THE National Theatre’s celebrated production of Jane Eyre will be shown on the NT’s YouTube channel for free on Thursday at 7pm.
This will be the second in the two-month series of
National Theatre At Home screenings that was launched with One Man, Two Guvnors
last Thursday, since when more than two million people have watched Hull playwright
Richard Bean’s comic romp.
Cookson’s re-imagining of Charlotte Brontë’s inspiring Yorkshire
story of trailblazing Jane was first staged by Bristol Old Vic in 2015 and
transferred to the National in the same year with a revival in 2017.
In May that year, the National Theatre’s touring
production visited the Grand Opera House, York, for a week’s run, winning the “Stage
Production of the Year in York Made outside York” award in the annual Hutch
Awards in The Press, York.
Cookson’s bold, innovative and dynamic production uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms. From her beginnings as a destitute orphan, spirited Jane Eyre faces life’s obstacles head on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.
During this unprecedented time of the enforced shutdown of theatres, cinemas and schools in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, National Theatre At Home is providing access to content online to serve audiences in their homes.
Audiences around the world can stream NT
Live productions for free via YouTube every Thursday at 7pm BST and
each one will then be available on demand for seven days.
Coming next after Jane Eyre will be Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island from April 16 and Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, starring Tamsin Greig as Malvolio, from April 23. Further titles will be announced.
Alongside the streamed productions, National
Theatre At Home will feature accompanying interactive content, such as question-and-answer
sessions with cast and creative teams and post-stream talks. Further details
of this programme will follow.
National Theatre Live turned ten on June 25 last year: the date of the first such broadcast in 2009, namely Phédre, starring Helen Mirren. Over those ten years, more than 80 theatre productions have been shown in 3,500 venues worldwide, reaching an overall audience of more than ten million.
NT Live now screens in 2,500 venues across 65 countries. Recent broadcasts include Cyrano de Bergerac with James McAvoy; Noel Coward’s Present Laughter with Andrew Scott; Fleabag with Phoebe Waller-Bridge; Arthur Miller’s All My Sons with Sally Field and Bill Pullman; All About Eve with Gillian Anderson and Lily James; Shakespeare’s Antony And Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo; Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with David Morrissey and Ben Whishaw and Tennessee Williams’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof with Sienna Miller.
Here is Charles Hutchinson’s review of the National Theatre’s Jane Eyre when it played the Grand Opera House, York, in May 2017, published in The Press, York. Please note, the cast differed from the one to be seen in the National Theatre Live performance on YouTube from Thursday.
YOU will not see a
better theatre show in York this year, and you won’t have seen a better theatre
show in York since The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
For those who want
their National Theatre to be for everyone, and not only for London, then the
Grand Opera House is doing a fine job of bringing the NT north, thanks to the
pulling power of the GOH’s owners, the Ambassador Theatre Group.
cannot urge you enough to see Sally Cookson’s remarkable interpretation of
Charlotte Bronte’s no less remarkable novel. Yes, some of the ticket prices are
on a Premier League scale, but this is Premier League theatre. What’s more,
Jane Eyre is a Yorkshire story, back on home turf after Cookson’s premiere at the
Bristol Old Vic and subsequent transfer to the South Bank.
Rather than being
adapted for the stage with a plodding narrator, this is a devised production of
vivid, vital imagination. Michael Vale’s set is rough hewn, gutted to the
minimum, with wooden flooring and walkways, a proliferation of ladders, a sofa,
and yet it evokes everything of Bronte’s harsh world.
Cookson’s cast is
multi role-playing, aside from Nadia Clifford’s Jane Eyre, who never once
leaves the stage in three hours (interval aside), changing costumes in full
view with the assistance of fellow cast members.
The story hurtles
along so fast, the ensemble company runs on the spot between scenes to the
accompaniment of thunderous drums, and they even take a mock piddle at one
point in the rush to crack on: one of the comic elements to counter the
grimness up north.
Energy, energy, energy!
And that applies not only to Clifford’s feisty, fiery Jane Eyre, whose accent
may curve towards her native North West, but that in no way lessens her performance.
The cast as a whole is
magnificent, be it Tim Delap’s troubled Rochester, Evelyn Miller’s triptych of
Bessie, Blanche Ingram and St John; Paul Mundell’s austere Mr Brocklehurst and
tail-wagging Pilot the dog; Lynda Rooke’s chalk and cheese Mrs Reed and Mrs
Fairfax or surely-too-good-to-be-an understudy Francesca Tomlinson’s five-hand
There is so much
more that makes Cookson’s production so startling, movingly brilliant: the
sound design of Dominic Bilkey, the inexhaustible movement direction of Dan
Canham; the beautiful, haunting compositions of Benji Bower for the on-stage
band of David Ridley, Alex Heane and Matthew Churcher, who join in ensemble
scenes too and never take their gaze off the action.
Last, but very
definitely not least, is Melanie Marshall, the diva voice of Bertha Mason, a
one-woman Greek chorus whose versions of Mad About The Boy and Gnarls Barkley’s
Crazy will linger like Jane Eyre in the memory.
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April
weekends, has been cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event,
CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and
makers, who would have been showcasing their ceramics, collage, digital,
illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture
and textiles skills.
in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open
Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art and
craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home.
Addresses will not be included at this time.
Meanwhile, York Open Studios artists are finding their own way to respond to the shutdown by filling windows with their work instead. Look for #openwindowsyork2020 to locate them. “If you see one in your area while taking your daily exercise, take a picture and let us know,” they urge.
Jill Ford, ceramics
JILL began working as a potter in 2002, converting her garage into
a studio and establishing her company Jill Ford Ceramics.
Her contemporary white porcelain encompasses innovative
textural wall pieces, vases and bowls thrown on the wheel and a
range of candlesticks, her work marked by richly
textured decoration inspired by mountains and coastal rock formations.
Jill’s ceramics mirror the seasons, both in the processes she
uses and the changing nature of her landscapes, with winter’s extreme temperatures
making for a particularly impactful time of year.
A year spent trekking and sketching in the Scottish Highlands has provided
inspiration for a range of Mountain Edge pots that gives a sense of exposure
Jill, who is a member of the Northern Potters Association and East Riding
Artists, exhibits widely in galleries and shops around Britain and abroad,
including New York, and she shows work at ceramics and craft fairs too. She also delivers masterclasses to
potters’ groups and teaches ceramics in workshop sessions. Find out more at
Danny Knight, photography
AFTER participating in York Open Studios in 2017 with works from Berlin, documentary-style photographer Danny was all set to feature his street photography collated from New York and his home city of York in the 2020 event.
“Old York/New York is a series of still images documenting the mundane events of the people who walk the streets of these two famous cities, while contrasting their similarities/differences.”
His work seeks to capture “the everyday moments in these two amazing cities that are quite often missed due to the pace of life we live”.
As well as being a photographer, Danny
works for the creative film production company Hewitt & Walker and is a city
leader for Sofar Sounds York, the monthly venture that “reimagines live events
through curated secret performances in intimate York settings”. For more info,
seek out email@example.com.
Carrie Lyall, printmaking
CARRIE is a self-taught printmaker, based in Stamford Bridge, from
where she runs her Rose & Hen business.
Her linocut prints, illustrations
and handmade books are inspired by nature. Using botanical themes, she creates
delicate silhouettes and patterns in contrasting colours, employing oil-based
“I connect with nature while out walking, taking photographs or
collecting subject matter, to be sketched and transformed into design ideas at
home,” she says.
“My favourite part of the process is cutting the designs, and I
often get completely immersed in creating marks and lines.”
Carrie is a member of York Printmakers and a volunteer team
leader for Etsy Team York. 2020 would have been her first year as a York
Open Studios artist. Check her out at roseandhen.etsy.com
Alison Spaven, textiles
ALISON’S passion for needle
felting started six years ago during a chance encounter with the craft.
“I’ve been painting and drawing
for a lifetime, and even flirted briefly with ceramics, before a day out with
friends to a felting workshop on a canal barge changed my creative drive
forever,” she recalls.
“I was inspired to create and work with wet and needle felted wool by some great tuition from friends and professional tutors. Needle felting, in particular, rapidly became an obsession and the husband indoors insisted that new homes had to be found for things, as falling over yet another hare is not his favourite pastime!”
Alison’s experience with
sculpting in clay gave her the initial skills to work in 3D, before developing
her own textural technique when painting with wool. Created with
rare breed wool, using a single felting needle, Alison’s pictures consequently
have a sculptural quality, a deliberate carry-over from her initial 3D work.
Alison, who trades as The Crafty
Wytch from her Wytchwood Gallery and Studio, is a familiar face around Malton and
beyond from her work as a stalwart of The Press and Gazette and Herald advertising
team. Head to thecraftywytch.co.uk to discover more.
Kevin McNulty, printmaking
KEVIN describes himself as a compulsive printmaker, who explores
themes such as identity and the human condition in his bold limited-edition
printed collages, wherein he combines photography, arbitrary images, texture
and abstract pattern.
“Experimenting with process and technique, I interweave
modernity with the absurd to build complex and captivating designs,” he says. “I
find inspiration in the everyday. I build layers for my prints using anything I
can lay my hands on, including found items.” Even mobile phone parts and
working practice is underpinned by a desire to make “pure prints by pulling each
image by hand and embracing the fortuitous accidents that evolve each design as
it transitions from laptop to ink and paper”.
Those prints were to have featured for the first time in this month’s now cancelled York Open Studios. Find his work at kevinmcnultyprints.com.
TOMORROW: Gail Fox; Jane Atkin; Amy Stubbs; Emily Stubbs and Elliot Harrison.
POCKLINGTON Arts Centre’s crowdfunding appeal has raised more than half
its target already.
Launched in the immediate aftermath of the Market Place venue closing its
doors to the public on March 17, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the
crowdfunding page has accrued donations of £3,060
towards the £5,000 goal.
What’s more, Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) has received £2,000 in ticket
refund donations from customers for cancelled events.
Now PAC has thanked everyone for their support in
helping the venue ride out the tempest and come back stronger than ever, with
the hope of a good majority of shows being re-scheduled for the autumn and winter.
Director Janet Farmer said: “With the health and
safety of our staff, visitors, artists and volunteers being of the utmost
importance to us, Pocklington Arts Centre has temporarily closed its doors to
the public while we weather this storm.
“During this period, it is critical that we
continue to support our staff, artists and creative partners. We are working
closely with our peers across the region, and indeed the country, and are
determined that PAC will emerge from this challenge stronger and more vibrant
Janet continued: “The crowdfunding appeal will play an important part in this re-emergence, so we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has donated so far. Your support is greatly appreciated and we look forward to seeing you all again when we re-open.” To make a donation, visit: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/pac.
THE Harrogate International Festivals summer season will not go
ahead, a decision with “huge financial implications that place the future of the
festivals at risk”.
The Coronavirus pandemic has put paid to the Harrogate Music
Festival, Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Berwins Salon North,
Spiegeltent and Children’s Festival, as well as several outdoor theatre and
Announcing the cancellation with “deep regret and sadness”, chief
executive Sharon Canavar said: “This difficult decision was made after
carefully assessing several factors, but most importantly the health and safety
of everyone involved: our audience, artists, suppliers, partners, volunteers,
staff and the wider community.
“Many months of dedicated work went into planning this exceptional
season and we share in the disappointment that will be felt by the many
writers, musicians, thinkers, performers and festival-goers who were set to
join us in Harrogate.”
Her statement continued: “As a not-for-profit arts charity, we are reliant on our events programme and ticket income, alongside sponsor support and donor philanthropy, and so the cancellation of our main season has huge financial implications that place the future of our festivals at risk.
“But despite the unprecedented challenge we now face, our mission
to bring immersive and moving cultural experiences to as many people as
possible remains unchanged.”
International Festivals will continue “our unparalleled celebration” of crime
fiction with the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020, alongside
an extensive online programme of author interviews and more besides ahead of
the award announcement in July.
In addition, the HIF Player will be launched to allow everyone a virtual festival experience at home. This free online hub will bring together archive event recordings, digital book clubs, learning resources for children and activities for little ones, and it will be updated regularly with new content to keep audiences entertained.
executive’s statement continued: “Since 1966, we have proved an artistic force
to be reckoned with and a key cultural provider for the North of England with a
diverse year-round portfolio that celebrates world-class artists, champions new
talent and plays a vital part in the community with education outreach and
and culture help us understand what it means to be human and how to make sense
of life, and festivals are a vital part of this ecology. When this troubling
time passes, we will need – more than ever – the transformative power of the
arts to bring communities together, to inspire hope, to lift spirits and change
lives. We thank you for your support.”
The festival website, harrogateinternationalfestivals.com, now
carries the request Please Consider Making A Donation: “Support our arts charity
in this challenging time”.
LEEDS theatre company Slung Low are to
open a new art gallery with a difference this month.
Based in Holbeck, South Leeds, the
company will be setting up the LS11 Art Gallery to showcase the best
paintings, drawings and photographs created and chosen by the people of Holbeck
However, instead of displaying the
images on gallery walls, they will be placed on lamp posts for all to
Slung Low have asked people from the
two Leeds areas to email their image to the theatre company. Slung Low will
then arrange to come around and take a copy of it and then print the images on
special plastic board for display on lamp posts around Holbeck and Beeston.
Artistic director Alan Lane says: “Our
instinct at Slung Low is always to be useful and kind. For the last few weeks
that has primarily been about delivering food-bank parcels and helping people
get their prescription.
“We know that a hungry soul will find it
hard to be creative, to find joy, so the first part of our response has to be
making sure that people have their basic material needs met: and we will
continue that work until this is all over.
theatre makers we also understand the importance of storytelling and that there
are different ways to be useful.”
Alan continues: “LS11 Art Gallery is us
telling the story that this area – like all parts of this nation – is full of
creativity; that in every house are people who are brilliant, creative and
capable of profound beauty. We need to make sure we keep telling that story in
these challenging times.
“We’re going to open an art gallery on
the lamp posts of LS11 and the people who live here will make what we exhibit.
Let’s cheer ourselves up a bit.”
Founded in 2000, Slung Low specialises
in making epic productions in non-theatre spaces, often with large
community performance companies at their heart.
The company has relocated to The
Holbeck in South Leeds, the oldest working men’s club in Britain.
There, they run the bar as a
traditional members’ bar and the rest of the building as an open development
space for artists and a place where Slung Low invite other companies to present
their work that otherwise might not be seen in Leeds. All work presented at The
Holbeck is Pay What You Decide.
In Autumn 2018, Slung Low launched a cultural
community college based in Holbeck; a place where adults come to learn new
cultural skills, from stargazing to South Indian cooking, from carpentry to
singing in a choir. All workshops, supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, are
provided on a Pay What You Decide basis.
Slung Low are now volunteer guardians
of the city wards of Beeston and Holbeck, taking referrals from the Leeds City
Council Covid-19 helpline (0113 378 1877).
In turn, with help from the staff of
other arts organisations in Leeds, including Opera North, they are
delivering food and medicine to the vulnerable, elderly and those in
How to take part in the LS11 Art
IF you live in the Holbeck or Beeston
areas of Leeds and want your drawing, painting or photograph to be featured,
please take a picture of it.
Then send it to Slung Low by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by text
on 07704 582137. Slung Low will then arrange to come around to take a copy of
it for you.
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April
weekends, has been cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event,
CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and
makers, who would have been showcasing their ceramics, collage, digital,
illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture
and textiles skills.
in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open
Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art and
craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home.
Addresses will not be included at this time.
Ruth Beloe, painting
RUTH Beloe finds equal fulfilment
in figurative sculpture and still life paintings in oil.
She trained for three years at Charles H Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy, a fine art school modelled on the ateliers of 19th-century Paris, where she studied portrait and figurative drawing, painting and sculpting, using the “sight-size” technique.
On opening her studio in Ely, she began accepting portrait commissions in both charcoal and clay and was appointed artist-in-residence at the King’s School, Ely. She then worked in an artists’ foundry to better understand the processes and practicalities of lost wax casting for bronze to inform her own work in bronze.
She returned to Florence in 2009 and 2010 to develop her oil-painting technique at Studio Santo Spirito. Now she works from a studio in York, taking inspiration from Chardin and William Nicholson as she explores the inherent beauty of everyday items and objects from nature.
Note the reflective qualities of surfaces, the use of directed light to form appealing shadows and the play of refracted light in her paintings. Discover more at beloe.biz.
Milena Dragic, printmaking
BORN in Zagreb, Croatia, and now
living in York, polymath Milena is a printmaker, animator and performing artist.
She studied printmaking at Zagreb’s
Academy of Fine Arts, from 1971 to 1973, and combined arts at Brighton Polytechnic’s
faculty of art and design, from 1973 to 1976. Residencies and placements
ensued, along with more than 20 solo shows
in Britain, Croatia, Germany and Switzerland and participation in print exhibitions
in Britain, Poland, Brazil, Spain and South Korea.
“I perceive my work as a
dynamic representation of forces underlying physical reality and their
manifestations within everyday life,” says Milena, who prints on hand-made
paper. “My aim is to awaken the feeling of wonder and awe that I have
experienced during the process of gathering ideas and executing them in the
“My colour prints are all
relief prints: woodcuts, wood-engravings and linocuts. I like the simplicity of
the process. I print without a conventional press. My colour prints are done by
a reduction method, which means that all the colours are printed from the same
block. At the end of this process there is no lino left, so the edition is
Her contemporary, colourful
abstract work combines relief prints, animation and mixed media. Wearing her
other hats, she has worked as an art director and animator at Leeds Animation
Workshop, now works for Artlink West Yorkshire and is part of the York Dance
Collective. Paint the full picture at milena-dragic.co.uk.
Russell Bailey, mixed media
RUSSELL invited putative York Open Studios 2020 visitors to expect “a range of expressionistic interpretations of York Minster in mixed media”.
“The main work results from over
12 months’ work on cathedrals – York Minster in particular – involving many
site visits, plein air and studio-based work,” he says.
Favouring charcoal and mixed media, Russell embraces experimental ways of working and gestural mark-making. “Working expressively with freedom of marks with more considered drawn elements is key to how I process my experiences artistically,” he says.
“The work I do is often experimental,
often part destroyed and then re-created to produce a very personal
interpretation. In that respect, the work tends to reside in the hinterland
between the literal and pure abstraction. Mixing media seems to have become a
natural way through which I express myself.”
has exhibited previously at York Open Studios, the Great North Art Show, Kunsthuis
Gallery at The Dutch House, Crayke, and Blossom Street Gallery, York. His
latest artwork also embraces small abstract pieces based on beliefs and others
from art retreat locations. Take a look at russellbaileyfineart.co.uk.
Anthony Chappel-Ross, photography
ANTHONY is a familiar face behind the camera around York and beyond for his photojournalism for The Press, York, where he was an outstanding staff photographer, and other print media outlets too.
Since leaving journalism college in Sheffield in 2002, he has been shortlisted for more than 20 regional and national press awards: testament to his truly eye-catching talent.
For the past few years, he has
started to work for himself, choosing his clients and commissions. “This
freedom has allowed time for my own personal photographic interests to be
explored,” says Anthony.
For his second York Open Studios
exhibition, he had selected photographic images, predominantly in black and
white, that explore the contrast, form and pattern of Barcelona, Antoni Gaudi’s
Catalan Modernist architecture et al.
anthonychappelross.co.uk…and snap to it.
Helen Rye, jewellery
JEWELLERY designer and maker
Helen Drye works full time from her studio south of York, her designs inspired
by nearby Skipwith Common National Nature Reserve.
Establishing her Silver and Stone
Jewellery Design business in 2012, Yorkshire-born Helen’s collections have
their roots in this woodland, especially the birds and hares, her favourite
mushrooms and the moonlight.
While much of her work is made in
sterling silver, some is designed and carved in silver clay, adding unusual
features to the jewellery.
“My imagination is sparked
by the woodland and common beyond my studio, wondering what the ancient Bronze
Age people did, or the farmers grazing their sheep on the common land, or the Second
World War pilots who trained here before going off to fight their battles in the
sky,” says Helen.
“I try to imagine those
people walking between the trees, through that same mist, in the morning light
or the moonlight many years ago. I reflect this as though looking through my
windows; ‘windows’ that look through the woodland, the trees and the birds and
make you wonder what else is through there.”
Helen, by the way, also runs
jewellery-making workshops and wedding ring workshops. More info can be found
TOMORROW: Jill Ford; Danny Knight; Carrie Lyall; Alison Spaven and Kevin McNulty.
SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is taking its fun Easter activities online.
Amid the Covid-19 lockdown, the trust has had to suspend its usual drop-in activities at the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend, instead making them available via its website, scarboroughmuseumstrust.com, and on social media.
From Thursday, April 9, you can have a go at making your own “Roarsome”
Easter bonnet to wear with pride.
From Wednesday, April 15, you can gain inspiration from the trust’s
springtime artworks and make a flowery print to decorate your home.
Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning officer, Christine Rostron, says:
“All the activities are inspired by our collections and use everyday art
“We hope you have fun making things at
home and would love to find out how you’re getting on. Please share your
creations with us on social media: @Scarboroughmuseums (Facebook), @scarboroughmuseums
(Instagram) and @SMTrust (Twitter), using the hashtags #MuseumFromHome
“We’re really going to miss seeing all the families
and children who normally visit our venues over the holidays. Sending us
pictures is great way for us to keep in touch.”
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April
weekends, has been cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event,
CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and
makers, who would have been showcasing their ceramics, collage, digital,
illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture
and textiles skills.
in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open
Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art and
craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home.
Addresses will not be included at this time.
Zosia Olenska, painting
ZOSIA finds inspiration in
everyday landscapes, looking to find beauty in our daily surroundings. This
translates into “optimistic representational art” across the mediums of pen and
ink and acrylic painting.
“Most of all, I would like people
to come away from looking at my work feeling in some way uplifted,” says this
self-taught artist. “Painting, for me, is a self-reinforcing cycle of noticing the
beauty around us, then looking more to find it.”
The daughter of two artists, Zosia
came to work as an artist gradually through illustration, developing her
practice by experimenting in different media. She has exhibited at the New
Light Prize exhibition in North Yorkshire and with the Society of Women Artists
at the Mall Galleries, London, in 2018 and 2019. Last year too, she was a heat
artist in the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 competition.
In another string to her bow,
Zosia designs hand-drawn pen-and-ink illustrations for the eco-friendly Niche Snowboards.
Head this way for more info: zosiaolenska.com
Anna Cook, paper cuts
ANNA is a self-taught paper
cutter with a background in design and printmaking, whose work captures the
personalities of the natural world’s inhabitants.
Layering intricately cut sheets
of paper that she folds and sculpts and presents in deep box frames, she
continually challenges herself to achieve more detail with each piece.
When creating a new design, Anna
seeks inspiration from contemporary surface and pattern design and old
botanical illustrations, as well as “the magical world of nature”. Contact her
Leesa Rayton Design Plus, jewellery
AFTER many years of working in health research,
Leesa has made the leap into becoming a full-time jewellery designer. Now a
member of the Guild of Enamellers and British Society of Enamellers, she would
have been participating in York Open Studios for the first time this month.
“I use time-honoured
techniques to design and create unique pieces of jewellery from precious
metals, vitreous enamels, gemstones and beads,” she says. “My designs are
inspired by architecture and the natural world.”
Leesa is always seeking to expand her knowledge and to learn new
techniques at York School of Jewellery, where she has studied over the past 12
She is also a director of the Beautiful Splint Company CIC, a Tadcaster
business that makes orthotic splints for fingers. Check out leesaraytondesignplus.co.uk.
Karen J Ward, jewellery
LOOKING to escape the world of finance and return to her passion for creating art, Karen finally found her calling six years ago, re-training with Nik Stanbury and Julie Moss at York School of Jewellery, where she is now based.
Working with precious metals and
gemstones and using traditional skills, she first takes elements from her
drawings to then transform flat sheets of metal into “beautiful wearable art”
inspired by nature’s textures, shapes and curves.
Like Leesa Rayton (see above),
she produces orthotic splints for hands, wrists and fingers in her work as co-director
of the Beautiful Splint Company. Head to karenjward.co.uk to discover
Mark Azopardi, painting
MARK works mainly in pure watercolour, on occasion incorporating other media to produce highly detailed paintings and drawings.
His main inspiration comes from the colours and textures of all elements of the natural world, sometimes finding beauty in the simplest of things. Discover him via email@example.com.
TOMORROW: Ruth Beloe; Milena Dragic; Russell Bailey; Anthony Chappel-Ross and Helen Drye.
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April
weekends, has been cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event,
CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and
makers, who would have been showcasing their ceramics, collage, digital,
illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture
and textiles skills.
Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art and craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home. Addresses will not be included at this time.
Claire Cooper, photography
CLAIRE’S work explores women represented through the medium of analogue photography, screen print and intaglio printmaking techniques.
“Portraits are special because, by definition, there are at least two people involved in their making: the artist and the sitter,” says Claire.
“Neither has complete control
over the other; portraiture becomes a negotiation between parties, a dance of
wills that results in a collaboration of sorts.”
Claire, who completed an BA in
Photography in 2000 and an MA in 2013, uses sitters both known and unknown in
her experiments with different formats of photographic portraiture.
She has shown work in group shows
across the country, and away from photography, she has a background in the
community arts sector, predominantly with DARTS in Doncaster. Find
out more via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zoe Catherine Kendal, painting
ZOE is a multi-disciplinary
artist and jewellery maker from a family steeped in artistic pursuits.
Great-granddaughter of Bernard Leach,
“the father of British studio pottery”, she attained a BA in jewellery design from Central
Saint Martins, in London, the city where she was raised before moving to York.
Her York Open Studios show would
have focused on her paintings: works that combine experimental, abstract
approaches with colourful, contemporary representations of portraiture,
seascapes and cultural heritage, capturing feeling, narrative and identity
across varied material and media.
Overall, her experimental practice is material-led, combining pastel and paint on canvas, paper and wood; precious and non-precious metals, ceramics and beads with leather and yarns.
Zoe’s paintings have been exhibited at According To McGee, York, and Bils & Rye, Kirkbymoorside; her jewellery at CoCA at York Art Gallery, Lottie Inch Gallery, York, and Kabiri, Marylebone, London. Cast an eye over her work at zoekendall.com.
Cathy Denford, painting
BROUGHT up with wild nature in
New Zealand, Cathy trained and worked as a director in theatre and television
Since settling in York in 1998, fine art has been her strong focus, shaped by
initial study in printmaking with Peter Wray and painting with Jane Charlton at
York St John University and later at Chelsea College of Arts and the Slade.
First exhibiting at York Open
Studios in 2006, she creates oil and mixed-media paintings suggestive of movement,
set against stillness, often of birds in landscape.
Combining figurative and abstract
styles, with elements of Cubism, her work explores space and time passing.
Cathy’s paintings have been shown at galleries in Leeds, Scarborough and Leeds, Zillah Bell in Thirsk and the Norman Rea Gallery and music department at the University of York. More info at cathydenford.info.
Hacer Ozturk, ceramics
HACER is a Turkish ceramics and
iznik tiles artist from Istanbul, now settled in York, where 2020 would have
marked her York Open Studios debut.
Her work combines traditional and contemporary free-style Turkish ceramics, both formed with the same techniques that were first applied thousands of years ago.
Latterly, she has started painting, drawing on traditional iznik tile motifs. Aside from her ceramic creativity, she works as a researcher in Istanbul. Seek out email@example.com.
Chrissie Dell, printmaking
CHRISSIE is a printmaker inspired
by the environment, making multi-layered monoprints, monotypes, collagraphs and
Moku-Hanga (Japanese woodcuts).
She uses such techniques as
collage, chine collé, viscosity, stencils, natural pigments and materials to create
textural prints that interpret the forms,
colours and textures of the natural world.
Growing up in Edinburgh and on the west coast of Scotland, Chrissie first studied printmaking in the early 1970s at the Froebel Institute, London, but only set up her studio in 2013 after further study at Leith School of Art and Edinburgh Printmakers, her studies taking in painting, drawing, artists’ books, printmaking and creative textiles.
Chrissie has exhibited in Edinburgh, as well as at Blossom Street Gallery and Pyramid Gallery in York, and she is a member of York Printmakers and York Art Workers’ Association.
2020 would have been her third participation in York Open Studios. Still in the diary, however, is the York Printmakers Autumn Print Fair at York Cemetery Chapel on September 26 and 27.
TOMORROW: Zosia Olenska; Anna Cook; Leesa Rayton Design; Karen J Ward and Mark Azopardi
DALBY Forest’s summer concerts, featuring Leeds band
Kaiser Chiefs on June 26 and a double bill of Will Young and James Morrison the
next night, are off.
Indeed, the entire Forest Live series presented by
Forestry England nationwide, has been cancelled, yet another summer calendar
regular chalked off by the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Ticket holders will
be refunded automatically.
A Forestry England statement released today explains: “We are sorry to disappoint the Forest Live fans who were hoping to see bands in the nation’s forests this summer, but we have cancelled Forest Live 2020 to keep everyone safe, in line with recent Government guidance on the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
“We really hope that everyone’s support to fight COVID-19 means the situation will have improved by the summer. However, as well as our valued customers, we work with a large number of volunteers, artists and contractors, to make these concerts happen and have taken this decision in the interest of safety for everyone involved.”
The statement continues: “Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to reschedule our concerts. Ticket holders will be contacted by their point of purchase and will be automatically refunded. We ask for your patience and understanding at this busy time.
“We would like to send our deepest apologies to everyone who was hoping to see a Forest Live 2020 show. We were very excited to welcome you into forests across England to see some incredible live music.
“Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you back to Forest Live in 2021.”
Nationwide,Forest Live 2020 would have featured headline performances by Madness, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Keane, Jack Savoretti and Rag’n’Bone Man, as well as Kaiser Chiefs, Morrison and Young.
These June concerts would have been spread between Dalby Forest, near Pickering; Bedgebury Pinetum, Kent; Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire; Sherwood Pines Forest, Nottinghamshire; Thetford Forest, Suffolk, and Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire.
Income from Forest Live concerts helps to sustain Forestry England’s woodland for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and trees to grow.
Forestry England, an agency of the Forestry Commission, manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, welcoming 230 million visits every year and shaping landscapes as England’s largest land manager. For more information, visit forestryengland.uk; for further Forest Live details, go to forestryengland.uk/music.
Did you know?
KAISER Chiefs previously played Dalby Forest in 2016; Will Young in 2012 and James Morrison in 2007.
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April weekends,
has had to be cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event,
CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and
makers, who would have been showcasing ceramics, collage, digital,
illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture
Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art and craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home. Addresses will not be included at this time.
Tim Pearce, mixed media
AFTER a fulfilling career in art
education in South Yorkshire schools, Tim latterly has expanded his own
creativity to include ceramics as well as painting, all supported by academic
degrees in the history of art and the visual arts at MA level.
His paintings and sculptural
ceramics are both informed by a Cubist sensitivity to form, colour and rhythm,
displayed in studio, house and garden.
Since moving to York eight years
ago he has held four solo shows, in addition to exhibiting regularly across
Yorkshire with Leeds Fine Artists. Head to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Linda Harvey, textiles
INSPIRED by frequent trips to the
Yorkshire Air Museum, at Halifax Way, Elvington, York, Linda’s latest work
explores rustic textures and pattern in framed textile art pieces, wall
hangings and handmade cards.
Linda, who studied textiles and surface design, graduating in 1994, often will work on several pieces at a time and enjoys an expressive and experimental way of working. She layers, rust-dyes, prints and distresses her fabrics and adds embellishments to create abstract one-off pieces.
Linda has taught textiles for more
than 20 years and is a member of York Textile Artists. Contact her at email@example.com or via
John Watts, furniture
JOHN has been designing and
making contemporary furniture since 1996 for both private and corporate
Working from a 3,000 sq.ft workshop
on the outskirts of York, he uses a wide range of materials, predominately
sustainably forested hardwoods from both England and abroad, while often
incorporating glass, metals and resins too.
Undertaking domestic and
commercial projects, he hand-builds pieces of furniture of longevity and value.
“My main aim is to create interesting, individual and well-crafted furniture
that satisfies customer requirements,” says John, who has a bespoke service
“My design influences are many,
having a history in antiques, fashion design and design education,” he adds. To
knock on wood, head to johnwattsfurniture.co.uk.
Wilf Williams, furniture
DESIGN should be fun ,
interesting, practical and beautiful, says York furniture maker and designer
Bristol-born Wilf studied furniture design after moving to York in 1996, since when he has produced hand-made furniture inspired by traditional cabinet making, Scandinavian furniture, contemporary clean lines, modernist architecture and minimalist sculpture and art.
Wilf has worked on all manner of commissions, designing and crafting distinctive, bespoke free-standing and fitted furniture, using a diverse range of materials, predominantly sustainable forested hardwoods. Visit his website at wilfwilliams.co.uk.
Jerry Scott, collage
JERRY constructs small and medium-sized
abstract collages from printed paper originated by the artist, then pasted on
to cartridge paper, using conservation-grade wheat starch paste. Sometimes, he
applies hand-colouring too.
“I started making collages
about five years ago, in parallel with painting,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in surface pattern
and all sorts of decoration. With the freedom and sophistication of modern
digital technology, it is now possible to produce single sheets of high
quality, crisp and colour-rich printed papers.” Cue collages.
Jerry moved to York 33
years ago. Earlier he had studied theology
briefly at Cambridge University, then fine art at Norwich School of Art and St
Martin’s School of Art, London, where he lived and worked before heading north.
He has a variety of abstract
prints for sale too. View his work at jerryscottpaintings.co.uk.
TOMORROW: Claire Cooper; Zoe Catherine Kendal; Cathy Denford; Hacer Ozturk and Chrissie Dell.
CREATIVITY cannot be closed down, says
Hull Truck Theatre, as it launches an At Home community hub from April 6.
Over the coming weeks, Hull Truck will run
a programme of drama and creative activities to keep audiences and communities
entertained and inspired during the Coronavirus lockdown.
This will involve a stream of “engaging
and accessible content”, ranging from A Play A Day and Writing Workouts to 3 Minute
Theatre, Educational Resource Packs and Screening past shows, all to be found
on the new page hulltruck.co.uk/hull-truck-at-home/.
The theatre’s statement says: “Hull
Truck Theatre are passionate about the positive and transformative power of
theatre and believe that having the opportunity to take part in
creative activities is good for everyone’s wellbeing, outlook and
“The team have prepared activities to
help with home schooling; opportunities for all ages to learn and
develop writing skills, and we’ll be streaming some of our past shows to
be enjoyed from the comfort of your sofa.
“Hull Truck Theatre hope that taking
part in them will help participants to feel creative, connected and part of our
online community hub.”
Here is a
guide to the Hull Truck Theatre At Home programme:
A Play A Day: Play-reading activity for all
EVERY weekday from April 6 to 24 at
10am, a short play will be released, written by local
playwrights. The plays were commissioned by Hull Truck for various projects
over recent years; the theatre is delighted to share these with a wider
Participants can read these plays on
their own, out loud with the people in their household or with friends by phone
or a video-conferencing platform. Each play will come with notes to help
the reader, so, even if they have never read a play before, they can enjoy
it as much as a theatre professional.
First up will be Lydia Marchant’s 2009,
written as part of a youth theatre project, Ten, and performed in March 2019 by
55 members of Hull Truck Theatre’s Young Company.
Ten celebrated the ten-year anniversary
of Hull Truck moving to Ferensway and featured ten ten-minute plays, each based
on a year in the decade 2009 to 2019.
The next four plays lined up were part
of Ten too: Ellen Brammar’s KidnappingNick; Lydia Marchant’s 2011; Josh Overton’s 2012 and Marchant’s 2013.
Workout with Tom Saunders: Daily tasks for writers of all ages and
NEW writing is a core part of Hull
Truck’s artistic programme, the theatre working with writers at any stage
of their career and regularly staging or presenting world premieres, new
adaptations and cutting-edge new writing from around the country.
From April 6, associate director Tom
Saunders will post a daily blog with a writing activity for people to
complete at home. Writers of any age will be encouraged to complete the task,
and, if they wish, can share footage of themselves reading their work on social
3 Minute Theatre
FOR those still needing their “fix of great theatre”,
Hull Truck Theatre is asking some of its associate artists to record a short
monologue from a play of their choice, to be shared across Hull Truck’s online
Nicola Stephenson, from the cast of Jim Cartwright’s
Two, Hull Truck’s 2020 co-production with Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre,
and writer-performer Hester Ullyart have shared their monologues already.
These packs include plot synopsis, character breakdown, information about
authors and classroom activities to inspire teachers or
HULL Truck is digging through its archives
and is excited to share recordings of favourite shows over the years.
First up will be a screening of Paragon
Dreams from 2019, written and performed by Hull artist
Hester Ullyart, directed by artistic director Mark Babych.
This tense thriller about a woman
returning to Hull to face the ghosts of her past will be streamed on YouTube on
Wednesday, April 8 at 7pm. Watch Hull
Truck Theatre’s social media channels via @hulltruck for the viewing link.
To engage on social media with these
activities, tag @hulltruck for all platforms and use the relevant hashtags: #PlayADay,
#WritingDaily, #3MinuteTheatre, #HTTEducation and #HTTStream.
Launching Hull Truck Theatre At
Home, Mark Babych says: “In this
time of uncertainty, it’s easy to feel alone. As a theatre family we are
stronger together, with Hull Truck Theatre At Home we are hoping to reach out
to our local communities – while still complying with Social Distancing.
“Even though our doors may be closed, we hope to continue inspiring people to enjoy the arts from their own home while also connecting with each other. Whether people are hosting their own online viewing parties or using video calls to go through the exercises together, we hope to start a conversation and help us all feel a lot better in these times. Stay well, stay safe and we look forward to welcoming you back soon.”
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April weekends,
has had to be cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event, CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and makers, who would have been showcasing their ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture and textiles skills.
Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art will have been created for the event and still needs a new home. Home addresses will not be included at this time.
Sarah K Jackson, textiles
SARAH specialises in
transforming aged fabrics and precious items into original “keepsake” artworks.
For York Open Studios 2020, she assembled Headstrong, a series of new pieces
inspired by old photographs of Russian women in national dress.
Why Russian women? Sarah
has a special affinity for Russian design from studying the language and
literature at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and she both lived and
travelled there extensively during the 1990s.
After completing a City
& Guilds’ qualification in creative techniques in 2013, she set up her vintage
and handmade textile art business, Winifred Taylor, named after her
grandmother, who taught her to sew.
Sarah presents workshops
and is a member of York Art Workers’ Association and two textile and mixed
media groups, exhibiting with them regularly. Find out more at
Kate Pettitt, painting
KATE’S paintings and drawings on paper explore the natural environment and the human form and are often elemental, instinctive and textural.
She works from life and en plein air, then referencing her sketches, studies, notes and collected objects when back in the studio, where she uses oils, graphite, acrylic and watercolour.
Inspired by movement, emotion, shifting light and changing
weather conditions, her work aims to capture the character and uniqueness of
people and place.
Kate’s background and training is in graphic
design and illustration, and she has worked as a designer for more than 20
years, running her design practice, Bivouac, for 12 years.
This year’s York Open Studios would have been Kate’s chance to introduce visitors to her new studio in Holtby. Instead, in the Coronavirus lockdown, she is now working from home. Take a look at her work at katepettitt.co.uk.
Reg Walker, sculpture
REG crafts abstract sculptures,
sometimes contemplative, sometimes playful, mostly in Corten steel, together with
small pieces for the hand in bamboo and distinctive collages in natural
He took up sculpture when inspired by volunteering at the Yorkshire
Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, where he then took part in hot and cold metal
Originally from Ireland, Reg settled in Yorkshire in 1988, working in social research and organisation development. He had a studio at Kildale on the North York Moors before moving last year to a studio in Holtby, where he would have been making his York Open Studios debut. Seek him out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Constance Isobel, jewellery
CONNIE Howarth, of
Constance Isobel, uses gold, silver and high-quality gemstones, sourced from
ethical UK retailers, in her handmade jewellery. Traditional techniques are
applied to create her exclusive precious metal work, also informed by her interest in ancient adornments and artefacts.
Connie had formal, workshop-based training in traditional jewellery-making techniques. Earlier she studied fine art, which now seeps into her metalwork with use of colour drawing on her love of the natural world. Delicate pattern work and organic shapes decorate her jewellery throughout each collection. Her jewel of a website is at constanceisobel.com
Chris Utley, ceramics
CHRIS creates hand-built pots,
carved, scraped and polished, then painted with slips and underglaze colours.
The finished work is fired several times to achieve a strong depth of colour.
She studied ceramics for three years in college and has been making pots in her stable workshop for many years. She has taught adults, been artist-in-residence in primary schools and run many workshops, as well as exhibiting widely in both Britain and Norway.
Look at chrisutleyceramics.portfoliobox.me for more details.
TOMORROW’S FIVE: Tim Pearce; Linda Harvey; John Watts; Wilf Williams and Jerry Scott.
LIAM Byrne and Jonas Nordberg’s 2019 concert at the National Centre for Early Music, York, will be streamed online on Saturday at 1pm.
This follows the NCEM’s live stream of two Early Music Day 2020
concerts, performed behind closed doors at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, by harpsichordist Steven
Devine, playing Bach Preludes and Fugues, and later by The Brabant Ensemble in
an evening programme ofA Monk’s Life:
Music From The Cloisters, 1550-1620.
Those concerts drew more than 63,000 views from across the world. “Messages arrived from Japan, Indonesia, South Africa, from people in lockdown in Italy and others waking up to wonderful music in the United States,” says NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin.
This Saturday’s streaming will feature the 2019 Early Music Day concert by virtuoso Irish viol player Liam Byrne and Swedish lutenist Jonas Nordberg. “The delicious sonic combination of viol and lute from 17th century France made for an incredible evening last year and was also broadcast by BBC Radio 3,” says Delma.
“Now, music lovers can join us again for this fabulous feast by simply logging on to our Facebook page @yorkearlymusic.”
Described by the New York Times as “defying expectations
with an obscure instrument and a hipster look”, Byrne is no stranger to the NCEM,
where last year he collaborated with the Walmgate venue on the NCEM Young
Composers Award 2019, working with the finalists and later performing their
work at a concert in Bristol.
Byrne, professor of viola da gamba at the Guildhall
School in London, is regarded by many as the leading viol player
of his generation; lutenist and guitarist Nordberg has performed all over the world,
with many recordings to his name.
“Last year’s concert at the NCEM was one of the highlights of
York’s cultural calendar, with electrifying performances by both musicians,”
“Now, in these strange times, we are discovering more and more how the power of music is bringing us together and lifting our spirits. We hope you can join us for this wonderful concert by these two extraordinary musicians. Our doors may be temporarily closed but we will continue to bring a selection of fabulous music over the coming weeks.”
INNOVATIVE Leeds theatre company Imitating The Dog are responding to the
Coronavirus restrictions by going online with a fortnightly streaming.
Their cutting-edge work from the past 20 years will be made available through
their website, imitatingthedog.co.uk, kicking off tomorrow (April 3) with
projection project Oh, The Night!.
Every fortnight on Fridays for the foreseeable future, Imitating The Dog
will release the next in a selection from their theatre performances and sited
Look out, in particular, for 2020’s Night Of The Living Dead – Remix, a shot-for-shot stage re-creation of George A Romero’s cult 1968 zombie movie, made in co-production with Leeds Playhouse, streaming on April 17.
Further performances will include Arrivals And Departures, a strange and fantastical bedtime story, commissioned in 2017 by Hull: UK City of Culture to look at the East Yorkshire port’s legacy of migration, on May 1, and 6 Degrees Below The Horizon, a macabre and playful tale involving sailors, pimps, barflies, chorus girls and nightclub singers, on May 15. Projection project Yorkshire Electric, on May 29, uses clips from the Yorkshire Film Archive.
Further productions will be announced through social media in the coming
weeks. Each will remain on the website and can be viewed on a Pay-What-You-Like
The resulting income will go into a development fund to facilitate the company
supporting freelance artists and practitioners to create new work.
Co-artistic director Simon Wainwright says: “With the end of our own Night Of The Living Dead – Remix tour being cancelled and so, so many events and performances now postponed, we thought we’d make some of our past shows available for people to watch online.
“We’re in a lucky position to have some fantastic
recordings of past work, mostly filmed by our friends Shot By Sodium. It’s
obviously no substitute for the real thing but in these isolated days, and
until we can get together in a room again, we hope these videos will provide
joy, thinking and entertainment in equal measure.”
Fusing live performance with digital technology, Imitating The Dog’s two
decades of ground-breaking work for theatres and other spaces has been seen by
hundreds of thousands of people at venues, outdoor festivals and events across
Among other past productions are Hotel Methuselah, A Farewell To Arms and
Heart Of Darkness, while their sited work has included light festivals.
ONE wintry night, a bedtime story is being told, but it’s late, time for
the light to go off, time for the story to pause until tomorrow night.
However, one child starts to wonder… one child at first, but then
another… and another. It might be bedtime and it might be late but without the
end to the story how can they possibly sleep?
What’s happened to the characters? Where have they gone? Are they just
stranded there, waiting for earth to turn its circle, so their story can carry
on the next night?
The children decide to find out. They creep past the grown-ups, out of
the house and to who knows where to find out what happens and how their story
They find bears and foxes, monsters and ghouls, elves and wizards all
stranded in the night, hiding or hunting, not knowing who to scare or where to
run. All stuck in a place between.
Together, they go on a journey through the night, to the morning and to
the safety of the light.
Performed in Hull, Oh, The Night! combined elements of bedtime stories gathered from around the north of Europe to create a new fable for 2018. The work was commissioned by Absolutely Cultured for Urban Legends: Northern Lights and featured a community chorus and soundtrack from Finnish composer Lau Nau.
Friday, April 17: Night Of The Living Dead – Remix
IN 1968, Night Of the Living Dead started out as a low-budget independent horror movie by George A Romero, telling the story of seven strangers taking refuge from flesh-eating ghouls in an isolated farmhouse.
Fifty years on, seven performers enter the stage armed with cameras, a
box of props and a rail of costumes. Can they recreate the ground-breaking
film, shot-for-shot before our eyes and undertake the seemingly impossible?
Requiring 1,076 edits in 95 minutes, it is an heroic struggle. Success
will demand wit, skill and ingenuity and is by no means guaranteed.
Night Of The Living Dead – Remix is an Imitating The Dog and Leeds Playhouse co-production, presented by courtesy of Image Ten, Inc.
Friday, May 1: Arrivals And Departures
IMITATING The Dog’s work for Hull: UK City of Culture 2017 put a poetic spin on the history of arrivals in and departures from the city. The piece looked at the past of migration from a contemporary perspective, exploring the journeys that have gathered a population and moulded a landscape.
Using The Deep, in Hull, as both canvas and building blocks, Arrivals And
Departures pulled together strands of the complex and universal issues of
migration as a wider subject matter.
The work was created as part of the Made In Hull opening
celebrations for Hull: UK City of Culture.
Friday, May 15: 6 Degrees Below The Horizon
THIS macabre and playful tale of sailors, pimps, barflies, chorus girls
and nightclub singers is a startling and visually stunning work, where the
audience views the action through windows and moving frames. In doing so, they piece
together a modern fable of failed dreams, lost love and the guilt of absent
Building on the successes of Hotel Methuselah and Kellerman,
in 2012 the company created an immersive experience for audiences with a
captivating fusion of cinema and theatre.
Part French film, part Edwardian vaudeville, and drawing on the works of
Genet, Wedekind, and Brecht,6 Degrees Below The Horizon undertakes
a delightful and twisted voyage into a shadowy world wherein there are no
Friday, May 29: Yorkshire Electric
YORKSHIRE Electric travels from the dales to the coast on board the
footage of the Yorkshire Film Archive.
Using video mapping, intricate lighting and a soundtrack from the Leeds band Hope & Social, the show transformed the Spa Theatre, Scarborough, offering the audience the opportunity to wander through 100 years of Yorkshire lives and landscapes, from the farming hills to the holiday beaches and back again.
Bringing together Imitating The Dog and architectural lighting
specialist Phil Supple, the piece offered the opportunity to enjoy rarely seen
footage of a century of Yorkshire life in your own time.
country singer-songwriter Twinnie will go ahead with the April 17 launch of her
debut album, Hollywood Gypsy, even amid the Coronavirus lockdown.
it took the West End musical leading light, model, Hollyoaks soap star and film
actress ten years to land a record contract with big hitters BMG.
very excited and it’s come around really quickly since I released my first EP
[Better When I’m Drunk] last March,” says Twinnie, 32, who first took to the York
stage as Twinnie-Lee Moore at the age of four.
current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s a weird time, but I’m a
new artist, I’ve waited so long to make an album, and right now, more than
ever, I feel I need music, we need music.
be easy to panic, but I’ve found I’ve connected more than ever with my fans on
to have played a sold-out home-city gig at The Crescent on March 22 to showcase
Hollywood Gypsy, but the Coronavirus pandemic put paid to her debut headline tour,
now re-arranged for the autumn. Glasgow, London, Manchester, Birmingham and
Bristol await, before a Crescent crescendo on November 29, with tickets
perform, however, at the prestigious Country2Country (C2C) Festival in Berlin
on March 7 and 8, and coming next was a C2C show at the O2 Arena, London, on March
14. “That would have been a really big deal for me, being able to promote my
album and tour, so it’s a real downer, but I’m just really grateful that
there’s still light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s good that we’ve managed
to re-schedule the tour,” she says.
would have it, the C2C cancellation led to a prompt invitation to fill the void
in Twinnie’s diary with a live set on BBC Radio 2’s The Country Show with Bob
Harris on March 12. “Bob has been a really big supporter of mine,” she says.
“He was the first DJ to support me on the radio, even before I had a recording
contract. I just sent him a track and he played it!”
first trod the boards in York when attending the late Miss Isobel Dunn’s dance
school, started playing a keyboard at seven and then performed in the Grand
Opera House pantomime dance ensemble. She progressed from roles as Bet in
Oliver! in 2001 and Lilly in Annie in 2002 in the Grand Opera House Summer Youth
Project to playing Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz in 2003.
“I was 16 and I thought
I might have been too tall for Dorothy but the director, Simon Barry, said I
was the right choice,” she recalls.
month later, the former Joseph Rowntree School pupil was leaving behind her Haxby
Road home for three years of dance and musical theatre studies at Phil
Winston’s Theatre Works in Blackpool.
West End roles ensued in We Will Rock You and the short-lived Desperately Seeking Susan, and in April 2009, now 21, she returned home to the Grand Opera House as 1920s’ Chicago double murderess and aloof nightclub singer Velma Kelly in the national tour of Chicago.
Her face greeted the London Underground
throng on Chicago’s trademark black-and-white posters too and she had a year as
the Latino character Jazmin in Flashdance in the original London cast at the
Shaftsbury Theatre from autumn 2010.
Twinnie sang Miley Cyrus’s The Climb when competing on BBC One talent show The Voice in March 2012, failing to hit the heights alas with an early exit. After film roles in Iron Clad 2 and Strangelove in 2014, she made her soap debut as racy Porsche McQueen in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks in November that year, playing her for a year.
A further screen role followed in The
Wife, the Oscar-nominated Glenn Close film, but all the while, Twinnie was
drawn to making music. “To be honest, music was probably the first thing I
started out wanting to do, which people don’t know about. But people pay their
dues to pay their mortgage,” she says.
“Even when I was doing We Will Rock You
at 19 with Brian May, performing eight shows a week, I was playing country
songs in dive bars too at the weekend.”
Now dividing her time between London and
Nashville, Twinnie is living out that wish to put her song-writing to the fore.
“I’ve been on stage since I was four years old, and my dad introduced me to the
music of some of the best songwriters. Like my first gig was Gilbert
O’Sullivan,” she says.
“And I always loved musicals too. I grew
up watching Hollywood movie musicals, especially Judy Garland, which is one of
the reasons I’ve called the album Hollywood Gypsy.”
Determination to succeed marked out
Twinnie from a young age. “Even at eight, I wrote down the addresses of the
Sony Music and Universal record company labels. Then one of my poems got
published at school. I always wanted to tell stories,” she says.
“I got told you have to do everything for
what you do to work. You can’t just stand there and sing. I always want people
to feel entertained when I do a show.
“I don’t think there are many ‘triple
threat’ performers like me, so I want to tell the story, not just in the song,
but in the performance too.”
Country music might not have been an
obvious outlet for a York singer and songwriter, but Twinnie says: “For me,
country music was always big. Johnny Cash; Dolly Parton, one of the great
songwriters; Shania Twain and now Taylor Swift,” she says.”
Twinnie has been travelling to
Nashville, Tennessee, for the past six or seven years, leading to her co-writing in the capital of country with Grammy
Award-winning writers Nathan Chapman, Liz Rose and Dave Barns.
“I also wrote with Ben
Earle, before he formed The Shires with Crissie Rhodes, and two of my songs
with him, Black And White and First Flight Out, ended up on their first album,
Brave,” she says.
Now, after winning Best
Breakthrough Act at the 2019 British Country Music Association awards and a
support slot on Kiefer Sutherland’s tour, everything comes to fruition for
Twinnie on Hollywood Gypsy.
This is a thoroughly modern country album, made with the likes of Little Mix, One Direction and Britney Spears producer Peter Hammerton, and recorded in Nashville, London and Sweden,with such song titles as Better When I’m Drunk, Type Of Girl, Whiplash, Lie To Me and I Love You Now Change.
“Every genre changes
and country music is now so diverse, but everyone appreciates a good melody,
strong lyrics, and that’s why people really respect country music,” says
Twinnie, who loves the candour of country songs.
“Coming from the North, I’m always
looking to make a real connection. That’s why I write so honestly, talking
about all my faults,” she says.
“I have no shame in highlighting my
flaws and being vulnerable: there’s a strength in vulnerability when we can all
connect with it. Each song shows a different side of my personality: I either
want to break someone’s heart or make them dance.”
Returning to the album title, Twinnie says: “It
pretty much sums me up. As well as my love of Hollywood musicals, I’m a
traveller by nature and by heritage, so I’m quite free. Hollywood Gypsy is about me, my
life, my artistry.
“I’m representing my dad’s heritage, my mum’s heritage, and I’m very proud of that heritage. It’s who I am and why I’m free spirited.
“All of it, whether I’m acting, dancing, modelling
or singing, I’m just not afraid to push my boundaries because, when you feel
you’re getting out of your depth, that’s when the magic happens.”
Recording in Nashville, London and Sweden adds to
Twinnie being a Hollywood Gypsy, she suggests. “I feel I’m a bit of a musical
gypsy, taking from different genres, growing up listening to Tupac, Gilbert O’Sullivan,
Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Joel, Shania Twain,” she says. “Obviously Queen too: I’m
always so grateful to Brian May for when I did We Will Rock You.”
In the Coronavirus
lockdown, Twinnie has set herself a three-week challenge that began a week ago to
listen to an album a day and then pick her favourite song from each one to
learn how to play it. “I never have time to do things like this, so I’m using
this time to grow and get inspired,” she says. “I’m also trying to learn
Along with many
musicians, she is “trying to find new ways to do things at the moment”. Such
as? “I’ve written a song on FaceTime with Dave Stewart, from the Eurythmics,”
Twinnie reveals. “I’d never met him before, but he’s from Sunderland, I’m from
York, so we had that banter of being northerners together!”
the diary for July 11 is Twinnie’s appearance at Pocklington Arts Centre’s
Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington (an event subject to further Coronavirus
updates), but what’s coming next for Twinnie? “I was meant to be going to
America to make an EP in Nashville, and that recording will still happen, but I
may now have to find a way of doing it remotely,” she says.
Looking further ahead, she says: “Hollywood Gypsy is the first chapter. Next year will be the next half of the story. So it’ll be like a double album.”
Did you know?
new video for I Love You Now Change, she is seen signing divorce papers.
“I put my ex’s name on the papers when we shot
the video for a laugh, but some people actually thought it was real,” she says.
“Just to clarify, I have never been married and Boris killed off the
socialising and dating scene, so looks like I won’t be in a white dress anytime
in the video is played by Gustav Wood. Watch it at twinnieofficial.com.
How did The Press
reviewer judge 16-year-old Twinnie-Lee Moore’s lead performance as Dorothy in
the Grand Opera House Summer Youth Project’s The Wizard Of Oz in York in August
“Twinnie-Lee displays supremely confident skills in stage movement; her Kansas accent is spot-on too, and once her voice fully warms up after Over The Rainbow, she sings with expression, albeit in the modern pop style that might better suit The Wiz.”
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April
weekends, has had to be cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event,
CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and
makers, who would have been showcasing ceramics, collage, digital,
illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture
Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art will have been created for the event and still needs a new home. Addresses will not be included at this time.
Dee Thwaite, painting
YORK Open Studios
newcomer Dee uses acrylic paint, inks, graphite and charcoal in her sea and
landscape paintings and drawings, marked by expressive skies, storms and the
Mainly self-taught, this contemporary abstract artist expresses her love of the North Yorkshire coastline on canvas, board and paper in works that combine both a physical and emotional response when she paints, predominantly with her hands, as opposed to brushes. Contact Dee via email@example.com.
Anna Vialle, drawing
INSPIRED by the style
and colours of both Japanese woodblock and Victorian prints, Anna limits
herself to drawing insects, birds, landscapes, anatomy and trees.
Anna had trained in art education in 1997. Twenty-two years later, when trying to relax after working difficult shifts as a mental-health nurse, she started a pen and watercolour illustration of 24 individually drawn moths.
Exploring the connection between repetition and focus, she began using dots to create her artwork, whereupon a stress-free style of art emerged. Cue a “more relaxed” mental-health nurse! Visit annavialle.co.uk for more info.
Rosie Bramley, painting
ROSIE’S colourful paintings explore her devotion and connection to the land and sea. Gestural marks dance around the surface of each painting as she creates abstract works inspired by nature.
Rosie studied fine art painting
and printmaking, graduating from Bretton Hall College, University of Leeds, in
1996. Now head of art at Driffield Secondary School and Sixth Form in
East Yorkshire, where she teaches both fine art and photography, she has exhibited
regularly in York, latterly at Fossgate Social, City Screen and Angel on the
Her first Open Studios
show since 2011 would have featured new works inspired by the landscape. Her website,
rosiebramley.com, divides her work into Abstracts, The Cruel Sea and Mountains.
Tabitha Grove, painting
SELECTED for York Open Studios
for the first time, Tabitha uses bold colour, contrast, ink, watercolour, gold
leaf and collage on handmade paper to explore perceptions of the body and how
they can be challenged and celebrated.
Her career as an actor and costume designer for film and theatre has informed Tabitha’s passion for storytelling and her fascination with the way our bodies interact with our environments.
Tabitha’s career portfolio career extends to having
co-managed Look Gallery, in Helmsley, and now working in piano restoration,
where she learns rare skills that influence her art.
Each experience has informed Tabitha’s style, she says,
leading to her “bringing diverse technique to a new perspective”. Find her work
Peter Heaton, photography
PETER specialises in
black and white limited-edition photographic prints of woodlands and dark landscapes:
images that need careful time and observation as the space they inhabit is full
of visual surprises, he says.
Before the camera lens and
digital imaging took precedence, Peter studied fine art at Nottingham Trent
University and later gained an MA in fine art from Leeds Metropolitan
Over the past few years, Peter’s work has revolved around the complexities of layering visual information and our interpretations of the resulting images. In 2010, he set up Vale of York Darkrooms, where he teaches courses in both traditional chemical-based black-and-white photography and digital imaging. Take a look at his photographs at peterheaton.co.uk.
Tomorrow: Sarah K Jackson; Kate Pettitt; Reg Walker; Constance Isobel and Chris Utley.
queen supreme Velma Cella is to appear in thousands of living rooms across the
country – and around the world – in an uplifting live concert, streamed
Drag Party will be on screen at 6.30pm as
part of the Leave A Light On concert series promoted by Lambert Jackson and The
Theatre Café, St Martin’s Lane, London, to provide financial support for the
performers involved and entertainment for people in self-isolation.
is a tough time for many people, particularly those who regularly attend live
concerts, shows and gigs who are missing the unedited nature of live
performance,” says Ian Stroughair, the West End actor and singer behind Velma
Celli’s spectacular make-up and even more spectacular singing.
fantastic that Lambert Jackson and The Theatre Café have produced such a superb
series of concerts that can be watched live at home from some of the finest
West End performers. I’m incredibly proud to be taking part.”
Velma Celli’s monthly show at The Basement, City Screen, York, is in abeyance during the Coronavirus lock-down, but devotees and first-timers alike tuning in tomorrow evening can expect “some belted classics and plenty of laughs along the way as we leave reality behind for an hour of camp fun”.
Leave The Light On pays homage to the theatre tradition of leaving a single light burning on the stage of an empty theatre, supposedly to appease the ghosts who reside there.
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April
weekends, has had to be cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event,
CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and
makers, who would have been showcasing ceramics, collage, digital,
illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture
Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art and craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home. Addresses will not be included at this time.
Helen Whitehead, glass
HELEN’S glass jewellery
and sculpture is inspired by her deep connection with wild plants, herbs, the
moon and the planets. In her intuitive work, glass is layered with
precious metals, paint and images, then fired to produce colourful abstract
experimenting with alchemic reactions in her glass kiln and layering different
mediums within small pieces. “My pieces are little worlds, reflecting the inner
and outer world,” she says.
As well as working in her York studio, Helen provides fun and friendly fused-glass workshops in the community. Follow her at facebook.com/HelenWhiteheadGlassArtist.
Sally Clarke, printmaking
SALLY specialises in collagraph
printmaking, using the human figure and composition to express atmospheric
Sally studied for a Fine
Arts degree at Gloucestershire College of Arts as a mature student. She worked in
various media before discovering printmaking more than 20 years ago, finding herself
attracted particularly to its limitless opportunities for experimentation.
Sally is a founder
member of York Printmakers, has exhibited in many Yorkshire venues and is a
regular exhibitor in York Open Studios. Contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrienne French, painting
IN her evocative
paintings, collographs and monoprints, Adrienne interprets colour and texture
of both local and foreign landscapes.
She pursued her love of art by completing an art and design degree at Leeds University in 2000 while continuing her work as a nurse. Until 2015, she was artist in residence at a hospice, alongside continuing to develop her own artwork, a process that is ongoing.
She has shown her work
in northern galleries and takes part regularly in many annual arts events in Yorkshire.
All roads lead to Adrienne at email@example.com.
Caroline Lord, mixed media
CAROLINE combines found
items of pottery, wood and metal, recycling them into mosaics and quirky
She studied stained glass
and tapestry weaving in the 1960s at Edinburgh College of Art, where she was
awarded a scholarship for a further year’s study, specialising in tapestry weaving.
Ten years ago, after
completing a mosaics workshop led by Emma Biggs, Caroline changed artistic
direction, starting to work with re-cycled ceramics.
She has exhibited in
York Open Studios, at the Zillah Bell Gallery, Thirsk, with the York Art
Workers Association and in the Great North Art Show. Contact her at
Peter Park, painting
PETER would have been making
his York Open Studios debut with his expressive and gestural abstract paintings
of the Yorkshire landscape and coast in acrylic paint on canvas.
After a foundation course at York School of Art, he studied printed textile design in Manchester (BA) and Birmingham (MA), then worked as a textile designer and lecturer in design in Manchester.
Returning to York in 2013, he began painting, predominantly landscapes that he has exhibited at fellow York Open Studios exhibitor Kay Dower’s Corner Gallery and with Little Van Gogh in London. Seek him out via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow: Dee Thwaite; Anna Vialle; Rosie Bramley; Tabitha Grove and Peter Heaton.
HISTORIC magic lantern slides from the Scarborough
Collections are an online hit in these dark days.
As part of Scarborough Museums Trust’s response to the Coronavirus shutdown, collections manager Jim Middleton is posting regular images from the stock of slides and glass-plate negatives on Twitter, using the hashtag #lockdownlanternslides.
The response has been “remarkable”, he says: “We’re getting comments and
queries from other museums, historians and the public nationwide. This includes
an interaction the other day with the Natural History Museum in London, who
contacted us during a series of posts themed around cephalopods, the family of
marine animals that includes octopus and squid.”
Middleton had posted an image of a 5.3m-long giant squid that had been
washed up on the North Bay beach on January 14 1933, pictured surrounded by
curious Scarborough locals.
“We’d always known that they had the beak of the squid, but they got in
touch to say they had the whole animal preserved in their archive,” says
Middleton. “We’ll be hoping to get a better look at it when we can.”
Among other themes being explored are historic local buildings, some of them
no longer in existence, such as the North Bay pleasure pier, destroyed in a
storm in 1905, and vintage seaside scenes of children rock pooling and bathing-beauty
Magic lanterns were early image projectors that applied a light source
to magnify and project images on glass and they were used for both education
and entertainment, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Scarborough Collections – the name given to all the museum objects
owned by the Borough of Scarborough – contains more than 7,000 slides and glass
plates, in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust.
The images posted daily by Middleton can be seen by following @SMT_Collections on Twitter. To view existing posts, search #lockdownlanternslides.
The Rotunda Museum, Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend, all run by Scarborugh
Museums Trust, are closed until further notice.
COUNTRY duo The Shires are moving their 25-date 2020 tour to the autumn,
in response to the Coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes have switched their York Barbican show from May 20 to November 1, when they will be joined by Texan country singer and songwriter Eric Paslay.
Tickets remain valid for the revised date – The Shires’ only Yorkshire
gig on the itinerary – but those seeking a refund should contact their point of
The first Brits to win Best International Act in the American Country
Music Association awards, Earle and Rhodes released their fourth album, Good
Years, in this anything but good year on March 13, reaching number three in the
As with their past albums, 2015’s Brave, 2016’s My Universe and 2018’s
Accidentally On Purpose, the recording sessions took place in Nashville,
“We are so excited to be releasing Good Years,” say Earle and Rhodes. “Honesty and storytelling have always been such an important part of our song-writing. We’ve poured some of the incredible experiences and life we’ve lived into these songs.
“We can’t wait to play these live across the country. The songs mean so much to us personally, but there really is nothing like looking out at our fans in the crowd and seeing how much of an impact they can have in someone else’s life. It’s truly a very special thing”.
The Shires last played York Barbican in May 2018 and performed a headline set at Pocklington’s Platform Festival at The Old Station last summer.
Only a smattering of seats remains on sale for their Barbican return on 0203 356 5441 or at yorkbarbican.co.uk.
THIS is the time to explore Explore York online, providing the Libraries
from Home service during the Coronavirus lockdown.
“If you are confused or overwhelmed by the huge amount of information on offer, Explore can help,” says executive assistant Gillian Holmes, encouraging visits to the website, exploreyork.org.uk, “where it is simple to find what you need”.
This encouragement comes after all Explore York library buildings, reading cafes and the City Archives were closed to the public from 12 noonon March 21, in response to Government strictures.
“We are making it easy for people to find information and advice, as
well as inspiration, as we all deal with the Coronavirus crisis.”
The Explore website has assorted useful links to help people cope during
the coming weeks. “Some sites have always been part of our online offer and
some are brand new,” says Gillian.
“We are also working with City of York Council and our many partners in
York, so that our communities can join together and we continue to support
their initiatives, just as we will when our buildings open again.
the country are developing their online services in this challenging time. We
are using our expertise to gather together the best offers and add them to the
lists of sites we recommend.”
York will be developing online activities of its own, such as a Virtual Book Group. “We
will be updating the website regularly as these new things come on stream and
sharing on social media using #LibrariesFromHome,” says Gillian.
Studios 2020, the chance to meet 144 artists at 100 locations over two April weekends,
has had to be cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, with doors sadly shut for the April 17 to 19 and April 25 to 26 event, CharlesHutchPress wants to champion the creativity of York’s artists and makers, who would have been showcasing ceramic, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture and textile skills.
Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios will be given a pen portrait on these pages because so much art and craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home. Addresses will not be included at this time.
Quercki Design, mixed media
MARGARET Bradley, who would have been a new participant in York Open Studios, specialises in eco-friendly and carbon-neutral cork fabric designs, drawn on a computer, cut on a laser, backed with colours, glued and sewn to make pictures, notebooks and sketchbooks.
A language degree first took Margaret to Lisbon as a university assistant where she acquired a deep affection for Portugal. This was followed by 30 years of work in educational aid to developing countries, where different cultures, art and music were a constant source of interest and delight.
On retirement, a return visit to Portugal brought her into contact with cork fabric, a perfect material for making things inspired by her travels, she says.
details can be found at quercki.com, although Quercki Design is taking a short
break, with the artist in self-isolation.
Dave Atkin, wood
USING traditional techniques, Dave carves locally sourced green wood. Influenced by the natural world, folklore and history, he experiments with form and design to create functional and individual pieces.
A professional model maker by trade, he took up wood carving as a hobby, now making spoons, kuksas and bowls, often inspired by the Green Man myth.
He now offers spoon carving courses and demonstrates at events and fairs. For more details, go to woodwyrm.co.uk.
Catherine Boyne-Whitelegg, ceramics
CATHERINE has been working as a potter for 16 years, both throwing and hand-building, creating colourful slipware pottery to be used and enjoyed, as well as raku and smoke-fired clay animals, ranging from foxes and pigs to horses and unicorns. Her work often reflects her wry humour.
She is a potter, teacher and community artist who set up her own pottery workshop at her home near York after graduating from Sunderland University with a BA (Hons) in ceramics.
Catherine’s work can be found in a number of galleries, complementing her regular exhibitions, and wedding or special occasion pieces can be commissioned. More details at boyne-whiteleggpottery.co.uk.
Mo Burrows, jewellery
MO’S contemporary jewellery
embraces the elaborate and the colourful, the dainty and the quiet, in her necklaces,
earrings and brooches.
Predominately favouring copper,
braiding and beadwork, she draws inspiration from the colour, form and texture
of the materials she uses. Frustrated by
an inability to draw, she produces designs straight from a head full of ideas. Find
Mo at facebook.com/MoBurrowsJewellery.
Joanna Lisowiec, printmaking
NEW to York Open Studios this year, Joanna’s prints and illustrations look to nature and folklore for inspiration, as she focuses on birds and animals in her bold, clean and distinctive work.
Originally from Poland
and brought up in the United States and Switzerland, she first came to Britain
to study illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, falling in love with the
wild Highlands and later with the “quaint English countryside” when she moved
to Yorkshire for her MA in advertising and design from the University of Leeds.
“I would love to illustrate
a classic novel one day,” she says at joanna-draws.com, where you can find free
printable worksheets to “keep your children or indeed yourself entertained during
the Coronavirus pandemic”.
Tomorrow: Helen Whitehead; Sally Clarke; Adrienne French; Caroline Lord and Peter Park.
YORK Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth
should have opened this evening, but the curse of “the Scottish play” has
Although Macbeth is play number 29 in
Shakespeare’s chronology of 38 plays, YSP had held back the Bard’s tragedy big
hitter until production number 36 of 37 as part of a grand finale to the
20-year project in 2020, with The Tempest as the final curtain this autumn.
Now, however, theatre’s harbinger of
bad luck and its Weird Sisters have delivered double, double toil and trouble to
YSP, whose March 30 to April 4 run at the John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41
Monkgate, is mothballed until further notice under the Coronavirus shutdown.
“We were six rehearsals short of the
finishing line,” says YSP’s Tony Froud, who was to have played Ross in
Shakespeare’s dark tale of ambition, murder and supernatural forces.
“The ideal solution would be to pick it
up again with the same company of actors later in the year, but there could yet
Come what may, Tony envisages the
project still finishing with The Tempest, originally planned for this October, rather
than Macbeth going on hold to form the closing chapter.
“I would be very surprised if we didn’t want to retain The Tempest as the finale. It being Shakespeare’s final play [that he wrote alone], it is entirely appropriate to round things off with The Tempest, inviting as many people as possible who have been involved over the 20 years to join us for the celebrations.”
The final production is likely to be
accompanied by an exhibition charting YSP from 2001 formation to 2021
conclusion. “The York Explore library is expressing an interest in presenting
it, ideally to coincide with The Tempest’s run.”
Where The Tempest may be staged is yet
to be decided after the initial plan to work in tandem with York Theatre Royal this
autumn fell by the wayside. “It’s now the case that we’re looking into the
possibility of doing a touring production as our final show, culminating in a
York run,” says Tony.
Should Macbeth have gone ahead tonight, Leo Doulton’s production would have been set in a dystopian “cyberpunk” future and performed in a promenade style, with the action taking place on the move, around the audience, led by Emma Scott’s Macbeth. Two performances on Wednesday would expressly have been for schools’ audiences studying the play.
“Macbeth is a magnificent tragedy
about the earthly struggle between the forces of order and chaos, and how the
world becomes corrupted by Macbeth’s strange bargains,” says Doulton, who made
his YSP directorial debut at the helm of last October’s stripped-back Antony
“Cyberpunk is an exciting genre for
exploring, highlighting, and visualising those ideas for a modern audience. We
no longer fear witches, but we are still scared of our society being shaped by
powers with no concern for those below them.”
Whenever we more than three shall meet again, let us look forward to Doulton’s show “capturing all the original’s epic drama in its poetry and production” with Emma Scott in the title role. In the meantime, now is the time to follow Lady Macbeth’s latter-day practice: constant hand washing, over and over again.
Project’s cast for Macbeth
Macbeth: Emma Scott
Lady Macbeth: Amanda
Banquo, Siward: Clive
Son, Young Siward: Rhiannon Griffiths
Duncan, Lady Macduff,
Menteith: Jim Paterson
Lennox: Nick Jones
Ross: Tony Froud
First Witch, First
Murderer, Doctor: Joy Warner
Second Witch, Second
Murderer, Gentlewoman: Alexandra Logan
Third Witch, Third
Murderer, Caithness, Seyton: Chloe Payne.
Set designer: Charley Ipsen
Lighting designer: Neil Wood
Costume designer: Scarlett Wood
Sound designer: Jim Paterson.
Did you know?
play Macbeth is said to be cursed, so actors avoid
saying its name when in the theatre. The euphemism “the Scottish
Play” is used instead.
actor utter the name “Macbeth” in a theatre before a performance, however, they
are required to perform a ritual to remove the curse.
Grand Opera House reopened after a £4 million refurbishment on September 26 1989,
the York theatre tempted fate by presenting Macbeth (in a Balinese version) as
the first show, 33 years since the last professional stage performance there. Only
two years later, the theatre closed again, staff arriving to find the doors
RIGHT Hand Theatre’s No Horizon, a musical celebrating a blind Yorkshire
science and maths genius, is no longer on the horizon at York Theatre Royal. Exit
stage left the April 9 and 11 performances under the Coronavirus shutdown.
However, the No Horizon team say: “Sadly, though we
will be pausing our adventure for now, our No Horizon journey is
far from over. When we are back – and we truly mean when, not if
– we will be bigger and better than ever.
“This has been an amazing rehearsal process and although this [situation] is a hurdle, we will overcome
this. Here’s to the
future of the show and we are sure that the best is yet to come.”
No Horizon’s 2020 tour was to have opened at The Civic, Barnsley, on
March 20. Now, the progress towards a new horizon can be followed at nohorizonthemusical.com
and on social media.
The musical tells the life story of Nicholas Saunderson, a blind
scientist and mathematician from Thurlstone, West Riding, who overcame
impossible odds to become a Cambridge professor and friend of royalty.
described as an 18th century Stephen
Hawking, Saunderson was born on January 20 1682, losing his sight through
smallpox when around a year old. This did not prevent him, however, from
acquiring a knowledge of Latin and Greek and studying mathematics.
As a child,
he learnt to read by tracing the engravings on tombstones around St John the
Baptist Church in Penistone, near Barnsley, with his fingers.
premiered at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, going on to draw an enthusiastic
response from BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans, who called it a “Yorkshire Les
York Theatre Royal shows would have been part of a now stalled northern tour of
a 2020 adaptation “with a fresh look” by Right Hand Theatre, a company
passionate about diversity and inclusivity within theatre.
Consequently, the 2020 cast has a 50/50 male/female balance, with
the credo of delivering the show in a gender-blind way with a female Isaac
Newton, for example. Both the director and lead actor are visually impaired.
company in rehearsals, in the role of Saunderson, has been the partially
sighted Adam Martyn, from Doncaster, who trained at Liverpool Institute of
Performing Arts (LIPA).
Alongside him have been Yorkshire born-and-bred, Rose Bruford
College-trained Larissa Teale in the female lead role of Abigail; Tom Vercnocke
as Joshua Dunn; Louise Willoughby as Anne Saunderson; Matthew Bugg as John
Saunderson; Ruarí Kelsey as Reverend Fox; Katie Donoghue and Olivia Smith as
In the production team are director Andrew Loretto; vocal coach
Sally Egan; movement directors Lucy Cullingford and Maria Clarke; costume
designer Lydia Denno; costume maker Sophie Roberts; lighting designer David
Phillips and tour musical director David Osmond.
Horizon’s 2020 northern tour has been co-commissioned by Cast, Doncaster and
The Civic, Barnsley and supported by Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind,
with funding from Arts Council England and Foyle Foundation.
York Theatre Royal box office will contact ticket holders for
YORK Theatre Royal’s 2018 co-production
of Alan Bennett’s The Habit Of Art has been made available to stream by
Directed by Philip Franks,
a second British tour was due to start this month with Matthew Kelly and David
Yelland reprising their roles of poet W H Auden and composer Benjamin Britten.
However, both the tour and
a trip to New York for the Brits Off Broadway have been scrapped after the
Coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
In turn, this has prompted
The Original Theatre Company, the Theatre Royal’s co-producers, to release the
Leeds playwright Bennett’s
The Habit Of Art imagines a 1972 meeting between friends and collaborators Auden
and Britten – their first in 30 years – where they mull over life, art, sexuality and death.
What drew Matthew Kelly to
playing York-born Auden? “He has a razor-sharp wit and we have a very similar
outlook about work which is the habit of art. I am the same,” he says.
“I have to keep working – I’m nearly 70 [his birthday falls on May 9] – not because I need the money, but because the theory comes into play that the longer you hang on, the longer you will hang on. Otherwise you fall off the perch.”
The Habit Of Art requires Kelly
to play an actor playing an actor playing a real-life person. If this sounds
confusing, “No, it actually clarifies things,” says Kelly, clarifying things.
“It’s a very clever device
because it means you can be funny about what you do, you can comment on it and
you can explain stuff. You can come out of the play Caliban’s Day, which the
actors are rehearsing, and then it’s a play about the fictional meeting of
Auden and Britten.
“What’s wonderful about
Bennett’s play is, not only have you got the finest composer of our time and
the finest poet of our time, but you also, in my opinion, have the greatest
playwright of our time.”
continues: “So, you’ve got all those words being sewn together by our greatest
playwright, who’s kind, accessible, very erudite and talks about sex in a very
“He also gives a voice to
the unregarded, who don’t usually have a voice. Generally, the great people,
the stars of our time, get the final word and the people who look after them,
what are commonly called ‘the little people’, really don’t get any say at all.
They are the forgotten heroes who nurtured these stars.”
Former Stars In Their Eyes presenter Kelly completed a hattrick of Bennett roles with The Habit Of Art, having appeared as unconventional teacher Hector in The History Boys in 2013 and Czech author Franz Kafka in Kafka’s Dick, opposite his son Matthew Rixon, as a younger Kafka, at York Theatre Royal in March 2001.
“We were hoping Alan
Bennett would come to York because he lives in Leeds and it’s only a hop and a
skip away, but he didn’t come,” recalls Kelly.
“A couple of years later, I met him at Heathrow and he came up to me and apologised for not coming to the York production. He was terribly kind about it. “Years later, I did The History Boys in Sheffield, then Kafka’s Dick again in Bath. On both those shows he sent champagne and a Good Luck postcard.
“He always knows what’s
going on and he’s terribly kind and encouraging, which I love. The great thing
about Alan is he’s very supportive of all productions, although he doesn’t go
and see them.”
Original Theatre Online is
streaming a second touring production too: Ali Milles’s The Croft, starring
Gwen Taylor and again directed by Franks. Both that show and The Habit Of Art can
be streamed any time until June.
Alastair Whatley, artistic director of The Original Theatre Company, says: “We know how disappointing it has been to our audiences, cast, creatives and Original Theatre to have to close our shows. We are thrilled to be able to share these brilliant shows digitally: our own theatre without walls.
the Original Theatre Company operates with no Arts Council support and relies
almost solely on the box-office takings. With our two productions of The Habit Of
Art and The Croft both out on national tours, the immediate cancellations are
financially devastating for us.
“But we are determined,
wherever possible, to meet our financial commitments made to our actors, stage
managers and suppliers, who are all dependent on us to survive the coming
penny we make through this online release will go to the people who helped make
this show, who now find themselves in a hugely precarious financial position.”
plays are free to watch although The Original Theatre suggests a minimum
donation of £2.50.
full streaming details, visit originaltheatreonline.com.
The King Is Back, Ben Portsmouth’s tribute show, will be back at York
Barbican on April 9 next year.
Berkshire singer Portsmouth was last in the building with his Elvis Presley act on December 20 2019. Tickets for his return are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk or on 0203 356 5441.
Portsmouth and his band Taking Care Of Elvis have been taking care of
Elvis tribute business for a dozen years in a show built around “a little less
conversation, a lot more action, please”.
“The show I do is pretty much all of Elvis’s eras,” he says. “So, from
the Sun Studio to his movie years. Then I’ll do the 1968 comeback with the
“The first half is more like a story of Elvis’s
life and what he was doing in his career at the time. The second half is
just like an Elvis Seventies’ concert.”
In pursuit of authenticity to the maximum, all of Portsmouth’s
Elvis outfits are flown over from the United States, with the peacock jumpsuit
being his favourite.
In August 2012, Portsmouth made Elvis history when he became
the first act from outside the United States to win the annual Elvis Presley
Enterprises “Worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist”, held in Memphis,
Portsmouth loves the Elvis voice, the look, the stage charisma, his
humour, but more than that. “He was just a people person,” he says. “He was just a simple country boy who liked his cars, his food and all
the rest of it.”
TODAY is World Theatre Day, but a day when the world of live theatre
and its eye on the world are shut down by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, theatres are still marking the occasion, be it York
Theatre Royal executive director Tom Bird’s Tweets throughout the day on his
favourite theatres around the world, or reflections elsewhere on why theatre,
in its myriad forms, is so important to British life.
At the Theatre Royal, show posters have been replaced by one message to the city of York, a rallying call reminiscent of wartime posters, designed in the Theatre Royal livery by marketing officer Olivia (Livy) Potter from an initial idea by development officer Maisie Pearson.
In bold print, it reads: We Are Creative. We Are Sturdy. We Are
Ambitious. We Are York. We Pull Together.
Here, Olivia answers Charles Hutchinson’s questions on how the poster came to be printed.
Why and how did you choose the wording of your poster, Olivia?
“The wording was inspired by York Theatre Royal’s values:
“We are ambitious
We are sturdy
We are welcoming
We are ambassadors for York
We celebrate the city’s true diversity; it makes us bloom
We are creative in every context
We pull together
We excel in every area”.
“The idea to take some of these values and work them into a
message came from our development officer, Maisie Pearson, and it was a
Dumb question, but what prompted you to do it?
“We had to take the show posters down outside the theatre as they
were promoting productions that had been cancelled, such as Alone In Berlin
“The empty poster sites looked very forlorn and that got us
thinking about putting up a poster with a message of support and solidarity for
the city to see instead – something that could stay up for however long it
What is the overall message you are seeking to put across? Is it about theatre and the arts at large being woven so vitally into the fabric of York, or is it more about that wider message of the importance of all pulling together?
“I think it’s both these messages. It’s a very uncertain time for
all industries right now, but particularly the arts and entertainment industry.
“We wanted to find some way of reassuring the people of the city
that the curtain will rise again and we want everyone to be there when it does.
“Also, the narrative of the nation ‘pulling together’ by staying
at home to save lives has really come into force, particularly over the last few
days. The wording we’ve chosen for the poster seems to be quite vital now and
in keeping with this narrative.”
Where are the posters on show at York Theatre Royal?
“One can be found by our Stage Door on Duncombe Place, next to Red
House Antiques. Another can be found next to our patio area to the left of the
theatre building on St Leonard’s Place.”
Why are posters such a powerful medium in tumultuous times?
“Poster art and design is a really interesting medium, and very
difficult to get right. I suppose the key is to keep it simple, find your
message and present it in a way that is striking.”
How did you choose the charcoal and old-gold colour scheme for the poster? Echoes of wartime posters, perhaps?
“The colours are actually the brand colours of York Theatre Royal,
which unintentionally seem to have connotations of those famous wartime-era
Will there be more posters to come?
“We hope that won’t be necessary and that we can replace them with
show posters soon.”
How are you spending your days during the theatre shutdown?
“I’m finding ways to engage with our audiences online; yoga; a bit
of dancing; chatting to family and friends online; making fancy meals and
drinking a fair bit of gin.”
On World Theatre Day, why does theatre and the arts matter so much to you, both in your work at the Theatre Royal and as an actor?
“There’s nothing quite like the arts as a means of bringing people
together, not just physically but emotionally too.
“I love being part of an audience who are engaged, laughing as one
and sometimes even crying together, too.
“One of the biggest joys in my life is being part of a group who
come together with the purpose of creating something as one – a shared aim of
telling a story for others to listen to and enjoy.
“In this difficult time, I think people are going to find really
ingenious ways of achieving this and when this all does finally end, I can’t
wait for us all to come together once more to experience the joys of theatre
TODAY is World Theatre Day,
although the day-to-day world of theatre has ground to a shuddering halt, its
stages silenced by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, today is still the
chance to celebrate Shakespeare’s sentiment in As You Like It that “All the world’s
Shakespeare’s Melancholy Jaques went
on to mull over exits and entrances, how one man in his time plays many parts,
his acts being seven ages. Let’s turn that life model to theatre itself, and
none more so than the Grand Opera House in York, a theatre, a building, a site,
that has been through so many ages, so many stages, that seven would be an
Its life before theatre can be
traced back to 71AD as part of the Roman Quayside; 450AD, a nunnery; and Victorian
days as a “sink or stew”, brothels, crowded slum housing, until the area was
The Grand Opera House building in Cumberland Street began life as a Corn Exchange, designed in 1868 by architect G A Dean to double as a concert room, hence an ornate blue/vermillion/ gold gilding colour scheme.
Conversion to a 1,540-capacity theatre followed in 1901, undertaken by theatrical manager William Peacock, who presented the first performance at the Grand Theatre and Opera House, as it was first named, on January 20 1902 when Australian music hall entertainer Florrie Forde starred in Little Red Riding Hood.
The 1916 introduction of the
Amusement Tax was not amusing, putting all theatres at risk, but The Empire, as
it was now known, survived. Charlie Chaplin, Gracie Fields, Lillie Langtry and
Marie Lloyd played there; so too, later, did Vera Lynn, Laurel and Hardy, on
their last tour, and Morecambe and Wise.
A huge rates increase in 1945 ruined
the theatre, forcing Marie Blanche, Peacock’s daughter, to end 44 years of
family ownership by selling it to F.J. Butterworth. Audiences declined against
the competition of television, to the point where the theatre closed in 1956,
blaming the “crippling entertainment tax, when TV pays no tax”.
Ernest Shepherd of Shambles acquired the theatre in 1958, duly
adding the ‘S’ and ‘S’ to the Empire name, removing the stage and levelling the
stalls floor for roller-skating, wrestling and bingo.
The end of Empire days came in 1985, but after the India Pru Company
acquired the building in 1987, Henley-on-Thames architect Gordon J Claridge was given the
brief to restore it to its 1909 glory. The Art Nouveau wallpaper was copied;
the chandelier duplicated; the carpets rewoven from the original pattern with
the Grand Opera House motif added to the design.
Stalls boxes were restored and a new stage built; the Clifford
Street entrance was turned into a box office; Cumberland Street became the main
entrance. The £4 million renovation complete, the theatre re-opened on
September 26 1989 as the Grand Opera House, but tempted fate by presenting Macbeth
– traditionally a harbinger of bad luck in the theatre world – as the first
production, 33 years since the last professional stage performance.
Only two years later, the theatre closed suddenly, staff arriving to find the doors locked, as the curse of Macbeth did indeed strike.
E&B Productions brought to an end two and a half years of darkness
after acquiring the premises for a nominal sum, re-opening the theatre on
February 26 1993, since when the Grand Opera House has remained open, hindered
only occasionally by the River Ouse in flood.
The theatre’s ownership passed from E&B Productions to Apollo
Leisure in 1995 and American company SFX in 1999. After SFX merged with Clear
Channel in 2000, and later set up a new company, Live Nation, to focus on live entertainment,
in 2006, the latest change of hands came in 2010 when Britain’s largest
owner/operator of theatres, the Ambassador Theatre Group added the York theatre
to their roster.
The ownership baton may be passed on, but each has favoured a
programme of lavish musicals, often straight from the West End; stand-up
comedy; opera; ballet; dance; concerts; tribute acts; celebrity talks; classic
theatre; new plays; in-house youth theatre summer projects; myriad shows by
York stage companies and a star-studded commercial pantomime each Christmas.
Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Cabaret, Chicago, Jesus Christ
Superstar, The Rocky Horror Show, Blood Brothers, Legally Blonde and Once The
Musical; the Royal Shakespeare Company in The Winter’s Tale; the National
Theatre’s The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, Hedda Gabler and
Jane Eyre; The Waterboys, Antony & The Johnsons, Adele at 19, Echo &
The Bunnymen; Ken Dodd so many times, Danny La Rue, Ross Noble, Jimmy Carr, Paul
Merton, Julian Clary; Sir Ian McKellen, on his 80th birthday solo tour.
The list goes on…
In the deepening shadow of Coronavirus, we await to discover when
that list will start up again, but let us hope that once more we can gather for
such upcoming shows as The Commitments, from October 26 to 31 and Strictly
Ballroom, with Strictly Come Dancing’s Kevin Clifton, from November 23 to 28.
Come the winter, all eyes will be on Berwick Kaler as the grand
old dame of York becomes the Grand’s new dame after his crosstown transfer, with
villain David Leonard, perennial principal girl Suzy Cooper, comic stooge
Martin Barrass and luverly Brummie A J Powell in tow, for Dick Turpin Rides Again
from December 12 to January 10.
There to greet them and you, unmoved by the tide of theatre
history, will be the Grand Opera House ghost: a nun in the Dress Circle.
Happy World Theatre Day, but happier still when theatre days and
nights can return.
TODAY is World Theatre Day. Stages may be silent, but creativity never sleeps. It adapts. No matter what the circumstances.
Keep watching this space. CharlesHutchPress will continue to bring you stories of how the arts world is reacting, responding, re-engaging, under the Coronavirus lockdown.
Yes, we miss the sound of applause bursting through our theatre walls, but for now, for the unforeseeable future, save your hand-clapping for showing support every Thursday at 8pm for our NHS doctors, hospital staff, carers and rising tide of volunteers. God bless them all.
BAGPIPE band Red Hot Chilli Pipers are postponing
their April and May tour under the Coronavirus shutdown, but don’t be too deflated.
The Celtic rock band’s dates are being rearranged for next spring.
The 2020 tour would have opened at the Royal Hall,
Harrogate, on April 24, a show now re-scheduled for April 10 2021.
Tickets remain valid for the new date, but anyone
unable to attend the revised gig – although who can predict anything in their
diary for a year’s time?! – should claim a refund from the original point of
purchase by Friday, April 10.
Formed in Scotland in 2002, Red Hot Chilli Pipers made a cameo appearance at the T In The Park festival with The Darkness in 2004 and won the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous? in 2007.
Bringing together musicians, dancers and singers from Scotland and further afield, many holding world championship
titles, they specialise in “Bagrock”, a groundbreaking fusion of traditional
Scottish music and rock/pop anthems.
In 2014, the Pipers released
the Live At The Lake DVD and CD, recorded at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, their
American spiritual home by the shores of Lake Michigan, when they brought 16
musicians and dancers across the Atlantic.
The set that
night took in Insomnia, Gimme All Your Lovin’, Thunderstruck, Everybody Dance
Now, Amazing Grace, Fix You, Chasing Cars, Wake Me Up, Don’t Stop Believin’ and We Will Rock You.
February 2019, the Pipers and Tom Walker released a new version of his 2018
hit Leave A Light On in aid of Nordoff Robbins, the music therapy charity. Earlier
Walker and the band performed at Murrayfield before the Scotland versus Italy Six
Nations rugby match.
In a new
departure for the Pipers, last June’s studio album of new songs and covers,
Fresh Air, featured lead vocals on many tracks, such as Walker on Leave The
Light On and Chris Judge on the American band Walk The Moon’s Shut Up And Dance
and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Next on the horizon in Yorkshire for Red Hot Chilli Pipers is a July 11 appearance at Pocklington Arts Centre’s Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington. Watch this space for news of whether the festival will go ahead or not as the Coronavirus pandemic’s progress unfurls.
REMEMBER the new York Barbican date for Remembering The Oscars. Strictly
Come Dancing couple Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara are rescheduling
their postponed April 10 show for April 21 next year.
In keeping with all 38 dates, ten free VIP tickets will be made available to NHS staff “as a way of the producers and Aljaž and Janette showing their gratitude to these front-line heroes” caught in the eye of the Coronavirus pandemic storm.
This will include a meet & greet with the Strictly duo, and information
on how to claim these tickets will be announced very soon “once normal services
Aljaž and Janette say: “We know what we are offering is a relatively
small gesture, but we want to acknowledge the amazing effort of the NHS staff who
are facing unimaginable pressure on a daily basis as they treat patients across
the UK affected by Coronavirus.
“We’ll be rolling out the proverbial red carpet for these heroes and we
look forward to thanking them in person throughout the tour.”
The 2020 tour of Škorjanec and Manrara’s new dance spectacular had been
due to start earlier this month, but was postponed after theatres closed
nationwide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tour now will run from March 20 to May 4 2021 and all tickets will
remain valid for the rearranged dates of Remembering The Oscars, wherein Aljaž
and Janette will give the red-carpet treatment to Oscar-winning songs, dances,
movies and stars.
Janette says: “We are so thrilled to have the opportunity to put on this
magnificent show, which we are so proud of, in 2021. We hope that when these
difficult times pass, we can bring joy and smiles to everyone’s hearts; nothing
would make us happier.”
Aljaž added: “It was heart-breaking to not be able to open with our show
this year, but we are now so thrilled that our beautiful show will still be
seen by the UK audiences next year. We cannot wait to be back on stage and perform
for you all.”
York Barbican is the only Yorkshire date on the tour. Ticket holders unable to attend the April 21 2021 show should contact the Barbican box office, 0203 356 5441.
AFTER her Singing For All choir had everyone singing I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing at A Night To Remember at York Barbican, now Jessa Liversidge wants to reach the world to sing online.
The York singer, entertainer and singing group tutor, leader and inspiration
is going virtual in response to these Coronavirus lockdown days.
“Going from running seven different singing groups a week, plus other sporadic ones, to having to cancel them all, I was faced with a big challenge,” says Jessa. “But I’ve been buzzing with ideas to keep people singing and to keep their spirits up in these strange times and I have a lot planned.”
Not only planned but coming to fruition already too. “I held my first
virtual choir session on March 18, mainly Easingwold folks but some extras,
including some singing leaders from all over, who came along to check out a
session from a singer’s perspective,” says Jessa.
“We did it again last night, building an online community choir with people
from Easingwold, Helmsley, York, and even other parts of the country – people who
knew me from elsewhere.”
How does it feel, performing together across the ether in our new social-distancing,
stay-at-home world? “It is, of course, very different to a real in-person
choir, but very uplifting and great fun,” says Jessa. “The good news is that
everything is on screen, so you don’t need to provide the lyrics!
“I’ve had some fantastic feedback from people too; the best quotes being
‘A wonderfully positive hour’ and ‘On a challenging day, when it felt hard to
be bright and cheerful, this was just a perfect end to the day. It was great to
let someone with a really joyful personality take you on a different type of
musical journey, a real sharing of community spirit’”
Jessa intends to run these sessions weekly on Wednesday evenings at 7pm. “People will need to contact me on 07740 596869 or email me at email@example.com to find out how to join,” she advises.
She has started up York Military Wives Choir sessions too online, the
first one being held on March 19 for one of 70 such choirs across the country.
“I’m also setting up some free open-to-anyone sessions, starting with a live stream Singing For All session on YouTube that I held on Monday morning this week at 11am: the time the Easingwold Singing For All usually meets,” Jessa says.
“I’m so worried about some of the group as Singing For All has been a
lifeline to so many, and lots of them are now isolated in more than one way, so
this is important for them.”
Not only Easingwold Singing For All took part this Monday morning. “We had people joining in from their living rooms, again from across the country, and that singing session is now available on You Tube,” says Jessa. “Hundreds of people have watched it already, and we had people joining in as families and even with three generations. Hopefully these sessions will now happen every Monday morning.”
A further Singing For All virtual session will be running on Tuesday mornings at 11am, this one on Zoom, set in motion last Tuesday. To take part in these interactive sessions, you will need to ring or email Jessa.
She hatched one other project, abruptly halted by the Covid-19 lockdown’s
dictum on social distancing, banning gatherings of more than two people. “I was
going to try out some very spread-out, non-contact park sings,” says Jessa.
“Inspired by the Italians singing from their balconies, I thought this
was the nearest we could get to it, but that has had to fall by the wayside.
Instead I’m going to record myself singing outdoors, put that on social media
and then people can sing along to that.”
Anything else still to come, Jessa? “Yes, youth choirs.” Watch this space…and keep watching your space too, two metres apart; you know the drill by now.
EXIT 10 Things To See Next Week in York and beyond for the unforeseeable future. Enter home entertainment, wherever you may be, whether still together or in isolation, in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic. From behind his closed door, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these further suggestions.
Compiling lists of best songs by favourite artists
THE Beatles, The Rolling Stones, solo Beatles, Van Morrison, Velvet Underground, solo Velvets, Bob Dylan, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, The Smiths, The Fall, whoever. Make a Top Ten or even Top 20, then send to friends to ask for their suggestions for the list and why they disagree with you.
You could also set up arguments: Kylie’s Top Ten versus Madonna; The Specials versus Madness; Holland Dozier Holland versus Bacharach and David; Rod Stewart versus Elton John; Abba versus Queen; U2 versus Coldplay. Any others?
Desert Island Slipped Discs
IF past editions of the BBC Radio 4 Sunday morning staple have slipped your attention, it is never too late to discover the back catalogue at the Beeb online. You could pick a running theme, such as artists, musicians, poets, scientists, entrepreneurs, comedians, sportsmen, film stars, pioneers and church leaders.
Or, given the very necessary daily Covid-19 briefings from Number 10, how about politicians? Margaret Thatcher (1978); Edward Heath (1988); Enoch Powell (1989); Alan Clark (1995); Tony Blair (1996); Gordon Brown (1996); David Cameron (2006)…or, for a satirical variation, Spitting Image’s Peter Fluck and Roger Law (1987)?
Follow the advice of Stephen Fry
FOLLOWING up last Thursday’s 10 Things advice to make a timetable for the day, Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning interview on the Beeb with national treasure and former Cundall Manor prep school teacher Stephen Fry elicited one gem of a suggestion. Take time, take longer, to do things, whether cooking a dish from a recipe book, or even when brushing your teeth.
Fry, the president of MIND, also advocated taking up a new hobby, or re-discovering a craft, in his case, calligraphy. Further suggestions: learn a language; learn sign language; test yourself on road signs (when did you last do that?).
Meanwhile, Fry’s partner in comedy since Cambridge Footlights days, House doctor Hugh Laurie, says of Coronavirus: “We solve it together by staying apart.” Couldn’t have put it better.
Administer a spring clean
STUCK at home, as you really should be by now, key workers excepted, this is the chance to gut rooms; to go through files, drawers, cupboards; to work out what clothes to keep and which to donate to charity shops. Likewise, games; books; kitchen utensils. Update Christmas card lists and address books.
Make time for nostalgia
DIG out old scrapbooks (Leeds United, League Champions, 1973-1974; the Cardiff Candlewits revue show, The Rantings Of A Raw Prawn, at the 1982 Edinburgh Fringe; cookery crush Nigella Lawson’s recipes – more pictures than recipes, to be truthful – to give three Hutch examples). Ah, those were the days.
Likewise, take a look through old photo albums, sure to trigger memories and promote family discussions… and maybe even lead you to research your family ancestry in the manner of BBC One’s Who Do You Think You Are?.
Try to find good news
GREAT Yorkshire Show off. Ryedale Festival off. York Pride off. The Olympic Games off. The list of cancellations keeps growing. Against that backdrop, however, theatres, music venues and festivals are busy re-booking acts and shows for later in the year or next year.
Keep visiting websites for updates, whether York Barbican, York Theatre Royal, the Grand Opera House, wherever.
Look out too for the streaming of past shows. More and more theatres and arts companies are doing this.
GALLERIES in York are going online to keep the art (and hopefully sales) going. Step forward Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, where owner Terry Brett has launched Strange Days.
This service is not only a website portal for works from this season’s Full Sunlight show, featuring Askrigg artist Piers Browne and Holtby sculptor Hannah Arnup, but Terry also is inviting the 144 artists from next month’s cancelled York Open Studios to show their work on there too.
LOTTE Inch Gallery, at Fourteen Bootham, will host its first online-only exhibition, Yorkshire artist Tom Wood’s The Abstract Crow, from April 17 to May 16.
“Known for his imaginative and allusive abstract approach to painting, Tom will pay homage to his love for the natural world in his new paintings,” says Lotte.
AMID the stricter Government strictures, aside from walking the dog and one burst of exercise a day, gardening looks the most fruitful way to spend time outdoors. The first mow of the season; buds coming through; plants to plant; garden furniture to varnish: ready, steady, grow.
And what about…
Podcasts. Books. More podcasts. More books. Season two of Liar on Monday nights on ITV. Noughts + Crosses on BBC One on Thursdays. Writing a 10 Things like this one. Reading the regular Tweets from Matt Haig, the Reasons To Stay Alive author with the York past. Drinking hot drinks, gargling regularly, and building up your zinc levels, as well as all that hand-washing.
YORK Pride 2020 on June 6 is off, the annual LGBT festival
scuppered by the Coronavirus lockdown.
“Following the advice of the Government and Public Health England on mass gatherings and social events during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, we have reluctantly taken the decision to cancel York Pride 2020,” says event director Greg Stephenson, on behalf of the committee.
been a heart-breaking call for us to make after all the work we have already
put into this year’s event. However, we would never put the health and
wellbeing of our pride-goers, volunteers, artists or traders at risk, or
stretch the resources of our emergency services at a time when they are needed
Re-arranging the York LGBT Pride Festival 2020 has been ruled out. “York Pride takes the whole year to plan,” says Greg. “While we have been carefully considering all options, as it is unclear how long current measures will remain in place, or how the situation may develop, it is sadly impossible for us to reschedule for later this year.
“With so many uncertainties, we ultimately believe this is the
right decision to protect our long-term future.”
the committee will concentrate all its efforts on “delivering you a truly
amazing York Pride in 2021”.
like to say a huge thank-you to all our sponsors, stallholders and suppliers
for their support this year,” says Greg.
“Thank you to all of you too for hopefully understanding why we
have had to make this tough decision, because nobody is as disappointed as we
are. In the meantime, please let’s all look after ourselves and our community.”
York Pride will email directly
all those who have stall bookings and parade bookings and those who have agreed
sponsorship for 2020.
“Forstallholders who have not paid yet, we will simply cancel the booking for York Pride 2020 and you will need to reapply next year for York Pride 2021,” says Greg.
“For stallholders who have paid, thank you for paying your invoice; it has been much appreciated.”
Greg outlines two options for those with a stalls invoice. “Our
preferred option would be to carry your booking straight over to York Pride
2021,” he says.
“This cuts down admin work of processing refunds for our small
team of volunteers. We’d imagine this is the best option for other community
groups, charities and regular attendees at our event.
“If, later down the line you
cannot make our 2021 date, we would of course offer a full refund.”
The second option is the provision
of full refunds for those who require it. “These are difficult times and we
understand that for many of our traders you will need these funds. We’d imagine
this is the best option for food and beverage stalls who have paid larger pitch
Whichever option is chosen, stallholders are required to fill in a form on the York Pride website, yorkpride.org.uk.
The committee has addressed the matter of parade applicants too. “Thank you to all those who have applied to be in our 2020 parade,” says Greg. “With the emergence of Covid-19, we took the decision not to invoice at the time we normally would. Should we be in the position to cancel, it was fewer refunds for us to process.
“You will need to reapply for
York Pride 2021 when applications open later in the year.”
Greg thanked York Pride 2020’s sponsors. “We have been overwhelmed with the response. I will be contacting sponsors directly to discuss arrangements,” he says.
York Pride is making plans to re-book all acts for 2021. “We will also be making a deposit payment for those who wish to be re-booked,” says Greg. “We hope this small gesture will come in handy as many of our acts will be self-employed and suffer the most through the current situation.”
In a closing message to the
public in York Pride’s official statement on the website, Greg says: “We
have taken steps to ensure our financial risks through cancellation are
“We have already ordered things such as York Pride 2020
wristbands. We will be looking to sell these for a suggested donation of £2 in
the coming weeks and would appreciate any support you can offer at this
difficult time. Thank you to everyone for your continued support. All the best
and keep safe.”
FRIENDS! The Musical Parody has been
rescheduled for March 3 2021 at York Barbican after the March 20 show was postponed
under the Coronavirus strictures.
The lampooning show both celebrates and pokes fun at the misadventures of Manhattan 20-somethings Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Joey and Rachel from the cherished 1990s’ American TV sitcom as they navigate the pitfalls of work, life and love.
The Musical Parody is a “good-hearted romp through our favourite moments in an
uncensored, hilarious, fast-paced, music-filled show” that opens on a typical
day at New York coffee shop Central Perk. When an unexpected runaway bride
enters the picture, it kicks the whole gang out of second gear.
will play York Barbican as part of the off-Broadway and Las Vegas musical’s now
extended first UK and Irish tour. Tickets for the revised date are on sale at
YORK Stage School will celebrate its second birthday from behind closed doors but with the launch of on-screen activities.
“Wherever you have a
camera, we have a class,” will be the new school rule, prompted by Government
strictures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nik Briggs says: “After a brilliant two years, where we have worked
with hundreds of students and seen them flourish in our classrooms, we now
face the possibility of not being able to work with them under the current
Government guidance for some time and the necessary social distancing
and self-isolation policies that come with that.
we are fully committed to ensuring our students are always kept safe and
well and will not be running classes while schools are closed to students.”
Cue York Stage School’s new “homework” instead. “It is with this in mind that we have been busy working on this new project, which will see us joining up with lots of our teachers’ contacts from the theatre, TV and film industry to introduce our exciting new programme, York Stage School…On Screen, over the coming weeks and months.”
Are you ready to watch, explore, react and create, asks Nik.“If so, then sign up, stop waiting in the wings…and join us on screen for a programme where we’ll be sending out weekly briefs, scripts and stimuli to children via email and through videos from both our regular teachers and special weekly industry-professional guest tutors,” he says.
will have six days to watch the videos, explore the stimuli given and then
react and create their own videos at home. “These will then be sent back
to us at York Stage School HQ,” says Nik.
will receive feedback on their creations via email and video calls from our
staff; each week we will celebrate their work across our social channels with
weekly industry recognition from our guest tutors.”
To take part, students will need either a mobile phone, tablet or PC with a built-in camera and microphone, plus an internet connection and an email address. “This can be either their own or a parent’s,” says Nik.
we will be using the York Stage School social media channels to celebrate
students’ work – if parents are happy for their child’s image to be broadcast –
access to these is not needed to take part in the project.”
The first “issue” of York Stage School…On Screen is being given away free of charge. “This is in order for you to decide if this programme is something your child will enjoy and genuinely benefit from,” reasons Nik. “After the initial week, there’ll be a weekly charge of £10 to take part. To receive the first issue, please sign up by clicking Register Now on the website, yorkstageschool.com.”
Putting on his other cap as artistic director of York Stage Musicals, Nik says: “At the moment we are very much all up in the air with regards to shows.
“We were scheduled to be performing Bugsy
Malone at the Grand Opera House from April 23 to 26, but that has now been
cancelled, now that theatres have been closed in response to the Coronavirus
epidemic. However, we do hope for the children’s sake to remount this at a
York Stage Musicals had a trio of premieres in the pipeline too: Sondheim On Sondheim, Kinky Boots and Soho Cinders. “We had just auditioned for the UK premiere of Sondheim On Sondheim’s run at the John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate, from May 20 to 23, but casting has had to be put on hold,” says Nik.
“This will mean the production will now have to
take place at a later date, hopefully in the autumn.
“Our big September show is the York premiere of
Kinky Boots at the Grand Opera House from September 10 to 19, and at the moment
no changes have been made on this production’s scheduling.”
Nik is still hopeful too of bringing another
alternative Christmas show to the John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate in the wake
of 2019’s gleeful production of Tim Firth’s The Flint Street Nativity.
“After that success, we’ve now secured the rights to bring George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s Soho Cinders to the city for the first time ever,” says Nik.
“This musical romp transports the classic Cinderella story to the streets of Soho, where the action is definitely more suitable for an adult audience and the ugly sisters are more Gemma Collins than Berwick Kaler!”
LOTTE Inch Gallery, in Bootham, York, is going online only “for
the time being”.
“While the Covid-19 situation poses a threat to us all, we
want to ensure that everyone stays well and healthy and, as such, have closed the
doors at Fourteen Bootham until we are advised by the Government that we can
re-open,” says Lotte.
“However, just because the doors are closed, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still look at some of the beautiful work that features in our current exhibition, York artist Mick Leach’s Urban Abstraction. All Mick’s paintings are now on our online shop at lotteinch.co.uk, along with Katie Timson’s beautifully delicate ceramics and Evie Leach’s refined silver and semi-precious stone jewellery.”
Running until April 11, Leach’s debut solo show of sophisticated abstract work endeavours to recreate the textures, colours, layers and shapes of York’s decaying urban landscape.
with acrylics mixed with French chalk powder, Leach applies paint with palette
knives to gain his textured, layered effect. Various colours and media are then
added to enhance the layers and textures to evoke the memory and feeling of the
places that most inspire him.
“As a self-taught artist and full-time worker, Mick’s ‘side-career’ (sic) in painting has been steadily and successfully taking shape since early 2016,” says Lotte. “This new exhibition highlights his striking talent and his sympathetic and considered manipulation of materials.
“His work is never subjective, but
produced instead from memory, in an attempt to recreate the feel of a location
while simultaneously allowing his work to find its own course.”
behind this series, being shown in York for the first time, is drawn from
the many large cities that Leach has visited or lived in, in particular from
the city of York; the place he calls home.
new body of paintings, Mick attempts to recreate the colours and feel of the
ancient stonework, the dark alleyways, sunken windows, and the contrast of the
modern world against this ancient city, a place rich with contradictions,” says
next will be Lotte Inch Gallery’s first online-only exhibition, Tom Wood’s The
Abstract Crow, running from 10am on April 17 to May 16.
eye out for more details coming soon and follow Lotte Inch Gallery on Instagram
for sneak previews of the new works that Tom will be including in his show,”
“This will be a solo show of new paintings by this internationally recognised and technically brilliant Yorkshire artist. Known for his imaginative and allusive abstract approach to painting, Tom will pay homage to his love for the natural world in The Abstract Crow.”
Since graduating from Sheffield School of Art in 1978, Wood
has exhibited his work worldwide. For example, his celebrated portraits of
Professor Lord Robert Winston and Leeds playwright Alan Bennett, both
commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London, have been on display at
the Australian National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
Wood has held solo shows at the Yale Center for British Art, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA,
and Schloss Cappenberg, Kreiss Unna, Germany. Among his commissions are
portraits for the National Trust, Warwick University and the Harewood Trust, for
whom his large double portrait of the late 7th Earl and Countess of
Harewood is on permanent display at Harewood House, near Leeds.
“We look forward to re-opening soon, but in the meantime, we
encourage you to browse online,” says Lotte. “Do note that if you live in the
York area, we are pleased to be able to offer a free and safe delivery service.
Just select ‘Collect In Store’ and we’ll be in touch to arrange delivery of
“Take care of yourselves and your loved ones,” she signs off.
A GOOD journalist may never reveal his saucers, but the secret is out: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets are moving their postponed-by-Coronavirus May 1 gig at York Barbican to October 4.
Floyd drummer and percussionist Mason, 76, is joined in his Secrets operative
by lead guitarist Gary Kemp, yes, that Gary Kemp, from New Romantic Islington
pop dandies Spandau Ballet, now 60.
In the line-up too for The Echoes Tour are Pink Floyd touring and recording bassist Guy Pratt, guitarist Lee Harris, from The Blockheads, and The Orb’s Dom Beken on keyboards.
they celebrate Pink Floyd’s earliest work “in all its psychedelic, freaked-out
glory”, and the re-arranged 2020 tour will see the band further
expand their repertoire to encompass songs from the early catalogue up to Floyd’s
1972 album Obscured By Clouds.
Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets made their debut at four intimate London shows at Dingwalls on May 20 2018 and The Half Moon in Putney on May 21, 23 and 24. The Dingwalls date was his first show since Pink Floyd played at the 2005 Live 8 concert in London and the run of London gigs was his first since Floyd’s Division Bell Tour in 1994.
band subsequently sold out theatres around the world, and memories came
flooding back at three nights at London’s Roundhouse, where Pink Floyd had played
some of their most revered early shows in the 1960s.
Last September, Mason was named Prog Magazine’s Prog God at the Progressive Music Awards at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, following in the footsteps of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Ian Anderson, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe.
Tickets remain valid for the new Barbican date. For bookings, go to yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Did you know?
BORN on January 27 1944, in Hampstead, London, drummer
Nicholas Berkeley Mason CBE
is a founder member of the progressive rock band Pink
He is the only Pink
Floyd musician to have played on all of their
studio albums and their only constant member since their formation in London in
THE world premiere of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s 84th full-length play,
Truth Will Out, will not go ahead this summer at the Stephen Joseph Theatre,
Nor will his revival of his 1976 garage-and-garden dark comedy of four birthdays, Just Between Ourselves, both productions scuppered by the Coronavirus crisis that has led to the SJT being closed.
Booked into the summer repertory season to run between August 20 and October
3, Truth Will Out was written by 80-year-old Ayckbourn in late-2019 as a satire
relationships, politics and the state of the nation.
“Everyone has secrets,” says the tantalising synopsis in the SJT summer-season
brochure. “Certainly, former shop steward George, his right-wing MP daughter
Janet, investigative journalist Peggy, and senior civil servant Sefton, do.
“All it’s going to take is one tech-savvy teenager with a mind of his
own and time on his hands to bring their worlds tumbling down – and maybe
everyone else’s along with them. A storm is brewing.”
When that storm will now break cannot be forecast. Alan Ayckbourn’s
Official Website states: “It is not known what the future holds for Truth
Will Out…”, but the truth will out on its path forward in due course.
Ayckbourn’s website also reveals he had written another play, Just
Mercy, earlier in 2019 for his 2020 premiere before turning his attention to
Truth Will Out instead. He still hopes Just Mercy “will be produced at some point
in the future”.
As the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps the world, joint chief executives Caroline
Routh and Paul Robinson said today: “Like everyone else, we are in uncharted
territory, but our current plans are based on probably being closed for
most of the planned summer season, which means we’ll no longer be
presenting Just Between Ourselves, The Ladykillers or Truth Will
Out this year.”
Artistic director Robinson’s production of Father Ted and Black Books writer Graham Linehan’s stage adaptation of the 1955 Ealing comedy The Ladykillers would have run from July 9 to August 15, with its story of the sweetest of sweet little old ladies, alone at home but for a parrot with a mystery illness, at the mercy of a ruthless gang of criminal misfits.
The SJT is making plans to be “up and running again as quickly as
possible once it’s able to”.
“We are already thinking about what might be possible should
restrictions start to lift earlier than expected,” say Routh and Robinson. “We
are extremely lucky in that we have a couple of shows which are ready, or
almost ready, to go.
“Jim Cartwright’s Two, our co-production with Hull Truck Theatre, had
already opened there, so can be on our stage at relatively short notice,
while Little Red Riding Hood, which was due to fill our Easter slot for
families next month, is cast and the set is nearly complete – we just need a
couple of weeks’ rehearsal.”
Adapted by Saviour Pirotta, Cheryl Govan’s SJT OutReach production of
this fabled story of not judging a book by its cover, or a wolf by its teeth,
features a cast of Charlotte Brooke, Marcquelle Ward, Nicola Holliday and
Charlotte Oliver, who were to have taken to The McCarthy stage from April 7 to
Routh and Robinson continue: “While we couldn’t, of course, see an
instant return to normal, we could start up our film programme again, schedule
some pieces of visiting theatre, or stage a rehearsed reading or two, all of
which will bring our building back to life quite quickly.”
The SJT’s box-office team is being kept busy, working remotely to
contact those who have booked tickets for the upcoming spring and summer
Routh and Robinson say: “We’ve already contacted all those who’d booked
tickets for shows and films during our initial week-long closure, and we were
amazed by how many of them refused a refund, preferring instead to donate the
cost of their tickets or credit their account.
“It’s so touching to see how many people are showing faith in our future
and are keen to support us – our heartfelt thanks to all of them.
“We aim to remain an essential part of the wider community in the
borough of Scarborough throughout this period, and really look forward to
welcoming you all back when our doors re-open.”
The SJT is closed to the
public, but until further notice the box office will be accepting phone and
email enquiries from noon to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, on 01723 370541 or at
The SJT will be posting regular updates on its website and social media
ALL shows at the Black Swan Folk Club,
Peasholme Green, York, are postponed until the end of August in response to the
Most prominent among them is the Roland
Walls Weekend from June 5 to 7. Formerly known as the City of York Folk Weekend,
it has been re-named this year after the driving force behind both the folk
club and the weekend, who died last June.
This postponement policy also applies to
the club’s concerts at the National Centre for Early Music and The Crescent.
In the club’s latest newsletter, organiser
Chris Euesden says: “We’re going to review things at the end of May to see
where we stand. This includes the Roland Walls Weekend, which was to
have taken place in June.
“If you’ve already bought tickets for any
of our events that have had to be postponed, you can get a refund from the internet
ticket provider or you can hang on to your tickets, as they will be valid for
the new date.
“This applies to all events except The
The Crescent on April 5, which is cancelled. If you have already bought tickets,
you’ll be able to get a refund from seetickets.com. Go to their support
section for further details.”
One Black Swan concert during the folk
furlow is yet to be postponed: Chris Cleverley, presented by Broken Record on
June 25. At the time of writing, it is “still hoped” that this night of songs
on the theme of deteriorating anxious minds, damaging gender constructs and
mystical tales of the occult will go ahead. Watch this space; ticket
information is yet to be announced.
Reflecting on the present state of no-play, Chris says: “Well, we’ve never issued a newsletter quite like this
one before. As the current situation has changed from day to day, so has the
“With the [Government] announcement of the closure of pubs and other music venues and
the uncertainty surrounding the amount of time this is going to go on for, it
seems like a good point to let you all know what’s in place at the moment.
“It’s highly likely there will be more
changes, but we’ll do our best to keep you all informed on our website, blackswanfolkclub.org.uk,
via Facebook, Twitter and with additional newsletters.”
Wheels are in motion already, however, for re-arranging postponed concerts.
Maz O’Connor, a Lake District singer-songwriter
of Irish roots, now living in East London, is transferring her March 26 Black
Swan gig to The Basement, City Screen, on September 9 with tickets on sale at
O’Connor, who studied literature at Cambridge
University, has been commissioned to write songs for the British Parliament and the
Royal Shakespeare Company and is devising a piece of music theatre.
Eliza Carthy Restitute Live/Through That Sound concert at The Crescent on April
10 is re-scheduled for January 24 2021, with tickets on sale at seetickets.com.
the Robin Hood’s Bay singer, songwriter, fiddler and self-styled “modern
English musician”, released Restitute as her first “solo” album of traditional music
last May, recorded at her North Yorkshire home on the coast.
Carthy at The Crescent will be the Restitute band of Ben
Seal, Ben Somers, Willy Molleson and David Delarre, complemented by a support
slot and special guest appearance from Saul Rose.
well as the Restitute material, Carthy and co will perform selections from Through
That Sound (My Secret Was Made Known), her upcoming April 1 album of original songs
recorded with Fife producer, arranger and band member Ben Seal.
Roberts and Sean Lakeman’s 25th anniversary concert on April 22 at the
National Centre for Early Music has a new date of November 17 (box office, ncem.co.uk).
husband-and-wife duo will mark this milestone by revisiting and reinterpret
songs spanning their career, from the early days of folk supergroup Equation to
2018’s album, Personae, plus a nod or two to their extracurricular musical
club is in the process of re-scheduling Grace Petrie’s May 18 show at The
Crescent. Drever, McCusker, Woomble, alias three of Scotland’s busiest
musicians, Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble, are booked for The
Crescent on August 24 (box office ents24.com), so keep an eye open for what may
change or not.
ahead, Black Swan gigs are in the diary for Anthony John Clarke on September 10;
Christine Collister and Michael Fix, September 18; Maria Dunn, September 24;
Sam Kelly & Jamie Francis, October 8; Lucy Farrell, October 15; Sam Carter,
October 22; Charlie Dore & Julian Litmann, November 19, and Martin Carthy,
Eliza’s father, on December 3.
Across the wider folk scene in York, hurdy-gurdy musician, wildlife biologist, broadcaster, song and story writer and York Hedgehog Rescue founder Toni Bunnell’s Tracking The Changes show on March 29 at The Basement, City Screen, has been postponed.
Music sessions are suspended at:
The Maltings, Tanner’s Moat, on Tuesdays;
The Golden Ball, Bishophill, on Sunday evenings;
The Three Legged Mare, High Petergate, on Friday evenings;
Havin’ the Craic at The Fox, Holgate, first Wednesday of each
French & Breton, Eagle & Child, High Petergate, second
OPERA North is cancelling or
postponing all “public-facing activity” until at least the end of April, in response
to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Leeds company also confirmed the postponement of this season’s co-production of Stephen Sondheim’s acerbic musical A Little Night Music with Leeds Playhouse. Rehearsals had been due to start this morning for the May 9 opening to mark the year when the New York composer turned 90 yesterday.
“Our immediate priority is the health and
safety of our audiences, artists and staff, and we hope to be able to mount the
production in a future season,” said Opera North general director Richard
“This is undoubtedly a time of great challenge
for Opera North and our peers but we are determined to respond with creativity
“We will honour the contracts of all guest
artists to the end of our current main stage opera season and those of guest
orchestral players until the end of April.”
Mr Mantle continued: “We are working with our
many education and community partners to ascertain what work can still be
delivered in those settings, and will focus our creativity and core resources
on finding new ways of using music and opera to enhance people’s lives. In
these uncertain times, it feels more important than ever that we use music to
connect with each other.”
Opera North remains hopeful that the 2020-2021 season will go
ahead as planned in September. In the meantime, the company is working on
finding other ways to share its art form with audiences, including online
VILLAGE Gallery, in
Colliergate, York, will be “doing something a little different to our normal
show” for its next exhibition, opening on March 31.
On display and for sale will
be photographers by Instagrammer Katherine-of-Yorkshire, who uses only her
phone camera to take her photos.
“Apart from occasional
cropping, and selecting which filter to use, there’s no other manipulation or
photoshopping of the images,” says gallery owner Simon Main.
“Katherine’s preference is
to photograph in black and white because she finds the result more timeless
than using colour.
“From our perspective
though, in addition to this, we see that she has a seemingly natural talent and
eye for composition, and she manages to convey a deep feeling of peace, even
when documenting the floods in York that happen all too regularly.”
In response to the ongoing Coronavirus situation, Village Gallery
will not be holding its customary preview on the evening before the opening. “Enhanced
regular cleaning and disinfecting practices have been put in place to keep our
customers and us as safe as we can,” says Simon.
“Until we are forced to do
otherwise, the gallery will remain open for its usual opening hours, Tuesday to
Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and we look forward to seeing everyone throughout the
period of the exhibition run until May 9.”
Aside from its regularly changing
2D and 3D art exhibitions, each running for six weeks, Village Gallery is York’s
official stockist of Lalique glass and crystal, also selling art, jewellery,
ceramics, glass and sculpture, predominantly by Yorkshire artists.
Coronavirus pandemic may have shut doors on next month’s York Open Studios, but
Pyramid Gallery is stepping in to offer an online exhibition to York artists.
What’s more, gallery owner Terry Brett is calling this new service Strange Days, after the song of that title by The Doors. As rather more than one door closes, The Doors open new possibilities for a different form of Pyramid selling.
“This applies to artists who have sold through the gallery either recently or in the past, and we’re extending this invitation to any of 2020’s 144 York Open Studio artists,” says Terry.
artists will keep the work that they’re showing at their studio, and between
them and the gallery, delivery will be arranged to the purchaser’s address if
it is within a YO postcode.”
Terry has run Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, since 1994, says: “We need to survive in these Strange Days, and so do our artists. We noticed many posts on social media this week by worried artists who had heard that York Open Studios was cancelled. We wanted to do something positive for them. It has given us an aim and lots of work to do, which is very useful for morale.”
Morale that he believes is under immediate threat from this week’s urgently announced Government financial policies in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. “I am disappointed by the ineffectiveness of government to make sensible and working decisions,” says Terry.
other European nations are protecting citizens and employees from economic
crisis and worry, our Government seems unable to make the decision to support
individuals and freelance workers or self-employed artists.
matters are being passed down to the community to resolve. It’s not a good
approach. The Government should offer quickly to make payments to everyone, so
that we know we can pay rents, employ people and buy essentials.”
is reducing its normal commission to the artist for this event to 20 per cent
plus VAT on each sale and is arranging the delivery free of charge to the
artists have already submitted work for the online show, and images are being
placed on the website all the time,” says Terry. “The show will continue as
long as there is a Coronavirus crisis.”
Pyramid Gallery continues to open its doors, Monday to Saturday, between 10am and 5pm, but will be closed on Sundays. On show until April 26 is Full Sunlight, an exhibition of etchings and paintings by Piers Browne, studio ceramics by Hannah Arnup, figurative sculptures by Helen Martino and glass by Fiaz Elson.
alert, here are Jim Morrison’s 1967 lyrics to The Doors’ Strange Days:
days have found us
have tracked us down
going to destroy
go on playing
Or find a
Strange eyes fill strange rooms
will signal their tired end
hostess is grinning
sleep from sinning
talk of sin
know this is it
Strange days have found us
through their strange hours
As we run
from the day
strange night of stone
Let’s look forward to the day when Pyramid Gallery can host an exhibition with another of The Doors’ titles, The End, but in a good way, not an Apocalypse Now way.
EARLY Music Day will go ahead at the National Centre for Early Music, York, tomorrow but behind closed doors.
“Our doors may be temporarily closed, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll still be celebrating Early Music Day and streaming our concerts all around Europe, so join us for two wonderful concerts this Saturday (March 21),” says director Delma Tomlin. “There will also be a selection of concerts available to enjoy online over the coming weeks.”
Tomorrow’s programme at the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, begins with a 1pm concert by harpsichordist Steven Devine, performing the first in a series of Bach Preludes and Fugues, and ends with The Brabant Ensemble’s 6pm programme ofA Monk’s Life: Music From The Cloisters, 1550-1620.
“Sublime choral music from the Renaissance performed by this Oxford ensemble
offers the perfect end to a fabulous day of music,” says Delma.
“I am so grateful to our talented array of musicians who are determined
that Early Music Day will still happen somehow and have agreed to perform
behind closed doors.
“Even if you can’t be with us in person, we hope that you will join us
for this day of music, a joyful celebration which normally takes place with our
European partners and friends in beautiful venues.”
Looking ahead, Delma says: “We are pausing our
operations until the end of April and will be in contact with everyone who
has booked to attend concerts that are due to take place within this period.
“We ask that you are patient with us during this difficult time and wait for us to contact you. Regular updates about future concerts and more concert footage will be posted on our website, ncem.co.uk, and via social media, so please keep checking.”
“Music has the power
to uplift and inspire us all and although our building may be closed, we will
be sharing a selection of concerts from our archives online for us all to enjoy,”
says Delma, on an upbeat final note.
Theatre Royal’s summer production of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad has been
Originally in the 2020 diary for July 10 to 25, associate director Juliet Forster’s show will be staged in 2021 instead on dates yet to be confirmed.
surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic is holding up pre-production work by Forster’s
“The joy of Atwood’s work is that it doesn’t date, so although we are
disappointed that we have to postpone our production of The Penelopiad, I know
it will be just as relevant and exciting to stage this wonderful play in
the upside, for the creative team involved, having a little more dreamtime on
this story will only make the final staging of it all the more spectacular!”
by the Booker Prize-winning author of The Handmaid’s Tale and 2019’s The
Testaments, The Penelopiad tells the story of Odysseus’ wife Penelope and the
Trojan Wars from her point of view.
holders will be contacted by the Theatre Royal box office in the coming weeks.
three-week season at York Theatre Royal in May – the “highlight of their year” –
has been cancelled in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.
African company, whose performers are drawn mainly from the Cape Town
townships, was programmed to perform three shows from its repertoire, The
Mysteries, The Magic Flute and SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill, from May 5 to
23 in Isango’s first visit to York in their two-decade span. Now they hope to
visit Yorkshire next year instead.
Royal executive director Tom Bird says: “We are devastated that our friends
Isango Ensemble are unable to make the trip to the UK. They have been in
rehearsal for a specially curated season of work that was sure to delight and
inspire our audiences with their joyous productions. We hope there will be
another opportunity for us to welcome the company to York in the future.”
Mark Dornford-May, the Yorkshireman who co-founded Isango 20 years ago, says:
“The whole ensemble were so excited to be visiting York for the first time in
our 20-year history. It really was the highlight of the year. To have been
rehearsing the shows and then not be able to play them in that beautiful
theatre is a deeply felt blow.
all his colleagues have been so supportive throughout the last few difficult
days and together we hope to create a plan to get to play in Yorkshire next
holders will be contacted by the Theatre Royal box office in the coming
Did you know?
ISANGO Ensemble is a Cape Town theatre company led by director and co-founder Mark Dornford-May and music directors Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis.
YORK Musical Society’s next two concerts on March 28 and June 13 at York Minster have been cancelled in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Chair Irene Plaistowe says: “We had already taken this decision when the Minster announced that it was shutting its doors. We did not wish to put at risk members of the public or YMS members.
The March 28 concert, Requiem Aeternam, would have featured Fauré’s Requiem and Michael Haydn’s Requiem. June 13’s programme, Splendours Of The Baroque, comprised Vivaldi’s Gloria, Marcello’s Trumpet Concerto in D minor and Handel’s Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba and Coronation Anthems.
“Our tickets were sold through the Minster box office, so they will contact anyone who bought a ticket online to arrange a refund,” says Irene. “If a ticket was bought in person or over the phone, contact the Minster box office in the same way you bought your ticket. Everyone will get a refund.”
EVEN a gallery with the bravura name of Art Of Protest must concede to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Craig Humble’s cutting-edge, fashion-savvy gallery in Little Stonegate, York, was to have launched its York Fashion Week exhibition of Pam Glew’s Kiminos with a preview this evening.
Not now. Today Craig posted a statement in the window, under the heading Gallery Closed – Temporarily, to announce that “sadly, with a heavy heart we are closing the gallery in response to the global pandemic”.
“Due to a combination of recent announcements, the importance for all our future of beating this outbreak and the reality of the ever-thinning streets of York, I am closing the gallery for at least a couple of weeks from Thursday March 19th, while the way forward becomes clear. Hopefully this is an au revoir; rather than a goodbye,” says Craig.
“I will be developing the website and investigating the online opportunities that can be maintained while away from the gallery, so keep an eye out on social media for any changes and news.”
Those hoping to visit the Pam Glew exhibition “to purchase one of the amazing pieces”, says Craig, can click on the Pam Glew Catalogue button on the website, artofprotestgallery.com, for a catalogue of available work.
“Thank you for being part of the movement over the past three years and I look forward to seeing you on the other side of this pause. When we return, it will be with the exhibition newly which has been hung for York Fashion Week featuring Pam Glew’s Kiminos,” he adds.
Craig ends the statement by advising:
Although the gallery is closed from Thursday March 19, email
and social media will be monitored if you want to get in touch.
JORVIK Viking Centre, in York, is temporarily closed for the foreseeable future in response to Government advice relating to minimising the risk of Covid-19.
Today’s statement from the Coppergate visitor attraction said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors is our number one priority and so we have decided this action is the best step to take at this moment in time.
“We will do all that we can to keep you updated on the situation through our website and social media channels.
“If you are a visitor, group leader or school booked with us over the next few weeks, our reservations team will be contacting you shortly to discuss what your options are with regards rescheduling, refunds and alternative experiences. We apologise for any inconvenience this closure may have caused.”
The statement continued: “We are owned by York Archaeological Trust, an educational charity with a mission of ‘Building Better Lives Through Heritage’; and so ensuring all of our audiences remain engaged with their past is one of our key aims.
“With this in mind, we are working hard behind the scenes to create some new digital content that we look forward to sharing with you in the coming days and weeks. Please keep checking our social media and website for details.”
Meanwhile, donations are being sought for Jorvik’s own future wellbeing. “If you would like to show your support and offer a donation to York Archaeological Trust to help assist us during this difficult time, it would be appreciated enormously,”
Donors are asked to click on a link at jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk. Alternatively, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01904 663000.
THE York Theatre Royal building is closed to the public until further notice.
This morning’s full statement reads: “Following the latest Government advice about Coronavirus, the York Theatre Royal building is now closed to the public until further notice. You can still contact our box office by phone on 01904 623568.
“All Youth Theatre, LAMDA, Crafty Tales and Adult Theatre Workshop sessions will stop running for the time being. Costume hire is also closed until further notice.”
The statement continues: “It’s with enormous sadness that we temporarily close our doors, but the safety of our audiences, staff and community is of utmost importance. We apologise for the disruption and thank you for your support during this period of great uncertainty.
“We are making contact with ticket holders for the cancelled performances. If the closure period is extended, we will be in touch with bookers for future performances in good time, and we’ll also post updates to our website and social media channels. See you soon.”
Exit 10 Things To See Next Week in York and beyond for the unforeseeable future. Enter home entertainment, wherever you may be, whether still together or in isolation, in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic. From behind his closed door, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.
Compiling your Desert Island Discs
CREATE your own Desert Island Discs and accompanying reasons, should you ever be called to answer Lauren Laverne’s questions on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday morning staple. Cue Eric Coates’s opening theme, By The Sleepy Lagoon, then your eight music choices, one book choice, one luxury.
Then play your list, but cutting it down to eight will be much harder than you first expect.
Desert Island Discs, suggestion number two
AND while you are about it, also take every opportunity to raid the Beeb’s Desert Island Discs back catalogue at BBC Sounds. Recommendations? Ian Wright, former footballer, turned broadcaster; Dr John Cooper Clarke, sage Salford stick insect and man of multitudinous words; Kathy Burke, Camden Town actress, comedian, writer, producer and director.
Make a timetable for the day
LIKE you would at work…though this timetable may not be possible, if indeed you are working from home.
Nevertheless, should the time need passing, allow, say, an hour for each activity, be it writing; reading; playing board games at the stipulated distances apart or card games, which can be done on your own, such as Patience; watching a movie, maybe a long-neglected DVD rescued from a dusty shelf; or whatever else is on your list.
Re-discover a childhood joy
PLUCKING one out of the air, how about jigsaw puzzles, a favourite of Mother Hutch and Granny Pyman before her.
“They are wonderfully relaxing yet keep the brain very active and there’s a feeling of creative satisfaction on completion,” recommends York actor Ian Giles, a devotee of such puzzle solving.
YORK singer Jessa Liversidge runs the Singing For All choir, as heard savouring I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing at Big Ian’s A Night To Remember at a packed York Barbican (remember those days?) on Leap Year Saturday.
Now, abiding by the Government’s Avoid Unnecessary Social Contact advice, to keep people singing, she is planning a range of online singing opportunities to suit not only her Singing For All and Easingwold Community Singers folks, but “any frustrated singers”. “Get in touch to find out how to join,” says Jessa, whose Twitter account is @jessaliversidge. She posts regularly.
Lighting a candle
THE Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend Dr John Sentamu, is asking us all to place a lighted candle in our window at 7pm this coming Sunday “as a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ that can never be extinguished”.
ALL those cookbooks that you bought for the nice pictures, but have never opened since, are bursting with opportunities to try out a new dish…if the supermarket shelves have not been emptied by 10 o’clock in the morning.
Why not raid the store cupboard too, check the dates (and the dried dates from last Christmas) and see if anything may come in handy. The likelihood is more and more hours will have to be spent at home; this is a chance to stretch your culinary skills.
HOPEFULLY, going for walks, maintaining a safe, previously anti-social distance, will still be a possibility, as advocated by Prime Minister Johnson, until otherwise stated.
If not, or if isolation is your way ahead, spring is in the air, gardens are turning green, the grass is growing. Gardening will surely be one of the unbroken joys of the ever-so-uncertain path that lies ahead.
Should you not have a garden, windowsills are havens for green-fingered pursuits: the seeds of much content.
And what about…
Podcasts. Books. More podcasts. More books. Box sets (yawn). Discovering a new band online, or maybe an old one you had long neglected. Writing a 10 Things like this one. Reading Bard of Barnsley Ian McMillan’s morning Tweets, or any time of day, in fact. Reading York musician and motivational speaker Big Ian Donaghy’s perennially positive thoughts for the day @trainingcarers, BIGIAN #DEMENTIAisAteamGAME. Watch Channel 4 News, especially Jon Snow, one bright-tied 72 year old who should defy the imminent Government “curfew” on the over-70s. (UPDATE: 19/3/2020. Or maybe not. Tonight he broadcast from his central London home.)
PLEASE stop flicking through social media at every turn…except for displays of the ever-so-British black humour in response to the new C-word.
Any suggestions for further editions of 10 Things To Do At Home And Beyond are most welcome. Please send to email@example.com
CLOSED. Closed. Closed. Closed. Closed. York’s theatres have shut down en masse in response to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Monday briefing on Black Monday to avoid unnecessary social contact at pubs, clubs and theatres.
One by one came the measured official statements in response to the rising Coronavirus pandemic, announced with regret, sadness and heavy hearts.
By way of contrast, a tide of anger rose ever higher on social media from the entertainment industry, feeling shafted by the PM not legislating closure, merely advising it.
In doing so, he placed the decision in the (no doubt frequently washed) hands of theatre managements, boards and trusts, whose sense of moral responsibility left no option but to announce closure until further notice as a precaution amid the Coronavirus crisis. When insurance effectively amounts to no insurance, hell by hand cart is the only journey in town.
The Grand National, the first post-Brexit Eurovision, the Chelsea Flower Show, Glastonbury Festival, the Euro 2020 football championships, are all scrapped for 2020. A tsunami of further announcements will follow, not least from theatre companies cancelling or postponing tours.
Keep Calm and Carry On may be the mantra, but the fear is that Keep Calm and Carry On may well turn to carrion on account of, well, the accounts.
York Theatre Royal, in St Leonard’s Place, Theatre @41 Monkgate, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, in Haxby Road, and Riding Lights Theatre Company’s Friargate Theatre, in Lower Friargate, have individual boards and managements addressing urgent, previously unimaginable requirements and strictures.
Likewise, the Ambassadors Theatre Group, owners of the Grand Opera House, is co-ordinating the Coronavirus-impacted strategy throughout ATG, making statements for the Cumberland Street theatre, whose staff are now working remotely from home.
These are unprecedented circumstances. Circumstances not even seen in wartime when theatres – some, not all – across the land stayed open through 1939 to 1945.
Circumstances where the new C-word has led to theatre after theatre – together with cinemas, music clubs, museums, galleries, visitor attractions, SparkYork, et al – to issue variations on: “It is with enormous sadness that we take these measures, but the safety of our audiences, staff and community is of utmost importance.”
So, where does each of these York theatres stand now, in a city where, like the rest, the theatre focus is turning to those of the medical variety? The best advice is to visit the theatre websites for information on the present closures, ticket refunds, and, in light of the harsh financial reality, Donate Today requests. “Your support is vital to our survival,” pleads York Theatre Royal bluntly.
A spokesman for the Theatre Royal – take it as read that it was executive director Tom Bird – said: “The closure of theatres in the UK puts York Theatre Royal, along with hundreds of other theatres, into a critical situation.”
Does that make it theatre’s version of the intensive care unit? Time will tell, but the arts have a way of defying the last rites, always have, always will, keeping the fat lady singer waiting, the final curtain up in the flies. What they will make of Richmond Rishi’s £330 billion loan scheme is another discussion point for the in-tray, however.
In a nutshell, York Theatre Royal’s shows and public events initially are cancelled until April 11, but there surely will be no miraculous resurrection on Easter Sunday. The York Theatre Royal building, box office and café remained open initially, but the building closed to the public today (March 19). The box office is still taking phone calls on 01904 623568; ticket refunds are underway.
Shows at the Grand Opera House, in common with all Ambassadors Theatre Group theatres, are “temporarily suspended with immediate effect”, with a policy of postponement and future re-arranged dates to be confirmed, rather than cancellations, at this stage.
“We are following government guidance which is currently ambiguous,” say ATG. “It is unclear how long theatres are to remain closed. We will reopen them once the government and medical authorities confirm that there is no risk to our audiences, performers and staff.
“We are working hard with our producers and performers to understand how this will play out, so we can’t confirm that at this time. We will try, wherever possible, to re-programme shows that have been suspended.”
The Joseph Rowntree Theatre will remain closed “until we receive further instruction that it is safe to reopen”. “We will be issuing further advice in the coming days on how we are going to manage ticket refunds and exchanges,” says trust chairman Dan Shrimpton. “We would ask that you please bear with us and wait for us to contact you.”
The Theatre @41 Monkgate website is yet to be updated following Monday’s Coronavirus ultimatum – the About Us section has Covid-19 Guidance from before – but Pick Me Up Theatre artistic director Robert Readman announced performances would cease after Tom’s Midnight Garden that evening.
He also cancelled Pick Me Up’s Sondheim 90 birthday concert this Sunday and the April 17 to 25 run of The Pirates Of Penzance. Be assured that Coronavirus has been the death of York Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth from March 31 to April 4 too.
Riding Lights, York’s Christian theatre company based at Friargate Theatre, have cancelled their March 16 to April 11 tour of The Narrow Road. “We are very sorry not to be performing this Lent but wish you a happy and safe Easter,” their website says.
Meanwhile, prayers and thoughts go to all those working in the theatres at York Hospital and elsewhere, preparing for whatever is to come.
WHITBY sculptor Emma Stothard’s wildlife work has
come on leaps and bounds over the past year for her latest show at Nunnington
Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley.
To mark 2020 being a leap year, she has created a
one-off installation of 366 Leaping Hares, one for each day of the year, combining
illustrations and paintings, all for sale, on display amid the historic
collection in the Smoking Room of the National Trust country house.
Alas, Nunnington Hall is now closed with effect from this Wednesday (May 18), in response to Government advice on the Coronavirus pandemic. “The safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors is our priority,” says senior visitor experience officer Laura Kennedy.
Let’s take a leap of faith, however, beyond the month of the Mad March Hare
and leap ahead to later in the year when hopefully you can still see 366
Leaping Hares. “The idea came first, doing something for 2020, for Leap Year,
rather than responding to a particular space, and I thought ‘let’s do 366
hares’,” says Emma. “Given that number, I knew some would need to be small,
with some bigger ones for contrast.”
Emma spent the past year creating each work, whether clay, wire or willow
sculptures, textiles hangs and cushions, drawings and ceramic tiles.
All have been individually hand-finished and dated by the sculptor,
not least a special Leap Day Hare to mark Saturday, February 29. “Each of those
366 days is going to be special for someone – a birthday, an anniversary, maybe
even a proposal of marriage on the Leap Day itself!” says Emma.
She has responded too to Nunnington Hall’s “rich sense of history”. “Generations
have lived here, and you can feel their presence in the furniture, the
wallpaper and the textiles,” she says.
Consequently, Emma’s installation explores the array of materials that
embodies the ever-changing architecture and fabric of the historic building,
while experimenting with contemporary methods too in her hotchpotch of hares
that range from four-foot willow sculptures to four-inch miniature wire and
Placed by Emma amid the historic collection, some are in full view; others are in the Smoking Room’s hidden spaces, nooks and crannies, even emerging from drawers or to be spotted under furniture.
Hare, there, everywhere, yes, Emma loves hares. “They’re just so
wonderful to see, aren’t they,” she enthuses. “I see them quite a lot when I’m
walking across the fields with my dog.
“I love spotting them because they’re so elusive, so quick moving. They’re
magical to sculpt, and it’s the same with roe deer. I find them fascinating, beautiful,
because you can never get that close to them.
“We’re steeped in their history and it feels a real privilege to be in their presence when they run out of front of me.”
The large number of hares required was the green light for Emma to
broaden her working practices. “Like casting in bronze for the first time. I’d
been recommended by (the late) Sally Arnup to use Aron McCartney, who has a
metal-casting foundry at Barnard Castle,
but there never came a time to be able to cast anything until now,” she says.
“Now that I have, hopefully we can continue with the relationship.”
This is not the first time that Nunnington Hall has had an impact on
Emma’s work. “I first exhibited here in 2012 on the Rievaulx Terrace, when I
was also commissioned to make my first wire sculpture of a horse, which you can
still see here,” she says. “They like to move it around the gardens to keep
people on their toes.
“The wire horse was the first time I moved away from working in willow and
has led me to doing more public commissions in wire and now bronze wire. There
are 12 little galvanized ones in the new exhibition, coated in zinc in the
Her outdoor willow sculptures, meanwhile, must be treated at regular
intervals. “Think of it as a seasonal chore in the garden,” she says. “Four times
a year; 50 per cent linseed oil; 50 per cent Turps substitute, which is a
traditional way to protect the strength of the willow.
“There’s no reason you can’t get ten years out of them if you look after
them properly, as linseed oil builds a layer of varnish, like shellac. So, remember,
four times a year, once a season.”
In Staithes, you can spot Emma’s coral and coronation blue lobsters, her 9ft marine crustaceans first exhibited in the Sculpture By The Sea exhibition at the 2015 Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage, and now she has made Withernsea Crab, a three metre-high sculpture of a brown crab for the Withernsea Fish Trail.
Emma also had been working on sculptures for
Jardin Blanc at May’s now cancelled 2020 Chelsea Flower Show, her fourth such
commission for the hospitality area, where Raymond Blanc is the executive chef.
More Emma work, by the way, can be found at Blanc’s Oxfordshire restaurant, the
Belmond Le Manoir au Quat’Saisons.
At the time of this interview, Emma was on the cusp of signing a contract to create seven life-size sculptures celebrating Whitby’s fishing heritage on the east side of the East Coat harbour. ”I’m hoping to have the first piece installed in time for the Whitby Fish & Ships Festival in May,” she said. The 2020 festival has since been cancelled, but look out for Emma’s sculptures at the 2021 event on May 15 and 16 next spring.
Looking ahead, where would Emma most love to exhibit? “My dream is to do an exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park [at West Bretton, near Wakefield], particularly as I did my teacher-training there at Bretton Hall,” she says.
One final question for Emma: is it true that boxing hares are not male rivals scrapping over a female in hare-to-hare combat but in fact, contrary to myth, jack versus jill (as hares were known). “That’s right: it’s male against female, and in my boxing-hare couples, it’s always a female fending off a male,” she says.
As and when Nunnington Hall re-opens, Emma Stothard’s installation 366 Leaping
Hares would then be on view and on sale until November 1.
MIKRON Theatre Company 2020’s tour of Amanda Whittington’s new women’s
football play, Atalanta Forever, is off. The referee showing the red card is,
inevitably, Coronavirus Pandemic.
The tour would have opened at the National Football Museum, Manchester,
on April 18, and waiting in the wings was a June 2 visit to the Marsden
travelling players’ regular York idyll of the Scarcroft Allotments, kick-off at
Also falling foul of COVID-19’s Governmental advice to avoid unnecessary
social contact is Mikron’s second show of the summer, Poppy Hollman’s new play A
Dog’s Tale, a celebration of canines past and present that explores the
enduring love between people and their dogs.
This exploration of “the extraordinary world of heroic hounds,
pampered pedigrees and naughty nobblers through the halls and history of Crufts”
was bound for Clements Hall, York, in the autumn, with a cast of Mikron stalwart
James McLean, company newcomer Thomas Cotran and Rachel Benson and
Elizabeth Robin from last year’s brace of shows, All Hands On Deck and Redcoats.
In a statement from artistic director Marianne McNamara, producer
Pete Toon, general manager Rachel Root, production manager Jo English and the board
of trustees, Mikron say: “It is with an extremely heavy hearts that we have to
tell you that we are cancelling our 2020 tour.
“We have worked on every possible scenario and this
is the only way that we will survive into our 50th year of touring in 2021.
“Our board has a duty of care for our team, venues
and Mikron supporters. We want you all to know that we are thinking of you, and
indeed everyone who is part of the Mikron family, in these very difficult
The statement continues: “If you’ve already booked
tickets for our 2020 season – thank you! – we will honour any ticket refunds:
just call or email if you would like us to action this.
“Like many theatre lovers across the world, if you
feel that you wish to donate your ticket price to help us come back better than
ever in 2021, we’d be so very grateful.
“If you haven’t booked, but you were planning on
seeing us in 2020, you can support Mikron now in the following ways:
Mikron praise Arts Council England for being “amazing”
“They are doing everything they can to assist the arts, museums and libraries.
We genuinely would not be here without them today,” they say.
“We have been able to cushion the financial blow
for our creative team as much as possible, and we’re planning for next year in
the hope that what we collectively do in the coming months gets us there.
“If there is anything else we can do for you,
please do keep in touch. We may not be out on the road and waterways this year
but we’re still very much here for you on email, and at the end of the phone.”
From the writer of Ladies Day, Ladies Day Down Under and Mighty Atoms
for Hull Truck Theatre and Bollywood Jane for the West Yorkshire Playhouse,
Atalanta Forever tells the story of pioneering women footballers in 1920.
In post-war Britain, women’s football is big news. Across the country,
all-girl teams are pulling huge crowds in fund-raising games for wounded
Huddersfield amateurs Ethel and Annie take a shot at the big time.
Teammates at Atalanta AFC, they are soon tackling new football skills,
mastering the offside rule and kicking back at the doubters.
This summer’s audiences would have been invited to “come and cheer for
Atalanta as our plucky underdogs learn how to play the game, take on the
legendary teams of the era and find the toughest opponent of all is the
Whittington’s play is based on the true story of one of three women’s
football teams in Huddersfield in post-war Britain. As told through the lives
of two young women, Atalanta Ladies Football Club was formed in 1920 to
“provide games for the women of Huddersfield, to foster a sporting spirit, and
a love of honour among its members”.
During the Great War, several women’s football teams had sprung up
around the country, usually based in factories or munitions works, and proved a
great success in raising money for hospitals, war widows and so on.
The popularity of the women’s game may be measured by the estimated
25,000 crowd that packed Hillsborough, Sheffield, for the Huddersfield
team’s next game with the Dick, Kerr Ladies FC of Preston on May
4, when they lost 4-0 to their much more experienced opponents.
In the wider football world, the growing popularity of women’s football
was now causing concern. The FA even saw it as taking support away from the
men’s game and on December 5, 1921, they banned women’s teams from using FA
Before folding in 1924, the pioneering Huddersfield Atalanta
Ladies FC had raised more than £2,000 for various charities.
Writer and co-lyricist Whittington says of her new play: “I
was an 11-year-old footballer in the 1980s, the only girl who played in the
boys’ village tournament, and I vividly remember being ‘advised’ to stop
because it wasn’t appropriate.
feel the injustice and the sense of shame for wanting to do something I wasn’t
joy to my heart to see football’s now the biggest team sport for girls in
Britain. I wanted to write about the battle the women’s game has fought
to survive and prosper – and perhaps to tell the 11-year-old me she was
Forever was being directed by Mikron artistic director Marianne McNamara, joined
in the production team by composer and co-lyricist Kieran Buckeridge, musical
director Rebekah Hughes and designer Celia Perkins.
Explaining why Mikron chose to tackle the subject of the fight
for women’s football, McNamara says: “Women’s football is making a comeback and
not before time. We are thrilled to pay homage to the trailblazing Huddersfield
women that paved the way against all odds.
the great game itself, this will be an action-packed play of two halves, full
of live music, fun and laughter with no plans for extra time!”
Mikron’s 49th year of touring would have run from April 18 to October,
with the West Yorkshire company travelling hither and thither by road in the
spring and autumn, and by river and canal on the vintage narrowboat Tyseley, until October 24.
Let us look
forward to whenever Mikron will be putting on their shows once more in “places
that other theatre companies wouldn’t dream of”, whether a play about
growing-your-own veg, presented in allotments; one about bees performed
next to hives; another about chips in a fish and chips restaurant, as well as
plays about hostelling in YHA youth hostels and
the RNLI at several lifeboat stations around the UK.
In the meantime, in the spirit of Mikron’s 2018 show by York
writer Ged Cooper, please world, Get Well Soon.
CITY Screen, York, is closed from today, in response to the
Coronavirus epidemic, in line with all fellow cinemas in the Picturehouse
A statement from “the Picturehouse Team” says: “It’s with great sadness that Picturehouse is today announcing the closure of all its cinemas across the UK, starting from Wednesday, March 18 2020, until further notice.
“This decision was made in the light of the current Coronavirus
(COVID-19) outbreak and recent UK government advice, which the company has been
carefully monitoring and following.
“The safety and well-being of our customers, our members and our
staff is our utmost priority at Picturehouse and we are committed to providing
a safe and healthy environment within our cinemas.”
All City Screen – and Picturehouse at large – customers who pre-booked tickets online or on the phone will be emailed and then be issued a refund automatically within 14 days.
Picturehouse memberships, including at City Screen, will retain their value and all members will be contacted in due course with further information.
The statement continues: “We deeply value our cinema-loving
audience and staff and their health and wellbeing is our number one priority
during this difficult time. We look forward to welcoming our Picturehouse
customers back through our doors as soon as possible.
“We will continue to update customers via our email mailing list
and please follow our social media channels.”
Pizzafest live music and pizza event at the Fulford Arms, York, has been called
from event curators Snakerattlers, says: “Unfortunately, we’ve had to
cancel Pizzafest this coming weekend due to the current Covid-19
bands on the line-up will be playing at another Pizzafest in the future, when
things have calmed down. We suggest you keep your ticket for the next
Pizzafest, as it will still be valid.”
Monday’s Government statement on avoiding unnecessary social contact in pubs, Dan
had said, “all being well”, he hoped a Pizzafest could take place in June. Instead,
the date now will be announced in due course.
purchasers for Saturday are entitled to a £10 refund, which can be made by
Saturday’s Pizzafest would have been an all-day event with “a wealth of tip-top, dance-til-you-drop, underground garage rock bands from throughout the UK”. Half way through, a truckload of free pizza would have arrived, with the invitation to “eat as much as you like”.
The line-up was to have included York motorpunk rockers Segregates launching their new vinyl single, Preach To Me. On the bill too were Snakerattlers; Thee Girl Fridays; The Strays; The Sleazoids; Surf Muscle; Hellfire Jack; The Bikini Bottoms; What’s Wrong With Homer?; Percy and Gillman.
THE Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, has shut down with immediate effect in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released today, joint chief executive Caroline Routh said: “Further to current government advice, which stipulates that people should avoid public buildings including theatres to help slow the spread of Coronavirus, our extended management group, including our trustees, has agreed that we will suspend all activities up to and including Sunday (March 22).”
The SJT box office remains open to manage cancellations and will be in touch with customers with bookings that are affected.
“This is a fast-developing situation, and we will be making further announcements over the next few days as things become clearer,” the SJT statement said. “Please take care of yourself and all those around you.”
THURSDAY’S Dementia Friendly Tea Concert at St Chad’s Church, Campleshon
Road, York, has been cancelled, in response to the latest Government advice on
the Coronavirus outbreak.
Husband and wife Robert and Alison Gammon, on piano and clarinet, were to have a
45-minute programme of classical music at 2.30pm, featuring Camille
Saint-Saens’ Clarinet Sonata and Niels Gade’s Fantasy Pieces, to be followed by
tea, coffee and homemade cakes.
Organisers Alison Gammon and Nick Nightingale say: “We have lots of
events planned for later in the year and we are looking forward to
welcoming you back as soon as possible. When holding the concerts once
again becomes advisable, we will email everyone and let you know. In
the meantime we send our sincere best wishes to you all.”
LEEDS Grand Theatre, Leeds City Varieties Music Hall and Hyde Park Picture House are closing from today “to help slow the spread of Coronavirus”.
The decision was taken with regret following official government advice
issued on Monday, stipulating that people should avoid public buildings,
The three venues under the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd umbrella will “remain closed until further notice and will re-open as soon as possible – following government recommendations”.
Chief executive Chris Blythe said: “We are extremely grateful to all of
our audiences who have continued to support us for as long as they can, and to
our staff who have worked tirelessly in recent weeks to ensure the safety and
enjoyment of audiences.
“These are unprecedented times – combined we have been open for over 400
years – and closing our venues is not a decision that has been taken lightly.
In truth, this will have a severe impact on the future of Leeds Grand Theatre
& Opera House Ltd. Our future is now uncertain, but the safety of our
visitors and staff has always been our priority.”
Mr Blythe went on: “We will continue to follow advice from the Government and work closely with the touring companies and artists that are due to visit our venues over the coming months and hope that we will be able to open our doors again very soon. We thank everyone for their continued support and loyalty.”
Audience members for a performance/screening that has been cancelled
will be contacted in due course by staff. “All customers are entitled to a
refund, but as Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd is a charitable
enterprise, those who can afford to are encouraged to donate the cost of their
ticket to show support for the future of our venues,” today’s statement said.
“Over the coming weeks, we will continue to provide regular updates. Ticket holders are asked to bear in mind that our customer service teams are extremely busy, and we would appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding at this time.”
Town Hall is cancelling all public ticketed events from today initially until
the end of April.
decision has been taken “in light of the Prime Minister’s announcement
yesterday and the UK government’s instructions regarding social distancing”.
statement from Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones said: “This is a
fast-changing situation, and we will be monitoring advice from the Government
and Public Health England on a day-by-day basis to inform our course of action
from May onwards.
“Rest assured that the health of our customers, performers,
volunteers and staff is our highest priority.”
Selby Town Hall will be contacting all ticket holders “as soon as
we can”. “It may be possible to rearrange some performances either for later in
the year or early 2021, while others will sadly be cancelled altogether,” said
“To all our customers, you are fantastic. We are incredibly grateful for the support you have given, and continue to give, to the venue. We ask for your patience while our small team deal with what is an unprecedented situation.
“It will take us a few days to establish new dates for shows or confirm full cancellations. The most important message for the moment is not to travel to shows here in the near future, to stay safe, and to look after one another. We will be in touch with you all individually in due course.”
NEXT month’s 20th anniversary York Open Studios has been called off and will not be rearranged for later in the year under the ever-darkening shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Launched in 2001, when only 20 artists took part, Britain’s longest-running Open Studios event was to have showcased 144 artists and makers in 100 studios and workplaces over two weekends, April 18 and 19 and April 25 and 26.
Event chair Beccy Ridsdel says: “It’s been a very difficult decision to make, but the safety of visitors and participating artists is our priority, and with Coronavirus advice currently changing daily, we have sadly decided we are unable to proceed with this year’s event. However, York Open Studios will be running in 2021.”
Now the focus turns to still highlighting the work of the 144 artists, makers and designers, whose full details can be found at yorkopenstudios.co.uk and in the newly redundant 2020 brochure that can be found around the city.
“These small creative businesses are in
need of support during these volatile times, so please take time to take a look
at their work, websites and social media pages and contact them directly to
purchase works,” advise the event organisers.
On show and for sale would have been
ceramics, collages, digital works, illustrations, jewellery, mixed media, paintings,
prints, photography, sculpture, textiles and wood works.
YORK Theatre Royal is cancelling all
public performances and events until April 11 after Prime Minister Boris
Johnson’s Coronavirus briefing on avoiding unnecessary social contact.
Ticket holders are being asked to consider donating the price of their tickets to the theatre, Britain’s oldest playhouse outside London.
Shows at theatres nationwide have been cancelled in response to yesterday’s Government advice on the Coronavirus pandemic, asking the public not to go to theatres, pubs and clubs.
The Theatre Royal box office will be in touch with ticket holders for the next four weeks of performances, covering March 17 to April 11, and they are being requested not to contact the box office directly but wait to be called.
Executive director Tom Bird said: “The closure of theatres in the UK puts York Theatre Royal, along with hundreds of other theatres, into a critical situation. We are asking that people consider donating their ticket purchase to the theatre at this time. As a charity, their support is crucial to our survival.
“If they cannot do this, we’d ask that
they consider a credit to their account. If none of this is satisfactory, they
can choose a refund.”
York Theatre Royal further advises: “If
the closure period is extended, we will be in touch with bookers for future
performances in good time, and we’ll also post updates to our website and
social media channels.
“It’s with enormous sadness that we
take these measures, but the safety of our audiences, staff and community is of
“We are looking at ways we can be of
use to the wider York community during this time. More details regarding these
plans will follow.”
The theatre building, in St Leonard’s
Place, is remaining open at present, including the café and box office.
POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is closing its doors to the public with effect from today in response to the Government’s Coronavirus measures, but vows to re-emerge “stronger and more vibrant than ever” in its 20th anniversary year.
A statement released by director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy this morning said: “In the light of the Government’s latest advice for people to avoid non-essential contact, we have taken the decision to close PAC to the public as of today (Tuesday, March 17).
“The health and safety of our staff, visitors, artists and volunteers is of utmost importance to us and therefore we do not feel it is prudent to remain open to the public at this time.”
Their statement continues: “We don’t know yet how long this closure will last, but this will be at least until Easter 2020 [mid-April]. Further updates will be announced in due course.
“During this period, it is critical that we continue to support our staff, artists and creative partners. We will be working closely with our peers across the region and indeed the country, and we are determined that PAC will emerge from this challenge stronger and more vibrant than ever. We will be publishing more on this in the coming days.”
Anyone who has booked a ticket or is due to attend a public event at PAC will be contacted by the box-office team over the next few days to organise a refund and/or discuss the cancellation.
“Tickets can be refunded but we would ask you to consider supporting the
venue and artists by not accepting a refund, if you are able to afford to,” suggested
the statement. “We will of course try to reschedule events, but this may take
some time, so please bear with us in these very challenging times.”
Pocklington Arts Centre will be setting up a crowdfunding page later
this week. “We’ll publish details of this on our social media accounts,” said
Janet and James. “If you feel able to donate to this, your support would be
most welcome to help secure the long-term future of the venue.”
The statement concluded: “Please visit our social media channels and
website [pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk] for daily/weekly updates and as to when
PAC will reopen.
“Many thanks for your understanding. We very much appreciate your patience in
this unprecedented situation. Take care and keep safe.”
Pocklington Arts Centre’s spring and summer programme to mark the East
Yorkshire venue’s 20th anniversary was launched on March 6 with a
party night of New Orleans Mardi Gras jazz by the New York Brass Band.
Planned as the epicentre of the celebrations is the fifth Platform
Festival of music and comedy, hosted by PAC at The Old Station, with the
headline attraction of Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant’s new project, Saving
Grace, on July 10.
Full details can be found at platformfestival.net and
HAS there ever been a more cynical, anti-arts, pro-insurance industry posh pals statement from Prime Minister Johnson than yesterday’s first Coronavirus daily briefing?
For one so notoriously careless with words, despite his love of a luxuriant lexicon, his careful avoidance of enforcing a shutdown of pubs, clubs, theatres etc, in favour of merely recommending “avoiding unnecessary social” interaction, effectively amounts to washing his and his Government’s hands of the future of one of the power houses of British life: the entertainment industry.
No formal closures means no chance of insurance pay-outs. In an already increasingly intolerant, Right-veering Britain, with its Brexit V-sign to Europe, could it be this is another way to try to suffocate and stifle our potent, provocative, influential, politically challenging, counter-thinking, all-embracing, anti-divisive, collective-spirited, often radical, always relevant, life-enriching, rather than rich-enriching, font of free expression, protest and empowerment?
Was this the day the music died?
History shows that the arts, the pubs, the theatres, the counter-culture, has always found a way to bite back, to fight back, often at times of greatest repression and depression. No Margaret Thatcher, no Specials’ Ghost Town.
We and our very necessary social interactions shall be back, hopefully after only a short break. Meanwhile, we are all in the hands of science, that equally progressive bedfellow to the arts.
THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, is closing until “further instruction that it is safe to re-open”, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement issued late last night, chair of trustees Dan Shrimpton said: “Today (March 16), the Government announced that unnecessary social contact should be avoided, including visits to social venues such as theatres.
safety of our community is paramount, and in light of this announcement, it is
with a heavy heart that we will be closing the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, until
we receive further instruction that it is safe to reopen.
to say, this is desperately disappointing for the producing companies, our
audiences, volunteers, indeed everyone who forms part of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s
The statement on behalf of the Haxby Road theatre continued: “We will be issuing further advice in the coming days on how we are going to manage ticket refunds and exchanges. We appreciate that you will have questions about bookings and refunds; however, we would ask that you please bear with us and wait for us to contact you.
you in advance for your support. We appreciate that this is a very worrying
time for everyone in our community.”
Among the upcoming shows in the diary at York’s community theatre are: York St John University MPS’s Guys And Dolls, March 19 to 21; The Bev Jones Music Company’s Guys And Dolls, March 25 to 28; Flying Ducks Youth Theatre’s Crush: The Musical, April 2 to 4; Jessa Liversidge’s Songbirds, April 5, and Rowntree Players’ premiere of Ian Donaghy’s The Missing Peace, April 17 and 18.
THE Grand Opera House, York, is suspending all shows with immediate effect in light of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Coronavirus statement to “avoid unnecessary social contact”.
Mark Cornell, group chief executive officer of the Ambassador Theatre Group, the theatre’s owners, has issued a group-wide statement. “In response to the Prime Minister’s statement this evening, advising the UK public to avoid unnecessary social contact, including in theatres, we regret to inform you that shows in all Ambassador Theatre Group UK venues are temporarily suspended with immediate effect,” he said.
“We understand that this decision comes as a disappointment, and a massive inconvenience for those of you already on the way to a venue this evening, but ultimately we all want the same thing: the health and safety of our communities, and we believe this is the correct decision to make.”
Mr Cornell’s statement continued: “Given the current ambiguity and lack of clarity as to how long our theatres may be closed for, we hope to provide you with an update within the next 48 hours regarding the exchange of tickets. We will be consulting with industry bodies including the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre and the government over the immediate future.
“For now, we would like to thank you for your understanding and patience,
and to recognise the incredible efforts and support of producers, artists,
partners and customers over this difficult period.”
The Grand Opera House has no show tonight, but Round The Horne is in the diary for Wednesday; Psychic Sally, 10 Years And Counting for Thursday; Ellen Kent Company’s La Boheme for Friday and Madama Butterfly for Saturday, and the musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story for March 24 to 28.
Meanwhile, Tom Bird, executive director of York Theatre Royal, was holding a meeting this evening. A statement will follow.
Tonight’s 7.30pm performance of Tom’s Midnight Garden at the John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkate, York IS going ahead, but Pick Me Up Theatre artistic director Robert Readman will call off this week’s run after that.
His Twitter statement at 6.38pm this evening read: “In light of the Government’s latest measures, we will be closing Tom’s Midnight Garden after tonight’s show. Do come if you have tix for another day and we will accommodate as many as possible. We are also sad to announce the postponement of Sondheim 90 and The Pirates Of Penzance. “
Sondheim 90: A Birthday Concert, in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday was to have taken place on Sunday; Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates Of Penzance from April 17 to 25, both at 41 Monkgate.
SHERIDAN Smith will revisit
her portrayal of Cilla Black in Cilla The Musical at Leeds Grand Theatre from
November 9 to 21.
She first played the late Liverpool
pop star and television presenter in Jeff Pope’s award-winning ITV mini-series
Cilla in 2015.
The part was written for Smith originally for a stage show but was then transferred to television, whereupon her performance won her a 2015 National TV Award and TV Choice Award and she was nominated for a BAFTA and EMMY Award too.
Now, expecting a baby in May, 38-year-old Smith has agreed to step inside the role of Cilla once more in impresario Bill Kenwright’s stage production, penned again by Pope.
Her past theatre credits include her first Olivier Award nomination for Little Shop Of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London, and her first Olivier Award and WhatsOnStage Award for playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde The Musical.
Smith, from Epworth, near Doncaster, then won an Olivier Award and an Evening Standard Theatre Award for her role as Doris in Flare Path. Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler at The Old Vic brought her another WhatsOnStage Best Actress Award and she enjoyed a celebrated run in the West End as Fanny Bryce in Funny Girl in 2018.
Cilla The Musical’s heart-warming musical adaptation of Pope’s television series first toured in 2017, when nominated for Best New Musical in the WhatsOnStage Awards.
Kara Lily Hayworth played Cilla after
ten rounds of auditions and a final four sing-off at The Cavern in Liverpool
for the tour that visited the Grand Opera House, York, in January 2018.
Directed by Kenwright and Bob Tomson,
Pope’s story “follows the extraordinary life of an ordinary teenage girl from
Liverpool, Priscilla White, and her rocky, yet incredible, rise to fame”.
By the age of 25, she was recognised as
international singing star Cilla Black. By 30, she had become Britain’s
favourite television entertainer, leading to such series as Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.
The musical score features such Cilla landmarks as Anyone Who Had A Heart, Alfie and Something Tells Me.
Tickets are on sale on 0844 848 2700
or at leedsgrandtheatre.com.
Did you know?
JEFF Pope wrote the screenplays for Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman; Essex Boys; Philomenaand Stan & Ollie. His television work includes the BAFTA-winning ITV drama Mrs Biggs and Cilla, both starring Sheridan Smith.
THERE’S still life in the boyz! Boyzlife, the supergroup of Irish boy
band graduates Brian McFadden, from Westlife, and Boyzone’s Keith Duffy, will
play York Barbican on October 15.
Their live show is drawn from a joint back catalogue of 18 number one
singles, nine chart-topping albums and combined global record sales of 60
million. Expect to hear World Of Our Own, Mandy, Uptown Girl and Flying Without
Wings among many fan favourites.
First playing together in 2016, Boyzlife embarked on part one of their
2020 travels on February 1 at Hull Bonus Arena, selling more than 35,000
tickets for a 32-date tour that will run until March 28, with limited tickets
still available for Sheffield City Hall on March 24 (box office, 0114 2
789 789 or sheffieldcityhall.co.uk).
Part two of the tour is booked in for September 1 to November 1, taking in
further Yorkshire dates at Victoria Theatre, Halifax, on September 10, The
Dome, Doncaster, October 17, and Scarborough Spa, October 23.
McFadden, 39, featured on all Westlife’s number one singles and albums before
leaving in 2004, since when he has released five albums and 17 singles in a
solo career launched with the UK number one Real To Me in September 2004.
Duffy, 45,finished touring with Boyzone on October 25 last year
on their Thank You And Goodnight Tour after six UK number one singles and five
number one albums in a career where he also has branched out into acting in
Coronation Street, Broken Nation and Fair City.
York tickets go on sale from today on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office; Halifax, 01422 351158 or victoriatheatre.co.uk; Doncaster, 01302 370777 and 08442 770700 or dcit.co.uk; Scarborough, 01723 821888 or scarbroughspa.co.uk.
REVIEW: Tom’s Midnight Garden, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, until Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568; at pickmeuptheatre.com or in person from York Gin, 12, Pavement, and York Theatre Royal box office
IT is grimly impossible not to see everything anew
in the context of the crippling Coronavirus.
Within moments of Tom’s Midnight Garden opening,
the word “quarantine” is mentioned, and audience members turn to each other – keeping
a certain distance, of course – in recognition of its heightened resonance.
Adapted for the stage by David Wood, the doyen of
such transitions from print to boards, Philippa Pearce’s beloved novel is a
testament to the power of imagination, perhaps the most precious gift of all in
childhood, but one that dims through experience as we age.
Right now, we might all wish that the clock could
strike 13 and take us to somewhere magical, as it does in Tom’s Midnight
Garden, although George Orwell’s opening line to 1984, where the clocks en
masse were doing exactly that, is contrastingly heavy with sinister
Pick Me Up director-designer Robert Readman sets up
the black-box John Cooper Studio in a traverse configuration, the audience to
either side of a stage book-ended by a door and lonely Tom’s bedroom away from
home at one end and a door and bored brother Peter’s bedroom back home at the
other, where he is quarantined with measles.
The setting is the dull 1950s, when Tom (a role
shared by Pick Me Up debutant Jimmy Dalgleish, in action on press night, and
Jack Hambleton) is staying with his kindly Aunt Gwen (Maggie Smales) and
pipe-smoking, Daily Mail-reading Uncle Alan (Andrew Isherwood).
At Tom’s end too is the aforementioned grandfather clock,
with its figure of an angel and an inscription, Time No Longer, taken from the
Book of Revelation, Chapter 10, Verse 6, and still today the subject of much
conjecture as to its possible meaning.
Even within Tom’s Midnight Garden, it draws a
scoffing comment, but if instead it can been seen as advocating that the
limitations, the boundaries, of time be removed, rather than as the end of
time, then it becomes the doorway to limitless imagination.
On the John Cooper Studio’s mezzanine level are not
only the bedrooms but also passageways to either side (not ideal, alas, as
anyone moving above you on your side is out of sight, and Readman might need to
re-block those moments to facilitate seeing them better).
Musical director Tim Selman, meanwhile, is
positioned in clear view at his piano beside Atkin’s Peter. Behind him are
cellist Lucy McLuckie and violinist Robert Bates, and together they perform a second
string to Atkin’s bow: his newly composed score that accompanies scenes played
out in the midnight garden of the title.
Occasionally on first night, the beautiful music impacted
on the clarity of the dialogue but the sound balance can be remedied.
A chorus gathers, chiming the mantra “Time no longer”,
as if bringing the clock to speaking life. Each day, that clock is wound up fastidiously
by the mysterious Mrs Bartholomew (Beryl Nairn), so stern of face she unnerves Tom’s
aunt and uncle.
When it strikes 11, 12, 13, pyjama-clad,
inquisitive Tom leaves his bed, makes his way downstairs, across the hall and
out of the door into a magical garden, initially depicted as a bright light. A
garden that only he can enter. A Victorian garden, where he encounters Victorian
orphan Hattie (Olivia Caley), the joyless Aunt Grace (Beryl Nairn, part two),
Bible-reading gardener Abel (Isherwood, part two) and assorted playful Victorian
The garden scenes are played out on the empty
expanse between the two doors. No flowers, no secret passageways, everything
left to our imagination, save for chairs and gathered, elasticated black and
white ribbon strands at all four corners through which cast members pass, not exactly
with the greatest of ease.
Decide for yourself what they symbolise; maybe the
erosion of time; maybe the imagination at work; maybe time travel; maybe they just
look aesthetically pretty, matching the black and white of Readman’s overall design.
Here, across the time divide, Tom and Hattie can see each other when others cannot see him, and time passes at a different rate for each of them. This is a place of mystery and magic, but something darker if Abel’s biblical bent is to be believed, as if Tom were as meddlesome as Shakespeare’s Puck or J M Barrie’s Peter Pan.
Although imaginative, neither Readman’s direction,
nor design, are as magical as his best work. Wood’s script, however, captures fully
Pearce’s possibilities of make-believe, drawing you deep into Tom and Hattie’s
world, where sweetness and sadness elide, brought to life so evocatively by the
outstanding Caley, Dalgleish, Atkin, Smales and Nairn and Isherwood at the
KEVIN Clifton will still be in Strictly after all this year…and next
Not the 2020 series of Strictly Come Dancing, but the 2020/2021 UK and
Ireland tour of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical, directed by
Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood, no less.
“Kevin from Grimsby”, 37, will play his dream role of Scott Hastings, with
Yorkshire dates in York, Hull, Sheffield and Bradford, after the 2018 Strictly
champion announced his exit last week from BBC One’s ballroom dance show,
ending seven seasons in annual pursuit
of the glitter ball trophy.
Clifton is making a
full-time move into the world of musical theatre, kicking off with the musical
version of the 1992 Australian film that so inspired him in childhood days in
beyond excited to be finally fulfilling a lifelong ambition to play Scott
Hastings in Strictly Ballroom The Musical,” he says. “When I was ten
years old, I first watched the movie that would become my favourite film of all
time. This is my dream role.
get to work with Craig Revel Horwood again. I really can’t wait to don
the golden jacket and waltz all over the UK from September this year in what’s
set to be an incredible show.”
from September 26 to June 26 2021, Strictly Ballroom will visit the Grand Opera
House, York, from November 23 to 28, as well as Hull New Theatre, October 12 to
17; Sheffield Lyceum Theatre, April 12 to 17 2021, and Alhambra Theatre,
Bradford, May 31 to June 5 2021.
Clifton joined Strictly Come Dancing in 2013,
performing in the final five times, missing out only in 2017 and 2019, and was
crowned Strictly champion in 2018 with celebrity partner Stacey Dooley, the BBC
documentary filmmaker, presenter and journalist.
A former youth world number one and four-time British Latin Champion, Clifton has won international open titles all over the world. After making his West End musical theatre debut in 2010 in Dirty Dancing, he starred as Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer at Wembley Troubadour Park Theatre and as rock demigod Stacie Jaxx in the satirical Eighties’ poodle-rock musical Rock Of Ages in the West End, a role that also brought him to Leeds Grand Theatre last August.
Clifton last performed at the Grand
Opera House, York, in the ballroom dance show Burn The Floor last May.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical tells the story of Scott Hastings, a talented, arrogant and rebellious young Aussie ballroom dancer. When his radical dance moves lead to him falling out of favour with the Australian Dance Federation, he finds himself dancing with Fran, a beginner with no moves at all.
by one another, this unlikely pair gathers the courage to defy both convention
and family and discover that, to be winners, the steps don’t need to be
Featuring a book by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, the show features a cast of 20 and combines such familiar numbers as Love Is In The Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time with songs by Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.
Strictly Ballroom began as an uplifting, courageous stage play that Luhrmann devised with a group of classmates at Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Art in Australia in 1984. Eight years later, he made his screen directorial debut with Strictly Ballroom as the first instalment in his Red Curtain Trilogy.
The film won three 1993 BAFTA awards and received a 1994 Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture. Strictly Ballroom The Musical had its world premiere at the Sydney Lyric Theatre in 2014, and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, staged the first British production in December 2016 to January 2017.
Kevin is not the only member of the Clifton dancing family of Grimsby to have graduated from Strictly champion into musicals. Sister Joanne, 36, appeared at the Grand Opera House, York, as demure flapper girl Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie in February 2017; combustible Pittsburgh welder and dancer Alex Owens in Flashdance in November that year and prim and proper but very corruptible Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Show in June 2019.
York tickets are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york; Hull, 01482 300306 or hulltheatres.co.uk. Sheffield and Bradford tickets will be available soon.
CHEF, restaurateur and food writer Yotam
Ottolenghi will reflect on A Life In Flavour and provide cooking inspiration at
York Theatre Royal on September 17.
Ottolenghi, who is of Italian-Jewish
and German-Jewish descent, will discuss the tastes, ingredients and flavours
that excite him and how he has created a career from cooking.
In the 7.30pm event, coinciding with
the publication of his latest cookbook, Ottolenghi Flavour, he will “offer
unique insights into how flavour is dialled up and why it works, from basic
pairings fundamental to taste, to cooking methods that elevate ingredients to
Under discussion too will be his life
and career, from how his upbringing – he was born to a chemistry professor and high-school principal in West
Jerusalem – has
influenced his food, to opening six delis and restaurants in London.
Ottolenghi, 51, is chef-patron of the
Ottolenghi delis, NOPI and ROVI restaurants. He writes a weekly column in the
Guardian’s Feast magazine and a monthly column in The New Yorker and has
published the cookbooks Plenty and Plenty More, his collection of vegetarian
recipes; Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Jerusalem, co-authored with Sami Tamimi; NOPI:
The Cookbook with Ramael Scully; Sweet, his baking and desserts collection with
Helen Goh, and Ottolenghi Simple, his 2018 award winner book with Tara Wigley
and Esme Howarth.
Ottolenghi’s appearance at York Theatre
Royal will come a fortnight after Penguin Books publish his new cookbook of “flavour-forward,
vegetable-based recipes”, Ottolenghi Flavour, wherein he and co-writer Ixta Belfrage break down the three factors
that create flavour.
Please note, there is the chance to buy a copy with your ticket (£15 and upwards) for this Penguin Live evening. Ottolenghi will conduct a book-signing session after the talk. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
RHEA Storr has won the
2020 Aesthetica Art Prize main prize at York Art Gallery for her work A Protest, A
Celebration, A Mixed Message.
The Emerging Prize was awarded to Chris Yuan for Counterfictions at Thursday evening’s award ceremony, hosted by York’s art and culture publication Aesthetica Magazine.
The winners were selected
from a shortlist of 18 artists for this annual competition, a first look into
new creative talent that showcases works that redefine the parameters of
contemporary art, with artists reflecting on the global situation.
“They offer us insight
into how we can encourage positive change,” says Aesthetica director Cherie
Federico. “The exhibited works explore themes such as race and identity,
technology, dataism, surveillance culture, geopolitics and the climate crisis.”
British artist and filmmaker Rhea Storr’s A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message considers cultural representation, masquerade and the performance of black bodies.
Her winning work is concerned with
the ability of 16mm film to speak about black and mixed-race identities, using
moments of tension where images break down or are resistive. “Images that deny
access – fail to articulate what they represent or don’t tell the whole story –
provide significant starting points,” says Rhea, who began her PhD in media
and communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, last year.
Through video, fiction, sound, design and performance, British artist Chris Yuan examines the messy web of human construction. His Emerging Prize winner, Counterfictions, constructs alternative realities of ecological collapse after the construction of President Trump’s border wall proposal.
His film weaves together information from
scientific facts and quotes from the president, as well as references to
literature and mythology.
The Aesthetica Art Prize provides a
platform for practitioners across the world, supporting and enhancing their
careers through global recognition and new opportunities.
establishment 13 years ago, the prize has supported a vast number of artists
who have progressed in their careers, gaining funding, residencies and
commissions,” says Cherie. “Finalists have been featured in both group and solo
exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, The Photographer’s Gallery,
V&A and MoMA, among others.”
This year’s shortlisted
final 18 artists were: Andreas Lutz (Germany); Andres Orozco (USA); Bill Posters (Barnaby Francis)
& Daniel Howe (UK); Chris Yuan (UK); Christiane
Zschommler (UK); Christopher Stott (Canada); Erik Deerly (USA); Fragmentin
(Switzerland); Emmy Yoneda (UK); Geoff Titley (UK); Kenichi Shikata (Japan);
Laura Besançon (UK); Natalia Garcia Clark (Mexico); Oliver Canessa (Gibraltar);
Patty Carroll (USA); Pernille Spence & Zoë Irvine (UK), Rhea Storr (UK) and
Stephanie Potter Corwin (USA).
“The Prize has two
layers: one dedicated to supporting artists; the other for presenting ideas to
global audiences to initiate change,” says Cherie. “Curating this year’s
exhibition was immeasurably satisfying and I’m privileged to have the
opportunity to see so much talent, drawing on both personal and universal
The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, featuring work by the winners and shortlisted artists, runs at York Art Gallery until July 5.
Looking ahead, submissions are open for next year’s Aesthetica Art
Prize with a deadline of August 31 2020. To find out more, visit
GEISHA, the first of two world premieres to mark Northern Ballet’s 50th anniversary, opens tonight at Leeds Grand Theatre.
emotional story of two young women whose lives are torn apart in the midst of a
collision between East and West, the ballet is choreographed and directed by
Kenneth Tindall, creator of the Leeds company’s 2017 hit, Casanova, and short
works such as The Shape Of Sound.
in Leeds from this weekend until March 21 before a national tour that sets off
at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre from March 24 to 28, Geisha is an
original ballet inspired by true events.
and Aiko are two young geisha with an unshakeable bond who find themselves
on different paths when their world is irrevocably changed after the first
arrival of the Americans in Japan. While Aiko finds happiness in her new life,
Okichi’s life is devastated and she returns as a ghostly apparition to wreak
performed to an original score by Alexandra Harwood, played live by
Northern Ballet Sinfonia. Sets and costumes are designed by Christopher Oram, who
designed Casanova too, with lighting by Alastair West. The scenario has been
written by Kenneth Tindall in collaboration with TV and film
writer Gwyneth Hughes; historical consultant Lesley Downer completes
the creative team.
Leeds tickets are
on sale on 0844 848 2700 or at leedsgrandtheatre.com; Sheffield, 0114 249
6000 or sheffieldtheatres.co.uk. Age guidance: 12 plus.
Kenneth Tindall, Northern Ballet dancer from 2003 to 2015, choreographer in residence and
director of Geisha, answers questions on his new production.
What led you to choose Geisha for
your second full-length ballet, Kenneth?
“When [artistic director] David
Nixon invited me to create a new full-length ballet for Northern Ballet’s 50th
anniversary year, we had a lot of discussion about what the title should be.
“Of course you have to consider
how the tour will work and the necessity for it to be successful at the box
office, but we were also mindful of it being the 50th anniversary and choosing
a title that could tie in with that.
“In Northern Ballet’s history, the
company has staged two versions of Madame Butterfly, including one
choreographed by David himself, which I’ve always been inspired by, but I
didn’t want to recreate a ballet that he’d done so well and built a loyal
“Instead, we came up with the idea
for an original ballet about geisha based on true events. I lived and worked in
Japan for a year and it’s a culture that I’ve always been fascinated with. The
mystery behind the world of geisha is a fantastic prospect for a creative and
really sparks the imagination.”
When did you first become
interested in the culture of geisha?
“My interest in geisha was first
piqued many years ago when I read [Arthur Golden’s] Memoirs Of A Geisha. That
was my first introduction to geisha and I quickly realised that there was so
much more to it.
“I found it to be a beautiful
first source that captured my imagination and led me into much deeper research.
I remember reading the book in the bath and just being fascinated by the way it
was written: the colours, the landscape, the feeling, the weather, and just the
honour in it all.
“It’s like a whole other world, so
opposite to us in most ways that it’s almost hard for a western mind to get
Why choose an original story for
Geisha rather than an existing one?
“One of the things that I’m most
proud of about Northern Ballet is that they continue to try to do new stories.
Not tried and tested scenarios, but completely original and wholly new stories
that the audience don’t know.
“I think that it’s incredibly
brave of Northern Ballet because it’s a really difficult thing to market. I
believe that through the years of doing original ballets like this and
producing such great work, the company attracts people to the theatre and
hopefully a new audience to the art form as well.”
What were your first steps in the
creation of Geisha?
“The first thing I did was
establish who was going to create the story with me. Every time I step into a
new project, I’m also looking to push my creative process in at least one new
direction, so that I can learn something and develop my own skills and ideas
for future projects.
“On Casanova I worked with Ian
Kelly to create the scenario and I loved that process. I thought it was really
interesting to have a novelist and playwright involved and it led to quite a
“This time I decided I wanted a TV
and film writer to help me edit the scenario and form the character arcs, but
we also really needed a specialist in the subject to help us fully respect the
“That led me to Gwyneth Hughes to
actually write the scenario with, and Lesley Downer to oversee the process and
make sure we were on the right track.”
How did you form the scenario for
“Gwyneth Hughes and I came
together and threw a hundred ideas into the air to see where they would land.
We began to disregard ideas we thought wouldn’t make a ballet or that we felt
weren’t interesting enough or were too westernised.
Then Gwyneth asked me if I knew
the story of Okichi, which I didn’t. I don’t believe the story of Okichi is
very well known in the west but, in her hometown of Shimoda, there’s a statue
“I think it’s incredible that this
woman, who had a sort of fall from grace and was perceived totally differently
in the 19th century, now has a statue where people come to pray.
“You never know what the legacy
will be of the choices you make. What makes Okichi’s story more interesting for
me is that the legend is so vague, there are many versions of it, which leaves
“This meant we had a structure for
the story and then our imagination could run wild. That’s what excited me about
Okichi’s story and one of the reasons we chose it. It then also allowed us to
incorporate another aspect of Japanese culture with the Obon Festival of the
The Obon Festival is visually
stunning and quite overwhelming in some ways. If you take a moment to stop and
think about life and death, the idea that you could meet the people that are no
longer in your life, the thought is so powerful.
“It just seemed such a natural fit
to include the Obon Festival. Over this three-day period, we are able to
resolve the conflict that happened in the real world in the first act and then
be able to sustain the point of view of Okichi in the second act through her
What are the key themes of Geisha?
Above all, Geisha is about two
young women who happen to be geisha, and the sisterhood they share. We see the
lives of these two women turned upside down with the arrival of the Americans,
which was really a turning point in the history of Japan.
“The geisha world as a backdrop is
stunning and visual, and something that works really well in theatre, but the
interest is actually in who the characters are beyond that.
“The ballet includes themes of
life and death, love, loss, redemption and revenge, which are universal themes
that any culture can understand.”
What are the challenges of
creating a ballet with an original scenario versus one based on an existing
“It has pros and cons. If you
choose a story like Romeo & Juliet, you’ve got fantastic theatre.
Everything is there for you. The duets, the death, the drama, the excitement,
the love, the connection, the families – it’s Shakespeare, it is incredible.
“There’s the reason it’s survived
for so long and there are so many reinterpretations of it, because at its
foundation, it’s a masterclass of storytelling.
“Having said that, I feel that as
a young choreographer it’s my job not to keep going back to these existing
texts or resources and think about new stories instead. The pressure is coming
up with a story that’s good enough. You’re effectively starting from the
beginning, but it means you get to tailor-make work for ballet.”
What has it been like working with your creative team?
“I feel that honest collaboration is a key component to
whether something will succeed or not. I like to have an idea but stay
open-minded, so that it could go in a new direction.
“I chose my creative team for their incredible skills and I
wanted them invested in the project and for them to challenge me. As I
mentioned earlier, I chose Gwyneth Hughes to write the scenario with and Lesley
Downer as our historical consultant.
“It’s fantastic to work with Christopher Oram on the designs
again as we have a relationship from Casanova, and now we get to start again on
a higher level and push this project even further.
“It’s the same with our lighting designer Alastair West.
We’ve worked together so often now that for Geisha we started lighting
conversations very early and began visualising what could be possible.
“Our composer, Alexandra Harwood, has gone above and beyond.
I’ve spent so many hours at her house going through ideas and she’s re-written
many scenes; she has such a passion and energy for the project.”
What does it mean to you to create a new ballet for
Northern Ballet’s 50th anniversary year?
“My first performance with Northern Ballet was when I was
eight years old. I was at Central School of Ballet and was picked out of the
school to perform in Romeo & Juliet and A Christmas Carol. “When I later
got a job at the company, it was a dream come true. I worked up to première dancer
and honestly never thought past that. Now it’s the 50th anniversary and I’m
choreographing the first première of the year, it’s a little overwhelming.
“When I was asked to do Casanova, I was just so delighted to
be given the opportunity but now I’m making a second full-length [ballet], I
appreciate what an absolute privilege it is. When I look at where the company
is now and the dancers we have, it’s so humbling to think I’m being given the
opportunity to work on this level.
“I’m just keeping my fingers crossed and praying ‘long may
it continue’ because there are a lot of stories I want to tell, and I just hope
that people will allow me to tell them.”
How do you feel that your relationship with the company
has evolved now that you have created multiple works for Northern Ballet?
“I’ve been choreographing work for Northern Ballet for
almost a decade now and each time my relationship with the company just goes
further. It’s like the dancers have learnt my language and are so well versed
in it that everything is so much quicker and that it allows us time to go
deeper into the process and try new things.
“I like to think that I’ve got a shed full of tools that are
sharpened in the finest manner, with all my special handholds on them and I
know exactly how to use them. So now, with that in mind, where do we go? And
that’s both the terrifying and exhilarating part of it.”
Q and A with Northern Ballet first soloist Minju Kang,
from Seoul, South Korea, who has created the lead role of Okichi in Geisha.
What research have you done to prepare for this role,
“I did a lot of research online and was able to find
information about the true story of Okichi. I looked at pictures of Shimoda,
where she’s from, and saw the statue they have of her there.
“I also searched for information and images about geisha in
general and their history. I watched the movie of Memoirs Of A Geisha and
though the story in our ballet is very different, it was very interesting to
see a visual representation of geisha on screen.”
How does Japanese culture compare to South Korean
culture? Are there things you can relate to? “We’re neighbouring countries
and while there are things that are similar, much is so different. I feel close
to it because I am from an Asian culture, but as part of creating Geisha I’ve
learned so much that I didn’t know that is different in Japan, like there is a
certain way to bow and to kneel.
“For me, though, when I play a character, I completely
forget about my nationality, my age and everything else and focus on my
Does South Korea have anything like geisha?
“In South Korea we have kisaeng, which are very similar, so
I already had an idea of what being a geisha was about. Kisaeng are basically
entertainers trained in the arts and they dance and play instruments like
This is the first time you’ve had a role created on you.
How has that experience been?
“At first it was overwhelming because you want to be good
and it’s a big responsibility. It became really special, though, because I have
been able to put something personal into the role.
“Working with Kenneth Tindall and the ballet staff has been
real teamwork and we really trust each other, so it was easy for me to open up
and not be afraid to give what I have. It’s been such a joy.”
Do you have a favourite scene in Geisha, or a favourite
piece of choreography?
“I enjoyed creating the scene with Townsend Harris –
although it isn’t a happy scene for my character! When we first began creating
it, Kenny [Kenneth Tindall] showed us the movement he wanted, and we tried to
copy it and build up from there.
“But it was so important to tell the story clearly we talked
about it at length in the studio and focused on the small things. It was less
about the movement, and more about a little look, or how I sit down, or the way
he grabs me. I had no idea how much of a difference these little things make.
When the scene was finished there was a real sense of achievement.”
How would you describe the really emotional journey your character has to go on?
“Okichi is a very supportive person. She feels she’s
achieved what she wanted to achieve and now has a sister in Aiko who she fully
supports. Because she’s been through it all herself, she can guide her better
and is very protective in some ways.
“She’s there for everyone but then, when she needs help
after the Americans arrive, she feels that they are not there for her in return
and she can’t share all she wants to share because she feels ashamed.
“She ends up in a very dark and lonely place. In the second
act when she comes back as a ghost, she doesn’t even understand at first that
she’s dead, she thinks it’s a nightmare.
“Imagine seeing your own dead body – she feels sick at first
but then that turns into anger because she can’t reach the people she loves any
“Her anger is focused on the Americans and when she takes
her revenge, she doesn’t even think about it. It’s only afterwards she realises
the hurt she has done to Aiko, the person she loves the most.”
Is it hard for you to portray that range of emotions within
a two-hour show?
“Yes definitely! The end of the first act is especially
intense. It’s strange how emotion can affect your body, you feel really heavy.
It doesn’t necessarily affect me off stage; I go home, I’m fine, I’m happy, but
in that moment on stage, I’m so committed to that journey that Okichi is going
through and I feel all the emotions.
Do you enjoy the acting side of your job?
“I do really enjoy it because you get to create another
version of yourself that you never knew existed and share that with the
audience. The fact that you can find something inside of you to create that
character, it’s just like magic.”
Do you like your costumes? Are they easy to dance in?
“They’re amazing. I have about five kimono and they’re all
so beautiful, the colours and designs, but also how they’re made and so
comfortable to dance in. I could wear them every day!
“It’s an amazing visual when you see the whole cast in their
costumes, and the geisha have beautiful fans which have been sourced from Japan
by [leading soloist] Ayami Miyata’s aunt.”
What is your process to prepare for a performance?
“I’m sure every dancer would say that they don’t want to be
rushed. I give myself plenty of time, about two to three hours to get ready. I
make sure I’ve gone out before to get some food, but I don’t like to eat a full
meal before a show.
“I do get nervous and I use mindfulness to help with that. I
talk to myself a lot in my head and get very quiet to save energy, stay calm
and get focused on the performance. I even talk to myself when I’m on stage,
encouraging and reassuring myself, and when something has gone well, I can’t
hide it on my face.”
How important is live music to your performance?
“Music is so important for me, it’s half of the performance.
Having a live orchestra is a collaboration and you can feel the connection
between the dancers, the conductor and the orchestra, you can feel the support.
You’re dancing with them.
“It’s like you’re on this journey together and it’s so
special. It’s very different to performing to recorded music. Recorded music is
around you but with live music, the music gets inside you.”
How does it feel to be part of Northern Ballet’s 50th
“There are people who have been in the company longer, so,
for me, it’s an honour to be part of it. When I learn about the history, I feel
really proud of what this company has achieved and where they are now.
“You can feel the work people have put in to take this
company to where we are and that’s really touching.”
Minju Kang’s back story
Minju, from Seoul, South Korea, trained at Seoul Arts High
School, Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts and the Hamburg Ballet
She performed with Bundesjugendballett for two years before
joining Northern Ballet in 2016. Her roles with the Leeds company have included
Victoria in Victoria, Cinderella in Cinderella, Marilla in The Little Mermaid
and Mina in Dracula.
BRITISH astronaut Tim Peake will re-live his six-month mission to the International Space Station in his Limitless show at York Theatre Royal on October 11.
Touching down at 7.30pm, Major Peake will
reveal what life in space is really like: the sights, the smells, the fear, the
exhilaration and the deep and abiding wonder of the view from space.
In addition, he will reflect on the surprising
journey that took him there as he tells the story of his path to becoming the
first Briton in space for nearly 20 years – and the first ever to complete a space-walk
– in 2015.
Those tales will cover his time training
in the British Army and as an Apache helicopter pilot and flight instructor
deployed to Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.
Major Peake also will discuss how it felt to be selected for the European Space Agency from more than 8,000 candidates and the six years of training that followed; learning Russian on the icy plains of Siberia, and coping with darkness and claustrophobia in the caves of Sardinia and under the oceans of the United States.
In this intimate and inspirational conversation, the York audience will hear exclusive stories from Major Peake’s time in space on the International Space Station as he shares his passion for space and science, and the evening will conclude with the chance to ask questions in a Q&A session.
The Limitless: In Conversation with Astronaut
Tim Peake event takes its title from his upcoming autobiography, Limitless, to
be published by Century on October 15.
Every ticket for this Penguin Live show – one of only five on the autumn tour – includes a signed copy of the former barman’s £20 memoir; box office, 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Major Peake is due to address children from
more than 100 schools in a flying visit to the UK Schools Space Conference on
Friday, March 20 at the University of York’s department of physics, where children
will present work linking the space industry and education.
Major Peake will share his experiences
in space, most notably the Principia mission that involved a spacewalk to
repair the International Space Station’s power supply with NASA astronaut Tim Kopra;
driving across a simulated Mars terrain from space; helping to dock two
spacecraft and orbiting Earth almost 3,000 times.
Major Peake attended the schools space conference at the university previously in November 2016 and gave a public lecture there on the highs and lows of life aboard the International Space Station in September 2017.
The Soyuz TMA-19M descent module, the capsule that transported Major Peake safely back to Earth, went on display at the National Railway Museum, York, in January 2018, complemented by a space-age virtual reality experience narrated by the astronaut himself.
BADAPPLE Theatre Company are postponing their spring premiere of Elephant Rock amid the creeping spread of Coronavirus.
The “decline in audience confidence for travelling to events following confirmation of Covid-19 as a global pandemic” has prompted Kate Bramley’s company, from Green Hammerton, York, to call off the April 16 to May 31 tour, now re-arranged for the autumn.
“These are unprecedented times and while the current advice is for
events to continue as normal, we are conscious this could change at any point,”
“The financial risk of the project for us and our partner venues
has become prohibitive. Postponing now, before our actors are in rehearsal, is
much less stressful for them as they can plan more effectively around their own
Kate continues: “Of course, the health and safety of the team and
our audiences always comes first, so we understand people’s reluctance to book
tickets for shows scheduled in April. We have already managed to rearrange most
of the tour performances for September and October 2020, so we look forward to
seeing our audiences later in the year.”
Purveyors of “theatre on your doorstep”, Badapple were to have
toured Elephant Rock to 30 venues to mark their 21st anniversary with
founder and artistic director Bramley’s 21st original script for the
North Yorkshire company.
Badapple’s previous shows have toured to predominantly rural areas,
all written and directed by Bramley, who was born in Yorkshire, grew up in
Cornwall and worked as associate director for Hull Truck Theatre before
embarking on her own theatre business.
Not only has Bramley sustained a long career as a playwright and a
director, but she also has built a company that employs three permanent members
of staff and countless actors, musicians and technicians every year.
In a sector that relies heavily on external funding from Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery UK and charities, more than 50 per cent of Badapple’s tours are self-funded, meaning box-office sales speak for themselves. The company had been offered project support of up to £15,000 towards the spring tour.
YORK theatre director Harri Marshall and
associate artist Jake Williams are to hold a group interview session on March
21 for their new work, Technical Difficulties.
The open meeting will be held at Theatre @41
Monkgate, York, from 10.30am to 1pm to add research to their verbatim piece on
relationships and technology and how this has evolved over the years.
“We’re inviting the Yorkshire community to share their experiences about relationships when we host interviews that day,” says Harri, a deaf director, who directed York Settlement Community Players’ production of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes last October.
“By gaining new stories and opinions, we’ll be able to enhance and enrich the script by adding voices from different communities and create a play that’s ultimately for everyone. If you’d like to be involved in the group session, please follow our social media links (see below).”
Harri continues: “After the new interviews have been added to the script, we’ll cast the six roles with local actors, rehearse and go on to perform the piece, not only in a Yorkshire preview, but we’ll also take it to the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe.
“We feel this project is really exciting as it’s not only made for
an audience but by the audience too.”
Defining Trechnical Difficulties, Harri says: “It’s a verbatim
play about the search for human connection in an increasingly digitised world,
where we unpick what it means to fall in and out of love as well as all the
technical difficulties about relationships.
“I first created the play two years ago at the Oxford Playhouse
with the Young Playmakers, led by Renata Allen. Like much of my work, it relies
heavily on collaboration with the performers and the participants, who have
given their voices to this script.
“Staying true to their original words by using verbatim
techniques, we bring to life their experiences of relationships through
ensemble work, movement and an immersive audience experience – such as rhetoric
and shared stories – unlocking the dramatic potential of documentary theatre.”
The documentary form of theatre has always inspired Harri’s work,
both as a director and writer. “I feel that verbatim theatre is an art form
that doesn’t dictate what the audience should think,” she says.
“Rather, it works with them through shared experience to create a
piece of work that discusses and debates an experience or topic that’s shaped
by the writer, then shared through the medium of theatre. To me, theatre is
about shared story-telling that brings us together, which ultimately is what
verbatim aims to do.”
Harri continues: “The piece creates a sense of belonging between
the actors and the audience, as relationships, while very personal and unique
to each individual, can be relatable and offer insight on the full spectrum of
relationships. This shared experience makes the production real in a way that
no other genre of theatre can replicate, creating a rich tapestry of shared
experiences and genuine voices that unite the audience and allow them to see
reflections of themselves within the characters on the stage.
“It’s the idea of reflection that the audience will take away with
them, allowing a better understanding of how we form our relationships, be that
sexual or platonic. In our current society, with all its political upheaval and
anger, it’s more important than ever to understand how we communicate to each
other, which is why this play is important to share with the city of York.”
The creative duo behind Technical Difficulties:
Harri Marshall is a deaf
director, working in York. Since 2016, she has directed seven productions, in
venues such as the Theatre Royal, Winchester, Canal Café Theatre, London, and John
Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York. in York, where she directed ‘The Red
Shoes’ for the York Settlement Community Players.
Jake Williams has joined
Harri, as an associate artist, on her journey to continue to turn Technical
Difficulties into a fully fledged piece of work. As a founding member of Out Of
Bounds Theatre, he has produced and performed theatre and street arts since
2017. At the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe, he produced and performed in 44 Inch Chest at
theSpace on North Bridge.
How you can be involved in the next stage of Technical
For more details and updates, or if you have any questions, go to:
SLUG and Caterpillar are starving and the only leaf left in the garden is just out of reach.
So begins Slime, Sam Caseley’s squelchy, squishy, surreal, slimy play for two to five-year-old children at the De Grey Ballroom, York Theatre Royal, on April 15 at 10.30am, 1pm and 3.30pm.
Directed by Ruby Thompson, The Herd Theatre’s show is a playful interactive adventure where young theatregoers and their families can expect to “get stuck in with slime” as they help Slug and Caterpillar to work together to form an unlikely friendship, despite their differences.
Slug thinks they should work together,
but Caterpillar has other ideas, saying slugs are gross, covered in gooey slime
and have terrible taste in music.
The Hull company’s fully immersive and accessible experience will transform the De Grey Ballroom into a “Slime-tastic undergrowth for all”, with British Sign Language integrated throughout.
“This isn’t a traditional play performed in a
traditional theatre,” says Ruby, the director. “We’re delighted to host a
unique theatrical experience for the very young. During the show, children and
their grown-ups can be as loud as they want: giggle, dance, wriggle and talk.
We can’t wait to welcome York audiences into the undergrowth, created by designer
Playwright and composer Sam adds: “Slugs are amazing and their slime is like no other material on Earth, but they get such a bad rep. So, we’ve made a show that confronts this prejudice, and in doing so explores how we judge others before we know them. And you get to invade the stage and play with Slime at the end.”
Defining their brand of theatre, The HerdTheatre say they “make innovative shows about the world young people live in today”. At the heart of everything is collaboration as they play, chat, imagine, share, and create with groups of children.
Slime has only has 12 words in the show, and every word is spoken and signed by the characters in British Sign Language. Furthermore, every performance of Slime is relaxed. “The audience area is well lit. It’s OK to come, go and make noise if you need to,” say The Herd, whose 45-minute play is followed at each performance by 15 minutes of Slime play.
Tickets for the three performances with British Sign Language and Relaxed Performance access cost £8 on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
PICK Me Up Theatre will celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday in a night of song on March 22, the very day the New York composer and lyricist enters his tenth decade.
the York company has produced four of his musicals, Into The Woods, Assassins,
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street and Follies.
the evening of the great man’s 90th, we’ll be presenting an evening
of his finest music in his honour with a cast of 21, performing under musical
director Tim Selman on piano,” says artistic director Robert Readman, who will
be among those 21 voices at the John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York.
“This will be one performance only of songs from every show, movie and TV special Sondheim has written the words and music to, from 1955 through to 2013.”
Group numbers will include Children Will Listen; Our Time; Not Getting Married Today; Bring Me My Bride and Sunday, alongside music from A Little Night Music; Dick Tracey; Sweeney Todd; Company; Roadshow; Follies; Into The Woods, Anyone Can Whistle and Sunday In The Park With George.
Performing with Readman at 7.30pm will be Andrew Isherwood; Alan Park; Jennie Wogan; Darren Lumby; Emma Louise Dickinson; David Radford; Susannah Baines; Andrew Roberts; Ed Atkin; Frankie Bounds; Natalie Walker; Adam Price; Mark Hird; Sam Hird; Catherine Foster; Alex Mather; Maya Tether; Flo Poskitt; Juliet Waters and Ryan Smith.
Tickets for Sondheim 90, A Birthday Concert, cost £15,
concessions £13, on 01904 523568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or pickmeuptheatre.com
or in person from York Gin, in Pavement, or the York Theatre Royal box office.
The full programme for Sondheim 90, A Birthday Concert:
INTRODUCTION – The Frogs – ANDREW ISHERWOOD & ALAN PARK
THE TWO OF YOU – Kukla, Fran & Ollie – JENNIE WOGAN
TAKE ME TO THE WORLD – Evening Primrose – DARREN LUMBY & EMMA
THEY ASK ME WHY I BELIEVE IN YOU – I Believe In You – DAVID RADFORD
EVERYBODY SAYS DON’T – Anyone Can Whistle – SUSANNAH BAINES
SATURDAY NIGHT – Saturday Night – ANDREW ROBERTS, ED ATKIN,
FRANKIE BOUNDS, ANDREW ISHERWOOD & COMPANY
SO MANY PEOPLE – Saturday Night – NATALIE WALKER & ADAM PRICE
THE BEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED – Road Show – SAM HIRD & ADAM
LOVE I HEAR – A Funny Thing Happened On To The Way To The Forum –
BRING ME MY BRIDE – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
– MARK HIRD
RAIN ON THE ROOF – Follies – ANDREW ROBERTS & CATHERINE FOSTER
YOU COULD DRIVE A PERSON CRAZY – Company – ALEX MATHER, EMMA
LOUISE DICKINSON & MAYA TETHER
GETTING MARRIED TODAY – Company – FLO POSKITT
AGONY – Into The Woods – DARREN LUMBY & SAM HIRD
MOVE ON – Sunday In The Park With George – EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON
& ADAM PRICE
THE LADIES WHO LUNCH – Company – JULIET WATERS
GOODBYE FOR NOW – Reds – DARREN LUMBY
LIVE ALONE AND LIKE IT – Dick Tracy – DAVID RADFORD
MORE – Dick Tracy – MAYA TETHER
NOT A DAY GOES BY – Merrily We Roll Along – ALEX MATHER
FEAR NO MORE – The Frogs – SAM HIRD
CHILDREN WILL LISTEN – Into The Woods – SUSANNAH BAINES &
OUR TIME – Merrily We Roll Along – FULL COMPANY
PRETTY LADY – Paciﬁc Overtures – DAVID RADFORD, ED ATKIN &
KISS ME/LADIES IN THEIR SENSITIVITIES – Sweeney Todd – ALEX
MATHER, SAM HIRD, MARK HIRD & RYAN SMITH
JOHANNA – Sweeney Todd – ED ATKIN
NOT WHILE I’M AROUND – Sweeney Todd – JENNIE WOGAN
A LITTLE PRIEST – Sweeney Todd – RYAN SMITH & SUSANNAH BAINES
GIANTS IN THE SKY – Into The Woods – FRANKIE BOUNDS
THE MILLER’S SONG – A Little Night Music – EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON
BROADWAY BABY – Follies – FLO POSKITT
LOVE WILL SEE US THROUGH/YOU’RE GONNA LOVE TOMORROW – Follies –
SAM HIRD, ADAM PRICE, EMMA LOUISE DICKINSON & NATALIE WALKER
THE BALLAD OF GUITEAU – Assassins – SAM HIRD & MARK HIRD
FRANKLIN SHEPARD INC. – Merrily We Roll Along – ALAN PARK
EVERYBODY OUGHT TO HAVE A MAID – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way
To The Forum – SAM HIRD, MARK HIRD, ROBERT READMAN & ANDREW ROBERTS
ANYONE CAN WHISTLE – Anyone Can Whistle – ALEX MATHER
NO ONE HAS EVER LOVED ME – Passion – ADAM PRICE
LOVING YOU – Passion – SUSANNAH BAINES
UNWORTHY OF YOUR LOVE – Assassins – ALAN PARK & CATHERINE
LOSING MY MIND – Follies – MAYA TETHER
WHAT CAN YOU LOSE – Dick Tracy – DARREN LUMBY
BEING ALIVE – Company – DAVID RADFORD
SEND IN THE CLOWNS – A Little Night Music – JULIET WATERS
BIRTHDAY CAKE SCENE – Company
SUNDAY – Sunday In The Park With George – FULL COMPANY.
OPERA producer and
director Ellen Kent returns to the Grand Opera House, York, with a brace of Puccini
productions next week.
Under the Opera
International umbrella, she presents La Bohème on March 20 and Madama Butterfly
the following night, with sopranos Elena Dee, from Korea, and Alyona Kistenyova,
from Odessa National Opera, billed for the 7.30pm performances, subject to cast
Ukrainian tenor and former military pilot Vitalii
Liskovetskyi, from the Kiev National Opera, will be reprising his role as
Rodolfo in La Bohème; Spanish tenor Giorgio Meladze, who sang with José
Carreras in 2014, plays Pinkerton in Madama
Butterfly; Moldovan baritone Iurie Gisca will be singing Marcello in La
Soprano Marina Tonina takes the role of
Musetta in La Bohème and both productions will feature a full chorus, orchestra
and sumptuous sets and be sung in Italian with English surtitles.
Set in the
backstreets and attics of bohemian Paris, La Bohème tells the tragic tale of
the doomed romance of consumptive seamstress Mimi and penniless Rodolfo.
Madama Butterfly’s heat-breaking story of the beautiful young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American naval lieutenant, with entirely predictable consequences in the world of opera, will be staged with a Japanese garden and antique wedding kiminos.
Tickets are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.
Here, Ellen Kent answers questions on her 2020 production of Puccini’s opera of love and loss, La Bohème, a touring show inspired by Ellen reading George Orwell’s Down And Out In Paris.
What can the Grand Opera House audience expect from your production,
“I like to provide shows at a very high level and I like large productions, so the feel is very much of a big show.
“I try to put everything into it, from the sets to the artists on the stage, and I like to add things. For example, with La Bohème, I have these fabulous visuals. I’m a very visual director and producer, so I give audiences the whole package.
“The overall experience is of something that is very beautiful, with gorgeous and spectacular sets. The curtain goes up and, depending on the opera of course, I want the audience to feel the ‘Wow’ factor. The sets have got to be beautiful and I like to wrap something visually stunning around the plot.”
How are you staging La Bohème?
“It’s set in the French Impressionist period, so my sets reflect that. For instance, I’ve gone for a beautiful Chagall and Renoir feel and it’s quite stunning. You get this beautiful French Impressionist flavour and everything is done to serve that, so when you look at it, it’s a bit like an Impressionist painting.
“I like to dress my sets, so in LaBohème, for instance, Act One is set in an attic and it’s got all these wonderful rooftops, as if they’ve been painted by one of the great French artists.
“Then I like to add something more realistic, so you have this sort of Impressionist painting but we’ve also got windows lit up and we have smoke coming out of a few of the chimneys.
“I’ve got a human skeleton – though not a real one of course –
which I’ve dressed with a hat and a scarf. We also have a dog on stage; a brass
band; snow machines; a carnival effect; the cafe with waiters running around, a
“The whole thing is a visual feast and I always like to draw on the
period an opera is set in. I do have an Eiffel Tower, which of course was built
later, but that’s a bit of poetic licence.”
Why is La Bohème so beloved?
“With [Jonathan Larson’s
American musical] Rent basing itself
on La Bohème, for example, people use Puccini’s operas as
benchmarks to build modern musicals on, which shows how strong the stories and
themes in his operas are.
“The music is beloved because it’s so great and La Bohème is my personal favourite because you have this poignant story wrapped around this fabulous music. There’s something rather special about Puccini’s scores and the stories that go with them are very well constructed. Some of what the characters sing is heart-rending, and people love tragedy.
“La Bohème is a very sad little story and it’s got Puccini’s wonderful music and moments of great poignancy. There’s something about the violins that brings up those goosebumps and goes straight to your soul.
“It also has a lot of comedy, which I like to bring out. Opera should be giving you the whole deal – wonderful music, gripping storylines – and these two really deliver.”
How does La Bohème fit into
the timeline of Puccini’s work?
“Like Verdi, he started off with these great Biblical-style operas, such as Turandot, for instance. They’re big storylines, not necessarily personal dramas. Then everything changed around the 1830s, when realism and domestic storylines became fashionable.
“Puccini jumped on to the bandwagon. La Bohème is about a domestic tragedy and it is complete realism. It’s about very poor people living in the deprived parts of Paris: these artisans and poets starving in garrets and living in mindless poverty.”
Has Rent opened up La Bohème to new audiences?
“Yes. I tend to take a musical theatre approach to operas, with lavish visuals, and I get a lot of people coming to the shows who haven’t been to an opera before but they’ve seen big musicals like Miss Saigon or Rent. I firmly believe in opening up opera to the masses.”
Your production will be sung
in Italian with surtitles, rather than in English. Does that reflect the purist
“I can’t stand operas in English! I am a purist in that regard; you start putting them into English and the whole sound changes. Puccini wrote with Italian vowels, and when you’re singing, you need that Italian in the voice, instead of clipped British intonations. “And, of course, surtitles open opera up to the masses and they’re much better than just having a synopsis in the programme.
“We do that too, but the actual words used are poetic and moving.
The librettos are extremely good pieces of writing and you get all this emotion
coming out of the words, matched by the emotion coming out of the music. You
put those two together and the audience gets a much better experience.”
What first sparked your love
“I was born in India to a colonial father and my mother was known
as the queen of amateur operatics in Bombay. My mother loved producing and
putting on shows – and they were really good, actually.
“She managed to put me into every single opera from about the age
of four. I’d be dressed in these wonderful costumes and I loved it. Then we
moved to Spain and we’d go see all the – rather bad – travelling operas.
“That said, from the age of six, I declared I wanted to be a film
star. Eventually, after my father had retired, I enrolled at Durham University
to do a degree in Classics to appease him because he insisted ‘You’ve got to
have some academic education’.
“I don’t regret doing that degree now because it’s given me a wonderful background for all the operas I’m doing. After I finished my degree, I went to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, trained as an actress, singer and dancer, because although I got a place at the Royal Academy of Music to go be an opera singer, I decided it was too narrow a field.”
What happened after you left
“I went on to acting and musicals and was putting on European
children’s theatre when Rochester City Council, who were among the people
funding me, asked me to put on a children’s show in Rochester Castle gardens.
“I don’t know where these notions come from, but I found myself
saying, ‘I don’t think that’s really suitable but opera might work’. So, that’s
how it all started, with an outdoor production of Nabuccoin 1992 to 7,000 people.
“I remember the sun sinking over the River Medway with all these
people having picnics. We had champagne tents, candelabras, the whole works,
and I thought, ‘this is what I want to do. It’s fantastic. I’m going to do
opera’. Since then, it’s been a series of wonderful adventures.”
Why is it important to take
opera to regional theatres?
“I’m quite an instinctive person so, although I never really thought it through, I just knew audiences in the regions would be hungry for opera. And why go to London when you have these wonderful sites – these outdoor arenas and lovely big theatres – all around the country?
“I felt that half the population didn’t know how wonderful these
works were and I’ve never changed my concept of it. The regions are where these
shows need to be.”
SPRING is on its way, gardens are perking up, good timing for Pick Me Up
Theatre to stage Tom’s Midnight Garden from tomorrow at Theatre @41
Who better to direct David Wood’s adaptation of Philippa Pearce’s beloved book than the York company’s artistic director Robert Readman, a garden and gardening enthusiast, as a visit to his Bubwith abode would affirm.
In Pearce’s 1950s’ story, Tom is sent away sent to stay with his Aunt
Gwen and Uncle Alan in their upstairs flat in a big Victorian house after his
brother Peter catches the measles and is now quarantined.
Lonely and bored, Tom has little to do until one night he hears the
hallway grandfather clock strike 13. Creeping downstairs to investigate, he
throws open the back door to…no longer a small yard but a large and beautiful
Something strange is happening: every time the clock strikes 13, Tom is
transported back in time to the secret garden. There he befriends an unhappy
Victorian orphan, Hatty, and a series of adventures ensues, but what is behind
the magical midnight garden?
“It’s such a magical story, all to do with time,” says Robert. “I love
how it jumps between a young boy’s dull life in the 1950s, and his adventures
with Hatty in the 1880s.”
“The lighting and sound will be vital to the transformation between the
two times; the characters dress according to the era they’re from, and there’ll
also be a lot of mime in the show, so it’ll be a mixture of the real and the
unreal, with the cast doing roles from the two eras.”
To convey the two
contrasting worlds with his black-box design, director-designer Readman has
constructed two platforms, one at either end, one for Peter’s bedroom, one for
Tom’s, with a doorway to each one and the hallway clock at Tom’s end.
“It’s nothing like Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden,
which was written in Victorian times, whereas Tom’s Midnight Garden is
a tale of children stuck in the drabness of the 1950s creating an exciting
world by travelling back to Victorian days, and that’s what we’re conveying in
both the design and the performances.”
Reading the book as a child and now re-reading it in preparation for the
Pick Me Up production, Robert says: “What struck me is that it’s all to do with
children’s imaginations. It’s a piece about how children can conjure up
adventures with make-believe.
“It’s a beautiful book that can be read by adults just as much as by
children; it treats children as being intelligent in their own right, and I
love how it takes you on a journey where there’s both sweetness and sadness, so
everything is doubled.”
Company regular Jack Hambleton and Pick Me Up newcomer Jimmy Dalgleish
will share the role of Tom; Olivia Caley will play Hatty, and Ed Atkin, Peter.
“At the beginning, it’s quite hard to like Tom because he complains
quite a lot and seems ungrateful, but then you can see that he was just feeling
lonely and was missing his brother,” says Jack.
“His friendship with Hatty shows how caring and thoughtful he is, and he
also shows his curiosity and intelligence when approaching the puzzle of how
his time travel is possible.”
Jimmy, similar in stature to Jack but differing in his interpretation of
the role according to Readman, says: “Stuck inside at his aunt and uncle’s
house, Tom is lonely and ‘longs for someone to play with’.
“Tom is very playful and somewhat cheeky! He’s intelligent, adventurous
and loyal to his new friend Hatty. He’s very inquisitive and a logical thinker
as he tries to work out that he’s somehow able to go back in time!”
Summing up Victorian Hatty’s character, Olivia says: “She’s a curious
and playful young girl with a great imagination, despite her sad upbringing.
All Hatty wants to do is have adventures and not grow up!”
Ed plays not only Peter, but Hubert and “Voice” too. “But I spend most
of my time as Peter, who’s got measles, so he has to spend all his time in bed.
The letters written by Tom are his only entertainment, which means he’s
fascinated by the stories that are sent to him.”
Given that time travel is so central to Tom’s Midnight Garden, if they
each could go back in time to one era to live in, what would it be and
why? “Probably Ancient Egypt as I’m fascinated by how they lived and how much
they achieved,” says Jack. “I would love to know how they really built the
pyramids and how much influence the gods had on their lives.”
“The Tudor era because I would love to live among the people of the
court of Henry VIII and experience the grandeur the scandal and politics
of his life,” reckons Jimmy.
“I actually experienced what it was like to be a young girl in the
Regency era in a short film called Mr Malcolm’s List,” reveals Olivia. “So, I’d
probably want to travel back to that era. The dresses were beautiful, and I
loved getting to wear them! Not so much the corsets!”
Ed picks the 1960s. “This was such an exciting time in the development
of the music industry,” he reasons. “I just think it would have been so
fascinating to learn about music at a time when it was constantly changing and
While on the subject of music, Ed has written a beautiful score for
violin, cello and piano for musical director Tim Selman’s forces. “It
definitely draws on the theme of ‘time no longer’,” he says.
“I took inspiration from the likes of Vaughan Williams and Benjamin
Britten, who wrote music that was modern at the time but also harked back to
the Victorian Romantic styles.
“Additionally, I tried to incorporate the idea of childhood and
playfulness into what I wrote, so lots of the music is fun and slightly quirky.
However, it’s all shrouded in a sense of mystery.”
Not only director
Readman has a love of gardens, so do his cast principals. “Some gardens are very magical,”
says Jack. “I particularly like gardens with hidden corners and
an air of mystery, such as Castle Howard and Beningbrough Hall.”
Jimmy concurs: “A garden is
a place where anything can happen,” he says. “A garden inspires imagination and
can subsequently transport you to a whole new world of your own creation
away from the stresses and strains of ordinary life, and that in itself is
Olivia enthuses: “I absolutely think gardens are magical!
There’s so much scope for the imagination. When I was little, I was always
playing in my garden, so I can really relate to Hatty on that.”
Gardens can be magical, especially for a child, suggests Ed. “There’s a
moment in the play where Tom and Hatty go through a ‘secret passage’. This
feeling of exploring a new world is one I remember well from playing in such a garden when
I was younger,” he says.
Let the clock strike 13. A garden awaits.
Pick Me Up Theatre in Tom’s Midnight Garden, John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, tomorrow (March 13) until March 21. Box office: 01904 623568; at pickmeuptheatre.com or in person from York Gin, 12, Pavement, and the York Theatre Royal box office.
REVIEW: Ghost Stories, presented by Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, scaring all and sundry at Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york
IT is not every play day that the writers send out a polite
request to reviewers, and normally it would be a red rag to that most bullish
of breeds: the hacked-off hack.
However, the seriously bearded duo of Andy Nyman and Leeds-born
Jeremy Dyson, he of the deeply, madly, darkly twisted League of Gentlemen, do
have a point.
Ghost Stories has been around for a decade now, going global
and being transformed into a film too, but all the while “it has meant so much
to us that critics the world over have kept [secret] the plot and secrets of
our show when writing about it,” they say.
“We appreciate it makes life a little trickier for you by not
divulging [the] plot, but because of your help, Ghost Stories remains a rare thing: a modern experience you have to
Spoiler alert: there will be no spoiler alerts in this review
to blow the cover of their audacious spooky conceit. What your reviewer can
reveal, however, dear reader, is that he first saw this immersive fright-fest
at the Ambassadors Theatre – a typically compressed, crowded, everyone-close-to-the-stage,
venerable West End locale – only last autumn, and frankly it was just as joyously,
seat-of-the-pants, phew, glad-to-have-got-through-that scary, second time
around at the Grand Opera House on Tuesday night.
Even when knowing what was coming next. Much like returning
to a favourite fairground ghost train or high-speed ride. In fact, that even added
to the experience, and apparently others share that view, gleefully inviting
the uninitiated to join them to break their Ghost Stories virginity. Just do as
Andy and Jeremy say: tell them nothing, except maybe pass on this message: “We
hope you have a great night and maybe even scream a bit.”
A bit? In reality, there is as much laughter as screaming in
response to the brilliantly executed storytelling, stocked with its 15-rated “moments
of extreme shock and tension”. “We strongly advise those of a nervous
disposition to think very seriously before attending,” says the programme cover,
which is a tad late for a warning and amounts to more of a dare.
Do note this, however. Anyone who leaves once the ghosts have
started their work for the night is not allowed back in, and nor is there an
interval. So, the strongest advice is to think very seriously of heading to the
loo beforehand, should that fear of a discomfort break be more likely to make
Unlike Stephen Mallatratt’s The Woman In Black, Ghost Stories
is not one ghost story but three ghost stories, wrapped inside an over-arching,
far darker psycho-drama that begins with Joshua Higgott’s Professor Phillip Goodman,
a parapsychologist in obligatory brown corduroy, delivering a lecture, glass of
water and dry wit at hand.
In a theatre with its own ghost, opposite the York Dungeon tourist attraction with its love of gory history, and in “Europe’s most haunted city” with a ghost tour around every corner, even a ghost bus ride and a York Ghost Merchants shop to counter the spread of Pottervirus in Shambles, Goodman should be feeling very much at home as he guides us through the history of our fascination with ghosts and expert ghost analysis of the past. So far, so para-normal.
All of this is a way to trap us into a false sense of
security/strap us in for the very bumpy ghost rides ahead, each more alarming
than the last, as lecture and lecturer seep in and out of each suspenseful story.
Without giving anything away, these involve a seen-it-all-before night-watchman in a depository (Paul Hawkyard); a novice motorist in a car at night in a murky wood (Gus Gordon) and a flashy father-to-be in a nursery (Richard Sutton, still as outstanding as he was in the London run). What happens next? Relax, Andy, relax Jeremy, my bitten lips are now sealed.
Except to say, writer-directors Nyman and Dyson and fellow director Sean Holmes work their ghostly magic deliciously devilishly in tandem with Jon Bauser, a sleight-of-hand magician of a designer, far outwitting Hammer Horror.
James Farncombe’s lighting adds heart-stopping menace to the juddering frights, hand-held torches and all; Nick Manning’s disturbing, disorientating, jagged, sometimes deafening sound design assaults you from all sides, and Scott Penrose’s climactic special effects are terrifically terrifying.
Do keep what happens secret, but don’t keep the show secret. It
deserves big houses, being all the better, the more who share the experience, even
amid the worrisome shadow of Coronavirus.
”Sweet dreams, Andy and Jeremy,” say the ghost-story weavers
as they sign off their letter to the fourth estate, politely teasing to the
Sweet dreams? Lovers of gripping theatre, devotees of the paranormal world, your nightmare would be to miss Ghost Stories, especially on Friday the 13th. You won’t rest until tickets are safe and secure in your hand.
Review: Alone In Berlin, York Theatre Royal/Royal & Derngate Northampton, at York Theatre Royal, until March 21. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
IT is rare to have a perspective on the
Second World War from within Germany itself, presented on stage or screen.
What’s more, Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret
was a Broadway musical rooted in Anglo-American Christopher Isherwood’s semi-autobiographical 1945 novel The Berlin Stories, set in Weimar
Republic Berlin in 1931 with the Nazi Party on the rise. There could be no more
cynical voice than that of the nightclub Emcee; entertainment at any price.
This year, New Zealander Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, a
satirical account of the last year of World War Two, as seen through the eyes
of a ten-year-old Hitler Youth enthusiast in a German town, garlanded
nominations aplenty in the Hollywood awards season but opprobrium in equal
measure. How did it end? With the boy and a newly free Jewish girl dancing to
David Bowie’s Heroes, sung in Deutsche.
Alone In Berlin is a different beast altogether, still with
songs (more of which later), but far removed from the powder and paint, mirage and
murk of Weimar cabaret or a small-town boy’s loss of innocence. The source
novel, based on a true story, was written by a German, the maverick Hans
Fallada, responsible for Little Man, What Now? too.
Also known aptly as Every Man Dies Alone, it was published in
1947 – the year Fallada died of a morphine overdose – but not in English until
Since then, there has been Vincent Perez’s 2016 film with
Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson and now this York Theatre Royal and Royal
& Derngate Northampton co-production, translated and adapted by playwright
and political satirist Alistair Beaton and directed by James Dacre, the
Northampton theatre’s artistic director.
We watch it through the 2020 filter of grim, vulnerable
times, in a year of floods, storms, immigration intolerance, Brexit’s cold
shoulder, myopic political leaders, and now the creeping spread of Coronavirus.
“This is war,” an exhausted Italian doctor said yesterday.
On the one hand, there is heightened awareness of the need
for collective responsibility, but, on the other, a fear that other factors may
over-power it, and where does that leave individual action as we wash our hands
ever more feverishly? We are indeed, as everyone is in Fallada’s book, very
much alone, and seemingly not in control of our destiny.
Such a feeling prevails in Alone In Berlin, where the central
question is whether an individual can make a difference through courageous acts
of protest when standing up against the drowning tide of Nazism.
Hard-working carpenter Otto Quangel (Denis Conway) and worn
housewife spouse Anna (Charlotte Emmerson) have just learnt that their only son,
Marcus, has died in action, honourably serving the fatherland, the letter says,
but they see no honour in it. Nor does his fiancée Trudi (Abiola Ogunbiyi), who
joins the Resistance movement, although the subsequent arc of her story shows how
ultimately alone everyone is under duress.
Yes, they had voted for Hitler – more precisely Otto told Anna
which way to vote, she says – with Hitler’s promise of jobs to end the
Depression, but they had since grown disillusioned. Their boorish, bragging bully
of a neighbour Borkhausen (Julius D’Silva), feels empowered to persecute the
Jewish woman next door; he and petty criminal Benno Kluge (Clive Mendus) are
exploiting the vulture opportunities of Nazism’s tyrannical grip.
What would you do in such testing circumstances? Keep your
head down? Keep making coffins as carpenter Otto now is? Or start a campaign of
civil disobedience, as Otto decides he must, no matter how small the defiant act,
prompting him and then Anna to write to write messages on postcards he stealthily
distributes across Berlin, calling on fellow Germans to resist?
Most fall into the hands of the authorities, represented in
Fallada’s suffocating story by Gestapo officer Inspector Escherich (Joseph
Marcell), a veteran policeman, adapting to do what he must do to survive, and his
superior, SS Officer Prall (Jay Taylor), ambitious, merciless, the embodiment
of all the very worst Nazi stereotypes.
Once the trail leads to Otto – spoiler alert – the most
telling scene has Otto confronting Escherich’s expediency. “You don’t believe
in anything,” he scolds him. That shocks Escherich to the core, and in turn it
challenges us too, to cling to our beliefs, to cling to hope for the better path,
to defy, to resist, if necessary, and to go it alone as the starting point, but
with conviction that others will follow.
Dacre’s meticulous, methodical production is one of very high production values, and devastating performances by Conway, Emmerson and Marcell in particular, but it is not wholly successful.
Beaton’s script sometimes sails close to the prosaic, and Jessica Walker’s omnipresent angelic statue Golden Elsie, matching the black and white of Jonathan Fensom’s stark set and Nina Dunn’s video designs, will be a divisive figure for audiences.
Essentially a one-woman Greek chorus, she is more reporter than commentator, and while she may echo Weimar cabaret in style, Orlando Gough has given her dissonant, flatlining operatic songs, always eluding a tune and relentless as toothache. This is probably deliberate, but the sheer number of songs is a drag on the play’s momentum.
Jason Lutes’s illustrations from his graphic novel Berlin are used brilliantly, Charles Balfour’s lighting is in turn dazzling, oppressively dark and intimidating; Donato Wharton’s sound design is exemplary.
Ultimately, Alone In Berlin, will have an impact beyond those
fault lines in its telling. It will make you think, reflect, whether alone, or
better still, together in the bar afterwards. Hopefully, too, it will make you want
to make a difference, to push back against the crush, to be the first flutter of
the butterfly’s wing.
THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, has won £10,000 in a nationwide competition run by the Theatres Trust and international stage equipment company J & C Joel.
The Sowerby Bridge company has replaced all the stage curtains and upgraded the scenery-moving equipment to facilitate “even bigger and better” shows at the Art Deco community theatre in Haxby Road.
Mitchell, the JoRo theatre’s company secretary, fundraising and events director
and charity trustee says: “We’re very grateful to everyone at J & C Joel
and at the Theatres Trust for the work done. The award’s timing could not be
better, as we’re expanding the range and number of shows we host. Coming just
after being voted York’s Best Entertainment Venue in Minster FM’s Listener
Choice awards, this is an immense boost.”
the JoRo charity’s chairman, believes the award will make a huge difference to operating
the theatre. “Our audiences will be able to see ever more imaginative settings
for plays and musicals, and, of course, the annual Rowntree Players pantomime,”
theatre was built in 1935 by Rowntrees for the benefit of their employees and
the citizens of York, so that everyone could experience a wide variety of
affordable entertainment, either by taking part or by just coming to watch
shows, concerts and films.
have big plans to improve our facilities over the next few years to make the
theatre a truly vibrant asset for York, as originally intended by Seebohm and
Joseph Rowntree. It really is a community asset run for the people of
York, by the people of York”.
Wheelwright, J & C Joel’s chief executive, says: “We celebrated our 40th anniversary
last year and we wanted to mark it in a special way. We worked with the
Theatres Trust, the national organisation protecting and advising theatres, to
create the competition.
Joseph Rowntree Theatre won from a very wide field of theatres from up and down
the country because we loved what they are doing as a community run theatre,
providing affordable entertainment to the people of York and beyond – and who
also have big plans for the theatre’s future.”
Tom Stickland, theatres
adviser at the Theatres Trust, says: “The Joseph Rowntree Theatre is a great
example of the transformational effect that committed community groups can have
on theatres. The Theatres Trust is pleased to be in a position to link up
generous industry specialists like J & C Joel with community theatres, so
that they can offer this vital support.”
Run entirely by
volunteers, the JoRo welcomed 50 hirers last year, who staged 135 performances.
The theatre is used by more than 35 York groups, as well as several professional
touring companies and performers.
the JoRo is playing host to the York Community Choir Festival until Saturday.
York St John University Musical Production Society will present Guys
& Dolls, March 19 to 21; Bev Jones Music Company, Calamity Jane, March 25
to 28; Flying Ducks Youth Theatre, Crush The Musical, April 2 to 4; Jessa
Liversidge, Songbirds, a celebration of female singing icons, April 5.
and more details of upcoming shows, go to josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.Box office: 01904 501935.
J&C Joel was established in 1978 in Sowerby Bridge, near
Halifax, founded by John Wheelwright whose family had been involved in the
textile industry for more than 150 years.
The business exports to more than 80 countries worldwide,
providing products such as front-of-house theatre curtains, stage backdrops,
cycloramas, gauzes, acoustic drapes, projection screens and stage engineering
solutions. J&C Joel has offices in the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East,
Asia and Australasia.
The Theatres Trust is the national advisory public body for theatres, championing the future of live performance by protecting and supporting theatre buildings that meet the needs of their communities.
The trust provides advice on the design, planning, development and sustainability of theatres, campaigning on behalf of theatres old and new and offering financial assistance through grants.
ROBERT Plant will headline this summer’s Platform Festival as the crescendo of Pocklington Arts Centre’s 20th anniversary celebrations.
The former Led Zeppelin frontman
and lyricist, now 71, will lead Saving Grace, his folk-blues collaboration with
fellow vocalist Suzi Dian, at Pocklington’s Old Station on July 10.
“Hopefully we’ve pulled something
rather special out of the bag for our 20th anniversary!” says delighted
director Janet Farmer. “Bringing Robert Plant to Pocklington is a major coup
Shed Seven’s Rick Witter and Paul
Banks, folk-rock icon Richard Thompson, comedian Omid Djalili, The BBC Big Band
and country-pop twin sisters Ward Thomas are among the other acts signed up for
the fifth Platform Festival, running from July 9 to 15.
“The Platform Festival programme
reflects this very special year for us,” says Janet. “Robert Plant is a
legendary name in the music scene and it’s so exciting that he and the other
highly accomplished musicians in Saving Grace will be joining us for such a
“There’s no doubt Robert and
Saving Grace are the biggest band we’ve ever booked for Platform. Curating a
line-up of artists that we personally love every year is always a source of
much pride for our team and we strongly believe this year’s line-up is both the
best and most star-studded music bill we’ve ever put together.”
Plant and Dian are joined in his blues and folk-inspired acoustic co-operative by Oli Jefferson on percussion, Tony Kelsey on mandolin, baritone and acoustic guitars, and Matt Worley on banjo, acoustic and baritone guitars and cuatro. Their support act will be delta blues singer, songwriter and bottleneck slide guitarist Catfish Keith.
The 2020 Platform Festival comprises four stand-alone shows plus a day-long event on three stages. First up, British-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili will perform on July 9, followed by Saving Grace’s July 10 concert. The 18-piece BBC Big Band will play on July 14, conducted by Barry Forgie, with Jeff Hooper on vocals; guitarist, singer, songwriter and Fairport Convention founding member Richard Thompson will close the festival on July 15.
festival’s Saturday bill, on July 11, will be headlined by Rick Witter and Paul
Banks’s Shed Seven Acoustic show, wherein the York Britpop alumni’s frontman
and lead guitarist will perform such Sheds anthems as Going For Gold, Chasing
Rainbows, She Left Me On Friday and Getting Better, complemented by cherry-pickings
from 2017’s Instant Pleasures, their first studio album in 16 years.
Seven launched Instant Pleasures with a special show at Pocklington Arts Centre
in November that year, by the way.
the Sheds in the July 11 line-up will be bagpipe band TheRed Hot
Chilli Pipers, with their ground-breaking fusion of traditional Scottish music
and rock and pop anthems. “Think men in kilts, bagpipes with attitude, drums
with a Scottish accent and a show that carries its own health warning,” says
Thomas will follow up their April 30 gig at Leeds City Varieties and arena tour
supporting James Blunt with a return to the Platform Festival, where Hampshire
twins Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas previously appeared in 2017.
folk singer Lucy Spraggan, once of The X Factor, will make her Platform debut a
year later than first planned; festival favourites The Grand Old Uke Of York will
be back with their upbeat rock, pop, ska and anything in-between ukulele covers,
and New York Brass Band will play the Platform Saturday for the first time,
fresh from pumping up the party atmosphere with their smokin’ New Orleans Mardi
Gras jazz at Pocklington Arts Centre’s 20th anniversary party night
on March 6.
newcomer Twinnie, alias York-born Twinnie-Lee Moore, 32-year-old star of West
End musicals, The Voice contestant, model, film actress and Hollyoaks soap
queen, is now a Nashville-hearted singer-songwriter. After wowing the C2C country
gathering at London’s O2, Platform will be her Yorkshire homecoming.
Pockwards too that Saturday will be husband-and-wife duo Truckstop Honeymoon, hollering
their blasts of bluegrass, punk rock and soul to a five-string banjo and doghouse
bass, and Buffalo Skinners, returning to the festival for the first time in
four years with their Sixties’ folk and modern-day Americana.
blues singer-songwriter Jess Gardham and Plumhall are on the bill too, and as
ever the third Saturday stage will be spotlighting the region’s emerging talent,
curated by the tireless, peerless Charlie Daykin and Access Creative College.
are on sale at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk, platformfestival.com and
seetickets.com or on 01759 301547.
HUSBAND and wife Robert and Alison Gammon will perform the next Dementia
Friendly Tea Concert at St Chad’s Church, Campleshon Road, York, on March 19.
The afternoon entertainment will take the usual format of a 45-minute programme of classical music at 2.30pm, followed by tea, coffee and homemade cakes.
Alison, on clarinet, and Robert, on piano, will play Camille
Saint-Saens’ Clarinet Sonata alongside Niels Gade’s Fantasy Pieces.
“Gade was a 19th century Danish composer who taught Edvard Grieg and was
a friend of both Felix Mendelsohnn and Robert Schumann,” says Alison. “In fact,
the Fantasy Pieces are rather like Schumann at times. Robert will play
some Debussy and Chabrier for solo piano too.”
Looking ahead, Alison says: “We’re well advanced with the planning for
the rest of the year, with only May’s concert to confirm. I hope to have a list
of dates and musicians to hand out at the next concert on April 16 when we’ll
be welcoming The Clementhorpe Piano Trio.”
No charge applies for these tea concerts, but donations are always welcome.
“Any money left over from heating the church and tuning the piano is sent to
the Alzheimer’s Society,” says Alison.
“Everyone is welcome at these relaxed events and the concerts provide an
opportunity for people who may not be able to attend a formal classical recital
to experience live music.
“Please note, there is a small car park at St Chad’s and some roadside
parking nearby, but we recommend that you come early. I shall bring some hand
sanitiser for use before eating if anyone is worried about viruses.”
SOMETHING strange is happening,
something disturbing, say York company Out Of Character in Less Than Human,
this week’s production at the York Theatre Royal Studio.
After their sold-out November 2017 show about Victorian freak shows and mad doctors, Objects Of Terror, they are collaborating once more with the Theatre Royal, whose associate director, Juliet Forster, again directs the new piece.
Human plays out against the backdrop of Planet Earth having less to give but
taking more. In this struggling world of diminishing resources, humanity is
forced to wrestle with the true cost of survival. What does it mean to be
truly human? Are some lives worth more than others? Who decides who lives and
dies? A question that suddenly has a new urgency and prescience amid the
rise of Coronavirus.
As evolving technologies offer new
forms of “human being”, is there still hope for a bright future…or do some
people have to pay the price, the play asks.
Out Of Character’s company of artists and
performers brings together people who use or have used mental health services.
Their bold, creative and darkly comedic approach to making theatre aims to stir
both the mind and the heart.
The company won the Excellence in
Equality and Cultural Diversity Prize at the 2018 York Culture Awards. Audiences
on social media have described their work as compelling, deeply affecting,
intense, beautiful, clever, articulate, challenging, powerful, poignant and
Out Of Character’s previous shows included Tales From Kafka in July 2010, Henry IV in May 2012 and More Tales From Kafka in November 2014.
Less Than Human runs from Thursday to Saturday (March 12 to 14) at 7.45pm nightly. Tickets cost £10, concessions £8, on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
DOWN the stairs, along the corridor,
round the corner, into the dressing room. His dressing room. Hateful, hateful
place. Spiteful, spiteful place. Dirty, dirty Leeds.
Here comes The Damned United, the story
of Brian Clough’s ill-fated, fetid 44 days as reigning champions Leeds United’s
manager in the summer of 1974.
Adapted for the stage from West Yorkshire
author David Peace’s book The Damned Utd, Anders Lustgarten’s play is presented
by Leeds’s Red Ladder Theatre Company at York Theatre Royal on April 17 at the
familiar kick-off time of 7.30pm.
The Damned United invites you to enter
the obsessed head of Brian Clough, already the enfant terrible of English
football management after his exit from Derby County, who arrives at Elland
Road in 1974, seeking to redeem his reputation by winning the European Cup with
his new club, Division One champions Leeds United.
This is the team he has despised for
years, the team he hates and that hates him no less. Don Revie’s Leeds, the
greatest but most grating team of its era.
Let playwright and political activist
Lustgarten’s abrasive play take you inside the tortured, drink-befuddled mind
of a north-eastern genius slamming up against his limits, as The Damned United “brings
to life the beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet”.
Directed by Red Ladder artistic
director Rod Dixon and originally co-produced with West Yorkshire Playhouse in
2015, this latter-day Greek tragedy adapts Peace’s fictionalised, first-person
account to focus more on the flawed Clough’s fractious relationship down the
years with Peter Taylor, his sage and stoical regular right-hand man, who did
not accompany him to Elland Road.
This bullish character study of bravado,
loyalty and strained friendship is performed by Luke Dickson as Clough, David
Chafer as Taylor and Jamie Smelt as everyone else, while Dixon is joined in the
production team dug-out by set and projection designer Nina Dunn, lighting
designer Tim Skelly and sound designer Ed Heaton.
Tickets are on sale at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk, on 01904 623568 or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.
Nile Rodgers & Chic are to return to Scarborough Open Air Theatre this
summer two years after their debut there.
Looking forward to
the August 21 show, Rodgers says: “As most people know, the UK is my home from
home. Myself and Chic had a brilliant time when we played Scarborough
OAT in 2018 and we cannot wait to come back again this summer. It’s going to be
another amazing night, so bring your dancing shoes!”
Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday (March 13) at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com, on 01723 818111 or 01723 383636 or in person from the Scarborough OAT box office, in Burniston Road, or the Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau, at Scarborough Town Hall, St Nicholas Street.
Nile Rodgers is a
multiple Grammy Award-winning composer, producer, arranger and guitarist with
more than 200 production credits to his name. He is constantly traversing new
musical terrain and successfully expanding the boundaries of popular music.
As the co-founder
of Chic with Bernard Edwards, Rodgers pioneered a dancefloor language that
generated such hits as Le Freak, Good Times and Everybody Dance,
while also sparking the advent of hip-hop.
His Chic catalogue
and work with David Bowie, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge and Madonna have sold more
than 500 million albums and 75 million singles.
innovative, trendsetting collaborations with Daft Punk, Avicii, Sigala,
Disclosure and Sam Smith continue to place Rodgers, now 67, at the vanguard of
contemporary soul, disco mand pop music.
No wonder the American guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer,
arranger and composer has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the
Songwriters Hall of Fame, whose chairmanship post he now holds.
What’s more, Rodgers
was appointed as the inaugural chief creative advisor for the Abbey Road
Studios, home to The Beatles’ iconic recording sessions, in London.
Peter Taylor, of Scarborough OAT concert promoters
Cuffe and Taylor, says: “Nile Rodgers & Chic are global
superstars and we’re delighted to be bringing them back to Scarborough OAT.
“The show in 2018 was brilliant, Nile and Chic never
fail to get an entire arena on their feet dancing. This is going to be one of
the highlights of the summer and I would strongly advise people to get their
tickets now because you will not want to miss this!”
Scarborough Open Air Theatre’s 2020
Tuesday, June 9: Lionel Richie
Wednesday, June 17: Westlife
Saturday, June 20: Supergrass
Saturday, June 27: Alfie Boe
Saturday, July 4: Snow Patrol
Friday, July 10: Mixtape,
starring Marc Almond, Heaven 17 and Living In A Box featuring Kenny Thomas
Piers Browne bathes his travel-inspired exhibition of paintings and etchings in
Full Sunlight at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York.
Piers has put together a show that celebrates the bright light of Morocco, the South of France and the Italian Lakes, alongside landscapes in the Yorkshire Dales, where his home studio overlooks Askrigg.
“This rather special exhibition of
small spontaneous acrylics and watercolour crayon works is the result of happy, more frivolous days
abroad in sunshine,” says gallery owner Terry Brett. “The flow of inspiration
to paper is easy and the results are fresh and uncomplicated.
“Piers had great success with the
show Call Of Celtic Seas in Highgate, North London, this January and
regularly shows at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. He now finds
the painting of large canvasses to meet his high expectations more effort than
ever before. In contrast, creating the Full Sunlight collection has been a
pleasure for him.”
Piers, who has
exhibited at Pyramid Gallery for 25 years, is joined in the Full Sunlight show
by Holtby potter Hannah Arnup, Cambridge figurative sculptress Helen Martino
and Stroud glassmaker Fiaz Elson.
Hannah Arnup has been
making a new collection of sgrafitto decorated bowls and tripod vessels at her
studio in Ballimorris, County Clare, southern Ireland, and at the late Mick and
Sally Arnup’s former studio at Holtby, near York.
Inherited by Hannah,
the Holtby studio has been re-opened to provide studio space for a group of
Terry Brett views Full
Sunlight as a “new start” to the gallery year after several challenges to
trading in York.
“Although we had our
best Christmas season in 38 years, there have been several challenges to the
first two months of the year,” he says.
“I think shoppers took
a break between New Year and Brexit [January 31], and then we had Stonegate being
completely repaved, along with severe storms, floods and the effects of
Coronavirus, which has affected tourism.
“Thankfully City of
York engineers and the contractors really worked hard and finished repaving our
end of the street four weeks ahead of schedule. I’m very grateful for their
efforts and very pleased with the result. Stonegate looks amazing now and the
slabs will be less likely to crack under the weight of delivery vehicles.”
Full Sunlight runs until April 26, open 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 11am to 4.30pm on Sundays, including over Easter. More images of the work on display can be found at pyramidgallery.com.
YORK company Pilot Theatre will revive
their award-winning 2019 production of Noughts & Crosses for an autumn tour.
This announcement comes amid the blaze
of publicity for BBC One’s six-part adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s young
adult novel, filmed in South Africa, that began earlier this week.
Sabrina Mahfouz’s stage version of a modern-day
Romeo & Juliet tale of first love in a dangerous fictional dystopia will
be directed once more by Pilot artistic director Esther Richardson, whose
co-production of Crongton Knights played York Theatre Royal from February 25 to
29 on Pilot’s latest tour.
“We’re delighted that this show, which
was nominated for best show for children and young people at UK Theatre Awards,
is returning later this year,” says Esther. “It’s wonderful that even more
young people can experience this production and that Pilot will be able to tour
to areas of England that we haven’t visited, thanks to the support of Arts
Noughts & Crosses will open at the
York theatre in a September 11 to 19 run before embarking on a national tour
Told from the perspectives of two
teenagers, Sephy and Callum, Blackman’s love story set in a volatile,
racially segregated society, where black (the Crosses) rules over white (the
Noughts), as she explores the powerful themes of love, revolution and what
it means to grow up in a divided world.
Sabrina Mahfouz’s adaptation for
teenagers is based on Blackman’s first book in the Noughts & Crosses series
for young adults, winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award and the
Fantastic Fiction Award, among other accolades.
Noughts & Crosses was produced
by Pilot Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Derby Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry,
and the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, as the first show in a new partnership to
develop theatre for younger audiences. This is the consortium behind the
aforementioned tour of Emteaz Hussain’s
adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s Crongton Knights.
Last year, Noughts & Crosses won
the Excellence in Touring award at the UK
Theatre Awards, when also nominated for Best Show for Children and Young
As with Crongton Knights, schools
workshops and outreach projects, along with free digital learning resources,
will be available alongside the autumn production of Noughts & Crosses
Casting will be announced in the coming
months. Tickets for the York run are on sale on 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.
Here is a precis of Charles Hutchinson’s review of Pilot Theatre’s Noughts & Crosses at York Theatre Royal, printed in The Press, York, in April 2019.
“ESTHER Richardson proposed Noughts & Crosses when pitching for Pilot’s artistic directorship after Marcus Romer headed south, and her passion for Malorie Blackman’s twist on a Romeo & Juliet story is writ large in her telling of Sabrina Mahfouz’s electrifying adaptation.
“In Blackman’s Britain, Noughts are the
white underlings; no orange juice; milk only on Fridays; no mobile phones;
second-rate secondary education. Crosses are the black ruling class; apartheid
divisions turned on their head.
“Never the twain shall meet on equal terms, except that Nought
Callum (Billy Harris), 15, and Cross Sephy (Heather Agyepong), 14, have been
friends throughout childhood, meeting secretly on her family’s private beach.
Sephy’s father, Kamal Hadley (Chris Jack), is the Home
Secretary; Callum’s mum, Meggie (Lisa Howard), is the Hadley family’s
housekeeper. When Callum is one of three Nought teens granted a place at
Sephy’s Crosses-only school, how will it affect their relationship?
“Blackman depicts a fractious, tinderbox world: Sephy’s mum
Jasmine (Doreene Blackstock) is an alcoholic, neglected by her preoccupied
husband; Callum’s dad Ryan (Daniel Copeland) and brother Jude (Jack Condon) are
Liberation Militia freedom fighters. Callum’s sister, so damaged in an assault,
has curled up in a ball ever since.
“As with Pilot’s first hit, Lord Of The Flies, our ability to
destroy rather than create bonds, to repeatedly take the wrong turn, lies at
the heart of Blackman’s damning, bleak vision that haunts us still more in
intolerant Brexit Britain.
“Sephy and Callum express a wish for a better world, one where
we rub along with each other, but this is a rotten Britain of death sentences,
an intransigent Home Secretary, thwarted love across the divide.
“Given the bold imagination of Blackman’s novel for young adults with its heroine figure of a bright black teenage girl, you might wish she had come up with a similarly bold answer to so many ultimately familiar woes.
“Alas not, but this is nevertheless a superb production with good performances all round, plenty of punch in the direction, and high-quality set, lighting, sound, music and video design.”
MACY Gray and Lighthouse Family are big-name new additions to the bill for Lionel Richie’s closing night at this summer’s inaugural York Festival.
Grammy Award winner Gray, from Canton, Ohio, and Newcastle pop-soul duo Tunde Baiyewu and Paul Tucker will perform at the three-day event at York Sports Club, Clifton Park, Shipton Road, on June 21.
This is more good
news for festival promoters Cuffe and Taylor after the City of York Council
thumbs-up for a licence, albeit with the proviso that the volume must be turned
York Festival will run from June 19 to 21, with Camden Town nutty boys Madness headlining on the first night and Irish matured boy band Westlife on the Saturday, before American soul legend Lionel Richie says Hello on the Sunday.
Macy Gray made her
breakthrough in 1999 with the single I Try and the seven million-selling debut
album On How Life Is, her American R&B and soul song-writing inspired
principally by Billie Holiday.
Over the next two
decades, Gray released ten studio albums, the latest being 2018’s Ruby, as well
as featuring on songs with Dolly Parton and Ariana Grande and appearing in films
and on TV shows.
Lighthouse Family singer
Baiyewu and keyboardist Tucker released their first single, Lifted, in
1995, en route to selling ten million albums and charting with the singles High
and Ocean Drive.
Six-times platinum debut album Ocean Drive was followed by Top Ten albums Postcards From Heaven and Whatever Gets You Through The Day. After an 18-year hiatus, the duo reunited last year to record Blue Sky In Your Head, their fourth studio set.
York Festival director Peter Taylor says: “We’re delighted to add
both Macy Gray and Lighthouse Family to our debut line-up. Together with the
global icon that is Lionel Richie, this is going to be an amazing and
Opening-night headliners Madness will be joined by Ian Broudie’s Lightning Seeds, Craig Charles, for a Funk and Soul Club DJ set, Leeds indie rockers Apollo Junction and York band Violet Contours.
Westlife’s Saturday line-up features All Saints, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Scouting For Girls and Take That’s Howard Donald for a DJ set.
For more information and tickets, go to york-festival.com.
Courtney Marie Andrews will showcase her new album at Pocklington Arts Centre
on June 17 on her six-date tour.
Old Flowers will be
released on June 5 on Loose/Fat Possum Records as her follow-up to 2018’s May
Your Kindness Remain.
Created in the ashes
of a long-term relationship, Andrews’ ten new songs amount to her most
vulnerable writing to date as she chronicles her journey through heartbreak,
loneliness and finding herself again.
“Old Flowers is
about heartbreak,” says Courtney Marie, 29. “There are a million records and
songs about that, but I did not lie when writing these songs. This album is
about loving and caring for the person you know you can’t be with.
“It’s about being
afraid to be vulnerable after you’ve been hurt. It’s about a woman who is
alone, but OK with that, if it means truth. This was my truth this year: my
nine-year relationship ended and I’m a woman alone in the world, but happy to
Produced by Andrew
Sarlo, who has worked with Bon Iver and Big Thief, Old
Flowers was recorded at Sound Space Studio and features only three musicians:
Andrews, on vocals, acoustic guitar and piano; Twain’s Matthew Davidson, on
bass, celeste, mellotron, pedal steel, piano, pump organ, Wurlitzer and background
vocals, and Big Thief’s James Krivchenia on drums and percussion.
intentions, Sarlo says: “Before we got to the studio, we agreed to prioritise making this record
as cathartic and minimal as possible, focusing on Courtney’s voice and her
intention behind the songs.
“Because of this,
the record is all about performance. I believe a great recording is the
chemistry between everything during basics and the ability to feel something
happening, instead of obsessing over the perfect take. Courtney embraced this
approach and we ended up with a raw, natural and human record.”
The resulting track listing comprises Burlap String; Guilty; If I Told; Together Or Alone; Carnival Dream; Old Flowers; Break The Spell; It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault; How You Get Hurt and Ships In The Night.
Courtney Marie last
played Pocklington in December 2018, at the end of a week when she was felled
by a viral infection the morning after her London gig and had to call off her Birmingham,
Bristol and Oxford gigs.
Rested and recuperated,
she was still nursing a cough, but found the energy for a solo set of songs and
stories, introducing Ships In The Night and It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault,
two new compositions that would end up on Old Flowers.
This time Courtney
Marie will play with a full band in the lead-up to her series of summer
festival engagements. Tickets for June 17’s 8pm gig cost £20 on 01759 301547
or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
SOPRANO Anna Prosser and tenor Robert Anthony Gardiner will sing with
York Musical Society for the first time in March 28’s performance of Gabriel Fauré’s
Requiem in York Minster.
This luminous work will be complemented by Michael Haydn’s Requiem in C minor. “You might think that having two requiems in one concert isn’t an imaginative programming choice,” says conductor David Pipe.
“Even in rehearsals, though, it’s fascinating to hear how these two works, using much of the same liturgical text but separated by over 100 years, are so very different in style and musical content. This is an unusual opportunity to savour the contrasting responses of two fine composers.”
Fauré’s Requiem, first performed in 1890, uses a shortened version of
the funeral mass and is serene, peaceful and full of haunting melodies. Michael
Haydn is the lesser-known younger brother of Josef Haydn. “His less frequently
performed but exquisite Requiem (1772) is said to have inspired Mozart’s own
final work,” says Pipe, York Musical Society’s principal conductorsince
Anna Prosser, a choral scholar and vocal coach at Leeds Cathedral, and Robert
Anthony Gardiner, who lives in Leeds, will be joined on solo duty by mezzo-soprano
Kate Symonds-Joy and bass Alex Ashworth.
Both have sung previously with York Musical Society, Symonds-Joy performing
Verdi’s Requiem in November 2014 and Bach’s St Matthew Passion in March 2018;
Ashworth, the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah in May 2015 and in Bach’s
St Matthew Passion in March 2018.
Both sing with Solomon’s Knot Collective, who performed at last summer’s
Ryedale Festival and enjoyed a sold-out performance at last December’s York Early
Music Christmas Festival at the National Centre for Early Music, York.
Tickets for this 7.30pm concert are on sale at York Minster box office, on 01904 557256, at yorkminster.org or on the door. Prices are £25/£20 in the nave; £12 in the side aisles; £6, age 13 to 17; under-12s, free, but a ticket is required and they must be accompanied by an adult.
APOLLO Festival is taking off again this
summer after a four-year hiatus, promising the biggest and best event to date.
The family-friendly festival will be
held on July 3 and 4 at the new home of York RI in Hamilton Drive, with Musicians
Against Homelessness at the core.
New for 2020, the Friday Night Chill focus
will be on a chilled-out, intimate evening of food, drinks and acoustic music for
over-18s only. The line-up includes 1990s’ acoustic tribute act Melting Pot, Leeds
band The Dunwells, Dodgy lead singer Nigel Clark and York’s lady soul, Jess
The Saturday bill will be divided
between the Main Stage and the Musicians Against Homelessness (MAH) stage.
Stereo MC’s, The Hoosiers and Happy Mondays’ alumni Bez and Rowetta, in their On The 6th Day God Created Manchester show, will be the leading acts on the bigger stage, backed up by fast-rising York band The Skylights; Gary Stewart’s Graceland tribute to Paul Simon; The Mothers; tribute acts Ultimate Killers; LMX (Little Mix) and Antarctic Monkeys and a DJ set by Danny Glew.
On the MAH stage will be The Perfect
Shambles; emerging York bands The Feds and Seratones; Bravado Cartel; Slow
Train; Page 45; The Silents; The Madchester Anthems; Y Street Band; Hot Dogz;
VLTAGE and The Peacocks.
In past years, Reverend And The Makers, Inspiral Carpets, Cast, Dodgy and, aptly, Space played Apollo Festival. Now, festival director Stuart Kelly says: “Following a break, we feel the time is right for Apollo Festival to return. We pride ourselves on being a family-friendly festival, affordable for everyone and providing a fun environment for everybody to enjoy.
“It’s fantastic to have the likes of Musicians Against Homelessness on board, not only to see the acts they will bring but also in being able to raise awareness to their cause.”
Stuart continues: “We’re excited to be
at our new venue, York RI, and bringing in the additional evening on the Friday
is a new experience that we hope, in addition the usual Saturday, people will enjoy
“It’s one of the best line-ups we’ve put
together and hasn’t been easy but I’m over the moon with the acts playing on
both days. I personally can’t wait to see our loyal supporters come back and
seeing new faces enjoying themselves too.”
Looking ahead to the July 3 and 4
festival, Stuart says: “One thing for certain is it’s going to be packed full
of entertainment with family quizzes and plenty of free kids’ activities.
“As always, being family friendly and affordable is a huge
priority within Apollo, therefore our infamous kids’ quarter will be returning with ten-pin bowling; hay-bale climbing
frames; face painting; arts and crafts; balloon modelling; magic shows and workshops;
storytelling and a children’s disco to name but a few free-of-charge activities.
Back too will be the much-loved funfair for additional fees.”
An array of street food, drink, craft
beer and cider will be on offer, and festival-goers will be permitted to bring
in their own picnic food and unopened soft drinks and water (no alcohol and no
Stuart is delighted Musicians Against Homelessness
(MAH) will be running the second stage. “We could not be happier to be working
with this amazing organisation,” he says.
MAH was founded by music PR Emma Rule with the patronage of music industry guru Alan McGee, the Creation Records founder who famously signed Oasis. The project provides opportunities for up-and-coming talent while raising funds for the UK homelessness charity Crisis, and since 2016 MAH has hosted hundreds of gigs and curated numerous festival stages, featuring thousands of artists.
Emma says: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be
partnering up with Apollo Festival this year and to host the MAH stage. Thanks
to the festival and artists that support us, we will continue to raise funds to
help those living on the streets, while ensuring that people visiting the
festival enjoy a fantastic programme of music.”
Maverick businessman Alan McGee believes the
MAH campaign also gives new bands a platform, in the way that Rock Against
Racism did in the 1970s.
McGee, who now manages The Jesus & Mary Chain ,
Black Grape, Happy Mondays and Cast, says: “Music brings us together
regardless of politics or social standing. It’s a great leveller and a vital
tool for change.”
Stuart concludes: “York businesses will
be given the opportunity to get involved and play a major role in York’s
premium family festival, giving exclusivity to these businesses to showcase
their company and also give their employees VIP experiences they never forget.”
Friday night tickets cost £5; Saturday general admission is £15; youth, six to 17, £5; under-fives free, at apollo-festival.co.uk. On the day, Saturday’s prices are £20; youth £5; under-fives free.
YET again, Alan?! Yes, comedian Alan Carr
is adding a fourth night of his Not Again, Alan! show on December 16 as he turns
York Barbican into York Carrbican.
Carr, ever-chatty son of former York City footballer Graham
Carr, will play four successive Christmas nights in York, having already added
December 17 to his December 18 and 19 gigs on his first tour in four years.
Tickets for the extra date areon
sale on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box
Since his last comedy travels, chat-show host Carr has “managed
to find himself in all sorts of dramas”, apparently. Such as? “Between his
star-studded wedding day and becoming an accidental anarchist, from fearing for
his life at border control to becoming a reluctant farmer, three words spring
to mind…Not again, Alan!” says his tour publicity. “Join Alan on tour as he
muses upon the things that make his life weird and wonderful.”
Not Again, Alan! will be Carr’s fourth UK solo show in four-year
cycles in the wake of Yap, Yap, Yap’s 200 dates in 2015 and 2016, Spexy Beast
in 2011 and Tooth Fairy in 2007. He last brought his chat, chat, chat to York
on the Yap, Yap, Yap! itinerary on July 11 2015 at the Barbican.
year, Carr will host Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow on ITV, wherein five all-time
favourite game shows will be supersized and reinvigorated for a new audience:
Play Your Cards Right, Take Your Pick, Strike It Lucky, Bullseye and The Price
Is Right. In 2020 too, Carr will return to the judges’ panel on the second BBC
series of RuPaul’s DragRace UK.
Given the ticket demand for Not Again, Alan! again and again,
again and now yet again, York Barbican advises prompt booking.
DANCE troupe Diversity will play York
Barbican on April 25 2021 on their Connected tour.
Last year marked ten years since Diversity won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent, an anniversary celebrated on the sold-out 48-date Born Ready tour.
At those shows, Diversity promised to continue into a second decade and, true to their word, founder and choreographer Ashley Banjo has created Connected, a show that centres around the world of social media, the internet and the digital era we now live in, but, more importantly, how this connects us all.
Banjo says: “Every year that goes by,
and every time we get to create a new touring show, I cannot believe we are
still lucky enough to get to do this.
“But even after all this time, we are
still growing, and this new decade and new chapter for Diversity is sure to be
something even more special than the last. I truly do believe that we are all
connected in more ways than one and I cannot wait to bring this to life on
Banjo has returned to the judging
panel for his third series of ITV’s Dancing On Ice, whose final on Sunday will
feature fellow Diversity member Perri Kiely competing for the
He also has hosted, choreographed and starred in the BAFTA-nominated The Real Full Monty from 2017 to 2019 and the International Emmy Award, Broadcast Award and Royal Television Society Award-winning The Real Full Monty: Ladies Night in 2018-2019. His Channel 4 show, Flirty Dancing, completed it second series last December.
Diversity’s nine tours have sold more
than 600,000 tickets. Tickets
for next spring’s Connected show at York Barbican are on sale on 0203 356 5441,
at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.
Running from March 19 to May 29 2021, the Connected tour also will visit Harrogate Convention Centre on March 20; Victoria Theatre, Halifax, March 21; Hull Bonus Arena, April 3, and Sheffield City Hall, April 4. Box office: Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk; Hull, 0844 858 5025 or bonusarenahull.com; Halifax, 01422 351158 or victoriatheatre.co.uk; Sheffield, 0114 278 9789 or sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.
THE only thing that cheers up Adrian Mealing and John Denton, alias The
Very Grimm Brothers, is you.
These purveyors of comedy, silliness, wistful poetry, fairy tales, songs and everyday anecdotes invite you to Grimm Castle and its enchanted forest, masquerading for one night only as Poppleton All Saints Hall, Upper Poppleton, York, on April 3 at 7.30pm.
“It’s a very chatty, tangential gig,” promises Grimm John, a Malvern
Poetry Slam Champ, who sings à cappella with Men In General, A
Fistful Of Spookies and The Spooky Men’s Chorale, joined by Denton from John
Denton’s Midnight Band.
“You should expect encounters with direct action, clumsy departures, the
poetry of platforms, Seville marmalade, undimmed love, Severn Trent Water and
the spinning of gold from straw,” say The Very Grimm Brothers.
The duo have appeared alongside the Peatbog Faeries, Attila The
Stockbroker, John Hegley, Elvis McGonagall, Johnny Fluffypunk and Roger McGough
and performed at Poetry On Loan, Bang Said The Gun, Stratford upon Avon
Litfest, Wolds Words, Mouthpiece Poets, Mouth & Music, Speakeasy and the Blue
Suede Sporran Club.
“Think of The Very Grimm Brothers as the love children that Victor
Meldrew and Pam Ayres never had,” trumpeted the Church Stretton Arts Festival,
ahead of their gig there.
Who can resist such a combination?! Tickets cost £12.50 at poppletonlive.co.uk/events.
PLEBS and Friday Night Dinner sitcom star Tom Rosenthal is bringing his first-ever stand-up tour to Pocklington Arts Centre on March 14.
Manhood is truly comedy with a cutting edge, wherein Rosenthal will be “avenging the theft of his foreskin”, as he discusses how he has suffered psychological distress ever since he realised he had been circumcised as a child.
Tom, the Hammersmith-born son of TV sports presenter Jim Rosenthal, applies the use of graphs, statistics, playful jokes and rigid research to tell his story, having spoken to experts on the subject matter.
He may have a Jewish background, but he was not brought up to be Jewish and that was not the reason for the circumcision. He duly felt anger towards his parents, the aforementioned Jim and his mother Chrissy Smith, a former Newsnight producer, when he was younger.
“Maybe I’m stuck in adolescence. I don’t know,” says Tom. “As soon as I found out what happened to me, I was just constantly searching for a reason that made sense of it and I’ve still not found one. That’s sort of the driving force of the show: going through all the justifications for it being allowed.”
He is not anti-circumcision, however. “If you want to choose to do it when you’re old enough, go right ahead. It’s like any other kind of body modification, like a tattoo or a piercing,” he says.
“But to do it to a child against their will when they cannot take the decision to take that back, it feels as if it’s against our human rights. I want prospective parents to watch my show. Have a nice night out. Laugh with the boy from the sitcoms with the big nose, but also go away thinking ‘maybe that’s not cool actually’.”
Best known for playing Roman Empire nerd Marcus in ITV2’s Plebs and the perpetually adolescent prankster son, Jonny, in Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner, Tom has long wanted to do a stand-up tour. “The nicest thing about it is getting to meet the people who actually watch the TV programmes I’m in,” he says.
“I’m also really proud of Manhood. It’s a show that I always wanted to make. It has
a dual purpose for me. Obviously, I wanted to put on the funniest show that I
can, but I also want fans to go away thinking about stuff which most people
don’t really think about.
“It’s something that I think is slightly askew with our culture. I should add that this is not your typical comedy show. Most comedy shows will not be an hour about genital-cutting practices.”
After premiering Manhood at last summer’s Edinburgh Fringe and playing dates
last autumn, Tom is touring from February 8 to April 9. “I’m really a molly-
coddled actor,” he says. “It has surprised me how tiring live comedy is. Some
of my friends seem to be able to walk on stage and just be themselves, whereas
I’m always nervous. I have the utmost respect for all comedians. I guess, by
comparison, an actor’s life is quite easy.”
The tour marks a new phase in Rosenthal’s career. Although he started out as a stand-up, becoming joint winner of the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Award in 2011 after graduating from London University with a Philosophy degree, acting has taken up most of his time since then.
“I was reluctant to call myself a comedian despite the fact that I did stand-up. I felt like until you’ve done a tour, you can’t call yourself a comedian. So, one semi-benefit of doing Manhood is that now I’m a little bit more comfortable saying I’m a comedian as I’ve gone to towns, people have paid money to see me and I definitely heard some of them laugh.”
Although the subject matter of Manhood may be personal, Rosenthal believes the feelings of
alienation he discusses are universal. “I’ve had quite a lot of teenagers
coming and I think the story of someone who is at odds with their body is
something they can relate to,” he says. “What makes it interesting though also
makes it quite odd. The fact that you are watching a guy talking about his
penis quite a lot.”
His Pocklington audience next week will discover more about Tom in his Manhood
show, but for those familiar with his television characters, does he consider
himself to be closer to Marcus or Jonny?
“I probably feel I’m more Marcus,” he decides. “He’s a neurotic schemer who thinks that he’s smarter than he is, whereas Jonny is a sort of teenage boy prankster. Ultimately though, if you combine the two, that’s my whole terrible personality.”
AMERICANA singer-songwriter Bronwynne Brent travels all the way from the Mississippi Delta to the howling winter winds of Yorkshire to play Selby Town Hall tonight (March 6).
“I absolutely love Bronwynne’s darkly brooding voice,” says Selby Town
Council arts officer Chris Jones. “She creates songs that feel like you can
live in them, and somehow she manages to sound like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy
Sinatra rolled into one.”
Tonight’s 8pm show will be Brent’s Selby debut, performing with her trio.
“Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, she has the kind of
stop-in-your-tracks voice that sounds like Southern sunshine,” says Chris.
“There’s a hint of Delta blues behind the ache in her songs, a glimpse
of honky-tonk twang, an echo of riverboat can-cans, a whiff of Ennio Morricone
and an atmosphere that conjures up of the darker side of country song-writing.”
Harking back to the glory days of Lee Hazlewood and Gram Parsons, Brent’s
writing taps into the murky undercurrent of country that starts with old
Appalachian murder ballads and continues through to today’s crop of psychedelic
country songwriters. “Like a juke-joint Nancy Sinatra, Bronwynne unites all the
best elements of Southern American roots music and ties these many different
influences into a sound that’s both comforting and refreshing,” says Chris.
Brent has released two albums, 2011’s Deep Black Water and 2014’s
Stardust, the second produced by Seattle’s Johnny Sangster with a “spaghetti
northwestern” feel to it.
Playing with Calexico drummer John Convertino and Fiona Apple’s bassist, Keith Lowe, on Stardust, she sang songs with a heavy weight on their shoulders: her stories populated by battered women, defeated lovers, devilish characters, highway ghosts and lonesome wanderers.
Looking forward to tonight, Chris concludes: “Bronwynne Brent is
incredible: one of the very finest contemporary voices you’re likely to hear.
Her songs are so rich and brooding. They’re astonishingly well-crafted with a
compelling dark underbelly mixing country, folk and glorious speakeasy jazz
sounds. This show will be an absolute treat.”
Tickets cost £14 on 01757 708449 or at selbytownhall.co.uk or £16 on the
door from 7.30pm.
REVIEW: Big Ian’s A Night To Remember, York Barbican, February 29
is a team game, says Ian Donaghy, now as much a motivational speaker at
conferences as a showman, fundraiser and event host.
Not only Dementia
Projects in York, but also St Leonard’s Hospice, Bereaved Children’s Support in
York and Accessible Arts and Media benefit from these nights to remember.
sold out as ever, was the eighth such night, nights that had raised £150,000 so
far. Big Ian is yet to confirm this year’s total, but £5,700 was taken in bucket
fundraising is important, but Big Ian puts the fun into that fundraising, as
well as the heart and soul, in a community event that, no matter what hell of a
world is going on outside right now, always brings out the best in York.
the news, delivered in a specially recorded Look North spoof bulletin from Phil
Bodmer, devotee of Big Ian’s Guestlist nights at York Racecourse. This would be
the biggest gathering of A Night To Remember yet: not only the old father time
of musical directors, George Hall, on keyboards with his band of bass, guitars,
drums and percussion, but 14 brass players to boot, four from Big Ian’s band
Huge and a whole heap of shiny young players from York Music Forum, gathered
under the tutelage of Ian Chalk.
more, the musicians and singers had an 80-year age range, from those fledgling
brass talents to 93-year-old Barbara from the Singing For All choir, a force of
nature who summed up everything joyful about this celebration of the power of
music throughout our lives.
took the lead, brass assisted, on Elton John’s I’m Still Standing and, yes, he
would still be standing three hours later, still urging us to fill those
Snaize’s rendition of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, with the brass section breathing fire, was an early highlight; Boss
Caine’s mine-deep voiced Dan Lucas turned Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 from daytime to
night-time hours; Jess Steel, as vital to these nights as Big Ian, climbed the
first of several vocal mountains with Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were.
were interspersed with Dementia-themed video clips, usually recorded on Ian’s
phone, some bringing tears, others cheers, all indeed making it a team game.
fiddle bow was a wand of magic whenever he played, whoever he accompanied;
Heather Findlay and Simon Snaize’s duet for Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain had exactly
The Chain reaction it deserved, guitar solo and all.
Sanderson, alias Las Vegas Ken, normally restricts himself to a solo slot, but for
the first time, he was joined by Hall’s band, at Big Ian’s urging: another hit
at this “Gang Show with people we really like”.
Later, a fellow staple of these shows, 6ft 3 folk stalwart Graham Hodge, newly turned 70, would be seen as never seen before, again at Donaghy’s suggestion, as he eschewed folk balladry for a dinner jacket to knock Cry Me A River out of the park with the vocal performance of the night. Better than Bublé? No troublé!
What better way to open the second half than radiant York singer Jessa Liversidge leading her Singing For All group, ebullient Barbara and all, in fact all the audience, as we sang I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing. In perfect harmony, of course! “I’m a bit c**p these days,” said Barbara, but singing is about so much more than the act of singing, and you could see how much it means to her after all these years.
Donaghy’s Careless Whisper to Beth McCarthy’s U2 and Guns N’Roses mash-up, Hope
& Social’s Gary Stewart turning into Paul Simon for You Can Call Me Al, to
Annie, Beth, Heather and Jess, all in black and white, for Shania Twain’s I Feel Like A
Woman, the show-stoppers kept coming.
the phone torches on Big Ian’s command for Lionel Richie’s Hello and a big, big
finale followed up the apt Don’t You Forget About Me with Jess does Dusty for
You Don’t Have To Say You Love M and, what’s this? A video message of support
from Rick Astley that arrived in Ian’s in-box from Sydney, Australia, at quarter
to five that morning.
Cue a Never Gonna Give You Up singalong, and no, you just know Big Ian is never gonna give up on these special nights, his belief in making every life vibrant and vital to the last. Well done big fella, well done sound techie Craig Rothery, well done York.
POCKLINGTON Arts Centre will be celebrating its 20th
anniversary on Friday (March 6) with a party night.
A private reception at 7pm will be followed by a
public performance by North Yorkshire’s only contemporary New Orleans-inspired brass
band, the New York Brass Band from old York.
This seven-piece powerhouse, complete with
percussion, sax, trumpets, trombones and sousaphone, will raise the roof with
their rousing brand of Mardi Gras jazz from 8pm.
Looking forward to Friday’s celebrations, director Janet
Farmer says: “New York Brass Band are a far cry from being your typical brass
band. This is up-on-your-feet dancing, party-loving, Mardi Gras-style funky
brass music that will be a lot of fun.
“As Pocklington Arts Centre celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, we felt a band like this
added a true party vibe to our diverse programme of live music.”
Hailing from the ancient streets of York, New York
Brass Band are at the forefront of a funky brass revolution now sweeping Great
“Inspired by Rebirth Brass Band, Soul Rebels, Hot
8, Youngblood and Brassroots, New York Brass Band pack a powerful punch of
relentless drums, rumbling tuba and wailing horns,” says Janet.
“Nothing kicks a party into gear like the sound of
a smokin’ New Orleans Mardi Gras jazz band.
Although New York Brass Band’s inspiration is drawn from New Orleans musicians, their repertoire ranges from Marvin Gaye to George Michael, from Cee-Lo Green to Stevie Wonder, with some funky, gritty northern originals thrown in for good measure.
Their past performances include Glastonbury Festival from 2014 to 2017; Bestival on the Isle of Wight; Durham Brass Festival; Cork Jazz Festival; Le Tour de France; the Monaco Grand Prix and England’s cricket Test matches.
New York Brass Band have entertained guests at
celebrity parties and weddings for comedian Alex Brooker, Liam Gallagher, ex-Scotland
footballers Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen and Jamie Oliver.
Tickets for Friday cost £11 each on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
HARRY Baker, mathematician-turned-world-slam champion, marks turning
10,000 days old by celebrating numbers, words and life itself at The Crescent,
York, on March 15.
Making a plus out of everything, Baker will be at the latest gathering
of Say Owt, the spoken-word fulcrum hosted by York performance poet Henry Raby.
“From winning his school’s Battle of the Bands competition with a Jay-Z maths homage, to his prime number poetry TED talk being watched by millions online, Harry’s love of language and logic has got him through literal marathons, seen him rap battle in front of Ice Cube, and now has him analysing the technical accuracy of So Solid Crew’s 21 Seconds,” says Henry. “He’s got 99 problems but maths ain’t one.”
Support comes from Amy King and Robert Steventon. “Amy won Say Owt Slam #23 last September. She’s a queer, northern, spoken-word artist, co-founder of the Sheffield spoken-word night All Mic Long, and her poetry tackles topics such as sexuality, feminism and her unwavering love for Wetherspoons,” says Henry.
“Robert. who won Say Owt Slam #24 in February, is the maestro of Manchester’s Punk In Drublic poetry/comedy night. His poetry is 50 per cent heartfelt gut-grabbing honesty, 50 per cent honorary gobby northern nuance.”
Doors open at 7pm for the 7.30pm performance of Harry Baker: I Am 10,000. Tickets cost £10, concessions £8, from Earworm Records, in Powells Yard, off Goodramgate, or The Crescent, off Blossom Street, or at seetickets.com or £12 on the door.
YORK artist Sue Clayton will mark World Down Syndrome Day at Pocklington Arts Centre on March 21 as her Downright Marvellous At Large exhibition draws to a close that day.
Sue’s portraits of adults with Down
Syndrome and a giant pair of hand-knitted socks will provide the backdrop for
the 11am to 1pm event featuring children’s craft activities, music, cake and a
That show, This Is Me, will be running in
the arts centre studio during the final week of Downright Marvellous At Large
from March 14 to 21. On show will be self-portraits by members of Wold Haven
Day Centre, Pocklington, and Applefields Special School, York, created at workshops
led by Sue.
Sue put her exhibition together in honour
of her son, James, who has Down Syndrome and turns 18 this year. “Downright
Marvellous At Large is a true celebration of adults with Down’s at work and play,
and I hope it has made a real impression on visitors,” she says.
“I can’t wait to bring what has been a
really busy, successful exhibition to a suitable close in spectacular style with
a celebration to mark World Down Syndrome Day.
“Everyone is invited to come along,
enjoy some children’s crafts, a pop-up exhibition and a free piece of cake, as
well as a few surprises along the way”
Sue’s portraits, presenting the
“unrepresented and significant” social presence of adults with Down Syndrome, is
complemented by a giant pair of odd socks created using hand-knitted squares
donated by members of the public.
people wear odd socks on World Down Syndrome Day, a global event that aims to
raise awareness and promote independence,
self-advocacy and freedom of choice for people with the congenital
Socks are used because their shape replicates the extra 21st chromosome
that people with Down Syndrome have.
REVIEW: The Seagull, York Settlement Community Players, York Theatre Royal Studio, until March 7, 7.45pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
IT didn’t end well for the goat in Edward
Albee’s The Goat at Theatre @41 Monkgate last week. It doesn’t end well for the
seagull – borrowed from the National Theatre, no less – in Anton Chekhov’s The
Seagull at the Theatre Royal Studio, but there is awkward comedy aplenty in
Absurd comedy in Albee’s jaw-dropping 2002 piece; tragicomedy in Chekhov’s 1895 dysfunctional family drama, as Helen Wilson completes her ten-year project to direct all four of the Russian playwright’s major works for Settlement Players in the York company’s centenary year.
As with Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard
and Three Sisters, the adaptation is by Michael Frayn, who has praised
Settlement, and by implication Wilson, for not tampering with period,
location, genders and politics to “make them more relevant” for modern
in York are evidently made of sterner stuff,” Frayn said. “Just occasionally,
perhaps, it’s worth trying to catch the sense and feel of what Chekhov actually
has pursued the same directorial policy once more, placing her trust in Frayn’s
dialogue, replete with dramatic and comic irony, complemented by an uncluttered
set design by Graham Sanderson, with a plain backdrop, chairs and a mini-stage,
bedecked with flowers, for Konstantin’s play within a play.
knows that territory from his own 1982 backstage comedy
Noises Off, a classic English unruly farce, but like Frayn’s appraisal of York audiences,
The Seagull is made of sterner stuff.
“They’re all vulnerable, every one of them,” says Wilson of
Chekhov’s characters, and she has made a spot-on judgement call in wanting vulnerability
and warmth in equal measure in her staging. Enter Lucy May Orange’s Masha,
dressed in black to match her forlorn conviction that her love for troubled young
playwright Konstantin (Benedict Turvill) will be forever unrequited.
At this point we laugh in recognition, not least because she
is saying this to smitten teacher Medvedenko (Samithi Sok), seemingly oblivious
to her indifference towards him, and soon we shall find Turvill’s over-sensitive
Konstantin in torment at putative girlfriend Nina (Livy Potter), his muse and
actress for his “ground-breaking” play, not worshipping him the same way her
Turvill’s radical theatre-maker Konstantin has an even more troubled relationship with his mother, faded actress Arkadina (Stephanie Hesp), than Hamlet had with Gertrude, merciless in her dismissal of his writing talent, so insensitive in stealing attention away from Nina’s performance of his bold but admittedly dreadful play at Sorin’s increasingly anguished house party one lakeside summer evening.
Sorin (Glyn Morrow), Arkadina’s ageing brother, wants the
next generation to thrive, to blossom; so too does Maurice Crichton’s
Scottish-accented doctor, Dorn. Paul Joe Osborne’s retired lieutenant, Shamrayev,
now Sorin’s steward, loves a story, and Osborne has a splendid night in his
mimicry and comic timing; wife Polina (Elizabeth Elsworth) is his best audience.
The Seagull is a play with a generation gap that grows wider the more the drama unfolds, It goes from what Wilson calls the “comic souffle” of the playful Act One, when we can “laugh at these slightly inept, sometimes pretentious characters thinking they’re something they’re not”, to the painful, poignant consequences of such ineptitude and self-deception, when youthful dreams are dashed and unfulfilled ambitions turn bitter amid the fractious artistic egos.
Chekhov “likes to lob a bomb into the room in Act Three” in
his plays, as Wilson puts it, and here the incendiary device is Arkadina’s
lover, vainglorious novelist Trigorin (Ben Sawyer, suitably smug), under whose
spell the impressionable Nina falls.
In a naturalistic play with theatre and writing and creativity at its heart, but ennui and
abject despair eating away at the tumultuous edges, Wilson’s company extract
the ironic, perverse comedy to the full, then bring out all the damaging
familiar failings of those prone to so much sterile philosophising.
Frayn would be delighted with the
performances of Settlement’s experienced hands, while both Turvill and Potter
(by day York Theatre Royal’s marketing and press assistant)
impress in their first principal roles for Wilson in the intimacy of the Studio
Yes, the seagull dies, but not before The Seagull flies high,
full of art and too much hurt heart.
VINTAGE posters from a golden age of travel and
tourism will go on display at Woodend, The Crescent, Scarborough, on Saturday.
Dating from the 1910s to the 1960s, the posters
in Scarborough: A Day At The Seaside were issued by the-then
Scarborough Corporation’s tourism department and by rail companies operating in
On show from the coming weekend to April 26, they will
include such nostalgic images as a family of penguins seeking shade under a
parasol on Scarborough’s South Bay beach, alongside other bright and
idyllic scenes from a bygone era.
The prints are all taken from the 200-plus original
posters held in the Scarborough Collections, under the care of Scarborough
Andrew Clay, the trust’s chief executive, says: “This
will be a vibrant and colourful exhibition recalling an age when travelling by
train for a holiday at the seaside was the height of sophistication.”
Limited-edition prints of the posters on display will be available to
buy, all at the actual size.
Woodend is open Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays and
Sundays, 10am to 4pm. Entry is free.
Hannah’s Songs For Darktown Lovers is the Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields
Forever of exhibitions.
music-inspired Double A-sides show is split between two independent York
businesses: Lotte Inch Gallery, at 14 Bootham, and gallery curator Lotte’s
friends Dan Kentley and Dom White’s FortyFive Vinyl Café in Micklegate.
For Darktown Lovers roots itself in all things music, and of course, love,”
says Lotte. “With Sinatra’s Songs For Swinging Lovers playing in the
background, this exhibition is an alternative Valentine for the creatively
also a love letter to ‘Darktown’, a fictional place that Jonny refers to when
modern life becomes too much, a place with countless retreats, all revealed in
his book Greetings From Darktown, published by Merrell Publishers in 2014.”
Scottish artist, designer, illustrator, lecturer and all-round creative spark
Hannah has exhibited previously at Lotte’s gallery, and she contacted him last
spring with a view to him doing a show for FortyFive.
told me about this vinyl café because I like to go to charity shops and buy old
vinyl albums that I know will be awful but have striking covers, and then I
create my own newly reinterpreted vinyl sleeves from that,” says
culture-vulture Jonny, who attended the exhibition openings at FortyFive, where
he span vintage discs and played an acoustic guitar set with fellow artist Jonathan Gibbs, and at Lotte’s gallery amid the
aroma of morning-after coffee the next day.
been nice with this show is having the chance to do the more informal works for
the café and the formal pieces, such as hand-painted wooden cut-outs, for the
led to the Darktown Lovers theme. “Originally, I was going to do the show
before Christmas but time ran out, and then I thought Valentine’s Day would be
a good setting,” says Jonny.
work is inspired by love songs and songs I love – as they’re not all love
songs. Country rock; a bit of classical; some French chanson; rockabilly. The
café exhibition has become this imagined playlist of vinyl that never will be,
but I’ve made it as the perfect playlist in my head.”
up in Dunfermline, before studying at Cowdenbeath College of Knowledge, Liverpool School of Art and the
Royal College of Art in London, Jonny recalls how he would pick out album
covers such as Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell.
“Everyone had that album in Dunfermline! Then, as I became older, and I
like to think more sophisticated, I was drawn to those wonderful Blue Note jazz
covers. I loved the 12-inch format; going to the record shop on Saturdays with
your pocket money was so exciting,” he says.
“Then it became CDs, and now downloads, but it’s great that vinyl has
made a comeback. My sons play music, but I’ve no idea what, because it’s all on
headphones. In fact, they complain I play my music too loud, which is surely
the wrong way round! But music should be a social thing, bringing you together
to see a band or enjoy a DJ set.
“Music that matters to you is as important as buying clothes or a pair
of shoes or the first time you saw a film like Kes. You remember the mood you
were in when you first heard it.”
graduating in 1998, Jonny has worked both as a commercial designer and an
illustrator and printmaker. He lives by the sea in Southampton, where he
lectures in illustration at Southampton Solent University.
He boasts an impressive list of
exhibitions, advertising projects and clients, such as Royal Mail, the New York
Times, the Guardian and Conde Nast, and he has published a series of
“undeniably Hannah-esque” books with Merrell Publishers, Mainstone Press and
Design For Today.
You may recall his Darktown Turbo
Taxi solo exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, in 2018,
and Darktown lies at the heart of his latest works too, but what is Darktown,
“It started off as my idea that it
was on the edge of any city that had a collection of odd characters, that had
places they frequented, maybe shops too,” he says.
“The inspiration came from Fats
Waller, the jazz singer, singing Darktown Strutter’s Ball, and C W Stoneking
replying Don’t Go Dancin’ Down The Darktown Strutter’s Ball. So, Fats is saying
‘go’; Stoneking is saying ‘don’t go’, and you think, ‘oh god, what should I
“I decided I should go down there and
it’s become my alternative reality to my reality, as opposed to one of my great
hates: Star Wars fantasy.”
Defining that alternative reality,
Jonny says: “It has to be urban, ever since I left home in Dunfermline; it has
to have a lot of concrete, like there is in Southampton, my home now.
“You’re cherry picking from what you
do and don’t want to experience, including shops, characters, streets.”
One street, in particular: Shirley
High Street, where Jonny lives in Southampton. “I take some of the characters
from there and mix them in my head with historical characters,” he says. “But
it all has to have that dollop of reality; if you go too far off on fantastical
bent, it isn’t Darktown.”
How did Jonny develop his distinctive
style? “You have to be patient, to make things work, for your style to appear.
I’d start from other artists and do my own versions, and after a decade, maybe
a couple of decades, I’ve found my own style with life’s experience feeding
into it: who you are, where you live. Whereas if you force it, that’s when it
“The more you do it, the more those
things inside you, what’s internal, becomes external and is expressed in your
art. That’s when you overtake your influences and your voice becomes the
significant voice, not the ones that inspired you.”
Jonny Hannah’s pricing policy is
admirable. “The idea of my work being available potentially to almost anyone is
exciting, so I’ve sold it for as little as £5. I price it for what I think it’s
worth; even if people say I undervalue it, I don’t think I do,” he says.
“I love the idea that my art is
distributed rather than being stuck in my lock-up, so the possibility of it
being someone’s home, office, or place of work, is important to me.
“I also like to think of myself as
being like a medium holding a séance, where my art is telling you about Fats
Waller and Jacques Brel, if you don’t know who Jacques Brel is; I’m contacting
their spirit, so I’m doing my job as a conveyor of popular culture that you can
Jonny acknowledges the significance
of art that provokes and can change opinions in the world, “but I don’t need to
be one of those people”, he says. “I like the idea that art is entertaining.
I’ve always opted for entertainment, for enjoyment, for making people happy
with what I create. I have fun making them, and that notion of enjoyment is so
important to me.”
Jonny’s palette of colours exudes that element of enjoyment and fun too. “I don’t say that it’s specifically down to my colour blindness – I’m colour blind for green and blue – but I did start by using primary colours, then varying their brightness,” he says.
“You can try out endless variations and for me now it’s always blue, red, yellow, black and white and variations on that,” he says. “I’ve tried to be subtle with colour but it just doesn’t work for me!”
His Darktown Turbo Taxi, first exhibited
in his Yorkshire Sculpture Park show, and now acquired by Southampton Solent
University for permanent display there, is a case in point. “It was my agent’s
idea that I should buy this Saab 9-3 Turbo off Gumtree and paint it. Afterwards,
someone said ‘you can’t miss it in a car park’, and he was right! That notion
of not being able to miss it is part of my painting philosophy.”
That said, Jonny reveals: “I don’t
think too much. I say to my students thinking can be a bad thing. If you face a
blank canvas, then start creating, you come up with something better. Drawing
is a form of thinking in itself; you start drawing, you are thinking.
“You find that certain things keep
coming back in your work, and what I know I can be guilty of is laziness, when
I need to find new inspiration or find new ways of expressing things. It’s
always that thing of challenging yourself creatively. There’s nothing worse
After releasing his latest book, A
Confederacy Of Dunces, for The Folio Society, Jonny is now working on a commission
for Museums Northumberland on Northumberland folklore that will run from May to
September at Woodhorn Museum, Ashington, Hexham Old Gaol, Morpeth Chantry
Bagpipe Museum and Berwick Museum and Art Gallery.
He is also creating a set of woodcuts
for The Skids’ frontman Richard Jobson’s book of short stories set in an
imaginary bar in Berlin called The Alabama Song. “Richard lives in Berlin for
half the year now, and the woodcuts will go on show in an exhibition at events where
he’ll sing and I’ll play guitar,” says Jonny.
Also bubbling up is a book on the history
of pop culture, as his prodigious productivity continues unabated, with a
mischievous spirit at play. “When you’re young, you get told to tidy up, but as
you get older, mess is a creative thing,” reckons Jonny.
“If you’re creative, there’s an
immaturity to you that never goes away. You don’t have to tidy up until it really
does become too much!”
Jonny Hannah’s Songs For Darktown Lovers runs until March 7. Lotte
Inch Gallery is open Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, or by appointment
on 01904 848660. FortyFive Vinyl Café’s opening hours are Monday to
Friday, 9am to 6pm; Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
CITY Screen, York, will mark International Women’s Day on
March 8 with an exclusive Picturehouse preview of Radioactive, the biopic of pioneering
Polish scientist Marie Curie starring Rosamund Pike.
Marie discovered the radioactive elements radium and
polonium. Working with her husband, Pierre Curie (played by Sam Riley), she was
the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize and would become the only person to
Throughout her life, Marie showed a steely reserve in the
face of xenophobia and institutional hostility, but her discoveries and legacy
came at a price, not only for the woman herself but also for the world.
Next Sunday’s 1.30pm preview will be followed by a Q&A
with Rosamund Pike and director Marjane Satrapi, broadcast live from the Curzon
On general release from March 20, Radioactive (12A) is based
on Lauren Redniss’s book Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale Of Love And
Fallout and is director Satrapi’s first film to be sourced from a graphic novel
not written by herself.
The Iranian-born director is best known for Persepolis, her 2008 film about her life in pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary Iran and then in Europe. Based on her graphic novel of the same title, it traces Satrapi’s growth from child to rebellious, punk-loving teenager.
Tickets are available in person from the City Screen box office, in Coney Street, on 0871 902 5747 or at picturehouses.com/cinema/city-screen-picturehouse. Please note, the film screening will start promptly at 1.45pm.
PEPPA Pig is celebrating ten years of live shows with a new adventure,
Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever!, visiting the Grand Opera House, York, on March
4 and 5.
Performances start at 1pm and 4pm on the first day; 10am and 1pm on the
second, and courtesy of the Cumberland Street theatre, CharlesHutchPress has
one family ticket (four seats) to be won for the 4pm Wednesday performance.
Based on the Entertainment One animated television series, this is Peppa
Pig’s sixth touring production, rooted as ever in songs, games and laughter as
Peppa and friends make a big splash when they jump in puddles.
Peppa Pig Live has been enjoyed by more than 1.5 million
people in Britain, playing eight consecutive West End seasons, as well as
touring the United States and Australia.
In the wake of directing and adapting the stage shows Peppa Pig’s
Adventure, Peppa Pig’s Party, Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt, Peppa Pig’s Big
Splash and Peppa Pig’s Surprise, Richard Lewis is doing likewise
for Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever, working with BAFTA award-winning composer Mani
Produced by children’s theatre team Fierylight, in tandem with eOne,
the new adventure finds Peppa Pig excited to be going on a special
day out with George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig.
Peppa’s best day ever will involve a road‐trip full of fun
adventures. From castles to caves, dragons to dinosaurs and ice‐creams to the muddy puddles, there will be something for all Peppa’s family and their
friends Mr Bull, Suzy Sheep, Gerald Giraffe and very busy newcomer Miss
Rabbit to enjoy.
Tickets are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.
Who has written the music for Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever!?
Send your answer with your name, address and daytime phone number, to firstname.lastname@example.org, marked
Peppa Pig Competition, by 1pm on Monday, March 2.
Quickfire questions for Peppa Pig to answer as York beckons.
Are you excited about your road trip with your family and friends?
“Yes. Oink! Oink! Hee! Hee! Hee! I’m very excited to visit loads of
new places and I hope to make some more nice friends. I think it’s going to be
the best ever!”
What makes your best day
“Lots of adventure! I like it when we get to drive around in our
camper van and eat lots of ice cream and explore castles. And jump in muddy
puddles of course.”
What are you most looking
forward to on your road trip?
“Jumping in muddy puddles. Hee! Hee!”
Who is your favourite person
to travel with?
“My little brother, George. Oink! Oink! But he has to bring Mr Dinosaur
everywhere with him!”
Who else will join you at
“Mummy, Daddy, Mr Bull, Suzy Sheep, Gerald Giraffe and some of our
other friends. Even Miss Rabbit is coming. She is always so busy with all her
jobs, so it’s extra special she can come with us.”
A NIGHT To Remember, tomorrow’s charity concert at York Barbican,
has sold out but any returned or cancelled tickets will go on sale this morning
Now in its eighth year, this annual fundraising event helps good
causes in the city to make a difference, as organiser and host Big Ian Donaghy
brings together “the finest musicians and singers for a gang show like no
night, all the singers will perform as an ensemble exceeding its constituent
parts. “When you have a dream team on the stage, it seems a shame to not use
them, so everybody sings on everybody else’s songs,” reasons Big Ian.
A Night To Remember lets singers take on their favourite songs.
“Soulful Jess Steel will take on a Dusty Springfield classic, as well as other
near-impossibly demanding songs that she’ll deliver in the manner she’s now
well known for.
“Heather Findlay will bring her class into the mix, performing
two of her favourite songs,” says Big Ian.
Beth McCarthy, who made her debut at the Mount School when Big
Ian ran a School of Rock concert there, will be stepping out of her comfort
zone to rock the Barbican foundations.
Annie Donaghy will put her spin on a George Michael classic on a
night when the set list will feature covers of Dusty Springfield, Shania Twain,
Simple Minds, Paul Simon, Michael Buble, Guns N’ Roses, Barbra Streisand, Peter
Gabriel, Elton John and Marvin Gaye classics, as well as a few surprises.
York singer Jessa Liversidge will lead her fully inclusive
Singing For All choir, a group with members aged up to 98, who will sing The
New Seekers’ I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.
Among the men, Graham Hodge will “venture into very different
areas” as he celebrates his 70th birthday; gravel-voiced
Boss Caine, alias Dan Lucas, will tackle a country favourite that nobody would
ever guess; Hope & Social’s Gary Stewart will play the congas, as well as
singing a Paul Simon rouser.
The gig’s house band will be led by York music stalwart George
Hall, joined by powerhouse duo Rob Wilson and Simon Snaize on guitar duty.
“This year, the show has a bigger, brassier feel with a 12-piece
brass section, made up of Kempy, Pete, Stu and Chalky from my band Huge, being
joined by funk horns and brass players from York Music Forum, ranging in age
from 13 to 18, led by Ian Chalk,” says Big Ian.
promises “ground-breaking, heart-warming and heart-breaking films” to raise
dementia awareness. “Watch out for surprise appearances, as previous years have
included messages from Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, The Hairy Bikers, Rick
Astley, Nick Knowles, Anton du Beke and Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson,” he says.
real reason these musicians come together is to help St Leonard’s Hospice,
Dementia Projects in York, Bereaved Children Support York and Accessible Arts
returned or cancelled tickets for tomorrow’s 7.30pm concert will be on sale on
0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or
in person from the Barbican box office.
YORK Late Music’s 2020 season opens with
a trio of concerts next week, one on March 6, two on March 7, at the Unitarian
Chapel, St Saviourgate, York.
First up, at 7.30pm on the Friday, Delta
Saxophone Quartet celebrate the music of iconic composer Steve Martland alongside
new works by David Power and Steve Crowther in the first half.
The second half has four pieces from Project Flicks: silent film with live music featuring Frank Milward’s Brian And Banksy and David Lancaster’s Rendezvous.
On the Saturday, York St John University senior lecturer in music Murphy McCaleb and his ensemble present Instruments Of Change, addressing the issue of climate change at 1pm.
Dr McCaleb is a bass trombonist and pianist who can turn his hands to classical, jazz, rock, pop, electronic and experimental music.
Later that day, singer Merit Ariane Stephanos’s 7.30pm concert tells the love story of the sun and the moon. Destined never to meet, their enigmatic relationship affects our lives deeply, rules our daily rhythms and fires up our imagination.
“The cycles of light and dark in which
they are intertwined create breath-taking displays,” says Merit, who will be
performing with Jon Banks on accordion, qanun and santur, Antonio Romero on percussion
and Baha Yetkin on oud.
“Punctuated with Shakespeare and anonymous quotes
and rhymes, our songs journey through musical styles, eras and languages,
illuminating each other in an ever-changing light.
Tickets on the door cost £5 for the lunchtime recital; £10, £8 concessions, for the evening concerts.
REVIEW: The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, dropping jaws until Saturday, 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at pickmeuptheatre.com.
WELL, you won’t see a play like this every day, but I dare you still
to see it in Pick Me Up Theatre’s northern UK premiere.
Playwright Edward Albee, born in Virginia, but long associated
with New York after moving to Greenwich Village at 18, is best known for Who’s
Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. The 1962 one, turned into a 1966 Mike Nichols film with
the almighty verbal scrap between Elizabeth Taylor’s Martha and Richard Burton’s
Albee wrote another play with a question mark in its title in
2002: The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? The American agent provocateur of theatre of
the absurd could pour 50 years of the even more absurd into it, but essentially
it is a further study of the marital complexities of a middle-aged
couple, in this case Martin and Stevie Gray.
Except that Albee’s Broadway premiere came with
a plea from the writer: “Imagine what you can’t imagine… imagine being in love
with something you can’t conceive of. The play is about love, loss, the limits
of our tolerance and who, indeed, we really are.”
And there was more: “All I ask of an audience
is that they leave their prejudices in the cloakroom and view the play objectively
and later – at home – imagine themselves as being in the predicament the play
examines and coming up with useful, if not necessarily comfortable, responses.”
Who could sense at the start what lies in store, how famous New York architect Martin Gray’s world would soon turn to rubble as the American Dream crumbles? Played by suave American actor Bryan Bounds, who recommended the play to director Mark Hird, Gray has just turned 50, won his latest prize and been given the ultimate commission to design the World City on Kansas’s wheat fields.
Hair immaculate, life immaculate, house
immaculate in its monochrome trendiness (in Robert Readman’s design), he says
he could not be more happily in love with wife Stevie (Susannah Baines). Son
Billy (Will Fealy) is blossoming at 17, brightly questing and gay (like Albee,
who knew it at 12 and a half).
Yet Martin seems distracted, playing at forgetfulness
in banter with Stevie, and what’s that smell, she asks. When he is even more
distracted while talking with best friend Ross (Mick Liversidge), fouling up a
TV interview recording, the truth will out. Martin has fallen in love with Sylvia,
a goat (hence the smell), and the feeling is mutual, and yes, without being
graphic, the relationship is full on.
Greek tragedies dive deep into the extremes of
the human condition, as do plenty of Shakespeare’s plays, and, especially,
Jacobean tragedies. The Goat puts the ‘eek’ into a modern Greek tragedy,
although it is more of a tragicomedy. Yes, you read that right. There is a liquorice-dark
humour to Albee’s brilliantly written confessions and confrontations, as well
as moments that are excruciatingly uncomfortable, as The Goat turns from domestic
situation comedy to Domestos-powerful situation tragedy.
What’s more, Hird’s thrust-stage setting, with
the audience so close up on three sides, adds to that discomfort, and not because
Baines’s Stevie starts smashing all the living-room pottery (courtesy of Fangfoss
Pottery’s Gerry Grant). No, it is the fierce heat, the candour, of what is
being said. Hird’s cast avoids histrionics; instead the rise and fall and rise
again of anger, hurt, confusion, love, is far more skilfully played by one and
all, pulling the audience this way and that.
Bounds urged Hird to cast Baines, and he was spot-on:
his Martin is infuriatingly phlegmatic, unflustered; her Stevie is an ever-tightening
coil in response, whose actions will speak louder than his words.
Son Billy is caught in the middle, and Will
Fealy, such a burgeoning talent that he has just been offered an unconditional
place at Arts.Ed in London, conveys all the confusions of illusions being shattered,
certainties derailed, while dealing with his own sexual awakening.
Mick Liversidge’s bewildered, shocked Ross sort
of represents the audience in his reactions, or does he, because the moral
ambiguities are complex, and as Albee once said, “if you think this play
is about bestiality, you’re either an idiot or a Republican”. Trump that!
Albee also said: “Never leave the audience the same way you found them”, and 90 unbroken minutes of The Goat – apart from the smashed bowls and vases – will leave you pondering relationships, family, love. As for goats, I’ll stick to loving goats’ cheese.
note: this play contains adult themes and strong language; suggested minimum
age of 15.
YORK artist Lesley Birch will exhibit at Glyndebourne, the Sussex opera house home to the Glyndebourne Festival, from May to December.
“I’m very proud to have been invited,” she says. “It’s a huge privilege
and rather daunting too. I’m working on pieces now.”
Lesley has been chosen for the Forces Of Nature exhibition of paintings,
prints and ceramics in Gallery 94, located by the stalls entrance to the auditorium at the country
house in Lewes, East Sussex.
Curated by Nerissa Taysom,
the exhibition was inspired by the
strong women on stage in this year’s upcoming six festival operas, so all ten
artists will be women.
Exhibiting alongside Lesley will be Michele Fletcher, Tanya Gomez, Rachel Gracey, Kathryn Johnson, Rosie Lascelles, Kathryn Maple, Tania Rutland, Katie Sollohub and Hannah Tounsend.
Of Nature will explore how artists represent their feelings or memories of
natural phenomena, its forms and sounds, while questioning how we confront
nature in an age of climate change.
works out of PICA Studios, the artist collective in Grape Lane, York, and in this
typically busy year, her new Marks & Moments paintings can be savoured at Partisan, the boho
restaurant, café and arts space in Micklegate, York, in a feast of colour and
imagination until March 31.
Filling two floors, more than 50 paintings are on view, ranging from
Lesley’s Musical Abstract Collection – large canvases expressing music and
movement in nature – to little gouache gems created en plein air in the remote
village of Farindola in Abruzzo, Italy.
“Partisan is a sort of emporium full of collectable stuff, such as vintage lamps and the like, and it’s so exciting to see my paintings in this bohemian setting, reflected off the old French mirrors and hung high and low,” says Lesley, whose works are divided into colour and spring moods upstairs and dramatic landscapes downstairs. All paintings are for sale.
Forces Of Nature at Glyndebourne: Artist open houses, Sunday, May 17, 10am to 1pm, open to the public; May 21 to December 13, festival and tour ticket holders only.
IN the week when Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s terrifying play Ghost
Stories will be spooking out the Grand Opera House, now there is to be even
more paranormal activity at the York theatre.
On March 12 and 13 at 10.30pm each night, Paranormal Research York (PRY)
will lead The Ghost Hunt in a theatre lit only by the emergency lighting
Those attending this after-dark theatre tour will be encouraged to
participate throughout the interactive event, where PRY will employ assorted traditional
methods, such as a human pendulum and divination activities, using crystals and
A variety of technical equipment will be on hand for guests to try out, such as a “stick
man” camera and gadgets that can detect spirit energies. In a nutshell, guests
can be “as involved as they dare to be”.
Paranormal Research York’s team of experienced and professional paranormal investigators
from York have come together to investigate predominantly in “Britain’s most
Their work involves accessing a range of haunted locations in and around
York and then researching their findings to go with the legends.
Looking forward to conducting The Ghost Hunt in a building built in 1868,
PRY’s Clare Bryant says: “We’re very excited to be hosting the first ever ghost
hunt at this amazing, historical building. From our first walk around at the
Grand Opera House, we could feel the spirits already coming forward.”
Kevin Spindloe, from PRY, adds: “Wow! Friday the 13th and we have the
privilege to be investigating here. It’s so active here and the spirits seem
keen to tell their own ghost stories. As a guest you can be involved in the
activities or just watch. Either way you will experience an event like no
The Ghost Hunt on Friday, March 13th has sold out – unlucky for some! – but tickets for March 12 and the Ghost Stories run from March 10 to 14 are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.
THE Grand Opera House, York, already
has its own ghost, one said to call out the first name of a new member of staff
in the quiet of the auditorium on first acquaintance.
No doubt that will intrigue Professor
Goodman, ahead of the lecturer’s visit to the Cumberland Street theatre from
March 10 to 14 as the investigative fulcrum of writer-directors Andy Nyman and
Jeremy Dyson’s “supernatural sensation”, Ghost Stories, on its first national
On the road since January 7 after
completing its latest West End run at The Ambassadors Theatre, London, the
Lyric Hammersmith Theatre production should feel at home in York, the
self-proclaimed most haunted city in Europe.
What’s more, with the Grand Opera
House’s proximity to the York Dungeon, “York’s scariest tourist attraction”,
where better for Nyman and Dyson’s global hit to be spooking?
Premiered a decade ago and turned into
a film too, Ghost Stories invites its captive audience to “enter a nightmarish
world, full of thrilling twists and turns, where all your deepest fears and
most disturbing thoughts are imagined live on stage”.
Expect a “fully sensory and
electrifying encounter in the ultimate twisted love-letter to horror, a
supernatural edge-of-your-seat theatrical experience like no other”, as
Professor Goodman strives to prove the supernatural is “purely a trick of the
mind” in the face of three stories that beg to differ.
“Ghost Stories has never really gone
away, running in various incarnations since the original production a decade
ago, going into the West End, then Canada, Moscow,” says co-writer Jeremy
Dyson, best known for his work with those twisted humourists The League Of
“It was done in Russian in Russia but we
had to maintain that it was set in Britain because apparently no Russian is
afraid of a ghost.”
The latest British incarnation opened
at the Lyric Hammersmith last March, whereupon it was picked up by commercial
producers keen to take it on the road. “We’d always wanted to do that but never
been able to do so, even though we knew just how much people wanted to see it,
but we were told it ‘wasn’t tourable’.”
Until now, until Jon Bausor came up
with a design that could play both The Ambassadors Theatre and theatres around
“He’s made it possible to squash the
set into a van!” says Jeremy, who lives in Ilkley, by the way. “Each time we’ve
staged the play, we’ve been able to solve another problem, get rid of another
niggle, and finally we have the production that is totally to our satisfaction.
“The show’s been going down really well
on tour, and it will fit perfectly into York with all its ghost stories and the
York Dungeon opposite the Grand Opera House.”
Why are we so drawn to ghost stories,
Jeremy? “I think there are lots of reasons,” he says. “One of them is obvious: death
and the afterlife, which is a personal concern to all of us, and ghost stories
are a way to approach such an overwhelming concern.
“That’s particularly so in our
increasingly secular society, where there’s a hunger for the mysterious, the
uncanny, the inexplicable, which once upon a time would have come under the
auspices of the church and religion.
“That’s part of it, and also when it
comes to a show like Ghost Stories, there’s the entertainment and the thrill,
the fairground element.”
Nyman, London actor, director and
writer, and Dyson, screen and stage writer and author, have been friends for a
“very long time”. “Since we were teenagers, in fact,” says Jeremy. “We met when
we were 15 and one of the things we bonded over was horror movies at the dawn
of the video age, renting those films to watch them together.
“We’ve had our individual careers and
we’d never thought of working together, but out of the blue Andy called me with
this idea of having three men sitting telling ghost stories after he saw The
Vagina Monologues [Eve Ensler’s show with three women telling stories].
“It was a very intriguing idea that was
enough to hook me straightaway, though we then veered away from that initial
construction over a long gestation period.
“Creating Ghost Stories was very much a
case of sitting in a room together, talking about it for a year, and then
getting together, bashing out the outline, working every day for a week, when
we pretty much hammered it out, because we’d been thinking about it for so
Ghost Stories has drawn comparisons
with Stephen Mallatratt’s stage adaptation of Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black,
premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in 1987 and still running
in the West End, but Jeremy was keen that Ghost Stories should stand in its own
“We wanted very much to create a theatre
experience that we hadn’t had before, in terms of being a very immersive piece
of theatre, and we also like the challenge of taking things that you’re
familiar thematically from horror films and seeing if we could transfer them to
A further element is at play in Ghost
Stories. “Andy and I both have a love of conjuring and magic; Andy has worked
with Derren Brown for 20, so we wanted to build that into the show’s
structure,” says Jeremy. “We wanted to look at how you can create a magical effect
with a combination of storytelling and technology, and that’s what we’ve
Ghost Stories promises “moments of extreme shock and tension” at the Grand Opera House, York, from March 10 to 14. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york. Unsuitable for anyone under 15 years old.
YORK Theatre Royal’s co-production of Alan Bennett’s comedy The Habit Of Art with the Original Theatre Company is heading to New York as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival.
Premiered in York in September 2018, Philip Franks’s show starring Matthew Kelly will be one of eight productions featured in 59E59 Theaters’ annual celebration of theatre from the UK.
production begins its
second British tour in March ahead of the American dates from May 29 to June 28
in one of 59E59 Theaters’ three off-Broadway spaces, having first toured Britain
in Autumn 2018.
Leeds playwright Bennett’s 2009 play imagines a meeting between friends and collaborators W.H. Auden, the York-born poet, and composer Benjamin Britten. Most of the original cast are in the latest production, including Kelly, David Yelland and Yorkshire actor Benjamin Chandler, who made his York Theatre Royal debut in the 2018 company.
Kelly says: “I’ve done Brits on
Broadway before in [Hull playwright] Richard Bean’s play Toast, which is very
different to The Habit Of Art. But Americans are going to love Alan Bennett
because they think they’re going to see something very British.”
Director Franks adds: “New York is the
most wonderful city but there’s a huge challenge because it’s such an English
play. I hope very much audiences will respond.”
The 2020 production of The Habit Of Art is produced by the Original Theatre Company and Anthology with Peter Stickney and York Theatre Royal.
Franks last directed in York in Summer 2019 when his Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre production of The Tempest ran at the Elizabethan pop-up theatre on the Castle car park.
REVIEW: Crongton Knights, Pilot Theatre, York Theatre Royal,
until Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
EVER since Lord Of The Flies, York Theatre Royal resident
company Pilot Theatre have made theatre that speaks directly to young
Now, Pilot are in the second year of a four-year creative
partnership with Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, Derby Theatre and the Theatre
Royal, their reach spreading ever wider.
Last year’s gripping adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s radical Noughts & Crosses is followed up by another topical story, Emteaz Hussain’s stage account of Crongton Knights, a young adult novel by Brixton Bard Alex Wheatle, a London writer of Jamaican parentage.
Co-directed by Corey Campbell, artistic director of Strictly Arts Theatre Company, and Pilot artistic director Esther Richardson, it is a play with music, not a musical, but has the punch of West Side Story, the exhilarating beatbox and vocal score by Conrad Murray setting the story’s pulsating rhythm.
The Crongton Knights of the title are the self-styled
Magnificent Six, caught up at a young age in the gangland turf wars of the
Crongton Estate, divided into “North Crong” and “South Crong”, their homestead.
Into the dangerous Notre Dame estate they venture on a teen
quest, a mission to rescue the mobile phone of Venetia (Aimee Powell, the
show’s best singer), in the possession of her ex-boyfriend with incriminating
photographs she needs to erase.
Leading them is big-hearted McKay (Olisa Odele); alongside are
Jonah (Khai Shaw), Bit (Zak Douglas), Saira (Nigar Yeva) and, along for the
ride, and desperate to be their lookout, Bushkid (Kate Donnachie), on her bike.
What follows is a story of “lessons learned the hard way” at
the hands of those more experienced, more streetwise, more ruthless, more desperate,
as represented by Simi Egbejumi-David’s ensemble roles.
In Wheatle’s words, the Magnificent Six must “confront debt,
poverty, blackmail, loss, fear, the trauma of a flight from a foreign land and
the omnipresent threat of gangland violence”, but the tone is not suffocatingly
grim. Even in a world stacked against teens, there is hope; there is
positivity; above all there is the bond of friendship.
Pilot’s press release talked of a madcap adventure, and Simon Kenny’s graffiti-painted, rainbow-coloured, scaffolded set design plays to that spirit, especially when garage lock-up doors open up to show the Magnificent Six running in slow motion. Imagine a cartoon crossed with the black comedy drama of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting.
Not all the dialogue is as clear as it could be, and nor is the story’s passage, but the highly energised performances, especially by Odele and Powell, are terrific, and special praise goes to Dale Mathurin for stepping into the role of Nesta with only two hot-housed days of rehearsals.
Richard G Jones’s lighting and Adam P McCready’s sound
design are important too, both complementing the urban wasteland of troubled
teens trying to find their place when so much is barren.
CROONERS, a rip-roaring comedy music
show with a splendiferous injection of big band swing, charms its way into the
Grand Opera House, York, on March 6, at 7.30pm.
On a mission to bring old-school
variety back to the theatre with a “quintessentially British twist to the genre
symbolised by the crooner”, this new collaboration bonds comedy writer and
performer Roman Marek with the outrageous ten-piece swing combo The Mini Big
“I’m asong-and-dance man,” says Marek. “I was brought up on the music of the super-cool crooners, but also on the quintessentially English stage humour of Morecambe and Wise, Bruce Forsyth and Max Bygraves.”
Crooners revels in the songs of the Rat Pack’s Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, together with Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin and Britain’s very own crooner, Matt Monro.
“We have a set listofmaterial never before heard in a theatre production,” says Marek. Tickets for this “truly British swingin’ affair” are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.
TWO mothers united in sorrow, unable to escape the tragedy of
knife crime, try to protect their sons, one in life, one in death, in Mel Pennant’s
new play, Seeds, at Leeds Playhouse.
Running in the Bramall Rock Void until Saturday, it tells the
stories of those who fight to keep their children safe from the world they grow
up in, when knife-crime offences in England and Wales have reached a record
high and hate crimes have more than doubled over a seven-year period.
Shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award, Seeds is
billed as “a courageous play that looks at difficult subjects of racism,
violence, death and grief. It describes a hate crime and uses the N word, all
of which may be a trigger for people who have suffered as result of the above
and may be difficult for some audience members”.
The setting is Michael Thomas’s
birthday, when his cake sits in his mother’s living room, its candles burning
undisturbed. Jackie wants to clear her conscience, while Evelyn has a big
speech to deliver on the 15th anniversary of Michael’s fatal stabbing. Are some
things better left unsaid?
Seeds is presented by Tiata Fahodzi
and Wrested Veil in association with Leeds Playhouse, Soho Theatre and Tara
Here, first, writer Mel Pennant and, then, director Anastasia Osei-Kuffour discuss the play.
How would you describe the play, Mel?
“Two mums, either side of a racist murder, come together and explore what happened to their sons 15 years earlier. They go to places no-one else would take them to and,, in doing so, come to an agreed truth which is life changing for both of them.”
How would you sum up Seeds in three words?
“Rollercoaster, awkward, emotional.”
What inspired you to write the play?
“In writing the play, I was conscious that we rarely hear, in any depth, the stories of the families of people involved in tragedies and yet as a society we often judge them.
“I wanted to explore those stories through two mothers on either side of such an event and, in doing so, interrogate the very essence of motherhood.
“Those two women have a conversation that couldn’t happen without the other: they can face the depth of their despair and longing, how they define themselves in a space that is becoming even more limiting.”
Why is it important we discuss knife crime from the perspective of mothers?
“Because it’s families, parents, mothers who are left with the aftermath. When the headlines are over, they are the ones who deal with the reality. I wanted to explore that reality.”
you want audiences to take away from Seeds?
“I hope audiences see my play as the beginning of a conversation. I hope that it enables audiences to see and engage with the complexities and layers of the issues discussed.”
you describe the play, Anastasia?
“Seeds is a tense drama where two mothers fight for their sons, bargaining with each other to get what they desperately need and, in the process, bare their souls, leaving them both changed by the encounter.”
you sum up Seeds in three words?
“Tense, emotive, shattering.”
What initially drew you to the play?
“Its subject matter. It explores racism and motherhood in a way that really resonates with me: placing racism in the context of families, how the ‘seeds’ of racism can grow in families, ‘take root’ and have horrifically dangerous consequences – a point that I feel is so important to highlight.
“It also considers how far a mother would go to protect her son. Having reached an age where I’m thinking about having children, I worry a lot about how safe the world is, whether I can keep my children safe when I bring them into this world, I think about what I would do to protect them.”
Why is it
important we discuss knife crime from the perspective of mothers?
“They are left dealing with the shattering aftermath for years and years after; they bring life into the world only to see it cut down. There’s a need to highlight these people so that, as a society, we can think more about how we support them to survive the deepest of tragedies.”
you want audiences to take away from Seeds?
“I want to inspire greater awareness of the ‘seeds’
of racism in families in the hope they can be rooted out before they cause disaster.
people can change and grow. People with racist views – if they would allow
themselves to see it – can change and help to change others if they choose to
take a stand.
people to see the play as a warning that we all need to take xenophobia
seriously and act to stamp it out. Discourse-challenging racist and xenophobic
rhetoric and events, like this play which allows people from diverse
backgrounds to be in the same space to face these issues, will help and play a
part in creating change.”
Seeds, Bramall Rock Void, Leeds Playhouse, until Saturday, 8pm plus 2.15pm Thursday, and 2.45pm, Saturday. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or at leedsplayhouse.org.uk. Age guidance: 14 plus.
Review: Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, Back Together, Leeds First Direct Arena, February 25
INDEPENDENTLY, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe are two of the biggest entertainment draws. Together they are a phenomenon.
Three mega-selling albums, imaginatively named Together (2016), Together Again (2017) and Back Together (2019), have established the pair as the UK’s absolute best-selling act of physical CDs.
Regulars of the Leeds First Direct Arena, Messrs Ball and Boe are just so comfortable in their complimentary talents and know exactly how to pick a set list that will enthral their very loyal audience.
Almost predictably, kicking off with a rousing version of The Greatest Show, from the Hugh Jackman film soundtrack, Ball and Boe present consummate covers of famous duets I Knew You Were Waiting For Me (Aretha Franklin and George Michael) and Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart (Marc Almond and Gene Pitney).
Other well-chosen covers include Army (The Shires), Labi Siffre’s (Something Inside) So Strong and, most convincingly, John Farnham’s anthem You’re The Voice.
Individually, Ball covered Anthem from Benny, Bjorn and Tim Rice’s Chess while Boe stole the show with his emotive cover of Snow Patrol’s Run, which gave the audience a chance to wave phone torches in the air. What fun!
Of course, Michael and Alfie had to showcase the very best of musical theatre, including Sunrise, Sunset (Fiddler On The Roof) and surprisingly Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again (Christine’s solo from The Phantom Of The Opera).
Hot from their historic engagement for Les Miserables – The Staged Concert, overjoyed fans were treated to Stars, Bring Him Home and One Day More, which felt as if this was the climax of last night’s concert.
This was not the case as the orchestra and choir then launched into a Lion King Medley and a trio of Queen songs, two very fine Freddie Mercury songs, Who Wants to Live Forever and The Show Must Go On, and one of Freddie’s off moments, Friends Will Be Friends. Never mind.
An encore of Paul Anka’s My Way would have kept the audience happy. However, the surprise of the evening was the Grease Mega Mix: Grease, Greased Lightnin’, You’re The One That I Want and We Go Together. Everyone left elated!
BJORN Again can pick a host
of Abba winners when rounding off the day’s racing at York Racecourse on June
First up, Money, Money,
Money will be The Name Of The Game as the runners and riders invite you to Take
A Chance On Me and The Winner Takes It All (along with other winning bets too,
before pedants start writing in) from the seven-race afternoon card on Summer
Next, the long-running Abba tribute act will take to the stage,
notching up another addition to a list of 7,000 shows in 100 countries since
forming in Melbourne in 1988 en route to Bjorn
Ulvaeus saying the Aussie doppelgangers single-handedly initiated the super-Swedes’
Bjorn Again’s post-racing set
will be preceded earlier in the afternoon by Abba karaoke singing and a Silent
Prizes will be awarded in the 1970s’ Fancy Dress Contest, for which racegoers are invited to create a stylish look from such fashion favourites as flares, platform boots, 1970s’ jackets and kipper ties. Look out for the “selfie stations”, on hand to help share the good times with the wider world.
On the Knavesmire track, £150,000 will be won over the seven races. Tickets for the racing and music double bill are on sale from £25 (for an advance booked group of six), with no booking fees and no parking charges. Under 18s will be admitted free of charge with an accompanying adult.
James Brennan, head of marketing and sponsorship at York Racecourse, says: “We wanted to offer people the chance to have fun, we hope in the sun, and what better way than in celebrating all things Abba.
“You only have to remember how popular the Mamma Mia films and Mamma Mia The Party have been to understand the affection across the country for the famous Swedish quartet. Obviously, they aren’t able to join us, but the rave reviews for Bjorn Again demonstrate the show is a great performance.”
Brennan continues: “There’s a lot of choice for music events around Yorkshire this summer, so we think this offers something different, a little more relaxed and at a more affordable price.
“Of course, we have the additional excitement of Pussycat Dolls and Rick Astley set for late-July, so a little bit of ABBA fun seems a great way to kick off our music events.”
The York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend will bring the re-formed Pussycat Dolls to Knavesmire for the July 24 evening race meeting, followed by Newton-le-Willows crooner Rick Astley at the July 25 afternoon card.
Tickets can be booked at yorkracecourse.co.uk and on 01904 620911.
HARROGATE Theatre is teaming up with Adam Z Robinson to co-produce his Gothic terror tales Upon The Stair.
Traditional storytelling, live music and fully integrated British Sign Language (BSL) combine to bring three macabre ghost stories to life at Harrogate Theatre tonight until Saturday.
In The Cry Of The
Bubák, a haunted man flees to a health facility to escape his past, only to have
it catch up with him in a most horrifying way.
In Mirrorman, a family moves to an old house on the edge of town and discovers that the previous owner may not have left after all.
In The Xylotheque, a
librarian visits the estate of a doctor with a nefarious reputation and comes
face to face with his diabolical practices.
Each tale is scripted by writer/performer Robinson, who was supported by
Harrogate Theatre previously when presenting his ghostly tales from The Book Of
Darkness & Light.
Through Robinson working with deaf consultants and linguists Adam Bassett and Brian Duffy, his latest script has been developed
and translated into British Sign Language and Visual Vernacular, making Upon The Stair accessible
for d/Deaf audiences without the need of an interpreter on stage.
Performed by deaf actor and dancer Raffie Julien, the show is billed as “a
truly remarkable gothic performance like never witnessed before”, featuring a
live violin score composed and played by Chloe Hayward.
After two national tours of his first show, The Book Of Darkness & Light, and 30-plus dates for his follow-up, Shivers – both performed in Harrogate Theatre’s Studio – Robinson returns with his “most exciting, ambitious and gripping production yet”, directed by Edinburgh Fringe First Award winner Dick Bonham.
Upon The Stair is a co-production with Harrogate
Theatres, Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax, and producers LittleMight; the
two venues providing support, space and creative input to produce the show.
Robinson’s play premiered at Square Chapel on January
11 and has since played Salisbury Theatre from January 16 to 18. More dates
will be announced soon for Autumn 2020.
Upon The Stair, Harrogate Theatre, February 25 to 29, 7.30pm nightly and
2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01423 502116 or at harrogatetheatre.co.uk
KATHERINE Jenkins, the biggest-selling classical artist of the
century, will return to York Barbican on February 5 next year.
The Welsh mezzo-soprano, 39, will be showcasing her 14th
studio album, Cinema Paradiso, set for release on Decca Reecords on April 17
Tickets go on sale on Friday (February 28) at 10am on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.
Sharing its name with Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1988 Italian film, Cinema Paradiso is a collection of “unforgettable songs from some of the world’s best-loved movie moments”, such as Moon River, from Breakfast At Tiffany’s; Pinocchio’sWhen You Wish Upon A Star; a duet of Tonight, from West Side Story, with Welsh singer and actor Luke Evans, plus themes from Schindler’s List, The Lord Of The Rings and Dances With Wolves.
“I’ve always loved movie soundtracks,” says Katherine, who turns 40 on June 29. “I wanted to create an iconic movie moment with this record: all the best film musical themes that we know and love, all together on one album.
“The last few albums I’ve made have been inspired by what’s happening in
my own world. This one, in particular, was inspired by the things that were
going on around me. Having played my first movie role last year, it felt like a
natural transition for me.”
Katherine’s endeavours in the world of film have been a huge inspiration
in the making of Cinema Paradiso, especially her role in the upcoming Minamata,
directed by her husband, Andrew Levitas.
Katherine not only makes her film debut, performing alongside Johnny Depp
and Bill Nighy, but also she co-wrote the title track with Eminem’s right-hand
woman, Skylar Grey, and performed on the film score written by Sakamoto, the
Academy Award-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, activist and actor.
Minamata will be released later this year, having received its world premiere at this month’s Berlin International Film Festival with Katherine in attendance, amid glowing reviews from the film industry and fans alike.
Returning to discussing the album tracks, Katherine says: “West Side Story has always been up there for me in
terms of musical films. Somewhere has been specially recorded for this album –
minus the Octopus mask [from the ITV series The Masked Singer] and I’m thrilled
to have Luke Evans join me on Tonight. I loved seeing some of his TV
performances last year and it was great fun to create an all-Welsh version of
Another pick for Cinema Paradiso, I’ll Never Love Again, from A Star Is Born, has been released as a single, going straight to the top of the iTunes Classical Chart.
I’ll Never Love Again also kick-started Katherine’s journey on The
Masked Singer in the guise of The Octopus, en route to finishing third. “My job
can be quite serious at times, but I have a four-year-old daughter who
absolutely loves Blue Planet, so I created ‘The Octopus’ character for her,”
“Her favourite colours are pink and purple with sparkles and I thought
it would be something to allow her to understand more about what mummy does. I
can’t think of a better reason to do the show”.
Katherine adds: “The hope with this album
is that each song conjures up an iconic image from cinema. A Star Is Born is
quite a recent film, but the scene where Lady Gaga sings I’ll Never Love Again
is so touching and memorable that it felt completely right to include it as one
of my favourite movie musical moments.
“In a bid to disguise my voice on The Masked Singer, I chose songs that weren’t the norm for me, and so this track is a happy experiment for me, and after Ken [judge Ken Jeong] said it was the performance of the season, I felt it deserved a place on the album.”
In 2017, Katherine was crowned the number one-selling Classical Music Artist of the Last 25 Years by Classic FM and she made chart history in 2018 when Guiding Light became her 13th UK classical number one album.
Katherine last performed at York Barbican in May 2019, having previously
sung there in February 2012 and February 2015.
PHOTOGRAPHY and dance artist Chin We is the first beneficiary of Foto/Grafic At The Social, a new bi-monthly, dual-venue initiative for emerging talent in York.
“At Fossgate Social, we’ve been supporting local artists for five years with monthly exhibitions, but we’d like to up our game and include our sister venue, the Micklegate Social,” says bar owner, general manager and urban designer Sarah Lakin.
“To this end, we’re developing a programme of exhibitions of original artwork for display and sale.”
Explaining her reasoning, Sarah says: “We live in a society drenched in imagery, but where can we find social spaces to connect and discuss what images are relevant and why?
“There is no dedicated photographic gallery in York since Impressions moved to Bradford in 2007, but we hope to plug that gap with artwork that is strong and meaningful covering graphics, photography, print and electronic art.”
Noting how Micklegate is at present playing host to Chin We’s photos at Micklegate Social, Lesley Birch’s Marks & Moments at Partisan and Jonny Hannah’s Songs For Darktown Lovers at FortyFive Vinyl Café, Sarah continues: “As York develops its contemporary visual art scene, the Social hopes to feed that cultural ecology, helping to raise the bar – pun intended – and encourage cutting-edge contemporary work that explores new narratives, forms and politics.”
First into the spotlight is Chin We, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, who was born in Manchester and spent her formative years in Nsukka, eastern Nigeria, and her adolescence in London, where she started her photography through a lifestyle blog.
“I found a creative outlet to share candid conversations on pop culture, art, fashion, travel, food, sex and lifestyle,” she says. “As the photography requests and referrals grew, I knew straightaway that my passion was photography. That was when I learnt that documentary photography was my calling and leapt fully into documentary photography in January 2018.”
Chin We is “fascinated by portraiture, capturing people’s essence and visual storytelling”, leading to her work exploring themes of identity, culture, representation and heritage.
At Fossgate Social and Micklegate Social, this is represented by her Ife Nkili photographs, Ife Nkili being a phrase from the Igbo tribe in Nigeria that means “Come and see; come and see beauty”.
Her series of portraits was captured during Chin We’s journey through Nigeria in West Africa; they speak to ideas of representation and identity through their unequivocal depiction of her sitters, spanning northern, south-western and south-eastern Nigeria.
Chin We’s photographic style is described as “direct, raw and unique in its all-embracing sweep, from different walks of life and social circles” as she documents her fellow men and women.
“Some live as Christians, others are Muslims or pagans; some are urban socialites, others provincial farmers, traders, warriors and local chiefs,” says her exhibition briefing. “And, of course, there are queens and kings. These compelling portraits betray intimate expressions and tender exchanges. They invariably bring us closer to this diverse culture through their visual storytelling.”
Chin We’s photography has been published widely and she was featured on CNN as a leading African woman photographer to follow. She was nominated for RPS 100 Heroines by the Royal Photographic Society and won an honourable mention award in the People-Portrait Category in the 2018 International Photography Awards.
Later this year, the British Museum, in London, will present her new exhibition celebrating the presence of Nigerians in the UK, marking 60 years of Nigerian independence from Great Britain.
Welcoming Chin We to York, Sarah says: “Still in her twenties, she is a young woman to watch and we’re privileged she has agreed to exhibit with us.
photographic portraiture is strong and meaningful; the portraits are direct and
challenging, covering topics such as religion, class, work and child brides.
the work of Chin We, we want to increase the diversity of artists’ work,
locally and further afield, and provide what we can for arts to gain greater
exposure and engagement in a social setting.”
Chin We’s Ife Nkili exhibition runs at Micklegate Social, Micklegate, and Fossgate Social, Fossgate, York, until March 31.
YORK Barbican has a fistful of new shows going on sale on Friday: Modfather Paul Weller, comedians Jason Manford, Joel Dommett and Daniel Sloss and the dance extravaganza Here Come The Boys.
Weller, 61, has sold out his May tour
and will go back out on the road for 19 British and Irish dates in October and
November, playing York on November 3.
Weller will play an acoustic set for
the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on March 25 as a
special guest of The Stereophonics and his new album, On Sunset, will be released
on June 12 on Polydor, his new label.
He performed previously at York Barbican in March 2015 and August 2018 and his last North Yorkshire gig was at Dalby Forest, near Pickering, last June.
His autumn travels also will take in further
Yorkshire dates at Hull Bonus Arena on November 2 and Bradford St George’s Hall
on November 17.
Jason Manford, who reached the final of ITV’s The Masked Singer this winter, will return to York Barbican in almost a year’s time, on February 17 2021, with his new stand-up show, Like Me.
Expect “observational comedy mixed with comic gold” from the Salford comedian, presenter and actor who chalked up three Barbican performances of his Muddle Class show in October 2018 and March 2019.
Rockhampton comedian, actor and
presenter Joel Dommett, host of The Masked Singer, will play York on December 11,
delivering a new show after this 2016 I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here runner-up
brought his Live 2018 tour to the Barbican in February that year.
Scottish comic Daniel Sloss will follow up his X show – taken to 40 countries, including Russia – with his new solo outing, Hubris, booked in for his Barbican bow on October 3.
Strictly Come Dancing’s Aljaž Škorjanec sold out his last appearance at York Barbican and will return on June 24, joined in the Here Come The Boys line-up by former Strictly favourite Pasha Kovalev, West End ballet star Sam Salter and NBC World Of Dance champion and Broadway star Michael Dameski, from Australia.
Ballroom, Latin, commercial, contemporary, ballet, acro and tap all will feature in a show where the Boys will perform alongside dancers, gymnasts, tap dancers and more.
Tickets can be booked from 10am on Friday (February 28) at 10am on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from Barbican box office.
REVIEW: Milton Jones: Milton Impossible, York Barbican, February
THE whole point of camouflage is not to be spotted, but in his new guise as an ex-MI5 spy, Milton Jones’s gaudy military fatigues looked like they hadn’t slept for days.
As for his fuchsia, frilly dress shirt, it would have guaranteed he had absolutely no fuchsia in spying, if blending into the background were a requirement. Definitely a case of Milton Impossible.
Mind you, Jones’s attire was not the only sartorial talking point of Saturday’s triple bill. Support act Tom Houghton was gently settling into revelations of being the Honourable Tom – now that his ex-Army chief father, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, was a Lord and the Constable of the Tower of London – when he was distracted by a Technicolor nightmare of a shirt making an even louder exit down the stairs.
“You’ve missed nothing,” said Houghton, lobbing a comedy bomb
after the escapee. “Except fashion”. Boom, off went the bomb, as if he were
sentencing him to the Tower for a fashion crime.
Cheeky, charming, posh-boy fledgling comic Houghton went on to define the rules of rugby – a game of backs and forwards and going backwards and forwards – with a wit that outwitted the well-worn tea towel trying to explain the laws of cricket.
“I always love to help underprivileged children,” said Jones
drily later, but Houghton, one quarter of the improv comedy troupe The Noise
Next Door, needs no leg-up through entitlement. Check out his upcoming tour at
The Basement, City Screen, York, on June 12 or The Carriageworks, Leeds, the
Before Hon Tom, Milton’s waspish “grandfather” had opened the
show, entering with a trampoline as his mobility aide, and combining a flat cap
with a dressing gown for a dressing down on the real meaning of assorted
familiar road signs.
If you could imagine a hopelessly ill-prepared learner driver trying to wing his written test with wild guesswork, Milton’s grandad goes even further. Rather than being merely daft or surrealist, however, the new meanings actually make weird sense, and the world would be a happier place if they were true.
Although, in this city of cycling, cyclists might not have
enjoyed his dig at them not recognising the meaning of a red light.
Post-interval, Jones returned, his shock of hair madder than ever at 55, to go with the aforementioned psychedelic dress code. Seventy-five minutes of the matador of piercing one-liners ensued, ostensibly on his spying past, but ranging far and wide, his timing deadly, his manner deadpan. (Ideal qualities for a spy, you might say).
From his last tour, the Kew comedian revived his droll Brexit
commentary through the novel format of national flags engaging in sparring
conversations, each seeking the last word, and no Jones show would be complete
without a run of “my other grandfather” gags.
Before the tour, Jones joked: “At a difficult time for our
country, I believe there’s a chance this show could unite the nation.
Admittedly quite a small chance.” True, but Milton is comedy paradise
found, and you wish more could see the world through his eyes. It is a lovely place
to be, warmly knowing but not devoid of a child’s sense of wonder, playful, not
cynical, absurd yet spot on.
If you missed Milton Impossible in York, your next mission, and you really should accept it, is to make it to Hull City Hall on March 18 or Leeds Town Hall the next night, 19.30 on the dot. Box office: hulltheatres.co.uk; leedstownhall.co.uk.
IN his new tour show, mischief-making activist comedian Mark
Thomas is pondering “how we have come to inhabit this divided wasteland that some
of us call the United Kingdom”.
On the road since January 23, the South London satirical writer, political agent provocateur, TV and radio presenter, journalist and podcaster is bringing 50 Things About Us: Work In Progress to The Crescent, York, on March 4.
“The Crescent has a certain ramshackle charm, and it’s run with absolute integrity,” says Mark, breaking away from cooking up a pot of a very British winter warmer, leek and potato soup, to take this interview call.
Introducing the show’s theme, he explains: “I was really struck by one thought: how on earth did we get to the point we’ve got to, and part of the answer is that we’ve never come to terms with who we are.”
Was he referring to the English or the British here? “Well,
Great Britain is England, Scotland and Wales; the United Kingdom includes Northern
Ireland too, and it’s been England that’s driven the creation of the union,”
says Mark, whose show combines storytelling, stand-up, mischief and typically well-researched
“All these places have a very distinctive identity and culture, and it defies this binary, simplistic definition.
“The Irish language was kept alive by Presbyterians when the
English buried it, and now the Irish language is being taught by Unionist women
on the Falls Road [in Belfast], so it’s a fascinating place that defies your
Mark notes how “English culture is seen as part of the British
empire, when Britain was ruling the world with this bombast, without
understanding the implications of that”.
So, it may be a generalisation, Mark, but why is that people
think the abiding negative aspects of the British empire are defined by Little
Englander characteristics, not British ones?
“That’s the weird thing. Scotland joined England in the union in
a time of fantastic prosperity, so Scotland doesn’t get out of its role in the empire,”
he says. “It’s fascinating that it’s
about England adopting the empire as its nationalist cause, with everyone else
50 Things About Us is billed as “a show about money, history, identity, art, tradition, songs, gongs, wigs, guns, bungs, sods of soil and rich people”, as Thomas picks through the myths, facts and figures of our national identities to ask how we have so much feeling for such a hollow land”.
Summing up his night of story-telling, stand-up and subversion as a “sort of funny national edition of Who Do You Think You Are?”, Thomas says: ” It’s another slightly odd show, a sort of sweary, History Channel with laughs and creative mischief. If you’ve seen my shows before, this one’s in the vein of 100 Acts Of Minor Dissent.”
As a work in progress, the list of 50 Things is not set in stone. “It’s always being added to. You always do that. You keep going ‘b****y hell’ when you discover new things,” says Mark. “I found out the other day we’re the only nation that doesn’t have its name on its stamps.
“We have a picture of The Queen, not even a picture, but a
silhouette, and there’s a certain weirdness about that. We won’t even say where
we are! We say, ‘here’s The Queen, we’re better than everyone else’.”
Thomas, 56, has made his mark down the years by stopping arms
deals; creating a manifesto and bringing the winning policy to parliament;
walking the entire length of the Israeli wall in the West Bank and setting up a
comedy club in the Palestinian city of Jenin.
He has hosted six series on Channel 4, alongside several
television documentaries and radio series; written books; grabbed a Guinness
World Record; sold out numerous tours; won awards aplenty; nabbed himself a
Medal of Honour and succeeded in changing some laws along the way.
In other words, he is a man of both action and words. How are his latest words going down on tour? “People say, ‘can’t you say something positive?’, but there’s a load of positives in there, like Britain being one of only five countries that doesn’t have a [codified] written constitution. New Zealand is one other, Canada another,” says Mark.
“We have the Charter of the Forest, our economic charter that came in in 2017, which recognises that idea of shared assets of the country [the charter re-established for free men rights of access to the royal forest that had been eroded by William the Conqueror and his heirs] .
“It was there for our mutual benefit and no-one else has ever produced anything like it. It used to be read out four times a year in church, when the squirearchy were at the front, the peasants at the back.
“It was the statute that remained longest in
force in England, but they just got rid of it in 1971 [when it was superseded
by the Wild Creatures and Forest Laws Act]. But it’s something to be proud of
as part of our history; there’s an historic part of our character that, since
1217, says we have the right to run things for our common benefit.”
Where does Brexit fit into Mark’s exploration
of who we are? “I think that notion that we are a country that can go it alone
is really that characteristic of English exceptionalism, where we believe we’re
different, we’re superior, because we’re the cleverer than anyone else, reckoning
we won two World Wars and a World Cup by playing fair, which is nonsense,” he
says. “Just looking at who we think we are, this idea we can stand alone is
“I’m not a great supporter of the European
Union, but I did vote Remain reluctantly, as I don’t want a move to the far right,
which is what we’ve ended up with.”
Mark continues: “I’m a Socialist and I think
massive changes are needed but when you ignore democracy [the Brexit referendum
vote], it will bite you on the backside. If I were a Leave voter, I’d be b****y
angry. This idea that people got it wrong, and we should vote again and again
until we get it right is extremely patronising. The way they’ve been treated is
pretty awful, though I’m not defending the far right.”
Why does Mark call Britain “a hollow land”? “The fact that masses
of our history is ignored at the expense of our identity, like the history of
the NHS…that sense of absence, because we don’t tell parts of our history, is
wrong,” he says.
And now for the big question, after all Mark’s research, can he
define who we are? “It’s an important question to answer, because we’re changing
all the time, as a collective, as individuals, as parents, grandparents, how we
see ourselves,” he says.
“Though interestingly, who we think we are is not who we are.” Let’s
leave that thought hanging in the air, the perfect enticement to find out more
at The Crescent on March 4.
Mark Thomas’s 50 Things About Us: Work In Progress tour also
takes in further Yorkshire gigs at Sheffield Memorial Hall, March 1; Wakefield
Theatre Royal, March 5, and Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, April 9.
Box office: York, 01904 622510 or at thecrescent.com; Sheffield, 0114 278 9789 or sheffieldcityhall.co.uk; Wakefield, 01924 211311; Leeds, 0845 644 1881 or cityvarieties.co.uk.
Did you know?
Mark Thomas also broadcasts 50 Things About Us
as a podcast.
A BAND called Five Minutes had their 15 minutes in York in the late 1980s. Now they are re-uniting for a one-off gig at the Victoria Vaults, in Nunnery Lane, on February 29.
The reason? “The singer and youngest member of the band still living here will be the last of us to turn 50 in February and in his words, ‘Let’s do it before one of us dies’,” reveals trumpet player Matthew “Duck” Hardy, now 50 and a professional musician.
“Our last gig was in January 1989 and most of us haven’t seen each other for 30 years. Now we want to get as many people from York’s late ‘80s music scene down to the gig for a huge reunion.”
In the soul and funk line-up on February 29 will be Hardy; business development manager Chris Turnbull, newly turned 50 next month, on vocals and guitar; IT consultant Sean Rochester, 53, on bass; cinema owner Nigel Dennis, 52, on drums, and retired police officer turned Criminology MSc mature student Mark Pearson, 52, on saxophone.
Not there, but there by the wonder of a video link, will be ex-pat trombonist and urban dog trainer Paul Shelbourne, 49, from his home in Brisbane.
“We’ll be playing original, danceable, driving Northern Soul-esque music with hard- hitting catchy brass riffs and a couple of covers thrown in near the end,” says Matthew, .introducing a set list featuring The Party; Smile; Sequels; Merry-go-round; Bridge In Time; Happy Home; Casanova; Could It Be; This Innocent Kiss; Only A Fool; Soul On Fire; Cornflake Packet; Time Will Tell; B Derdela; All The Daughters and Heatwave.
Back in their day, Five Minutes played York Arts Centre and Harry’s Bar, in Micklegate; Temple Hall, York campus of the College of Ripon and York St John; Central Hall, University of York; the Gimcrack pub (now flats), in Fulford Road, and Bretton Hall (now the Yorkshire Sculpture Park), near Wakefield.
Come February 29, Five Minutes will be back in action for rather more than five minutes, preceded by a DJ set by Rocky from Sweatbox, but why were/are they called Five Minutes?
“I’ve absolutely no idea why, as it started off as a four-piece and ended up as a six-piece!” says Matthew. “When Paul joined, the Evening Press photographer took a photo of us in the courtyard of Ye Olde Starre Inn, on Stonegate, and the paper did a write-up under the headline ‘Six appeal for Five Minutes’.”
What’s in a name?
Five Minutes start their set or encore with the instrumental B Derdela, so named after saxophonist Mark Pearson asked how singer Chris Turnbull wanted him to play the sax line. Chris gave him the note and the rhythm: B…derdela!
AS his biggest-ever solo show, Harland Miller: York, So Good They Named It Once, opens in his home city at York Art Gallery, what is Harland saying about York in that picture title on a retro book cover, now replicated on posters, mugs, key rings, fridge magnets and tote bags?
“People have thought ‘York, So Good They Named It Once’ must be satirical, comparing York to New York, whereas I thought I was riffing on York being first; being very important way before New York – and a Roman capital.
“It was also a place of so many firsts for me; where I did my first paper round, and through these streets I can go and remember things that happened to me. Like my first kiss on same old wasteland on Taddy Road [Tadcaster Road], that’s now a Tesco.
“And just round the corner from here, behind the library, I smoked my
first joint. That’s why I got hooked on books…because I was by the library!
“This gallery is where I first saw paintings. Is it a dream to be back
here? The answer is ‘No’, because, as a boy, it would have been foolish to
dream of such a thing.
“But unless I’m about to wake up back behind the library, I sense this is the moment to thank so many people. I certainly wouldn’t be here without my mum [now 95], who’s travelled all the way from Dringhouses to be here tonight, but I want to thank everyone not once, but twice.”
Harland Miller: York, So Good They Named It Once, featuring his Penguin Book Covers, Pelican Bad Weather Paintings and Letter Paintings and Recent Work, runs at York Art Gallery until May 31.
THE fifth York Community Choir Festival will raise
the roof at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from March 7 to 14
This annual event “celebrates the inclusivity of
making music in groups of all ages and friendship across the generations” by
bringing people together to share the joy of singing in seven concerts, each
featuring at least four different choirs.
“Choirs will be coming from
Easingwold in the north, Garrowby and Stamford Bridge in the east and
Knaresborough and Tadcaster in the west and south, as well as from York itself,”
says festival organiser Graham Mitchell, the JoRo’s company
secretary, fundraising and events director and trustee.
York charity Musical Connections combats
loneliness and isolation in older people by running regular music sessions in
community locations across York, and their 40-strong pensioners’ choir, The
Rolling Tones,will be taking part for the first time.
Performing too will be choirs from Wigginton Primary School, Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy,the secondary-age choir of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, and the “younger” adults of Dunnington Community Choir in a special matinee on March 14.
Another group of primary-school age, appropriately named Starlings, from the Hempland area of York, will sing in the Friday (March 13) concert. Secondary school-age choirs taking part will be Tutti Amici and Stagecoach Academy Choir, who have both excelled in previous festivals, and two Huntington School choirs will appear for the first time.
York singer and tutor Jessa Liversidge, who runs her Singing For All sessions every week in Clements Hall, South Bank, York, and in Easingwold, says: “Many singers who attend my groups testify that their lives have been transformed by our weekly sessions of informal singing, tea, cake and good company.
“Looking around the room at the happy faces and
seeing everyone leave afterwards with a spring in their step is evidence enough
for me of the wonderful power of a good old sing.”
York has workplaces with choirs that employers encourage as being good for morale, among them Aviva’s Vivace! Choir and York Hospital’s Wellbeing Choir, which combines staff, volunteers and patients in one lively group in weekly sessions. Vivace! will open the festival and the hospital choir will appear on the last night.
Graham says: “I’m particularly pleased that we can
include both young and old and bring the generations together in the same
concerts. The benefits of singing have been widely researched and findings show
that communal singing has far-reaching benefits for health, happiness and
“We’re so lucky to have such a variety of choirs in
and around York, most of which welcome new members with open arms. No need to
be able to read music; just a desire to join in and sing!”
will take place on March 7, 11, 12, 13 and 14 at 7.30pm; March 8, 4pm, and March
14, 2pm. The full list of who will be singing when can be found at
Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935, via josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or in person from the JoRo box office in Haxby Road, with savings if buying five or more tickets. All proceeds will be donated to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre charity to help to maintain and improve facilities at this community venue.
THE Blue Light Theatre Company took to the stage once again in January
at Acomb Working Men’s Club, York, to raise money for York charities York
Against Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease Association (York).
“We’re thrilled to announce that we managed to match last year’s amount
of £3,000 – despite our production costs rising,” says cast member Mark Friend,
who played Pinocchio in Oh! What A Circus on January 24, 25 and 29 to 31.
“The money raised has been split equally between the two charities. We’ve
received fantastic support from many of North Yorkshire’s tourist attractions
and businesses; without their generous support, we would not have been able to
raise this amount.”
Oh! What A Circus was the seventh pantomime performed by The Blue Light Theatre Company, made up of paramedics, ambulance dispatchers, York Hospital staff and members of York’s theatre scene, who have raised well over £10,000 over those years.
Writer and co-producer Perri Ann Barley says: “It’s great to see our
audience come back year after year to support us, plus lots of new audience as
the word gets around just how good our productions are.
“Work is already underway for Panto 2021 and the challenge is on to make
it even bigger and better than the last. The title will be announced later in
Last Wednesday, the Blue Light company met representatives from York
Against Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease Association (York) MNDA at York’s
Ambulance Station to present them with their cheques.
Julie Russell, from York Against Cancer, says: “Thank you very much for
this generous donation. It will help us make a difference to cancer patients
and their families’ lives. The Blue Light Theatre Company really do know how to
put ‘fun’ into fundraising. Thank you.”
In the cheque presentation picture are Julie Russell, from York Against Cancer; James Chambers, Jen Dodd, Colin Pearson and Val Corder, from MNDA (York) and The Blue Light Theatre Company’s Zoe Paylor, Perri Ann Barley, Christine Friend, Beth Waudby, Mark Friend, Devon Wells, Mick Waudby, Craig Barley and Glen Gears.
A RUSH of ticket sales has prompted a change of venue for The Rock Goes
To The Movies evening with BAFTA-winning filmmaker Tony Palmer next month in
This exclusive Harrogate Film Festival event on March 12 will switch from RedHouse Originals art gallery to The Clubhouse at Cold Bath Brewing Co, on Kings Road, only five minutes from the original location on Cheltenham Mount.
“The evening sold out all its stickers at £12 a pop so quickly that we’ve have had to move to a bigger location,” says Harrogate Advertiser journalist and Charm event promoter Graham Chalmers, a stalwart of the Harrogate music scene, who will be hosting the Q&A with the legendary film-maker, now 77.
“That means extra tickets have been put on sale and are available via the box office at Harrogate Theatre.”
All existing tickets are still valid for the new venue for the 7pm event that will combine a film screening with the Q&A session about Palmer’s work with The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen, Rory Gallagher, Cream, Frank Zappa, The Who, Donovan and many more.
The London-born film-maker and cultural critic has more than 100 films to his name, ranging from early works with The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher (Irish Tour ’74) and Frank Zappa (200 Motels), to his classical profiles of Maria Callas, Margot Fonteyn, John Osborne, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Wagner, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams and more besides.
Over the past 50 years, Palmer has received more than
40 international prizes, including 12 gold medals from the New York Film
Festival, along with numerous BAFTAs and Emmy Awards.
Palmer, who served an apprenticeship with Ken Russell and
Jonathan Miller, made the landmark film All My Loving, the first ever about pop
music history, first broadcast in 1968.
He was responsible too for the iconic live film Cream
Farewell Concert, shot at the supergroup’s last-ever show at the Royal Albert
Hall: a memorable night with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in 1968.
Harrogate Film Festival founder Adam Chandler says: “Tony Palmer’s glittering career deserves such an event, so we can’t wait to welcome him. We’re delighted this film-making legend is so popular and are grateful to our venue partners, Cold Bath Brewing Co and RedHouse Originals, for enabling this exciting event to happen.”
Host Chalmers says: “Palmer is the greatest arts documentary filmmaker Britain has produced in the past 50 years and personally knew most of the greatest figures in the classical music world, as well as rock music.
“The fact he’s making the journey to Harrogate as a stand-alone event shows how highly regarded Harrogate Film Festival is nationally and shows that Harrogate, despite appearances, is a town with a genuine rock’n’roll pedigree.”
RedHouse Originals gallery previously has played host to Pop Art doyen Sir Peter Blake and still will be involved in next month’s event, hanging classic 1960s’ artwork and photography at The Clubhouse and curating the music playlist for the after-show party.
Presented by Chalmers in conjunction with Harrogate Film Society, Rock Goes To The Movies will feature a rare screening of Palmer’s film about The Beatles that featured in his All You Need Is Love TV series, with a script by Fab Four insider Derek Taylor, plus clips from Palmer’s Cream Farewell Concert film.
Tickets available from harrogatetheatre.co.uk, on 01423 502116 or in person from the Harrogate Theatre box office.More information on the 2020 Harrogate Film Festival at harrogatefilm.co.uk.
Any profits from the evening will go to Harrogate Film Society and Harrogate Film Festival.
Tony Palmer’s ten music films
1. All You Need Is Love,1975-1976,17-part series on the history of American
Popular Music from Bing Crosby to The Beatles.
2. Bird On A Wire, 1972, featuring Leonard.
3. All My Loving,1968, including The Who, The Beatles and more.
4. Cream Farewell Concert 1968.
5. 200 Motels – Frank Zappa,1971.
6. Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour,1974.
7. A Time There Was, 1979, profile of composer Benjamin Britten.
8. Tangerine Dream – Live In Coventry Cathedral,1975.
9. Ginger Baker In Africa,1971.
10. Wagner – By Charles Wood, music conducted by Georg Solti, photographed
by Vittorio Storaro; with Richard Burton, Vanessa Redgrave and Laurence Olivier,1983.
YORK singer, artist and Ph.D student Alice Wilson will sing with Slack Habits for the last time at their Old White Swan debut in Goodramgate, York, tomorrow before focusing on her solo album.
For the February 22 gig, she steps in for departed
lead singer, Marsha Knight, re-joining bassist Iain Marchant, drummer Martin
Wilson, guitarist Andy Elmslie and keyboards player Josh Hill, with whom Alice
used to perform in an earlier incarnation of the York band.
Alice and songwriter, guitarist and producer Andy
Wilson – no relation – are progressing quickly with the album’s recording
sessions at his home studio in Holgate, with Andy aiming to have it fully mixed
and mastered in time for a March launch.
Alice, nearing 30, says she has “looked to music for escapism for even
longer than she has looked to books or alcohol”.
“My first forays were into musical
theatre when I was at Millthorpe School, then Fulford Sixth Form,” she reveals,
recalling her favourite role being Tallulah in Bugsy Malone when she was 16.
“I did theatre through GCSE to A-level
but was heavily tricked into thinking theatre was not a career.”
Instead, Alice has pursued a scholarly path, starting with joint degree honours in anthropology and sociology at Durham University, “so that I could do both science and arts,” she says.
Next came an MA in urban sociology at
the University of York, specialising in housing. “I’ve blagged my way into
pretty good educational institutions as a result of being a working-class queer,”
“I’m now doing a Ph.D over the next
three years, again at the University of York, where I’m trying to make
radically affordable houses available for the people who need them.”
As part of her Ph.D in sociology with “heavy
fraternisation with environmental science”, Alice is building a tiny house in
the garden of her Heslington home, 30 square metres in size.
“You might think it’s a glorified shed,
but it’s not that glorified,” she says. “It’s a timber-framed structure with
super-insulation made from re-claims from demolition sites.
“Ideally it does inform my Ph.D, so I want to film it in progress, as well as writing a thesis, doing my art and singing all the while – though it all leaves minimal time for singing.”
The tiny house, once complete, will have three rooms downstairs – a main living room, a tiny kitchen and tiny bathroom – and a stepladder will lead to the mezzanine level above: a crawl floor where you can sleep, says Alice. “It qualifies for recreational use, like a summerhouse, so I’ll use it mainly for painting in.”
As her official profile says: “Alice draws
and paints @neither.both.illustrations and post pictures of herself at the
gym @neither.both. Alice recycles, votes left, and worries about how
productive she is being, like all other millennial snowflakes. She hopes
you enjoy the ear feel of her voice.”
As Slack Habits’ songwriter, Andy most certainly enjoys that “ear feel of her voice”. “Alice sang with Slack Habits for a while, playing the Blues Bar in Harrogate, the National Harley Davidson Convention, pubs, festivals, Lendal Cellars and the Little Festival of Live Music in York, and being featured on BBC Introducing, before abandoning us to go into academia,” he says.
“But I didn’t want to let her talent go, so ten months ago we started working together again.”
The result is such songs as The Other
Woman, Put That Down and Cabaret Queen. “There’s also a mash-up of Led Zep’s
Whole Lotta Love that turns into Whole Lotta Last Waltz,” says Alice. “That
turns it into being a song about domestic violence.”
Andy adds: “I’ve happened to write and
produce for three or four female singers in recent years and the songs on Alice’s
album tell stories about all kinds of different fictional women, good, happy, sad or bad.
“When I started working with Alice, I
was stunned by her talents and charisma but I was also excited by her ability
to ‘become’ the characters she sings about.
So, it was obvious that she would be the perfect musical partner in an
album project that had been brewing for a while.
“Luckily she agreed and now it’s nearly ready. I hope people are going to be moved and entertained by Alice’s ‘other women’.”
All being well, that opportunity should come next month. In the meantime, watch her singing Slack Habits’ “absolute bangers”, ranging from rock and electric blues to smoky ballads, reggae and funk, from 9pm tomorrow (February 22) at the Old White Swan, Goodramgate, York.
ITALIAN film director
Federico Fellini will be the focus of a Vintage Sundays retrospective season at
City Screen, York, from March 8.
Dave Taylor, City
Screen’s marketing manager, says: “We’re delighted to present five films from
the maestro of Italian cinema on Sundays at midday throughout March and
stretching into April.”
First up, on March 8, will be Fellini’s first international success, 1953’s I Vitelloni (PG), a nakedly autobiographical film, set in his hometown of Rimini, that follows the lives of five young vitelloni, or layabouts.
1956’s Night Of
Cabira (PG), on March 15, bridges the transition between Fellini’s early
neo-realist period and his later more fantastical works. His bittersweet and
eloquent glimpse into the life and dreams of an eternally optimistic prostitute
in Rome later provided the inspiration for the musical Sweet Charity.
La Dolce Vita (12A), from 1960, is an era-defining sensation that chronicles seven nights and seven dawns in the life of gossip journalist Marcello in a vast widescreen fresco of the glitterati of Rome at the height of Italy’s post-war economic boom. Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg star.
Fellini’s 1963 film, 8½ (15), on March 29, is a semi-autobiographical portrait of creative block and one of the great films about film-making. Beleaguered auteur Guido is unable to finish the film he has planned, luxuriating in his inner conflicts.
The Fellini finale
will be 1965’s Juliet Of The Spirits (15) on April 5. His first colour feature
is an exercise in the neuroses and fantasies of a woman, played by Fellini’s
wife, Giulietta Masina, who suspects that her husband is betraying her.
All the films will start at 12 noon. Bookings can be made on 0871 902 5747, at picturehouses.com or in person at the Coney Street Picturehouse cinema.
REVIEW: Opera North in The Turn Of The Screw, Leeds Grand Theatre, February 18.Further performances on February 21, 25 and 27, then touring until March 19. Box office: 0844 848 2700 or at leedsgrandtheatre.com
PART of the fascination of any ghost story – and Henry James certainly intended The Turn Of The Screw to be one – is its dabbling with a world that we can never fully comprehend or understand.
We are frightened, as James was himself, by his own creation, by the horrors that our imaginations are led to conjure. The sky – or hell – is the limit.
Myfanwy Piper’s libretto retains most of James’s ambiguities, while Britten’s music wonderfully clarifies their existence but offers no definitive answers to the questions they pose.
We know of Britten’s own obsession with the corruption of innocence. We also have plenty of recent examples of the terrors that may befall children put into care, like Miles and Flora here. The question for a director of the opera is how unambiguous to be.
Alessandro Talevi’s production was certainly probing when it first appeared in the autumn of 2010. This time round, he opens up new possibilities: he hardly misses an opportunity to interpret and he has schooled all six of his cast into finely honed acting, without exception.
In Sarah Tynan’s Governess we have a minutely judged, sexually repressed ingénue: she is as surprised as we are by a lonely Mrs Grose’s fondling attentions. She is equally puzzled by Miles’s come-hither kiss, delivered just before he climbs into her bed: this boy may be in thrall to Quint, but is also prey to rampaging hormones.
So, which of these signals leads up an emotional cul-de-sac? Or are they merely figments of the governess’s fevered imagination? The fact that such questions need to be asked at all is a sure indication that Talevi knows exactly how to provoke.
He also views the tale from the children’s point of view. At one point, we are shown a Narnia-style, fairy-tale landscape – easily taken for a Victorian orangery stocked with exotic flowers – in which younger versions of Miles and Flora can be seen frolicking.
In Madeleine Boyd’s majestic set, Bly is a Victorian pile in need of more than a spring clean, with Quint glimpsed in the tower behind its tall, murky windows. The building itself is part of the oppression all its inmates feel, doubtless compelling them into aberration.
Her costumes are regulation late Victorian, shading into Edwardian, but her hair-styles are notable: the Pre-Raphaelite cast of Miss Jessel’s Titian tresses, Quint’s bright orange thatch and side-burns, Flora’s Alice-curls, all contrast firmly with the governess’s prim blonde bun.
The props are carefully selected too: a manic rocking-horse, a giant four-poster, from whose roof Flora dangles her puppets, a school desk, and a large horn above a turntable, on which Miles “plays” parody Mozart; all bask in Matthew Haskins’ shadow-laden lighting.
After an exceptionally clear prologue, Nicholas Watts fashions a menacing Quint, likely to cause many a nightmare, while Eleanor Dennis’s pregnant Miss Jessel finds an unearthly tone equally guaranteed to spook. Heather Shipp’s seemingly phlegmatic Mrs Grose flashes into emotion more than once.
Tynan’s keenly-observed governess is a study in bafflement as she steadily loses her marbles to guilt and self-reproach. Jennifer Clark’s lively, mischievous Flora suggests someone much younger than she looked, while Tim Gasiorek’s well-tuned, light-voiced Miles acts his socks off.
All have reason to be grateful for the exceptional clarity with which Leo McFall’s orchestra paints their various motifs; one could hardly imagine their playing being more finely nuanced. Talevi’s revival may raise more questions than it answers, but it unquestionably held this audience in rapt appreciation.
THE York Ghost Merchants, at No. 6, Shambles, York, will
hold their inaugural storytelling evening on March 1, hosted by the ghoulish
At 6pm (sold out), 7pm and 8pm, he will read M R James’s ghost story Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book, written in 1894 and published in his first collection, Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary Of 1904.
In James’s story, a scholar travels to a small French town for a kind of working vacation and there he discovers a small, rather dissolute old cathedral. On entering, he meets with the sacristan, who guides him around.
Eventually, they make their way to the church library where
the sacristan shows him all sorts of old and antiquarian books that peak the
scholar’s interest. One in particular, the sacristan seems especially eager to
The scholar is captivated by the book, the personal scrapbook of one Canon Alberic, and duly offers to buy it. The sacristan sells it to him for a pittance and his desperation to release it from his possession is palpable.
On his way out, the scholar is given another gift, a
crucifix, by the sacristan’s daughter, who insists he takes it free of charge.
Later that same night, as the scholar is studying his new-found
treasure, he encounters a page with a disturbing illustration that is central
to the story’s suspenseful narrative.
Actor, writer and storyteller James Swanton was born in York, the ghost-infested city that informed his lifelong passion for the macabre. Winner of the 2018 York Culture Award for Outstanding Performing Artist, he has been described as “remarkable” by Simon Callow, as “extraordinary” by Miriam Margolyes and as a “horror star of the future” by Kim Newman.
Whether playing Dracula or Lucifer in The York Mystery Plays
in the Shambles Market or performing his one-man shows Irving Undead and Charles
Dickens’s winter stories at York Medical Society, Stonegate, he continues to
drive his critics to raid their Thesaurus. In times past, they have dismissed
him as “a tattily dressed raven”; “a young Boris Karloff”; “positively stunning
in his grotesqueness” and “lanky”.
The £25 ticket price includes the 45-minute storytelling session
and a limited-edition Canon Alberic ghost. Please note, these ghosts are
available only to those attending the event and not without the ticket.
“Use the word COLLECT at checkout if you would like to
collect your ghost and ticket, rather than having them posted to you,” says
Angus McArthur, of The York Ghost Merchants.
Tickets can be booked at yorkghostmerchants.com or on 01904 896545. Opening hours for The York Ghost Merchants, sited in the former Via Vecchia and Pinder and Scott’s bakery shop, are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5.30pm-ish, and Sundays, 11am to 5pm-ish.
PORTICO Quartet play a standing show at The Crescent, off
Blossom Street, York, on Tuesday night.
Sending out echoes of jazz, electronica, ambient music and
minimalism since forming in London in 2005, these Mercury Prize nominees have
created their own singular, cinematic sound over the course of five studio
albums and one EP.
In the line-up areDuncan Bellamy, drums and electronics; Milo Fitzpatrick, bass; Taz Modi, hang drums and keys, and Jack Wylie, saxophone.
Portico Quartet made their breakthrough with 2007’s Knee-Deep In The North Sea, followed by the John Leckie-produced Isla in 2010, the self-titled Portico Quartet in 2012 and Art In The Age Of Automation in August 2017, plus its companion EP, Untitled, in April 2018.
Each album has seen Bellamy, Fitzpatrick, Modi and Wylie expand their
palette or explore new trajectories, a modus operandi continued with last
October’s Memory Streams, released on Gondwana
Ouroboros presents Portico Quartet at The Crescent, York, on Tuesday (February 25). Tickets cost £18.50 from The Crescent or Earworm Records, in Powells Yard, Goodramgate or at seetickets.com or more on the door from 7.30pm.
WHEN Picasso comes to stay, anything can happen at York Theatre Royal Studio today and tomorrow.
Untied Artists invite four year olds and upwards to “come and play down on the farm with Tony and Picasso”.
have loads of fun, make crazy pictures and tell the true story of how a young
boy became friends with one of the greatest artists who ever lived,” they say.
The Boy Who Bit Picasso is an interactive piece of theatre with storytelling, music and chances to make your own art – whether mask-making, collages or drawings – in a hands-on, humorous family show that introduces the influential 20th-century Spanish artist through the eyes of a young boy.
by Antony Penrose’s book of the true story of how a boy became friends with
Pablo Picasso, Untied Artists’ show is directed by Jake Oldershaw and
originally was co-produced with Oxford Playhouse.
Tickets for today and tomorrow’s 11am and 2pm performances are on sale on 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk in person from the Theatre Royal box office.
REVIEW: Steel Magnolias, York Stage, John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, until Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorkstagemusicals.com
NOTE the shedding of “Musicals” from the York Stage name for this Nik Briggs production, although music from the Eighties still blares out from the radio at Truvy’s Beauty Spot, whenever it is tapped.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun, sings Cyndi Lauper, and the girls on stage want to have fun too, but the cycle of life has a habit of getting in the way.
Indeed just such a spanner in the works led to Louisiana playwright Robert Harling writing Steel Magnolias in 1987 as therapy after losing his sister to diabetes.
Once billed as “the funniest play ever to make you cry”, it takes the form of a bittersweet but sentimental comedy drama, delivered by an all-female cast.
Briggs assembles a fine array of York talent, all of whom have excelled in musicals previously and are now showing off their acting chops to the max, without recourse to the heightened dramatics of song.
Briggs and set builder Geoff Theaker have gone for a traverse stage design, a configuration that is under-utilised in theatre, but makes you aware of the audience reactions on the opposite side, and also has a way of intensifying drama in a story of triumph and tragedy, dyeing and dying.
Steel Magnolias’ setting is a bustling Louisiana hair salon, run by the ever-comforting Truvy (Kathryn Addison) in a converted garage, home to her little rural Southern town’s most successful shop for 15 years.
Pictures of the Eighties’ American hairstyles du jour are omnipresent, raising a smile of familiarity that is repeated with the assortment of hair-dos favoured by the women we meet. Bunting criss-crosses the salon, while magnolias tumble down the walls.
Significantly, men are never seen – and there were only four among the first-night full house – but they are often disparaged in conversation, one of the sources of humour in Harling’s script. What’s more, they are represented by the loud, intrusive blasts of a bird-scaring gun and the barking of big dogs. Enough said!
If the men are but a nuisance, the women seek comfort in each other, and where better to do that than in the haven of a salon as nails are painted and hair teased into pleasing shape.
At the epicentre is Addison’s perennially perky Truvy, whose mantra of “There’s no such thing as natural beauty” is passed on straightaway to quirky new asssistant Annelle (Carly Morton), whose God-fearing demeanour is coupled with mystery over her past.
One effervescent, the other quiet, together they must orchestrate the ever-hastening wedding-day preparations of plucky, resolute but physically fragile Shelby (Louise Henry), whose love of fashion and pink in profusion are emblems of her not giving in to diabetes.
She and her mother, the cautious but forceful matriarch M’Lynn (Joanne Theaker), do not have the easiest of relationships but their love is nevertheless unconditional.
The salon’s endless circle of gossip is joined regularly by the wise, good-humoured, football club-owning widow Clairee (a phlegmatic Sandy Nicholson) and the grouchy, erratic loose cannon Ouiser (Julie Ann Smith, with just the right dash of eccentricity).
Briggs’s direction is both well choreographed and well paced, with plenty of movement to counter all that sitting down in salons, as Harling’s tissue-box drama of marriage and motherhood, love and loss unfolds.
The never-easy Southern drawl is mastered by one and all in Briggs’s excellent cast, who are equally strong as an ensemble and in the solo spotlight. Theaker is particularly good, especially when M’Lynn is in the grip of grief, while Henry, last seen as Snow White in her professional debut in the Grand Opera House pantomime, is fast becoming one to watch with an admirable range already at 22.