First the Dance, Then the Feast: Wonderful Beast Theatre Company celebrates its 25th year with a new community production at Thorington Theatre – a Hungarian Folk tale with an international cast of actors and musicians, 80 primary school children and the company’s own Wonderful Beast Singers.
First the Dance, Then the Feast is the tale of a poor man who is evicted from his home and finds himself in possession of a magic violin that has the power to make people dance.
A cast of professional actors along with 80 children from three Suffolk primary schools perform the narrative. A musical backdrop is provided by Wonderful Beast’s instrumentalists and the company’s community singing group, with musicians headed by virtuoso Romanian violinist Bogdan Vacerescu.
The show’s thrilling music includes Klezmer, Romanian gypsy and Ukrainian songs. Though an ancient story, as with many folk and fairy tales its themes of poverty, greed, and power couldn’t be more relevant today. Thankfully, like all the best fairy tales, it also has a happy ending. The show is bursting with fun, traditional and original dances, breath-taking music, boo-hiss characters, and utterly magical moments.
Through May and June, violinist Meg Hamilton, accordionist Martina Schwarz, choreographers Anusha Subramanyam and Rosy May, and director Emma Bernard will lead workshops for children from Handford Hall (Ipswich), Holton St Peter (Halesworth) and Snape Community primary schools.
These workshops culminate in two public performances at Thorington Theatre on 23rd and 24th June. The workshops are designed to bring joy to the young participants and build confidence after the disruptive Covid restrictions. Rather than enduring ‘catch-up time’ with heads bent over desks, children will be given a stimulating creative experience, which teachers tell us they so desperately need.
The tale, with its cultural links to Eastern Europe, is particularly relevant to the 30% intake of Roma children at Handford Hall and is a perfect vehicle for both the urban and rural children to explore the traditions of their neighbours, as they perform together in the stunning setting of Thorington woodland amphitheatre.
The project is entirely funded by grants and donations. Major funders include Arts Council England, Suffolk Community Foundation and the Limbourne Trust, and we are indebted to our partner Eastern Angles for use of facilities and its financial support. Donations to the project can be made through www.wonderfulbeast.co.uk/first-the-dance.
First the Dance, Then the Feast is on at Thorington Theatre on Thursday 23 June at 4.30pm and Friday 24 June at 6.30pm.
To book tickets visit www.thoringtontheatre.co.uk