Short play festival keeps on growing

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WHEN George Gunby read a small article appealing for ideas for the jubilee weekend in the Belper News he decided to take the plunge and stage his own event.

Inspired by a similar festival in Tenby, his original intention back in October was to put on just three plays over three days in three different pubs.

Fast forward seven months and he has 125 performances lined-up for June 2, 3 and 4 in venues right across the town and actors from all over the country queuing up to get involved.

Next year’s Belper Short Plays Festival is already being planned with the over-arching idea that it will encourage people who like performance, but don’t like going to the theatre to get more involved in the arts.

George, aged 60, said: “It’s been absolutely incredible how it has grown. People have just come out of the woodwork from all over the place.

“It’s the support of people who have got involved that makes it work – there’s a lot of people doing things for nothing.

“And the awareness is also growing outside this area. I know of people who only found out about the festival while here on holiday, who are now making plans to come back for the festival and we are already taking about dates for next year, which is amazing.”

Latest developments for the festival include appearances by Jeff Stewart, who played PC Reg Hollis in The Bill for 24 years.

The actor, who left the series in 2008 will be starring in two plays at the Cross Keys and also appearing in the closing play at the Lion Hotel.

A mass Shakespeare reading is also taking place at the Derwent Valley Mill World Heritage Site Diamond Jubilee Day and as part of Larks in the Park at the River Gardens on June 3.

Mr Gunby is looking into the possibility of setting a Guinness World Record at the event by getting as many people involved as possible from 3pm.

For more information about the festival log-on to belpershortplays.com