The Norfolk Non-Stop Festival 2007 celebrates the work of celebrity Victorian author George Borrow and offers a chance to see a Shakespearean play given a Norfolk spin.
Mardling The Bard, A Norfolk Twelfth Night follows on from Spin-Off's hugely acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.
Strange watery world
"Shakespeare sets his play in a strange, watery other worldly place called Ilyria. It's like the normal world but subtely different," explains festival director Eve Stebbing.
"This struck me as being exactly like Norfolk!
"Then I started wondering about the name Ilyria. It sounded suspiciously like Elysium.
"Perhaps Shakespeare was suggesting that England could be just like the Elysian fields if only we chose to see life from a fresh angle.
"So I looked for somewhere in Norfolk which had a similar ring to it, and came up with Ellingham.
"After that everything fell into place, but you will have to come and watch to see exactly how," Eve said.
The Bard in Norfolk
The action is set in Geldeston and real local stories collected by the company plant the Bard's best roisterers firmly on Norfolk soil.
|Getting into character|
Sir Andrew Aguecheek stables his horses at Loddon and the storm parallels the famous floods of 1947. There's even a lesson in how to be a Norfolk fool!
This year's festival tour also features a radio play based on local Victorian writer George Borrow.
The show, billed as an atmospheric mystery, traces the difficult personality of the author by fragmenting him into a series of self-portraits. It promises to leave the audience to puzzle and piece together the real man.
Extracts from Mirrors: Reflection on George Borrow can be seen at The Forum, Norwich on Friday, 20 April, 2007 at 1.00pm. The again in the Workshop Cafe, Earlham Rd, Norwich from 8pm. The play lasts 35 minutes.
10 years of spinning
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Spin-Off Theatre Company.
Well known for its Norfolk and East Anglian comedies, its legends and tale-telling, the company's aim is to take live performance out of its formal setting and to a fresh audiencece.
"The original idea was to take professional theatre to out-of-the way rural places, where people might not otherwise have the opportunity to see it," said Eve.
|Scene from Snapped|
"After a while we recognized that the Norfolk culture was so special it needed somebody to sing about it.
"It's so important, now that every town has the same supermarkets and everyone watches the same things on TV, that places like Norfolk, where there is a strong local identity, should keep their unique quality.
"Who wants a world in which everywhere and everyone is the same," she added.
A snappy July
Mardling The Bard can be seen at venues across Norfolk until Sunday, 22 April, 2007.
The tour then picks up again in July with Snapped, a musical set in the roaring twenties, in the midst of a waterside pageant.
The chief attraction is Snap, a splendid remake of the Elizabethan Norfolk Dragon.
But when a careless lash of his tail leads to the untimely demise of Ma Storm's only love Billy, we're all left wondering who or what was hiding beneath the beast's painted scales?
For full details of the Norfolk Non-Stop tour, visit the Spin-Off Theatre Company's official website.