A SWINDON theatre festival has been announced by the writer of Swindon: The Opera.

Earlier this year Matt Fox, a production team and a 250-strong cast enjoyed a huge success with an opera telling the story of Swindon from 1952 to the present day.

Performed at Steam, the museum of the Great Western Railway, it won rave reviews among both residents and professional critics from the national media.

Now Matt and his colleagues at Madam Renards, a Swindon-centric professional arts group, are planning a new event for next year.

The aim is for their inaugural Swindon theatre festival to run over five days around a weekend in April.

Matt said: “For a couple of years I’ve taken shows to the Camden Festival in North London, which is a sort of similar thing to the Edinburgh Festival.

“It’s an opportunity for theatre companies to do shows, and I thought that to give theatre companies a bit of exposure here, a festival would be a good place to start.

“We’re at the very early stages – I’ve literally this week booked three of the venues.”

Those venues are the Museum and Art Gallery in Bath Road, the Town Hall Theatre at the town centre headquarters of Swindon Dance, and The Victoria pub in Victoria Road, whose downstairs stage is a favourite among fans of unusual drama as well as music and stand-up.

The line-up of performances is very much in an embryonic stage at the moment, but it will include a newly-completed play by Matt called To Sleep and a piece called Nights which is based on the ancient Eastern tales collected as The Arabian Nights.

There will also be a musical which Matt promises will use jukebox-style arrangements to bring new life to madrigals, one of our oldest styles of song.

Matt added: “I’m in discussions with another couple of theatre companies.”

The theatre festival will join a roster of local cultural events which includes the internationally recognised Swindon Festival of Literature and its sister event, The Swindon Festival of Poetry.

Further information about the theatre festival will be made available at www.madamrenards.co.uk