Steyning gets ready for its festival

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Josie Lawrence will be joining Neil Mullarkey and the rest of the Comedy Store players for A Serious Night Out on the first day of the Steyning Festival which gets underway this weekend.

Josie and Neil, who will be appearing on May 24, are known for their stand-up acts but also for appearances on Have I Got News for You?, QI and The News Quiz.

Festival spokeswoman Jerry Doyle said:”Laughter-lovers should also grab tickets for The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue. Back by popular demand, they are reputed to be the maddest, silliest, stupidest, cleverest, strangest and everything else-ist as well as the funniest double act of comedians on the circuit. Find out if you dare on May 31.”

Jerry added: “As well as highlights like Jonathan Dimbleby’s Any Questions?, the famous Theatre Trail and Julia Donaldson’s Gruffalo show, the Steyning Festival showcases events that are truly out of this world!

“Those fascinated by science and exploration will not want to miss finding out about the amazing European space agency mission Rosetta and its planned landing and rendezvous with a comet this summer after a ten-year journey in outer space powered only by solar energy. Discover how this remarkable spacecraft could answer how life began on Earth with space mission expert Andrew Coates on June 3.

“Back on terra firma, but going to the ends of the earth, are the adventurers who explore the polar extremities of our planet. Tim Jarvis will be speaking in person about his incredible attempt to follow in Shackleton’s footsteps in the Antarctic in Recreating Shackleton’s Epic Journey (June 6).

“Light years away from all that re the Archers , with its cosy and comfortable world of Ambridge and yet another fun night out on offer. You don’t need to be a fan of the Radio 4 soap either! Sunny Ormande, who plays the slightly off-beam Lilian Bellamy, with her penchant for extramarital affairs and G&Ts, plans to regale us with hilarious tales of celebrity (June 1).”

Jerry added: “Aunty gets a good look-in at the Steyning Festival because besides the Archers and Jonathan Dimbleby, James Naughtie, Today programmes presenter, is launching his first thriller, The Madness of July, set in the corridors of 1970s Westminster with a former spy and MP as its protagonist and drawing on his fascinating experiences as a political insider (May 24).

“Children and families are not forgotten either. Steyning Festival’s opening parade features Samba music and drummers and giant animal costumed carnival characters representing the five continents of the world (May 24, 11am, Church Street).

“And, on the Bank Holiday Monday, Steyning has invited townspeople to the biggest family outdoor picnic ever on the Memorial Playing Field (11am to 4pm). The highlight will be the wonderfully-unique St Cuthman wheelbarrow race and other wacky sports, plus a dog show (registration 11am). Musical bands, jugglers and a bouncy castle are all on offer, plus quality fast-food plus a bar and barbecue and strawberry and cream teas.

“People are also warmly invited to performances of The Emerald Crown, a musical from the World Wildlife Fund, featuring a great plot about animals protecting their rainforest from the greedy exploiters who want to chop it down. Proving that Steyning has talent, local young people are taking to the boards on June 7. Come along and cheer them on X-Factor style!

“It is 400 years since pupils at Steyning Grammar School were expected to converse in Latin and a lot has happened since then. Big celebrations are in store this year for the school’s 400th anniversary and Caccini to Copland is one of them, with the audience enjoying time travel via songs and arias across the centuries (May 26).

“400 is also the magic number linked to the Festival’s finale event, a unique 1614 dance (with callers) with music from the Jacobean period and a hog roast on offer. People are invited to dress the part if they want to! (June 8, Wiston House).

“Finally an anniversary that the Steyning Festival organisers did not want to ignore is that of the First World War. They asked chamber ensemble The Troupe to present A Line in the Sand, a moving and dynamic mix of music, words and theatre that explores stories of soldiers, spies, artists and musicians caught up in the war (May 29).”

Tickets from the Steyning Bookshop ,106 Steyning High St or 01903 812062 or online www.steyningfestival.co.uk . See the website for full programme, venues and timings.