All of Wells a stage

BANDSTANDS, the Cathedral Green, the Rotunda Theatre on Wells Rec and Cedars Hall at Wells Cathedral School are all hosting events in this year’s Wells Theatre Festival, back for four packed days from Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th June.

The programme has something for everyone, from fun puppet shows for tinies to Shakespeare, from circus skills around an old London taxi to an all-female company with their unique take on the Brothers Grimm – aka The Grimm Sisters.

The festival, the newest in a city which already has literary, comedy, visual arts and food festivals, aims to attract audiences of all ages and to encourage young people to participate in theatre practice. The patrons are Dame Judi Dench and renowned director, Sir Richard Eyre.
Companies taking part include Red Dragon, with their one-woman show, The Ballad of Mulan (the original story on which the Disney film was based), Flying Bedroom with an enchanting puppet show about a little girl, Elinor, who flies off to strange lands and a music show celebrating folk song and dance from across Europe, musical storytellers The Devil’s Violin with The Beast in Me, a tapestry of stories about our perception of beauty and the value of kindness,  a magical musical retelling of The Secret Garden and Scratchworks with their Grimm tales.

A particular highlight will be a rehearsed reading of Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends, with a cast headed by Imogen Stubbs, Serena Gordon and Jonathan Guy Lewis, at the Drama Barn in Market Street.

Hint of Lime Theatre bring The Trials of Galileo, the shocking story of the great scientist and astronomer whose discoveries brought him into conflict with the Church. Galileo’s tragedy was a mistaken belief that, if he supplied the Church with proof that the planets revolve around the sun, he would enlighten the world while escaping persecution. He was wrong. Pope Urban told him: “Proof denies faith, and without faith we are nothing. The universe is a divine miracle, Galileo, not a clockwork toy.”

Wells Community Theatre will be staging Twelfth Night, on Cathedral Green, a joyful production of one of Shakespeare’s most delightful comedies, with original music by Peter Kingston.

And there’s a real Somerset treat from the county’s Wassail Theatre with performances of the hauntingly beautiful Whispering Willows, a wordless story of an ancient craft and the challenges of a world of plastic and instant gratification.

For details of performances, venues, dates and times, see the Arts Diary and for information on the companies and the shows, visit the festival’s website, wellstheatrefestival.org

Pictured: Jack Dean Theatre with Hero and Leander, a modern musical retelling of an ancient myth; Scratchworks with Grimm Sisters; Wassail Theatre’s Whispering Willows.