Children’s theatre festival aims to inspire a new generation of story-tellers

Pupils from St Edmunds Catholic Primary School, in Bury St Edmunds
Pupils from St Edmunds Catholic Primary School, in Bury St Edmunds
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A children’s theatre festival aims to inspire the next generation of story-tellers when it returns with a top line-up of shows.

Once Upon a Festival, organised by the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, runs from June 11 to 23 with a cavalcade of dance, theatre, puppetry and poetry performances.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch

The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch

Companies will take to the stage at schools and partner venues across East Anglia including Meet Up, in Thetford; Marina Theatre, in Lowestoft; Southwold Arts Centre, Marketplace CPP - Chatteris In Myth & Memory and The Garage, in Norwich.

On Friday, 60 pupils from St Edmund’s Catholic Primary School and Sybil Andrews Academy, in Bury, enjoyed a launch event at the Theatre Royal.

There was mask making and an excerpt from one of the shows A Real Alien Adventure.

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, also attended.

A Real Alien Adventure

A Real Alien Adventure

Georgina Stone, education projects officer at the Theatre Royal, said the theme of this year’s festival is ‘Now it’s your turn!’.

“We want students, teachers, schools and families to love the stories in our programme and to be inspired by the work to tell their stories, in their own unique way,” she said.

“We have such a range of fantastic companies bringing performances, from world renowned M6 Theatre to stunning puppetry work from local talent Ripstop Theatre.

“There really is something for everyone, and so many ways to get involved.”

The Elves and The Shoemaker

The Elves and The Shoemaker

The festival begins at the Theatre Royal on Sunday, June 11, with an open day and then the action on stage opens with Judith Kerr’s classic book The Tiger Who Came to Tea.

The fun continues with The Doodle Dance Show, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch and The Elves and The Shoemaker.

On Father’s Day (Sunday, June 18) audiences can also watch the National Theatre Live’s screening of their children’s show Peter Pan at the Marina Theatre.

Week two opens with Ballet Theatre UK’s version of Alice in Wonderland back at the Theatre Royal.

Other highlights include There and Back Again; The Odyssey and Fairytales Gone Bad.

This year’s festival is sponsored by Taylor Wimpey and has been supported with funding from Bury St Edmunds Town Council, Lowestoft Rising and Arts Council England.

For the full line-up, visit