The Hostry Festival
From world class art to Norfolk premieres, this year’s Hostry Festival in Norwich is celebrating its fifth anniversary in style
It started life as a single play, breathing artistic life into one of Norwich’s most stunning new buildings. This month, the Hostry Festival celebrates its fifth birthday as one of Norfolk’s popular multi arts events.
This year’s festival features a diverse programme of music, art and theatre which will transform Norwich Cathedral’s Hostry for two very special weeks.
“Initially, the idea was just to find somewhere to stage The Night Of The Iguana by Tennessee Williams - a play that I had wanted to put on in London before I returned to Norfolk 10 years ago,” says founder and artistic director Stash Kirkbride
“Together with my old friends Peter Barrow, Rebecca Chapman and Peter Beck, we began looking for a venue. The Hostry had just been opened by The Queen and it really was the most beautiful Norfolk building. It just seemed the perfect place to host arts events and the challenge of turning it into a theatre for a play was incredibly exciting.
“It was such a success we decided to turn into an annual event. It is very much a Norfolk festival; we celebrate local talent, we engage closely with local businesses and projects and there are more than 100 volunteers who make it happen. It gives people great experiences and the chance to learn more about theatre and the arts.”
The key strands of the festival are the Norfolk Arts Awards, which celebrate the best creative endeavour in the county; the Paint Out Norwich competition, which will see artists from all over the world take to the city streets to create some very special works of arts; and a series of performances from Total Ensemble Theatre Company.
“Total Ensemble is so very inspiring and we are developing it more and more,” says Stash. “It is incredibly inclusive, working with people from all sorts of backgrounds and abilities, including those with additional educational needs. Their achievements are just incredible and the benefits for all those taking part are enormous.”
This year’s programme also includes the premiere of the Lady Macbeth Opera, a performance by jazz musician Laura White; Chamber Orchestra Anglia; Adrian Wright performing Spread A Little Happiness, and literary events.
“It is impossible to pick a highlight, but I personally am very excited about Mahler’s Conversion, a Norfolk premiere, by Ronald Harwood. The play is incredibly uplifting, intellectual but accessible, telling the story of the loves and life of Gustav Mahler and his struggles with religion and his relationships with Gustav Klimt, Sigmund Freud and other artists. It will be very, very special.”
Total Ensemble Theatre Company who are at this year’s Hostry Festival
Laura White, performing at this year’s Hostry Festival