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Stockton International Riverside Festival is here

01 August 2018

The wait for Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) is nearly over.

Image of Stockton's international festival

SIRF18 gets under way from 12.30pm tomorrow (Thursday, 4 August) with four days packed full of small and large scale shows for people of all ages.

What can audiences see over the next four days?

There'll be more than 150 performances including family-friendly street theatre, large-scale aerial performances, and beautifully choreographed shows at various locations across the town centre.

Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Arts, Culture and Leisure, said: "This year's SIRF programme is hugely exciting and full of performances that will create wonderful, memorable moments for children and adults alike. We'll be welcoming a huge variety of international acts to the town centre every day from tomorrow, and every show is completely free to attend so I'd really encourage everyone to come down and be part of something special."

What are some of the highlights?

Rear View by IOU Theatre will take visitors on a journey through Stockton as you've never seen it before. Rear View begins at ARC and reveals the town in new ways which blur the lines between reality and fiction. Riding on an open-top double decker bus, watch the town's streets become the stage for a mesmerising moving adventure. There will be five performances per day of the festival: 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm, 6pm and 7.30pm.

The much-loved Community Carnival on Saturday, 4 August will see the streets of Stockton town centre lined with costumed schoolchildren, community groups, musicians and artists celebrating this year's 'Reach for the Stars' theme.

And throughout the festival audiences can also get involved in (In)visible Dancing, a series of daily interactive performances which culminate in a huge flash-mob dance in Wellington Square on Sunday 5 August.

Are there any premiere performances?

Yes - this year SIRF presents THREE world premieres!

SIRF favourites Periplum return with The Glass Ceiling, an ambitious new visual theatre work marking 100 years since the first British women were given the right to vote.

The show is inspired by the Suffragettes and Suffragists. It celebrates activists from the Tees Valley whose courage propelled this historic movement to achieve political recognition.

Sensory, spectacular and uplifting, this performance uses innovative staging, pyrotechnic design, music, writing and aerial performance in a gritty depiction of the struggle to gain the vote and break through a glass ceiling.

The Glass Ceiling will be shown at 10pm, Friday 3 and Saturday 4 August at Trinity Green. It will tour the Tees Valley in autumn.

Paradox Pictures will premiere their new show, We Are Helium. This SIRF-commissioned performance combines dance, art and street theatre with music and helium balloons. Follow the bizarre and beautiful parade to discover a fantasy land packed with surreal images and statements that transcend reality.

We are Helium will be performed on Friday 3 August at 1.30pm and 6.30pm, and Saturday 4 August at 1.55pm and 7.10pm.

Hunting for the Unicorn by dancers Becki Parker and Vero Cendoya focuses on the theme of autism and the search for what makes each and every one of us special. This joint project presents two individual views of autism: Becki explores her journey as someone with autism, while Vero offers her external view. The result is a collaborative and creative journey.

Hunting for the Unicorn can be seen on Church Road at 2.30pm and 5.45pm on Friday, 3 August and 3pm and 6.30pm on Saturday, 4 August.

How can I find out more?

Pick up a SIRF programme from the Rediscover Stockton shop on Stockton High Street or download a copy from