Doncaster’s new Cast venue set to open this Friday

Cast, Doncaster's new theatre.
Cast, Doncaster's new theatre.
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Cast – Doncaster’s new theatre – opens its doors this Friday, kicking off a weekend of performance and free events.

The Friday evening sees a spectacular explosion of performance and creativity in A Cast of Thousands, the opening ceremony. Created by the critically acclaimed Yorkshire-based company Slung Low, the event features live music acts, song, dance and performance.

Through the ceremony, a set of stories are told – each that are currently represented in illustrations by Doncaster artist Rachana Jahav and hung across the front of the building.

Graham Whitehead, Cast, comments: “Doncaster is full of amazing stories and creative people. This opening ceremony is like our version of the Olympics opening – a time for Doncaster to show off something really impressive. It’s going to tell stories that have a real resonance with the town and at the same time look spectacular.”

Starting at 6pm the opening ceremony is a free event – no tickets needed. People should just turn up outside the venue on Sir Nigel Gresley Square in Waterdale, Doncaster, and be ready to see something truly amazing.

From then the weekend continues with free events and activities for everyone to enjoy with two days of Open House.

Taking part between 12pm and 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday, Open House is an opportunity to see behind the scenes of the new venue and sample some of the programme it has to offer.

On Saturday, Sadlers Wells make the journey to Doncaster to launch 2014’s Breakin’ Convention festival in Doncaster. International hip-hop theatre sensation Jonzi D will lead a series of breakdance battles and performances. Everyone is encouraged to turn up and take part – with the first event from 12.30pm.

There are also activities for little ones with One Doll Puppet Theatre leading free puppet workshops on Saturday from 12.30pm. Music in the Round present a free workshop with a performance of the favourite children’s book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ on Sunday at 1pm and 2pm.

LipService Theatre get knitting needles at the ready with a ‘Knit and Natter’ session. Returning later in September with their production Inspector Norse, the show features an almost entirely knitted set. Anyone who knits is invited along from 2pm on Saturday.

Also on Saturday afternoon, Doncaster Youth Jazz Orchestra will add a musical flavour as the Stage and Swing band take to the second space.

Bradford based South Asian Arts company Kala Sangam join the celebrations from 3pm on Sunday, offering dance workshops and performances – opportunities to take part or just watch.

There are also opportunities to have backstage tours of the new venue and see parts of the workings not normally open to the public.

Local artists also feature heavily. Rachel Horne, Ryan Cerenko and Ryan Harston will be presenting some newly created work. Alongside that, Right Up Our Street Arts Supporters – a group of artists tasked with engaging more people in the arts over the next three years – present some quirky pop-up performances.

The first of these is Thoroughfare – a spoken word adventure round the venue. Then there’s the Art Exchange – a market stall where any piece of art is available in return for an original piece of art made by the customer. Finally, the Paper Bag Man – who has become a bit of a celebrity since he started popping up in Rossington a few weeks ago, makes his first trip into the town centre.

These events take place on both days.

There are also events from Doncaster Youth Dance Company and Doncaster College.

Graham Whitehead comments, “When we decided what we wanted to do to open Cast, we all immediately new we had to create a weekend full of surprises. We’re encouraging people to come down and have a look, whether you want to watch a performance, take part in something creative or just soak up the atmosphere from our café – we promise there’s an exciting weekend ahead.”

The weekend also sees the premiere performance of Cast’s first ever in-house produced production: The Glee Club.

The Glee Club kicks off a key strand of work that is about and for Doncaster and is the first time that Doncaster’s most famous play has ever been professionally produced in the town. This song-filled comedy charts the lives and heartaches of a group of miners from Edlington. Set in the summer of 1962, not all is as it seems - behind the smiles, laughter and pally camaraderie hide some devastating secrets.

First performed at The Bush in 2002, it has never been professionally produced in Doncaster. This new production, directed by Esther Richardson (Soho Theatre, Northampton Royal and Derngate), will bring the production home to its native Doncaster.

The Glee Club runs from Friday 6 – Saturday 21 September. Tickets priced at £16 (£13 concessions) are available on 01302 303 959 and www.castindoncaster.com.