Audiences will have the chance to see brand new writing and experience the creative process that goes into making shows at an arts festival taking place at Norwich Cathedral this autumn.

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The Hostry Festival, for which the EDP is a media partner, is an eclectic celebration of the arts.

As well as premiering a brand new full production with its headline show Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country – which picks up where Shakespeare left off with one of his most famous tragedies – the festival will also feature an assortment of new writing being presented as what is known as “staged readings, ” where the focus is almost exclusively on the words without the additions of elaborate sets, costumes and special effects.

Among the authors whose latest work will be presented this way is Adrian Drew, a playwright based in London and near Castle Acre, and who has devised his show Voices – Moments from the Lives of Others especially for the festival.

The show looks at how even the most ordinary of people have extraordinary stories to tell, and Mr Drew said he decided to create it for the festival after being inspired to get involved while watching the festival organisers’ production of The Night of the Iguana in 2010.

He said: “I just think it is quite important to support ventures like the festival because it is a wonderful showcase for local talent, and Norwich for some reason seems to be an extraordinary centre for creative talent.

“The festival is a remarkable undertaking and almost unique.

“I would just encourage people to support the festival and what the team are doing. Let’s hope it flourishes.”

About the idea of a rehearsed reading, he said: “At a rehearsed reading the audience will have the opportunity to hear a new piece of writing where the actors – with no specially-designed set, limited props and with some possibly reading from scripts but with the benefit of a few days rehearsal – give a complete performance of the work.

“This can be a very interesting experience as it gives audiences an opportunity to see ‘work in progress’ and experience how final theatrical performances come into being.

“Such occasions are immediate, raw and often very exciting indeed –as writers, directors and actors see how the audience responds to their collective endeavours.”

For his show which consists of a series of 10 monologues, Mr Drew has cast four Norwich-based actors – Beverley Bishop, Richard Mann, Sally Campion-Jones and Chris Evans.

He said before the rehearsed reading takes place he will have one-to-one rehearsals with each actor followed by some group rehearsals including on the day of the show, and he said the audience could expect an “emotional tour de force” for the finished result.

“We have four extremely talented actors all resident in Norwich who play a range of different roles, from a young girl who meets the love of her life on the internet, to a young medical student who the less said about the better, to an older man returning from his wife’s funeral. There are comic monologues and there are very serious monologues,” he said.

“The audience can expect an emotional tour de force ranging from high comedy to material which I suspect may move many people. It certainly moves me when I see a couple of the monologues.”

About the inspiration behind the show, he said: “It is the idea that we are surrounded by people whose lives we do not have a clue about, but we make assumptions about people, like they look nice or they look nasty.”

He added: “The bottom line is there is no such thing as a boring person and you can never ever take people on face value.

“There will be aspects of these characters’ lives which will be very surprising in these monologues. Voices is about the very extraordinary stories of ‘ordinary’ people.”

Voices is one of a number of plays Mr Drew has written in recent times, another – You Bring Me Joy – is set to have its West End premiere in spring 2013.

A former producer at the BBC, Mr Drew is a media consultant, a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and chairman of Ability Media, a broadcast and training initiative of Leonard Cheshire Disability which aims to promote a more inclusive world for people with disabilities.

He is on the board of Westacre Arts Foundation, near Swaffham, and the founder of the Cokesford Company, a professional theatre group based in London that showcases new writing and talent.

Voices – Moments from the Lives of Others is being performed in a double bill with A Visit to the Villa Edouard VII by Julian Maclaren Ross on Saturday, October 27 at Norwich Cathedral’s Hostry. The double bill starts at 7.30pm and tickets cost £10. To book call 01603 218450.

emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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