Breckland festival launches in style

A RURAL village hall was theatrically brought to life to launch a pioneering arts festival aimed at bringing professional performers to the heart of isolated communities.

A RURAL village hall was theatrically brought to life to launch a pioneering arts festival aimed at bringing professional performers to the heart of isolated communities.

The first-ever Breckland Theatre Festival began with a performance of the slapstick musical romp Phileas P. Souper which enraptured a 50-strong audience at New Buckenham Village Hall on Saturday.

The three-week festival, organised by Breckland Council in partnership with Creative Arts East's Village Stage project, will present four high-quality shows in seven venues throughout the district.

Before the opening show, a filmed interview was screened with a message from the festival's patron Roger Lloyd Pack - the comedy icon who found international fame playing Trigger in Only Fools and Horses.


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The festival was then officially opened by Adrian Stasiak, Breckland's executive member for communities and benefits.

“This is a great example of how performances like this can bring communities together, supporting local groups and venues in our towns and villages,” he said.

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“Tonight's show was fantastic and it illustrates a good partnership approach between Breckland Council, Creative Arts East and voluntary promoters' groups.”

The audience included New Buckenham resident Bella Chirodian, who watched the show with her family.

She said: “It is great to have child-friendly theatre that also appeals to adults too. It crossed the whole divide, appealing to my six-year-old son and my 76-year-old mother. I feel completely uplifted.”

After accepting the crowd's applause, the performers of Phileas P. Souper stayed after the show to chat with the audience, and teach the children some of the tricks used in the production.

Tickets are still available for the rest of the festival programme, which continues on July 31 with a performance of surreal drama The Bell at Great Hockham Village Hall. For full details, visit www.breckland.gov.uk/theatrefestival

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