An actor from the Festival Players Theatre Company has described meeting Dame Judi Dench on the Isles of Scilly as a "moment of magic".
The travelling, all-male troupe visits the islands every year and had performed A Winter’s Tale on Tresco when the actress, who was on holiday, agreed to be their Patron.
Actor Mark Spriggs told the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald: “We were performing a show on the tiny Scilly island of Tresco with 80 in the audience, when director Michael Dyer came backstage and said that Dame Judi Dench was in the audience with her family. It was a bit daunting, especially as she had just played Paulina in Kenneth Branagh’s production.”
Dame Judi met the actors backstage after the show, which took place in Tresco Abbey Garden on August 12th.
“She was very sweet,” said Mark. “She said how much she loved it, and that it was the first time she’s ever seen an all-male Shakespeare, and understood that was how it was originally done.”
The company's artistic director Michael Dyer then asked her to be their patron and she “hardly hesitated and said she would be delighted".
“So we are now an all-male troupe headed up by one of the greatest dames!”
He added that the Players all felt it had been a momentous day, saying: “We were absolutely thrilled with meeting Dame Judi, it was a moment of magic… of all the places in the world to encounter her - a lump of rock on a damp evening - a Scilly isle where silly things happen.
“We spent the rest of the evening drinking Pinot Noir and watching the shooting stars of the Perseid Meteor Shower in the least light-polluted sky in the UK.”
The Festival Players hope that Dame Judi's involvement will help them secure funding to enable them to undertake more outreach work, such as working in schools and supporting charities such as Help for Heroes.
The troupe will visit Scilly with its new production Much Ado About Nothing next summer.
Dame Judi told This is Scilly after her two-week holiday that it was "very hard" to return to normal life and she "can't wait to return".