Ripon Theatre Festival Announces Full Programme

10 April 2023

Ripon Theatre Festival has announced a bigger, bolder and brighter programme of events for 2023. The second Ripon Theatre Festival will take place from Wednesday 7 – Sunday 11 June with four days and five nights crammed with performances and activity.;

Drama highlights include visits from up-and-coming theatre companies performing in Ripon Arts Hub, a return visit from open-air specialists Illyria with their family show Robin Hood at Fountains Abbey and a charming production of Sense and Sensibility in the perfect surroundings of the garden at The Old Deanery. The festival will also be welcoming BBC Radio 4 favourite, gentle Northern activist, Kate Fox and Liz Grand with her one-woman show Where’s Mrs Christie?


Rhubarb Theatre

There are multiple festival events for children and families. In addition to delightful shows at Ripon Library on Thursday and Friday, there will be street theatre, walkabout acts and pop-up performances throughout the weekend (10/11 June). Circus, street theatre and community combine on Saturday at two performance zones, the Market Place and Minster Gardens (adjacent to Ripon Cathedral). Featured entertainment includes a comic escapology show from The Maniax and Dizzy O’Dare’s award-winning Giant Balloon Show. The attractive surroundings of Ripon Spa Gardens will be the focus of free family-friendly theatre and puppetry on the Sunday.

The festival promises a “boredom-free zone” with visits from Hoglets Theatre, Rhubarb Theatre, Frolicked and Strange-Twig Theatre alongside music and dance from community performers. A highlight of day will be performances of A La Puppet Carte when three electric tricycles open up to reveal three heart-warming puppet shows from Thingumajig Theatre. Festival characters and performers will also visit Sunday’s Little Bird Artisan Market, adding additional colour and fun in the Market Place.

The festival has added a series of pop-up mini events throughout the city, working with shops, cafés and city attractions to bring unique puppet shows and storytelling to unusual and intimate surroundings. Pop-ups include Puppets for Breakfast at Wetherspoons, a suitcase puppet show The Hare and the Moon in the Cabman’s shelter (Market Place) and the GreenHouse shop and an immersive puppet show, Beached at Ripon Cathedral where performers and audience members wear headphones for the experience. Meanwhile St Wilfrid’s Crypt in the Cathedral will see Fell-Foss Theatre’s rolling performance of The Wanderer and expert storyteller Gav Cross will bring Twisted Tales for Terrible Children to the somewhat spooky Curzon Cinema Cellar and the Courthouse Museum.

Thanks to the support of local businesses and key funders, much of the Festival is totally free to enjoy and ticketed events are low-cost. Festival Director Katie Scott says “We are delighted that this year we are offering many performances as Pay What You Can events. We know that families in particular are feeling the financial crunch and this allows ticket purchasers to select their chosen amount or to opt for a free ticket. This is also a way of encouraging people to come to multiple performances by spreading their budget and trying different shows in different venues.”

The Ripon Theatre Festival programme also includes Overblown! a cheeky community-led evening of sketches and music, a premiere performance of work by local poet Ian Gouge, a musical travelogue for Sunday brunch from Steve Bonham, and Bread is Life – a lunchtime meze event where both Syrian stories and food will be shared. The festival opens on Wednesday 7 June with dystopian comedy Happy Place at Ripon Arts Hub.

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