Thrilling world premieres, intricate live performances, and family favourites are all on the line-up at Stockton International Riverside Festival this summer.
For the first time in the festival’s history, SIRF begins in the scenic grounds of Preston Park where the opening show Furious Folly will launch the four day event on Thursday 4 August.
Furious Folly takes place as night falls, in a no-man’s land on the battle front between the two lines. Disorientated, the audience will be immersed in an open-air collage of sound, light, music, pyrotechnics and performance. Drawing on the anti-war spirit of Dadaist artists of the time, lead artist Mark Anderson and his team have created a powerful performance that rails against the futility and madness of The Great War, and challenges the inhumanity and senselessness of conflicts past and present. This remarkable and moving experience forms part of 14-18NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.
The festival continues in Stockton Town Centre from Friday 5 August with an exciting world premiere of The Ball Aperitif, presented by theatre ensemble Wet Picnic. A mysterious character by the name of Lord Monte Gredus cordially invites you to take part in an exclusive and unforgettable dining experience. The Ball Aperitif will take place during the day and will be set in a secret location. Find out how to be part of the audience at www.sirf.co.uk
Many of this year's festival-goers will be familiar with the eccentric English humour and theatre of SIRF favourites, Avanti Display, as they return to perform in Stockton Town Centre throughout the weekend. The troupe will present a retrospective of their 'Greatest Hits' shows that have been created over the last 20 years and performed across the world. From Friday 5 August to Sunday 7 August you can catch all the favourites which include the predictions and sleight of hand tricks of Mystic Monty's amazing fortune telling machine, the bizarre and spectacular twists at Mr Lucky's tea party, and the pedal-powered Fountain Machine which has come out of retirement especially for SIRF!
SIRF16 is also proud to present a second world premiere, of outdoor theatre piece Caty Wompus. A ferocious storm was the final straw for Caty Wompus, a ramshackled broken old home, stuck together with bits of rope, wood and metal poles and Pa just wants rid of it. Can the family convince him to stay? Flex Dance Company’s spectacular circus skills, dynamic parkour and intricate contemporary dance bring the story to life for the first time on Stockton High Street on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Norma Wilburn, said: “We are immensely proud to deliver Stockton International Riverside Festival and bring even more never-before-seen performances to our Borough.
“As well as a whole host of enchanting surprises and new experiences, we are also looking forward to welcoming back a number of artists who we know our audiences are very fond of.
“Of course this year is the first time one of the performances will be presented in a new location at Preston Park. ‘Furious Folly’ will serve as an apt reminder of those who fought and died in the Battle of the Somme, many of who were from Stockton-on-Tees and served in infantries including The Yorkshire Regiment and The Durham Light Infantry. I’m sure it will be a very thought-provoking and poignant start to the festival.”
Rounding off the weekend with a spectacular finale are French masters of pyrotechnics and percussion Commandos Percu who return to SIRF with their stunning show, Le Concert de Feu. Stockton Riverside will be brought to life in a spectacle of fire, drumming, dance and fireworks for an exhilarating and colourful finale.
SIRF16 will have a programme of performances from noon until 11pm each day. There will be a mixture of both small and large scale productions shows for people of all ages to enjoy.
Furious Folly will be repeated on Friday 5 August and there will be a free bus service available from Stockton Town Centre to Preston Park for both performances. Full details will be available on the SIRF website from mid-July.
Entry to the festival is free. Audience capacity to four shows - Furious Folly, Masquerade, The Ball Aperitif and Searching for Our Jimmy - is limited. Look out for information about how to get tickets on the SIRF website or ask at SIRF Central in the Rediscover Shop on Stockton High Street.
SIRF is supported by Arts Council England. To see the latest news and the full festival programme, visit www.sirf.co.uk