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Festival spotlight
•Saturday20thJunetoSaturday4thJuly(exceptSundays). •Saturday4thJuly,StLaurenceParishChurch.
RomanceisintheairatLudlowCastlewiththeoutdoorperformanceof Formedin1902,theLondonWelshMale
Shakespeare’sRomeoandJuliet.DirectedbyKateSaxonandco-produced VoiceChoirhasestablishedareputationof
byExeterNorthcottTheatre,thetaleofstar-crossedlovershasn’tbeen excellence–its1981recording,Songsof
performedatLudlowsince1986.DesignerLibbyWatsonhaschangedthe theValleys,isbelievedtobethefirst
styleofthestagetomakefulluseofthecastle’sInnerBailey. albumbyamalechoirtoachieveagold
discforsalesinexcessof100,000.At
•TuesdayJune23rd,LudlowAssemblyRooms. theFestivaltheywillbeperforming
RecentlyimmortalisedinthefilmFrost/Nixon,SirDavidFrostisregarded withtenorRhysMeirion,a
asoneoftheworld’smostexperiencedinterviewers.Hewasthehostand favouriteattheRoyalAlbert
co-creatorofsatiricaltelevisionshowThatWasTheWeekThatWasbackin HallandtheBBCProms.
theSixtiesandhassinceproducedmanymoreTVshowsaswellasbecome
awriter,lecturer,publisherandimpresario.Joinhimforaneveningof •WednesdayJuly1st,
anecdotesfromhis40-yearcareer. LudlowAssemblyRooms.
Foratouchoftheexotic,tryAfricanmusic
•Sunday25thJune,LudlowAssemblyRooms. anddancegroupBreketeandExplosions,anenergetic
AcclaimedactorSirDerekJacobiplusFrankRyding,AlexandraJamesand performanceofpulsatingrhythmsandcelebrationdanceswith
RichardCliffordpresentauniqueeveningofpoetryandreadingsentitled colourfulanduniquecostumes.Presentedbyagroupofeightdrummers
AllTheWorld’sAStagetocelebratetheFestival's50thanniversary,andto anddancers,theirrepertoireincludesdancesfromGhana,SierraLeone,
raisefundsforthecharityChildrenofPeace. Mali,Senegal,NigeriaandSouthAfrica.
a174 Milton’s connection with Ludlow goes back to 1634 when a
masque – a dramatic entertainment with music and dance – was
organised at the town’s castle to mark the inauguration of John
Egerton, Earl of Bridgwater, as Lord President of the Marches.
Entitled Comus, it was written by the earl’s young friend, the
aforesaid John Milton.
Fast forward 300 years to the first Shropshire Pageant in 1934,
which marked the tercentenary of that special night, and naturally
Comus was included in its programme.
Come 1959, Ludlow’s parish church of St Laurence had just
completed a successful appeal for restoration funds. To celebrate,
Milton’s Comus was performed again at the castle, cementing a
tradition of drama at that historic location.
“Princess Margaret was guest of honour that evening,” recalls
Jenny. “And the event was so successful that St Laurence’s
rector, Bishop Sara, remarked on the festival spirit of the
occasion and suggested it should become an annual event
– called Ludlow Festival.
“A committee was duly formed and the following year’s drama,
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was well-reviewed by The Guardian.
And so it grew from there!
“While the heart of the festival remains a classic drama at the
castle, a very close relationship has always been retained with St
Laurence’s. Not only is it a much-loved venue for many events but
there is always a service at the beginning of the festival conducted
by the rector.”
Eagerly anticipated by people from abroad and throughout
Britain as well as regionally, the festival has become a magnet
for arts lovers.
“From one single event 50 years
“Our audience is a good cross-section of age groups and we
ago, the festival has grown in
aim to offer a varied programme,” Jenny says. “There are family
events and a party atmosphere evolves, particularly at the end
length and venues to bring
with the fireworks.
“This year the play at the castle is one of Shakespeare’s most
countless magic moments, and this
popular, Romeo and Juliet, with seating on three sides of the stage
so the audience can feel very near the action. The director and a174 year should prove no exception”
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