Local Aerial Artist Supported by Derby Festé Commission

Circus artist and aerialist Ria Ashcroft has clinched support to create a new performance that will be seen for the first time at this September’s Derby Festé.

The 10th Derby Festé will be held on Friday September 23 and Saturday September 24 and Ria’s performance will be staged on River Gardens for visitors to enjoy on the second day. Ria has teamed up with Phil Coggins and Mark Hornsey from Buxton-based Babbling Vagabonds theatre group as well as Kristy Guest and Hannah Stone from female theatre company The Gramophones to develop the new commission.

Entitled ‘Tarzanna’ the family-friendly performance will feature aerial skills, puppetry and music and will tell the story of the female lead character’s attempts to save the endangered rainforest. Ria (34) is originally from Ilkeston and now lives in Nottingham.  The former Ockbrook School pupil studied Psychology at Bristol University before moving to Nottingham to complete an Art Foundation Degree. She then studied circus skills in Sheffield and toured Europe with the English Theatre Company before returning to the East Midlands to work as a circus and aerial skills performer and teacher. As well as teaching aerial skills at Déda in Derby, she tours festivals and carries out workshops across the UK with a portable aerial rig. Ria explained: “I am delighted to have gained this commission to bring together fellow artists to develop ‘Tarzanna’.  We will perform at Derby Festé this September and then plan to take it on tour. “This will be my first time performing at Derby Festé and I am very excited to be part of the event which creates a real buzz in the city centre. “We will be working together at Déda and Derby Theatre over the coming months to develop the show and I hope that it really captures the audience’s imagination.”

The 10th annual Derby Festé will be held on Friday September 23 and Saturday 24 organised by a partnership of arts organisations - Déda, QUAD, Derby Theatre and Derby LIVE. The first headline act has been announced - The Sarruga Dragons, which are giant robotic creatures created by world famous Catalonian street-arts company Sarruga who have performed across the world. The breath-taking parade will start at Derby Riverlights and wind its way through St Peters Quarter and the Cathedral Quarter before making a spectacular entrance to the Market Place followed by a party with live bands and lots of dancing.

French company Transe Express will then bring its brand new outdoor performance MÚ to the city on the evening of Saturday September 24 which will be only its second performance in the UK. The atmospheric show will transport the crowds to a magic oceanic world. Colourful neon sea creatures elevated on a huge telescopic crane will cavort on the lit surface of the sea with the fish and other ocean dwellers weaving their way through the audience on the sea bed.

Derby Festé Artistic Director Stephen Munn, Director at regional dance house Déda, said: “As well as attracting acts from across the world to perform as part of Derby Festé, we consider applications from local and regional artists to develop a special commission that is premiered at the event. “This support enables work developed here in Derby to then be taken out to festivals across the UK and beyond – showcasing our home-bred creativity and talent.”

Adam Buss, Director at QUAD continued: “The excitement is already building for Derby Festé since we announced the return of The Sarruga Dragons and Ria Ashcroft’s ‘Tarzanna’ is the first of the Saturday street entertainment acts staged in the Cathedral Quarter and St Peters Quarter to be revealed.”

Sarah Brigham, Artistic Director of Derby Theatre, added: “Derby and the East Midlands is a centre of excellence for innovative creativity and we look forward to seeing the development of ‘Tarzanna’ which will be a wonderful spectacle on the River Gardens.”

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