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Great Charter Festival to take place in June

The Great Charter Festival, which marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, will take place at Royal Holloway, University of London on Sunday 14 June. It offers a free festival of art and ideas, a fusion of professional and community artists and performers.

Great Charter Festival - photo courtesy Royal Holloway, University of London

The festival explores the history and legacy of Magna Carta through art installations, live music, pop-up theatre, comedy, food and drink, screenings, talks and workshops.

Highlights for the festival includes award-winning and renowned artist Hew Locke talking about the new sculpture he has built for Runnymede Meadow to celebrate 800 years of the great charter.

Eight Giant puppets depicting people who have contributed to freedom and liberty will perform alongside children from Surrey schools in a special performance in the Founder’s Building North Quad. The puppets will include suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt Wat Tyler and Malala Yousafzai, the education campaigner who survived being shot by the Taliban on her way to school in 2012.

Christopher Lloyd, author of The Magna Carta Chronicle: A Young Person’s Guide to 800 years in the Fight for Freedom, will use his coat of many pockets and an eight metre timeline to give an engaging talk on key moments and ideas in history since the sealing of Magna Carta. These include the Black Death, abolition of slavery, women’s rights and freedom of speech.

A short snapshot of The Freedom Game Opera which recently premiered at the Royal Albert Hall will be performed. The opera tells the story of a Surrey family and their quest to win back freedoms which are taken from them during a computer game.

And in a thought provoking and engaging show come installation, theatre company Stan’s Cafe’s will bring 1,068kg of rice to Royal Holloway, a grain for everyone in the UK, and use it to tell stories about the human population, including how towns and cities change depending on the number of births and deaths each day.

The festival will feature hands on workshops, performances by local musicians, food and drink tasting and local artists selling their work in the craft markets.

Diana Edmunds, Magna Carta Festival Manager, said, “At Royal Holloway we’re very excited to be celebrating 800 years of Magna Carta which was sealed just a few miles away. Our experts are working at the forefront of today’s threats to freedom and liberty, ensuring that the ideas of Magna Carta continue for a new generation.

“The Great Charter Festival is one of the ways we hope to achieve this. The festival promises to be a fun and hands on way for visitors of all ages to discover and celebrate the principles behind Magna Carta.”

Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, added, “This anniversary will be an occasion of immense local, national and international importance. It will bring huge educational and economic benefits to Surrey, attracting visitors to Runnymede for June’s celebrations and beyond while also potentially generating millions annually from tourism”

The Great Charter Festival takes place on Sunday 14 June, 10am-5pm and is free to attend. Please visit the Great Charter Festival Blog for more details.

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