A new play inspired by the UK's most famous rock festival - now a mud-ridden annual fixture for hippies and music fans of all ages - has attracted widespread support from the music industry as well as from artist Damien Hirst and actor Keith Allen. Glastonbury, the theatrical incarnation, receives its world premiere on 16 October 2002 in Cardiff before continuing on tour until 9 November to Manchester, Birmingham and Brighton.

Performed in a huge marquee, Glastonbury is designed by Hirst, the controversial Brit artist who's most famous for pickling a sheep, and directed by actor Keith Allen (Fat Les, Shallow Grave, 24 Hour Party People), who also stars.

At each showing of Glastonbury, top British bands - such as Blur, Supergrass, Pulp, New Order, Ocean Colour Scene and UB40 - will kick off proceedings with a live concert performance. Details of which bands will perform where will only be announced at the last moment, to maintain an element of surprise.

Glastonbury aims to offer a funny and powerful insight into the minds of the spectrum of characters attracted to the annual music event, and to give theatre audiences a taste of the real festival experience. In addition to live bands, there will be stalls, campfires and tents set up festival-style around the performance marquee.

The stage piece is written by Zoe Lewis, whose previous plays include Paradise Syndrome and Sharp Relief. The screen rights to the play have already been bought by British filmmakers Working Title, while the stage production is presented by Best Behaviour Productions. Joining Allen in the cast are Kieran O'Brien, Chris Coghill, Bronwyn Davies and Paul Broughton. Sound is by Nick Lloyd Webber.

The real Glastonbury Festival (pictured) was created in 1970 by Michael and Jean Eavis to attract the kind of "strange and interesting people" they'd seen at the Bath Blues Festival earlier that year. Originally naming it 'Glastonbury Fayre', the couple's vision was to emulate a medieval tradition of music, dance, poetry and theatre. Festival-goers were charged just £1 entry and provided with free milk from the farm where the event was held. The Glastonbury Festival is now a huge money-making business, attracting the biggest names in the music industry and crowds of around 90,000 who each pay £85 for the three-day fest.

- by Peggy Nuttall