friend and long-time supporter of South Hill Park, Simon McCartan, who very sadly passed away on 25 June. Simon acted, directed and produced here over many years and was part of countless wonderful memories for so many.

Simon grew up in Bracknell, attending Wildridings Primary School, where he played Fagin in Oliver. He went on to Garth Hill School, where he played trombone in the school band – a skill that would come in handy for a later stage performance – before studying History and English at Brunel University, completing a thesis on Charles Dickens.

I first met Simon when we were both involved in theatre with the Maidenhead Players in the late 1990s, and what immediately struck me was how fun he was to be around. He just loved being around people, debating anything and everything. He was a true gentleman, kind and respectful, and he took immense pride in following in the theatrical footsteps of his dad (or ‘Mac’ as he’d refer to him), of whom he spoke with adoration.

I have many fantastic memories of Simon’s theatrical exploits at South Hill Park, and I’ve picked just a few highlights here. The first is Blue Remembered Hills, which we performed in the Amphitheatre in the mummer of 2005. Simon played a 7 year-old bully called Willie and gave a typically energetic performance that exuded vulnerability and menace in equal measure. One of the great things about Simon was his ability to find vulnerability in every character he played, and as a result you always cared about them.

Six years later, I was lucky enough to direct Simon in Brassed Off, in which he played Phil Ormondroyd, a colliery worker (and colliery brass band member) facing the loss of his family and his livelihood. I don’t believe I’m being biased when I say he gave an astonishing performance, heart-felt, sincere, often very funny and – yes – vulnerable. Typical of Simon was his commitment to the role, even attempting to reacquaint himself with the trombone so he could actually play along with the band on stage. It wasn’t long before we realised it was probably better he didn’t!

His other appearances on the Wilde stage were numerous and varied, and spanned twenty years, from Nicholas Nickleby in 1988 with the Wilde Theatre Company to more recent roles with EBOS, including Into the Woods, My Fair Lady and Mack n’ Mabel, and most recently South Hill Park’s Blackadder.

But Simon’s involvement at South Hill Park didn’t stop at acting. In 2005 he produced and directed Audience and The Real Inspector Hound in the Studio Theatre through his own company, Light & Shade, while in 2012, he directed a hugely successful sell-out production of Rope for the Studio Theatre Company, creating an amazing production of an extremely technically challenging show in a small space with no budget. And long before that, he directed a very memorable version of the ghost scene from Hamlet as part of an outdoor celebration of Shakespeare.

Simon loved South Hill Park, had many happy times here and gave us some wonderful moments. A loving son and brother, and friend to so many, he will be dearly missed.


Written by Adrian McDougall, friend and colleague.

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