COLUMN: Plenty of theatre to follow success of arts festival

NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.
NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.
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By George Gunby

Belper Arts Festival

With the Arts Festival over for another year it’s time to reflect. “Educating Rita” was a resounding success with Sali Gresham and Jeff Foster providing stellar performances.

Plans are afoot to take the production out on the road towards the end of the year and it might get another outing in Belper. Belper Players with “Mixed Doubles” scored a great hit and the evening featured a few new faces, bringing new talent to the fore.

An aim of the festival is to encourage new writing and new talent and that featured in abundance.

The Belperamble contained new writing based around Belper stories and places. Plays such as “American Goddess” and “Light One Up” are works in progress that benefitted from a performance. “Elderflower”, a piece of movement theatre, was outstanding.

The winner of the Short Play Competition, “A Serious Person”, featured Nick Mothershaw and an outstanding performance from Vanessa McAuley as the opinionated young woman.

The writer, John Doble, came from New York to see the production and he was thrilled and delighted in equal measure. “Pentrich : The Last Uprising” is certainly a play for the future.

It was staged with imagination in the basement of the North Mill by Sara Noble – Nesbitt, cleverly lit by Jamie Vella and the setting gave the words of the writer, Peter Darrington, a resonance.

Look out as this play develops, particularly with the 200th anniversary looming in 2017. I need to say a big thank you to the directors and actors, some of whom doubled and tripled roles to make everything work. The rest of the year?

Belper Players are planning a large cast production for the autumn along with an evening of Noel Coward short plays. December will see a large production entitled “We’ll Be Home For Christmas” at St. Peter’s Church. This is a community based project and I’d be happy to hear from singers, musical groups, dancers, writers and actors about taking part. There will be no production of The Belper Passion next year but the film version, along with a new play, The Resurrection, will be shown at St Peter’s Church some time over the Easter weekend. Casting for the film will take place in July with filming in October.