Festival Arts have been performing in St Davids since 1969 and in the Bishop’s Palace since 1970.
The company was founded by Jack and Joye Beckett. Jack was a director who recognised the extraordinary Palace as a unique auditorium. From the start, he insisted that we should perform in the evening so that as the daylight faded we could use full theatre lighting on the ancient stones.
Joye Beckett fortified Festival Arts with her powerful commitment and irrepressible energy. She fulfilled many different roles, including performing, publicising, and cooking for the company. She designed and made hundreds of costumes, and many of her spectacular creations will be appearing on stage this year. Joye took part in every single Festival Arts season until the year she died, in 2017. Her and Jack's legacy thrives in the many generations of Festival Arts attendees who she supported, loved, and continues to inspire.
Jack Beckett directing in the Bishop's Palace
Joye Beckett doing publicity on Whitesands beach
Festival Arts celebrated their 50th summer season in 2018. Jenny Baines and Julie Beckett are now producers and directors, and Colin Baines provides the music every year, often composed for the productions. We have written several of our popular musical plays ourselves. They are performed alongside our regular Shakespeare productions.
Over the years we have appeared in many places around the city as well as in the Palace. In 1969 we built our own outdoor theatre in Court House, on Cross Square. We have put on plays in Ysgol Dewi Sant, in Twr Y Felin Garden, in the City Hall, in Solva Memorial Hall and in Tenby’s clifftop theatre (before it fell into the sea!). Now we are happily settled in Mathry and enjoying living and working in the village each season. For many years we put on a free show on Whitesands Beach, and we have always included music and concerts in our repertoire.
Festival Arts depend on a great deal of voluntary help to keep the company going. We are grateful to everyone who makes it possible for us to perform in this beautiful location every year.