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The largest theatre festival in Gloucestershire

Where: Various venues around Stroud

When: Friday, September 14, to Sunday, September 16

The 6th Stroud Theatre Festival gets underway today (Friday) and promises to be the biggest yet.

With 35 companies performing everything from classics, comedies, dramas to new works, spoken word and stand up, this weekend's festival will be the biggest of its kind in Gloucestershire.

There will over 90 performances in eight venues including the Sub Rooms, Lansdown Hall, The Old Town Hall, The Alehouse and the Imperial Hotel.

Amongst the highlights are a new performance of Cassandra from Multi Story Theatre from Devon who have been at every festival so far.

There will be a number of shows from Brighton companies including Katy Schutte - Schutte the Unromantic and Let's Summon Demons, Headpictures with the baffling story of Tiptree - No One's Damn Secret But My Own about American author James Tiptree Jr who was in fact a 61-year-old woman and Monkeydog Productions with timely look at what it means to be a Jewish atheist in 21st century Britain called Dog's Chosen.

Plymouth company Autact Theatre bring The Duck, a play about being diagnosed with autism in later life and Fire Donkey Productions from Haverfordwest return with a new show Welcome To The Future!

Festival director John Bassett said: "One of the great things about this year's festival is that we have a number of young local companies performing including Three Tier who performed at the first festival will be performing a new show called Out of the Loop.

"Smash the Glass, a new company of students from the University of Gloucestershire, are bringing a double bill of powerful new writing, whilst the Colourful Theatre presents a more experimental piece Behind Closed Walls which the audience watch through holes in the set!."

There are a large number of local companies including The Small Spaces Theatre Company who are presenting the Chekhov classic The Bear.

Stroud musician and actor Paul Southcott (in his guise as Raw Material productions) presents Tideman's Piece, a combination of family storytelling and music, while Brandywine Theatre from Cirencester present Mrs Potter's Tailor's Tale about the life of Beatrix potter at the Museum in the Park.

Obvious Arts go all absurd with songs from Ivor Cutler in A Scotch Sitting Room, Vol 3.

John's own company Spaniel in the Works present The Bizarre Hour (Almost Live) which is based on a radio show he did on the now sadly defunct Stroud FM, while Jonny Fluffypunk will preview his new show Test Transmission from the Edge of the World in small intimate venues.

These are just a few of the shows which can be found and there is hopefully something for everyone to enjoy in the festival.

The festival has been supported by Ecotricity and Stroud Festival Arts. "We only receive a small amount of funding and most of the costs for the festival are covered by a ticket levy," explained John.

Ticket prices are held low at £6 per ticket for each show and there is also the Stroudie Special where you can buy six tickets for the price of five - so for £ 30 you can see six hour- long shows of quality theatre.

For full details of everything that is on, brochures are available around the town. Tickets are available from Stroud Tourist Information at the Sub Rooms - phone 01453 760900. For more information, go to www.stroudtheatrefestival.co.uk 

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