Arts festival offers box office attractions

The Castle Builder
The Castle Builder
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A Wigan town centre arts hub is once again preparing to welcome cutting-edge shows to the borough for a major cultural celebration.

The countdown to Wigan Arts Festival at The Old Courts is on after the so-called spine shows, which are brought to the borough by the venue’s membership of the national Collaborative Touring Network (CTN), were announced.

The three acclaimed shows will form the highest-profile offerings at the festival this autumn as the Crawford Street venue hopes to build on the success of the inaugural event.

The spine events which are a heart-breaking romantic drama, a gripping piece of psychological theatre inspired by true events in Norway and an immersive, hands-on experience for young culture vultures, will eventually be joined on the bill by local artists and national figures in a wide range of art forms. The arts festival was created after The Old Courts joined the CTN based in Battersea in London, which brings the latest high-quality and imaginative shows to towns often under-served for culture.

The autumn festival will include Ross and Rachel, an unusual drama looking at the myths of modern love by award-winning playwright James Fritz.

A two-part piece for one performer, the work looks at the story of a couple who are meant to be together and manage to forge a long-lasting relationship.

A less typical subject matter is explored in The Castle Builder, which comes to Wigan thanks to Vic Llewellyn and Kid Carpet.

Taking as its starting point the true tale of an inmate at a Norwegian psychiatric institution who managed over five years to build a castle on a remote headland, the show takes a look at genius and eccentricity.

Visceral live music, dancing, projection, heart-felt storytelling and chewed bread sculptures bring these stories of individual artists inspired to work alone creating giant structures to life.

The Castle Builder also includes an invited maker who will construct something during the show and then present it to the audience.

The third spine show also involves things being created on the spot but this time the audience are also the builders and participants.

Aimed at giving the next generation an exciting introduction to culture, Almost Always Muddy puts children into a junkyard-type environment filled with pallets, tubes, ropes, nets and fabric.

They then use these materials to construct somewhere stories can take place, with the second half of the show involving the Almost Always Muddy team bringing tales of a hero’s quest to life with live music and special effects.

The first Wigan Arts Festival in April included drama and installation pieces in various spaces around The Old Courts as well as music, photography exhibitions, film screenings and poetry events.

The second Wigan Arts Festival will take place this autumn.

For more information visit www.wiganarts.com