Celebrate Canterbury's cultural heritage for World Theatre Day

Fans of comedy and drama can celebrate World Theatre Day with a visit to one of the district’s top venues.

The international celebration takes place on Tuesday, March 27, and Conservative councillor Neil Baker, who chairs Canterbury City Council’s community committee, said it was an opportunity to highlight the work of local theatres such as the Marlowe and the Gulbenkian.

Since the £25.6million renovation of the Marlowe it has regularly hosted major West End shows and next week (March 26-31) audiences can enjoy Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. The Gulbenkian is hosting comedian Richard Herring with his Oh Frig! I’m 50 show on Tuesday, while members of the Marlowe Youth Theatre are staging an amateur production of Emperor Of The Moon.

Cllr Baker said: “In many ways Canterbury’s own Christopher Marlowe was one of the fathers of English playwrights.

“We are rightly proud of our local theatres and theatre groups and it is clear there is a wealth of talent within the district, from performers in village halls and community theatres to alumni of our schools and universities including Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom.

“As a council we are keen to do all we can to support the arts while providing best value for money for our residents, and we are in the process of transferring the Marlowe to an independent charitable trust.

“This will allow it to receive new funding from a wider range of sources while also saving local taxpayers more then £100,000 each year.”

Events and performances are planned for across the globe for World Theatre Day, and special messages from leading figures in the industry have been prepared.

The European message has been written by UK playwright Simon McBurney, whose play The Encounter is currently touring Europe. It was originally created as a commission for the Edinburgh International Festival in 2015 and explores themes around what it means to be human in today’s modern, consumer society in a performance with sound wired to each audience member through headphones.

His message references the ways theatre and storytelling can unite people, whatever their background, in all corners of the world.

Cllr Baker added: “Although we have no specific World Theatre Day events in Canterbury this year it is certainly something we will explore for future years.

“Our universities provide outstanding education in drama, music and performing arts to produce stars of the future.

“But there are also many local people who give up their time to nurture young talent, whether that’s in our thriving amateur dramatics scene or in classrooms and school halls.

“All these people deserve to be celebrated, together with our rich cultural heritage.”

For more information on World Theatre Day, visit www.world-theatre-day.org