Chippenham will be treated to three days of drama, music and dance this weekend with the Community Arts Festival springing up in several venues across town.
It is an extension of last year’s drama festival and a mixture of professional touring and local amateur acts.
Hardenhuish School drama teacher Duncan Ellis, who has co-organised the event with Laura Graham-May of Rag & Bone Arts, said: “We wanted to bring in other types of arts this time. It’s just about starting something up, building something worthwhile, giving a cultural identity to the town.
“It will hopefully snowball into something bigger and establish Chippenham as a viable place for the arts.
“We have the potential to start something like the Corsham Pound. St Andrew’s Hall is not used a lot but could fulfil a similar function. You could quite easily extend the stage and be looking at something quite exciting.”
On Friday The Citadel will host a Kandu Arts open mic night at, and at St Andrew’s from 4pm to 9pm, there will be a free Rag and Bone physical acting workshop, singalong with Chippenham Community Choir, two “socially interesting” monologues by Salisbury’s Bootleg Theatre Company and improvisation from Chimps.
Saturday sees a varied mix of Mozart operas at The Cause and a cabaret night at St Andrew’s, with storybook theatre from Rag and Bone Arts in the Yelde Hall and a free outdoor performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream by Hardenhuish School Year 9 pupils at the Buttercross at 12.30pm.
There are dance workshops from 9.45am to 4pm at The Citadel, including line dancing, street dance and belly dancing.
At the Astoria on Friday at 8pm, there is another chance to see Kandu Arts’ feature film Bash Street from 2011, about youths in Chippenham; Andre Rieu’s 10th Anniversary 2014 Maastricht Concert is screened live on Saturday at 7pm and Monty Python Live (Mostly) at the O2 is on Sunday at 7pm.
International touring troupe of clowns Le Navet Bete show off their circus skills at St Andrew’s at 3.15pm on Sunday, followed by a 7.30pm performance by Chile Beans Jazz Band.
Mr Ellis’ own theatre group, Noonday Demons, raise the curtain at The Cause with A Soldier’s Tale, a 20-minute play about the only American soldier in World War Two to be shot for desertion. Members of the cast have returned home from university to rehearse.
They open ahead of Green Stag Theatre’s 5pm production of World War One play Brotherhood.
Local artists will be displaying and selling their artwork in the museum, Chocolate Frost and Revolutions on Friday and Saturday.
Event tickets range from £1 to £10 and can be bought from Chippenham Community & Visitor Information Centre in High Street and on (01249) 665970.