A FESTIVAL of world-class theatre returns to entertain crowds in Darlington this weekend.

Returning for the second year, The Jabberwocky Market is taking over the town with a host of high quality, small scale theatrical shows.

Backed by the world-famous Battersea Arts Centre, the festival aims to make theatre accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages and backgrounds.

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Designed and run by theatre producers from Darlington, The Jabberwocky Market will see an eclectic assortment of performances take place at venues including the Civic Theatre, Voodoo Cafe and the Quaker Meeting House.

It launches tonight (Thursday, May 15) with the free show, Dear Mister Kaiser, a modern twist on classic war drama directed by Darlington actor Stan Hodgson, who is also the festival’s assistant producer.

Urging people to use the festival as an excuse to dip their toe into theatre, he said: “With the Jabberwocky Market, you will experience theatre but maybe not as you know it.

“It’ll be warm, funny and something that can make you think.

“We are going to take over the town with some really exciting theatre.”

He added: “This is massively important for Darlington, especially since the closure of the Arts Centre.

“There is great work going on at places like the Civic but since then, the town has lost smaller scale things and the Jabberwocky Market is bringing that back.

“Instead of going to Edinburgh or London for the theatre, you can experience it on your own doorstep.”

Highlights of the festival include Major Tom, the true story of how an average 34-year-old and her unruly dog became a beauty queen and a champion show dog and Shame, a cutting edge exploration of shame performed by John Berkavitch and some of the country’s leading breakdancers.

A number of workshops and talks will surround the festival, all hosted by creative professionals.

The dancers from Shame will teach advanced b-boying on Friday, while John Berkavitch will lead a session concentrating on storytelling and poetry for performance on Saturday.

More information and a full programme of events can be accessed at jabberwockymarket.org.uk.

The event begins tonight and runs until Sunday May 18. Tickets range from free to £9.

A free opening party will be held at the Voodoo Lounge on Skinnergate from 8.30pm on Friday, May 16.