Storytelling festival for toddlers through to teenagers

SETTING SCENE: A shot from one of the shows to be put on during the TakeOff Festival.

SETTING SCENE: A shot from one of the shows to be put on during the TakeOff Festival.

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THE limelight will be shone on tall tales as a festival inspires the next generation to find out more about storytelling.

The TakeOff Festival will run from Saturday, November 10, until the following Friday, and will celebrate its 25th year as its events are hosted across Durham and venues across the region.

TALES OF THE DEEP: A shot of a mechanical whale taken from a scene which will be part of the TakeOff Festival.

TALES OF THE DEEP: A shot of a mechanical whale taken from a scene which will be part of the TakeOff Festival.

It will showcase world-class theatre from the UK and Europe for audiences of toddlers to teenagers, lifting the curtain on new versions of children’s classics, including The Elves and the Shoemakers, Red Riding Hood and tales from the Brothers Grimm, alongside exciting contemporary pieces of theatre.

Its programme will also feature puppetry from Ireland, slapstick and rabbits from the Netherlands and music from Germany and inventive, messy fun from Belgium.

Organisers say new interpretation of Jason and the Argonauts, an invite for the audience to follow the clues to the top of Cloud Mountain in Cloud Man and a tale where three madcap birds struggle to take flight in Egg are among their highlights.

The main festival programme is centred on Durham, with venues across the city staging performances from the Wednesday to Friday, following on from a weekend of family events including a giant storytelling whale, pictured below, which will take up residence outside the Gala Theatre and an appearance by two polar bears, who will roam the streets looking for food and friendship. It is also linked to a tour which will take in Chester-le-Street and Washington.

TALL FAIRYTALE: A scene from one fo the productions to be staged as part of the TakeOff Festival.

TALL FAIRYTALE: A scene from one fo the productions to be staged as part of the TakeOff Festival.

It is run by the Hullabaloo Theatre company and is funded through Arts Council England.

Miranda Thain, Hullabaloo’s creative producer, said: “This year we are delighted to offer a rich and varied programme of performances for our youngest audiences in venues across our region, before welcoming artists, educators, programmers, their families and friends to share a treasure trove of stories, old and new, in the beautiful city of Durham.”

Alison Clark-Jenkins, regional director of Arts Council England, added: “The TakeOff Festival is an important national festival which brings world-class theatre to young audiences.

“Hosted in our region, TakeOff not only supports artists in the early development of ideas for work for young audiences but provides them with a platform to show that work and support it where it shows promise.

STORY TIME: A shot from the production of Hansel and Gretel, to be performed as part of the TakeOff Festival.

STORY TIME: A shot from the production of Hansel and Gretel, to be performed as part of the TakeOff Festival.

“I look forward to seeing the exciting work during the festival in Durham.”

Many of the shows are available for schools and nursery groups to book and teachers can contact Theatre Hullabaloo on 01325 352 004. Families interested in attending performances can contact the Gala Theatre on 332 4041 or visit www.galadurham.co.uk with more details available via www.takeofffestival.org.uk

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham