The stage is being set for a special celebration of the arts in Norfolk against the backdrop of one of Norwich’s most historic buildings.

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The Hostry Festival is returning to Norwich Cathedral in October and November after its successful debut last year – and its 2012 programme promises audiences an array of events ranging from the world premiere of a sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet to an afternoon with Norfolk authors to children’s theatre and staged readings of newly commissioned plays.

Stash Kirkbride, the festival’s artistic director, said the festival would be a great showcase of creativity in Norfolk, with more than 90pc of the programme being commissioned work from the county.

He said: “It is about being made in Norfolk and celebrating Norfolk. This year is all about pushing the boundaries creatively. It is about specially commissioned works and community and seeing really great performances in one of Norfolk’s most prestigious and welcoming venues.

“The Hostry Festival is a family-based festival, and what I am really proud of is that I think there should be something for everyone – from the glitz of Oscar-style awards to celebrate the talent of Norfolk to newly commissioned writing to ground-breaking theatre sure to create national interest, to classic film to children’s entertainment to uplifting classical music. It is a real showcase for Norfolk talent.”

With this year being World Shakespeare Year, topping the festival bill is a newly-created sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Called Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country, it is written by Mr Kirkbride and festival co-producer Peter Beck.

Mr Kirkbride said: “It is a brand new story which is a sequel with a major twist, taking some very familiar characters and placing them in very unfamiliar surroundings. We have aspirations to turn the play into a film shot in Norfolk in 2014.”

Before each of the five Hamlet performances the inclusive theatre company Total Ensemble will perform a short piece of movement theatre exploring themes from the Bard’s tragic masterpiece.

Other highlights of the festival –which runs from October 26 until November 4 – are the staged readings.

A Visit to the Villa Edouard VII by Julian Maclaren Ross is a recreation of a typically stylish 1956 radio drama including reminiscences about Oscar Wilde, while Voices: Moments from the Lives of Others by Adrian Drew looks at how rich, comic, moving and complicated life can be.

Five Marys Waiting, a new play by David Banks and set in Jerusalem in 44AD, is also being presented as a staged reading in a double bill with a concert starring cellist Clare O’Connell and violinist Marcus Barcham-Stevens.

Younger audiences can also enjoy Thumbelina presented by Norwich Puppet Theatre while the show Tilly the Talespinner and Obee Joyful will see the two characters go in search of a magical story to bring a smile on the face of King Cuthbert.

Literary fans can enjoy an afternoon with Norfolk authors Simon Gough, Sarah Ridgard, Elspeth Barker, Dennison Smith, Doug Stroggins, Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck.

The closing event will be a free screening of the classic Hamlet film starring Laurence Olivier.

Mr Kirkbride established the festival last year along with Peter Barrow, Peter Beck and Rebecca Chapman. It is now supported a number of local businesses and more than 100 volunteers.

Mr Barrow, the festival’s executive producer, said: “Inspiration is probably the key to making the Hostry Festival happen. We want all the participants, actors and audiences to be truly inspired by the results of our efforts.”

Sue Ball, commercial manager of Norwich Cathedral, said: “The Hostry is a unique venue in the heart of Norwich and a festival like this is a great way to use this fantastic and versatile space, allowing the Cathedral to engage with another different audience.”

The principal sponsor of the festival is Fosters Solicitors, the media partners are the Eastern Daily Press, Radio Norfolk and Future Radio, and the festival is also supported by a number of other businesses and organisations including Rainbow Wholefoods, the Sevenwolves and Jarrold.

For more information about the events visit www.hostryfestival.org, go to the Cathedral Shop or call 01603 218450.

The Hostry Festival programme:

Friday, October 26 at 7pm – The Norfolk Arts Awards with music by The John Whitehead Jazz Band. Tickets £20.

Saturday, October 27 at 7.30pm –a double bill of staged readings of A Visit To The Villa Edouard VII by Julian Maclaren-Ross and Voices: Moments From The Lives Of Others by Adrian Drew. Tickets £10.

Tuesday, October 30, Wednesday, October 31 and Thursday, November 1 at 7pm – a double bill of Prologue by Total Ensemble Theatre Company and Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country. Tickets £15.

Friday, November 2 from 2pm to 4.30pm – The Norfolk Authors’ Day presented by The Book Hive & Writers’ Centre. Tickets £10.

Friday, November 2 at 7pm –Prologue and Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country. Tickets £15.

Saturday, November 3 from 2pm until 4.30pm – a double bill of Tilly The Talespinner and Obee Joyful, and also the show Thumbelina presented by Norwich Puppet Theatre and including an after-show puppet demonstration. Tickets £10 for adults and £5 for children.

Saturday, November 3 at 7pm – Prologue and Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country followed by an after-show party until 3am. Tickets £15.

Sunday, November 4 at from 1.30pm until 4.45pm – a double bill presentation of Clare O’Connell and Marcus Barcham-Stevens in concert presented by Roger Rowe, followed by a rehearsed stage reading of Five Marys Waiting by David Banks. Tickets £10.

Sunday, November 4 at 7pm – talk about Hamlet on film by Yvonne Tasker followed by the classic 1948 film of Hamlet starring Laurence Olivier. Free but ticketed.

Tickets go on sale today at the Norwich Cathedral Shop. To find out more visit www.hostryfestival.org, visit the Cathedral Shop or call 01603 218450.

The 2012 Norfolk Arts Awards in association the Eastern Daily Press:

The 2012 Norfolk Arts Awards in association with the EDP is a new addition to the Hostry Festival and it is set to be an annual event. It aims to celebrate the rich creative talent we have here in Norfolk and will present accolades in a wide range of categories including theatre, music, business and the arts, visual arts, and education and the community. Next week we will be giving details about the awards and how readers can nominate people who have achieved great things in the arts for The EDP’s People’s Choice Award.

The 2012 Norfolk Arts Awards will be held at the Hostry on Friday, October 26.

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