Tales for all ages at Wonderful Beast’s Storm of Stories festival across Leiston and Aldeburgh

Abimaro Gunnell in Orla and the Sun, part of this year's Storm of Stories festival

Abimaro Gunnell in Orla and the Sun, part of this year's Storm of Stories festival - Credit: Archant

Myth, legend, folk and fairy tales will be brought to life at Wonderful Beast’s third Storm of Stories festival. Entertainment writer Wayne Savage found out more.

Martin Bonger in The Return of The Wildman, being performed at this year's Storm of Stories

Martin Bonger in The Return of The Wildman, being performed at this year's Storm of Stories - Credit: Archant

No matter what age you are, who doesn’t like a good story? This year’s line-up includes nightingales, tsars, wild men, fairies, changelings and more.

Rarely told the same way twice, and with music just as important as words, tales are told via the mediums of theatre, opera, storytelling, music, dance and art.

Running April 28-May 2 across Leiston and Aldeburgh, the festival gets under way with newly-commissioned community opera The Nightingale, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the same name, at Leiston Abbey.

Composed by John Barber, it features students from Aldeburgh and Leiston Primary Schools and Alde Valley Academy, The Wonderful Beast Singers and Aldeburgh Young Musicians who will perform alongside the professional cast. Produced in partnership with Pro Corda, it’s the story of an emperor who believes he has all he wants until he hears of a nightingale whose song delights all who hear her. It’s Wonderful Beast’s second community opera after the success of The Six Swans.

Ben Haggarty of the Crick Crack Club, performing at this year's Storm of Stories

Ben Haggarty of the Crick Crack Club, performing at this year's Storm of Stories - Credit: Archant

The Pumphouse, on the atmospheric Aldeburgh marshes, themselves a hot bed of bogles and will o’ the wisps, is at the epicentre of this year’s event.

Throughout the weekend there will be a range of performances and activities including Orla and the Sun, a musical experience for babies and early years; free art workshop activities with artists, illustrators and writers; Shakespeare for children, storytelling for families and late-night performances for grown-ups by storytellers from the legendary Crick Crack Club.

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There will be a chance to see the previously sold out Return of the Wildman, a one-man show starring Martin Bonger and written by local writer Thea Smiley. Impromptu music and readings of favourite tales in Story Corner will keep visitors entertained.

Wonderful Beast prides itself on working with members of the community to provide accessible events for residents and the festival’s closing event does just that. Featuring local storyteller Stephen Bayfield and step dancers Doreen West and Lenny Whiting, Tales for Tea is a celebration of comic Suffolk tales.

Storm of Stories' previous community opera The Six Swans

Storm of Stories' previous community opera The Six Swans - Credit: Archant

Throughout the weekend there will be pop-up art workshops and a story corner at The Pumphouse Marquee from 10.30am each day where you can drop in, doodle, create a magical fantasy bird or chill out and listen to a favourite fairy tale.

The company has dramatized tales from all over the world, singing, dancing, playing and animating them; devised bi-lingual shows and staged an opera for babies. It’s also collaborated with English Touring Opera on nation-wide school tours and work-shopped and performed in India.

What’s on when

Thursday, April 28

Arty Mouse Workshop, Aldeburgh Library, 10.30am-11.30am; Leiston Library, 1.30pm-2.30pm; get arty with award-winning illustrator and author Mandy Stanley.

Friday, April 29

The Nightingale – A Community Opera, Leiston Abbey, 7pm.

Saturday, April 30

Song bird guided walk, RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve, 7.30am-9.30am;

Lettice – The Fairy Ball, The Pumphouse, 10am-11am, storytime with Mandy Stanley, the creator of Lettice Rabbit, including an illustration demo

The Devil, The Tzar and 3 Dried Biscuits with Ben Haggarty, The Pumphouse, 11.30am, a Russian tale in which a magical sack can cure your hunger and a soldier bent on

defying death learns a game of cards can get you in and out of trouble.

Nightingale Workshop with John Barber and Hazel Gould, Leiston Abbey, 1.30pm-2.15pm

On The Heels Of The Hound with Clare Muireann Murphy, The Pumphouse, 2pm-3pm, visit a mysterious land of warriors and one-eyed monsters where shape-shifters blur the line between this world and the next

The Nightingale – A Community Opera, Leiston Abbey, 3pm and 6pm

Meet The Storyteller: Ben Haggarty, The Pumphouse, 3.30pm-4.30pm, the director of the Crick Crack Club tells stories, answers questions and talks about why he tells

stories for a living

Fairy Tales For Adults 1, Others From The Other Side with Clare Muireann Murphy, The Pumphouse, 9pm; stories of changelings, stolen children, deceptions and wild curses

Sunday, May 1

Shakespeare For Children with Fred Sedgwick, The Pumphouse, 10.30am-11.45am, noon-1.15pm; workshop including the magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the chance to write your own piece of Shakespeare to take home.

Jack And The 12 Dancing Princesses with Ben Haggarty, The Pumphouse, 2pm-3pm; a king is mystified by the dreadful condition of his 12 daughters’ shoes in this ancient English version of a story many people think they know.

Return Of The Wildman, The Pumphouse, 5.30pm and 7.30pm, the Wildman of Orford is captured at sea and incarcerated in Orford Castle where he’s tortured in an attempt to make him speak only to escape and never been seen again - or did he? Hear a different story, one in which his presence is very much still alive.

Fairy Tales For Adults 2: The Grateful And The Dead (aka The Companion), with Ben Haggarty, The Pumphouse, 9pm; a full-blooded fairytale about dreams, initiations and the repayment of debts

Monday, May 2

Wonderful Wildman Workshop, with Bee Willey, The Pumphouse Marquee, 10.30am-noon; collage and puppet making

Orla and The Sun, Aldeburgh Primary School, 10.30am-11.30am and 2.30pm-3.30pm, a multi-sensory, interactive experience full of singing, dance and play that sees Orla ask the sun one morning: “Why are you always following me?” It’s followed by child-led free play with the audience and cast

Fun Drum Surprise led by percussionist Jessica Palin, The Pumphouse, 1.30pm-2.30pm

Tales for Tea, The Pumphouse, 4pm-5.30pm, tea, cake and comic Suffolk tales from local storyteller Stephen Bayfield, with step dancers Doreen West and Lenny Whiting, musicians Alvar Smith and Sylvia Hallett.

Click here for more details.

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