One of the great Arundel Festival traditions returns for its 16th year, with the theatre trail running from August 20-27 at various Arundel venues.
As Drip Action theatre company artistic director Bill Brennan explains, once again, the promise is eight different plays at eight different venues over eight different days.
“16 years of eight plays! That’s quite a lot of plays! But people do really enjoy it. There are some people that come along and like to see all the eight plays in one day, maybe because they are coming from further away. But really there is quite a little coterie.
“You see people queuing for the season tickets, and people like to chat about it all. You hear people saying ‘Have you seen the four o’clocker yet’ or ‘I think the two o’clock is the best.’”
As Bill says, the attraction is that standard attraction of sitting down to see a play, wondering what it will hold, wondering what the set will be, what the story will be – except you get that attraction eight times over.
This year saw more than 200 submissions for the trail, their second highest ever: “The plays have come from all over, and really what we are looking for is something a bit different.
“ We are looking perhaps for topics that have not been covered before. Some themes keep cropping up. One year, lots of people were trying to do plays within plays. Really we are looking for something that convinces.
“A lot of it is also down to the fact that it has got to be practical. Some people miss the point and come up with things we couldn’t do or with too large a cast. I would say that a cast of five is pushing it a bit. And then when we say yes, it is still subject to us being able to cast the plays. It is all a bit like a jigsaw. You might get one or two people who will be in a couple of plays, but basically we are looking for 20 actors. It is quite a number to find because they have obviously got to be available, maybe teachers or people who are retired or people who can take the time off work.”
As for the ordering of the plays during the day, to a large extent it is determined by the venues: “We can only have the Town Hall at a certain time, for example. We have got to make sure that the venues are available at that time for eight days. A lot of writers will say to us ‘What venues have you got?’ We have to say to them ‘You write the play, and we will think about the venue!’”
The plays this year are:
11am, Arundel Town Hall, Reading by Simon Brett. How to get really caught up in a book.
12 noon, Arundel Football Club, When Rob Met Artie by Richard Crawley. Men – so predictable?
1pm, Victoria Institute, Rain Falling Upwards by Edwin Preece. What did Beryl come upstairs for?
2pm, Arundel Youth Club. Mörker by Rosie Kellett. Trans: ‘Darkness’. Family diversions and betrayal.
3pm, 57 Maltravers Street. The Good Neighbour by Brian Coyle. Vigilance has its own reward, sometimes unforeseen.
4pm, St Mary’s Gate Inn, First And Last by Mark Wakeman. At a cafe table, the past re-echoes.
5pm ,The Cathedral Centre, Ripe For Improvement by Hilary Spiers. Buying a house – a cat and mouse game?
6pm, Arundel Jailhouse. Deliver Me O Lord by Lindsey Williams. A mother confesses.
Season tickets are available from: The Book Ferret, 34 High Street, Arundel; 01903 885727. Full details of the Arundel Festival are available on www.arundelfestival.co.uk. This year’s festival runs from Aug 20-29.