Highlights of Ripon Theatre Festival revealed

Ripon Theatre Festival has announced its programme of events due for its inaugural event on June 23-26.

By Janet Harrison
Friday, 13th May 2022, 12:32 pm
Fell-Foss Theatre Crusoe’s Island. Picture: Rainbow Rice Photography
Fell-Foss Theatre Crusoe’s Island. Picture: Rainbow Rice Photography

More than 20 professional theatre companies and acts will be featured at over a dozen venues from small back rooms and cafés to Fountains Abbey, the new Arts Hub, Ripon Library, green spaces and city streets and local residents will also get the chance to perform.

“Drama highlights include a visit from renowned radical theatre company Red Ladder from Leeds with their production of The Damned United, about Brian Clough’s relationship with Leeds United and made famous by the 2009 film starring Michael Sheen,” said a festival spokesman.

“Sponsorship and local support means that many performances are free to watch and prices for ticketed shows have been kept low to encourage residents and visitors to attend multiple events across the weekend.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

Fisher and Wife

“Excitement about the festival is beginning to build with community performers and volunteers signing up to be involved.”

Open-air theatre specialists Illyria come to the Cloisters at Fountains Abbey with their production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the recently refurbished Arts Hub will play host to visits from two North Yorkshire-based touring companies, Fell-Foss Theatre and Pyramus and Thisbe Productions.

Fell-Foss Theatre will be presenting Crusoe’s Island – “one man’s story of shipwreck, solitude and salvation” as the Festival’s opening night show and Pyramus

and Thisbe will be reviving their hugely popular Holmes and Watson The Farewell Tour as a comic Sunday lunchtime treat.

Children can enjoy a mixture of free and ticketed events for all ages. Ripon Library will welcome back Hoglets Theatre with a twilight show for little ones.

Youngsters are invited to come dressed for bed and to enjoy a gentle bed-time adventure with The Sleep Pirates show.

Story Craft Theatre from York also take over the library for an afternoon of crafty tales around the Heading into Space theme.

Puppetry and theatre for families feature heavily on Festival Saturday with back-to-back entertainment both indoors and outdoors across the city.

Skipton-based and internationally respected Lempen Puppet Theatre take part in an entire day of indoor and outdoor shows and workshops in the Arts Hub, Library and at pop-up open-air locations.

Two more theatre companies with family-focused productions will be in residence in Ripon Spa Gardens for Festival Saturday – Badapple Theatre Company

present their charming Tales from the Great Wood soon followed by Strange Twig Theatre Company with Winnie and Warwick’s Magical Menagerie, a silly show complete with animatronic puppets.

These shows sit alongside Punch and Judy puppet shows from Richmond-based Ron Wood and the day kicks off in Spa Gardens with an interactive Musical Bear Hunt for young children.

Theatre performances in fixed locations, indoors and outside are only half the fun on Festival Saturday.

Festival Director Ian Holloway said: “We are delighted that businesses, local councils and trusts have got behind the Festival to a degree that has enabled us to book a wide range of street theatre and “walkabout” acts, helping create a festival vibe throughout the day.

“Alongside unicyclists and stilt-walkers, you are bound to bump into some crazy characters and surprising sights such as medieval dragons, dry-land mermaids,

an evil plant and some silly men hidden in gigantic flower-pots.”

The range of professional street acts will be complemented by local community groups and musicians performing around the city streets and linking

the three main Festival zones of Market Place, Spa Gardens and the Ripon Canal Basin.

Sunday events include pop-up dance theatre from Leeds-based ACCA ColLab, to be performed in two café locations, and the culmination of a Jubilee-themed living history project at the Ripon Workhouse Museum, before the Festival Finale at Fountains Abbey.

The Ripon Theatre Festival programme also includes pop-up indoor drama, spoken-word and illustrated talk events at the Curzon Cinema, The Little Ripon Bookshop and Ripon Library.

There’s also a puppet-led family Trail Game around the city centre and on Saturday night, a community Revue of sketches and music from local writers and musicians.

The Festival opens on Thursday morning, 23 June, with folk fables for grown-ups from “a unique force in storytelling”, Leeds-based Ursula Holden Gill.

Ripon Theatre Festival is organised by a team of community volunteers under its parent charity, The Ripon City Festival Trust and has gained financial support from local organisations.

Main sponsor, Wolseley Finance Director, Mark Stibbards: “As Ripon’s largest employer, and a company with a long-standing heritage in the city, it fills us

with great pride to be the main sponsor for this event.

“We’re always striving to have a positive impact on the communities in which we serve, and this is another great opportunity for us to do just that.

“The Festival is going to be a fantastic occasion and many of us here at Wolseley are really looking forward to it.”