Bottom’s up for love & looning in More Things To Do in York & beyond. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 15, from The Press

The eyes have it: Love-struck Natalie Windsor’s Titania and Tweedy the clown’s Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Andrew Huggins/Thousand Word Media

GOTHIC Austen, a clowning Bottom, a dose of the blues, a Technicolor dreamcoat, open studios and a reactivated newsroom satire feature in Charles Hutchinson’s recommendations for a busy diary.

York play of the week: Cheltenham Everyman Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, York Theatre Royal, April 9 to 13, 7pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

EVERYMAN Theatre Company’s staging of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream puts a new twist on the familiar tale by casting comedy clown Tweedy as Bottom and making him “comedy advisor” on Paul Milton’s production to boot.

The night’s magic, mischief, and mayhem unfold in an enchanted Athenean forest, intertwining the romantic misadventures of four young lovers, the playful meddling of mischievous fairies and the comedic antics of amateur actors, culminating in a tale of love, mistaken identity and reconciliation engineered by Jeremy Stockwell’s meddlesome Puck. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Tom Killner: Soul-drenched Southern rock and Americana at York Blues Festival

Festival of the week: York Blues Festival, The Crescent, York, today, 1pm to 11pm; doors, 12.30pm

NAME of the week? Step forward The 20ft Squid Blues Band, participants in this weekend’s York Blues Festival, curated by Paul Winn and Ben Darwin, hosts of Jorvik Radio’s Blues From The Ouse show and the Ryedale Blues Club.

Performing too will be Dirty Ruby, Bison Hip, The James Oliver Band, Hot Foot Hall, York band DC Blues, The Milk Men and Tom Killner. Tickets update: Sold out; for returns only, yorkbluesfest.co.uk.

Ceramicist Patricia Qua, who will make her York Open Studios debut in Hemplands Drive, York

Preview of the week: York Open Studios, Hospitium, York Museum Gardens, York, today and tomorrow, 10am to 4pm

YORK Open Studios 2024 hosts a taster exhibition this weekend at the Hospitium, ahead of the full event on April 13, 14, 20 and 21. More than 150 artists who live or work within a ten-mile radius of the city will be welcoming visitors to 100 workspaces to show and sell their art, ranging from ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery and mixed media to painting, print, photography, sculpture, textiles and wood. Among them will be 29 new participants. Full details can be found at yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

Back in the news: The original cast reassembles for Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening! at Leeds Grand Theatre

Breaking News of the week: Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening!, Leeds Grand Theatre, April 9 to 13, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

THIRTY years since the launch of the trailblazing television series Drop The Dead Donkey, the Globelink News team is back, live on stage for the first time. Original cast members Stephen Tompkinson, Neil Pearson, Susannah Doyle, Robert Duncan, Ingrid Lacey, Jeff Rawle and Victoria Wicks reunite for a new script by sitcom writing duo Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin.

“It’s going to be hugely enjoyable to watch those seven funny, flawed characters from Globelink News being plunged into the cutthroat world of modern 24-hour news-gathering and trying to navigate their way through the daily chaos of social media, fake news, and interim Prime Ministers,” say the writers. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or leedsheritagetheatres.com.

Go, go, Joseph: Lead actor Reuben Khan in York Stage’s poster for Joseph And The Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Grand Opera House, York

Musical of the week: York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, April 12 to 20, 7.30pm except April 14, 15 and 19; 2.30pm, April 13 and 20; 4pm, April 14; 5pm and 8pm, April 19

BE ready to paint the city in every colour of the rainbow as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical dazzles the Grand Opera House in York Stage’s vibrant production, directed by Nik Briggs, with musical direction by Adam Tomlinson and choreography by Lesley Hill.

Reuben Khan leads the cast as Joseph, joined by Hannah Shaw as the Narrator, Carly Morton as Pharaoh, Martin Rowley as Jacob, Finn East as Simeon and Matthew Clarke as Potiphar, among others. Tickets are selling fast at atgtickets.com/york.

Shareefa Energy!: Guest performance poet at April 12’s Say Owt Slam at The Crescent

Spoken word clash of the week: Say Owt Slam, featuring Shareefa Energy!, The Crescent, York, April 12, 7.45pm

SAY Owt, “York’s loveable gobby gang of performance poets”, take over The Crescent twice a year for raucous, high-energy nights of verse that combine a slam war of words with a guest performer.

“In a slam, poets have three minutes to wow the audience to become the champion,” says host Henry Raby. “It’s fast, frantic and fun: perfect for people who love poetry, and those who think they hate poetry too.”

Special guest Shareefa Energy! is a poet, writer, activist, educator, creative campaigner, workshop facilitator and arts and wellbeing practitioner of Indian and Muslim heritage from working-class Highfields in Leicester. Box office: thecrescentyork.com or on the door.

Robert Gammon: Performing with Maria Marshall and Alison Gammon at St Chad’s Church

Dementia Friendly Tea Concert: Maria Marshall, Robert Gammon and Alison Gammon, St Chad’s Church, Campleshon Road, York, April 182.30pm

CELLIST Maria Marshall opens this Dementia Friendly Tea Concert with Faure’s Elegy, accompanied by pianist Robert Gammon, who then plays two short solo Grieg piano pieces. Alison Gammon joins them for Beethoven’s trio Opus 11 for clarinet, piano and cello.

The relaxed 45-minute concert, ideal for people who may not feel comfortable at a formal classical concert, will be followed by tea and homemade cakes in the church hall. Seating is unreserved; no charge applies to attend but donations are welcome for hire costs and Alzheimer’s charities. 

Lucy Worsley: Revelations about Jane Austen at York Barbican

Show announcement of the week: An Audience with Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen, York Barbican, October 14, 7.30pm

FOLLOWING up her Agatha Christie tour, historian and presenter Lucy Worsley’s latest illustrated talk steps into the world of Jane Austen, one of English literature’s most cherished figures as the author of Pride And Prejudice, Sense And Sensibility and Persuasion. 

Through the houses, places and possessions that mattered to Austen, Worsley looks at what home meant to her and to the women like her who populate her novels. Austen lived a “life without incident”, but with new research and insights Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Bottom’s up for love & looning in More Things To Do in Ryedale, York & beyond. Hutch’s List No. 9, from Gazette & Herald

Rebecca Banatvala, back, AK Golding, middle, and Sam Newton, front, in Northanger Abbey at the SJT, Scarborough. Picture: Pamela Raith

GOTHIC Austen, a clowning Bottom, dark pop chat, vintage blues and harmonious folk feature in Charles Hutchinson’s suggestions for a busy diary.

Play of the week outside York: Northanger Abbey, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until April 13, 7.30pm plus 1.30pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

ZOE Cooper adapts Jane Austen’s coming-of-age satire of Gothic novels in a co-production by the SJT, Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, Octagon Theatre, Bolton, and Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, starring Rebecca Banatvala (Cath), AK Golding (Iz) and Sam Newton (Hen) under Tessa Walker’s direction.

In a play fizzing with imagination, humour and love, Cath Morland knows little of the world, but who needs real-life experience when you have books to guide you? Cath seizes her chance to escape her claustrophobic family life and join the smart set in Bath. Between balls and parties, she meets worldly, sophisticated Iz, and so Cath’s very own adventure begins. Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com.

Megson: Folk duo Debs and Stu Hanna at Helmsley Arts Centre

Folk concert of the week: Megson, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 7.30pm

BRITISH folk duo Megson combines Debs Hanna’s vocals, whistle and piano accordion with Stu Hanna’s guitar, mandola and banjo on songs filled with perceptive lyrics and exquisite musicianship. An infectious mix of heavenly vocals, lush harmonies and driving rhythmic guitars mark their concerts, topped off with northern humour between numbers.

Chalking up 13 studio albums in 20 years, the four-time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominees and two-time Spiral Earth Award winners will be showcasing their latest release, March 2023’s What Are We Trying To Say?. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Red, a dare: Tweedy’s Bottom, clowning around and chancing his luck in love in the Everyman Theatre Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Andrew Huggins/Thousand Word Media

York play of the week: Cheltenham Everyman Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, York Theatre Royal, April 9 to 13, 7pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

THE Everyman Theatre Company staging of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream puts a new twist on the familiar tale by casting comedy clown Tweedy as Bottom and making him “comedy advisor” on Paul Milton’s production to boot.

The night’s magic, mischief, and mayhem unfold in an enchanted forest in Athens, intertwining the romantic misadventures of four young lovers, the playful meddling of mischievous fairies and the comedic antics of amateur actors, culminating in a tale of love, mistaken identity and reconciliation engineered by Jeremy Stockwell’s meddlesome Puck. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

John Robb: Rock’n’roll tales at Pocklington Arts Centre

Pop chat of the week: John Robb: Do You Believe In The Power Of Rock’n’Roll?, Pocklington Arts Centre, April 11, 8pm

JOHN Robb discusses his life in music; his pop culture book Art Of Darkness: The History Of Goth; being the first person to interview Nirvana; inventing the word Britpop and his adventures on the post-punk frontline.

Blackpool-born Robb is an author, musician, journalist, television and radio presenter and pundit, music website boss, publisher, Louder Than Words festival boss, eco-warrior and talking-head singer of The Membranes. His special guest is The Sisters Of Mercy co-founder Gary Marx. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Pianist Robert Gammon: Performing with Maria Marshall and Alison Gmmon at musical tea concert

Dementia Friendly Tea Concert: Maria Marshall, Robert Gammon and Alison Gammon, St Chad’s Church, Campleshon Road, York, April 182.30pm

CELLIST Maria Marshall opens this Dementia Friendly Tea Concert with Faure’s Elegy, accompanied by pianist Robert Gammon, who then plays two short solo Grieg piano pieces. Alison Gammon joins them for Beethoven’s trio Opus 11 for clarinet, piano and cello.

The relaxed 45-minute concert, ideal for people who may not feel comfortable at a formal classical concert, will be followed by tea and homemade cakes in the church hall. Seating is unreserved; no charge applies to attend but donations are welcome for hire costs and Alzheimer’s charities. On-street parking along Campleshon Road complements the church’s small car park.

The Nightcreatures’ Henry Botham and Tom Davies: Blues songs and stories at Milton Rooms, Malton

Blues gig of the week: The Nightcreatures, Farewell To Storyville, Songs and Stories from New Orleans, Milton Rooms, Malton, April 12, 8pm

THE Nightcreatures duo of pianist Henry Botham and guitarist and singer Tom Davies take a journey to old New Orleans for a night of songs and stories, serving up a spicy gumbo of filthy blues, funky grooves and classic tunes.

Old blues, Mardi Gras songs and vintage New Orleans material are explored, drawing on the heritage of Dr John, James Booker, Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint and the great Louisiana bluesmen. Jenny Wren and Her Borrowed Wings, a trio led by singer and double bassist Jenny Trilsbach, support. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Sam Jewison: Interpreting the Great American Songbook at the SJT

Jazz gig of the month: Sam Jewison, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, April 27, 7.30pm

JAZZ singer and pianist Sam Jewison returns to the SJT after a sold-out show in 2023 to perform his interpretation of the Great American Songbook in a fusion of jazz, classical and popular music.

Expect to hear new treatments of songs from the Broadway stage, Hollywood screen and golden age of American popular music, made famous Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Oscar Peterson, from the pens of Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin. Joining Jewison will be Fraser Smith (tenor saxophone), Harry Sankey (guitar), Harry Evans (double bass) and Joe Dessauer (drums). Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com. 

Lucy Worsley: Revelations from the life of Jane Austen at York Barbican

Show announcement of the week: An Audience with Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen, York Barbican, October 14,

FOLLOWING up her Agatha Christie tour, historian Lucy Worsley’s latest illustrated talk steps into the world of Jane Austen, one of English literature’s most cherished figures as the author of Pride And Prejudice, Sense And Sensibility and Persuasion. 

Through the houses, places and possessions that mattered to Austen, Worsley looks at what home meant to her and to the women like her who populate her novels. Austen lived a “life without incident”, but with new research and insights Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Flutes & Frets’ Beth Stones and Dan Murphy launch educational early music mini-tour of Explore York libraries

Beth Stones and Dan Murphy of Flutes & Frets: Heading out on Explore York library mini-tour

MUSICAL duo Flutes & Frets embark on a mini-tour of three York community libraries tomorrow (14/3/2024) in a National Centre for Early Music cultural wellbeing initiative.

Working in partnership with Explore York Libraries and Archives, flautist Beth Stones and frets player Dan Murphy are taking Baroque Around The Books to Tang Hall Explore Library at 11am tomorrow morning; Clifton Library at 3pm tomorrow afternoon, and Explore: Acomb Library Learning Centre at 11am on Friday. Pre-booking is advised for the Acomb performance at http://ncem.co.uk/baroque-around-the-books/

The tour will continue with an invitation-only concert for NCEM members tomorrow at 2.30pm at Fairfax House, to be recorded for online viewing on March 21 as part of the NCEM’s Early Music Day celebrations. 

Tickets are free for these informal concerts under a new NCEM initiative in tandem with Explore York, supported by the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust, in a project that illustrates the NCEM’s ongoing commitment to support, encourage and nurture the skills of emerging artists in the UK and beyond.

 To conclude the tour, Flutes & Frets will head to the NCEM, at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, later on Friday to work on Italian baroque repertoire with The Minster Minstrels, an ensemble that provides musical opportunities for children from across York, supported by the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust and York Music Hub in partnership with York Arts Education.

Delighted to invite Flutes & Frets to York for a residency, library tour and children’s NCEM workshops, NCEM director Delma Tomlin says: “We’re thrilled to be able to be working with the wonderful Flutes & Frets, who appeared in York last December at the York Early Music Christmas Festival.

“Baroque Around The Books will give the people of York the chance to enjoy these fabulous concerts completely free of charge, as we work to share the joy of music making with our partners at Explore York.”

Dave Fleming, Explore York’s innovation, creativity and learning service developer, says: “The initiative emerged from Explore York’s longstanding working relationship with the NCEM, which has been developed over many years. We’ve worked collaboratively with NCEM on successful projects and initiatives over the years, such as Cuppa And A Chorus and now this.”

Assessing the role of music in libraries, Dave says: “Music contributes to Explore York’s commitment of bringing high-quality cultural experiences into our libraries for York residents to enjoy within their communities and right on their doorstep.

“York’s network of community libraries are trusted spaces: safe, creative environments, welcoming to everyone. We have developed out network of libraries as cultural spaces in the heart of communities.”

Crucially too, Explore York is now a National Portfolio Organisation (NPOs), designated by Arts Council England. “NPO recognises Explore’s cultural contribution in creating and promoting artistic experiences, supporting artists, and engaging communities. Opportunities to bring musical experiences into our libraries contributes to what we are as an NPO,” he says.

“Bringing such experiences into libraries aligns with Explore York’s status as an NPO and enhances its cultural offerings. Therefore, the role of music in libraries is seen as integral to fulfilling Explore York’s mission and enriching the cultural experiences available to residents.”

Stone and Murphy’s repertoire spans the medieval to the contemporary, backed by a passion to use instruments from throughout history to create a story that both enthrals and educate. “The educational element of these concerts lies in the opportunity for the audience to experience high-quality classical music performed by internationally renowned musicians,” says Dave.

“In addition to the performances, the musicians will engage the audience by discussing the history and background of the music being played. This approach allows the audience to deepen their understanding and appreciation of classical music, turning the concert into an enriching educational experience.”

Beth and Dan say: “We’re always keen to educate and inform through our performances and so in this programme, we focus on taking the audience on a chronological journey of some of our favourite pieces: a chocolate-box selection of almost 500 years of music.”

Here Flutes & Frets’ Beth Stones and Dan Murphy discuss libraries, music and books with CharlesHutchPress.

“We’re always keen to educate and inform through our performances,” say Flutes & Frets’ Beth Stones and Dan Murphy

When did you form your partnership, where and why?

“Interestingly, Covid helped form the duo. We met while studying at the Royal College of Music, in London, and after collaborating on modern flute and guitar, we realised the potential that our specialisation in historical performance might bring our combination of instruments.

“Beth had been very keen to try playing with lute compared to harpsichord, and Covid brought out a renewed sense of need for chamber music.”

What was the highlight of your York Early Music Christmas Festival concert last December?

“The previous night to our 11am concert, we had a chaotic journey up to York due to train cancellations, meaning we arrived at the hotel at 4am, so to wake up to a cold, frosty morning but have a sold-out audience that had many warm comments to make afterwards made it all worthwhile!”

How did the Baroque Around The Books mini-tour come about?

“Delma has been incredibly supportive of us as an ensemble and believed that we would be appropriate for the intimate setting of libraries. We’re enthusiastic to make the most of our portability and enjoy performing in the types of venues that are harder to accommodate live music.”

Libraries are associated with silence, peace and calm! Does that add to the joy of making music there?

“Every venue has its charm. Libraries in particular tend to bring people that weren’t expecting to find music, especially children and families. As the Italian 15th century philosopher Marsilio Ficino wrote, music is ‘nothing but the decoration of silence’.”

How did you put together the programme for Baroque Around The Books?

“We’re always keen to educate and inform through our performances and so, in this programme, we focus on taking the audience on a chronological journey of some of our favourite pieces: a chocolate-box selection of almost 500 years of music.”

How have books had an impact on your musical selections?

“They haven’t had a direct impact on the programme we’re performing but musical treaties inform the way we play and so affect our approach to all our concerts.”

In what way is the concert educational?

“We encourage our audience to see a bigger picture and think about the changes that instruments and compositional styles have undergone throughout the history of music. Similarly to how a documentary might try to capture hundreds of years in a short space of time.”

The poster for Flutes & Frets’ Baroque Around The Books mini-tour of York libraries

Do you have a target audience?

“Not particularly! We appreciate the attention of anyone and everyone.”

What will Friday’s workshop session with The Minster Minstrels involve?

“We’ll be spending some time working with them on Italian baroque repertoire that they’re currently exploring and hopefully sharing some insight in how to approach and interpret early music.”

In a nutshell, what is the relationship between music and books?

“Both are expressions of thoughts, emotions, creativity and storytelling.”

If you could recommend one book each, what would it be?

Beth: “No book means more to me than the Bible, so that’s an easy choice.”

Dan: “It was The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss that first inspired me to develop an interest in lute playing, so that’s always my first recommendation.”

When you arrive home, what do you reach for first: music or a book?!

“Music usually!”

Terry Brett to raise funds for St Leonard’s Hospice at book event at Pyramid Gallery

Terry Brett at the counter at the Pyramid Gallery

YORK gallery curator Terry Brett will mark the publication of his third volume of cartoon rabbit tributes to celebrities and remarkable individuals at a charity event at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, on Friday (8/3/2024).

Publishing costs are met by the gallery, enabling copies to be given away from there, but voluntary donations to www.justgiving.com/page/terry-brett will be encouraged in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice, in memory of Terry’s father, who died of prostate cancer.

Terry will be on hand to sign copies from 5.30pm to 7pm outside the gallery, with the books displayed on a table. Inside, visitors can enjoy a glass of wine and buy the original drawings.

Terry Brett puts his stamp on his valedictory to Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II. Cartoon: Bertt deBaldock

The 108-page third compendium of death notices, entitled Good Rabbits Gone Volume Three 4 Equality, spans September 2021 to December 2022 with a fourth volume covering the fallen of 2023 on its way.

Among those featured are Queen Elizabeth II (Delivered: 21 April 1926, Post: 8 September 2022); Leslie Phillips (‘Hello-o-o’: 20 April 1924, ‘Ding Dong!’: 7 November 2022); Terry Hall (Special : 19 March 1959, Much Too Young : 18 December 2022), and Kathleen Booth, British computer scientist and mathematician, (Ticking: 9 July 1922, Ticker stopped: 29 September 2022).

The cartoon drawings by “the Scribbler” Bertt deBaldock, the nom d’art of the Pyramid Gallery owner, colour-blind artist, ukulele player and long-ago chartered surveyor, are each drawn in response to an individual’s death and then assembled in a book with Terry’s own witty tributes or poignant memories.

More Things To Do in Ryedale, York and beyond. Food for thought in Hutch’s taste-filled List No. 5, from Gazette & Herald

Ellie Leach: Strictly 2023 champ is making her stage acting debut in the British tour of the comedy whodunit Cluedo 2, on tour at York Theatre Royal next week

REVOLUTIONARY teens, rabbit cartoon tributes, mischievous theatre as a team game, food stalls, a whodunit comedy and cocktail-bar waitress tales whet Charles Hutchinson’s appetite.  

Whodunit, with what and where, of the week: Cluedo 2, York Theatre Royal, March 12 to 16, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

STRICTLY Come Dancing 2023 champion and Coronation Street star Ellie Leach is making her stage acting debut as Miss Scarlett in the world premiere British tour of Cluedo 2, marking the 75th anniversary of the Hasbro boardgame. Next stop, York.

This follow-up to the original play (based on Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 film Clue) is an original comedy whodunit, set in the Swinging Sixties, with a script by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (Birds Of A Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart and Dreamboats And Petticoats) and direction by Mark Bell (from Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong and A Comedy About A Bank Robbery). Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

1812 Youth Theatre’s poster for this week’s run of Jmes Fritz’s Start Swimming

Young performers of the week: 1812 Youth Theatre in Start Swimming, Helmsley Arts Centre, tomorrow to Saturday, 7.30pm

HELMSLEY’S 1812 Theatre Company presents Start Swimming, a play about occupation, revolution and what the future holds for today’s youth. One step away from disaster, there is only one option left: start swimming.

First staged by the Young Vic Taking Part department, James Fritz’s play was performed at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe too. Suitable for age 12+. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.  

Terry Brett with his Good Rabbits Gone banner for display outside Pyramid Gallery at his book-signing charity event on Friday evening

Book signing of the week: Terry Brett’s Good Rabbits Gone Volume Three, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, Friday, 5.30pm to 7pm

YORK gallery curator Terry Brett marks the publication of his third volume of cartoon rabbit tributes to celebrities and remarkable individuals at a charity event at Pyramid Gallery, York. Copies are given away but voluntary donations are encouraged in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice, in memory of Terry’s father, who died of prostate cancer.

Terry, who draws the cartoons under the artist alias of Bertt deBaldock, will be on hand to sign copies outside the gallery, with the books displayed on a table. Inside, visitors can enjoy a glass of wine and buy the original drawings.

Hoglets Theatre’s Gemma Curry, left, Claire Morley and Becky Lennon in A Midsummer Night’s Mischief at York Theatre Royal Studio

Children’s show of the week: Hoglets Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Mischief, York Theatre Royal Studio, Friday, 4.30pm and Saturday, 10.30am

EVERYTHING is kicking off as the fairies in the forest start a fight, but which side will you be on? Team Titania or Team Oberon? York company Hoglets Theatre presents an interactive, fun, larger-than-life production for young children (ideally aged two to nine, but everyone is welcome), based on Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Expect wild characters, raucous singalong songs, puppets, stunts and some frankly ridiculous disco dancing from director/writer Gemma Curry and fellow cast members Claire Morley and Becky Lennon. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Malton Food Market stalls. Picture: visitmalton.com

Feelgood event of the week: Malton Food Market, Malton, Saturday, 9am to 3pm

THE monthly Malton Food Market returns for the 2024 season this weekend with specialist stalls, street food, live music and “bags of foodie fun”, set against the backdrop of St Michael’s Church.

Billed as “popular with all those who care about where their food is sourced”, the market will be held on April 3, May 11, June 8, July 13, August 10, September 14 and November 9 with free admission.  Malton’s Harvest Food Festival will take place on October 5 and 6; Malton Christmas Festival, December 7 and 8. For two hours of free parking, go to: visitmalton.com/plan-your-visit.

Lazy Sunday Sessions at the Milton Rooms, Malton

Talent initiative: Lazy Sunday Sessions, Milton Rooms, Malton, March 17 and April 14, 3pm to 6pm

THE Milton Rooms has launched an initiative in the updated bar area to promote upcoming Ryedale musicians and find the next generation of performers. After George Rowell and Maggie Wakeling featured in the first session last month, Patrick Robertson and Friends plus Nick Thompson have been booked for a special Irish jam session on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, followed by Phil Hooley and Abbey Follansbee on April 14. Entry is free; a small fee is paid to musicians and audience members can show their appreciation in a tip bucket.

In addition, on the last Sunday of each month, a 3pm to 6pm Open Mic session has been launched, designed to give anyone a chance to bring their own instrument and show off their musical skills. Entry is free; the PA system and microphones are provided.

Rowntree Players’ Sophie Bullivant, Abi Carter, Holly Smith and Laura Castle in Jane Thornton and John Godber’s Shakers at the JoRo Theatre

Comedy play of the week: Rowntree Players in Shakers, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, March 14 to 16, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

WELCOME to Shakers, the worst bar in town where everyone wants to be seen. Carol, Adele, Niki and Mel are about to work the shift from hell! The lights are neon, the music is loud, and shoes must be smart only. No trainers.

Jane Thornton and John Godber’s 1984 comedy exposes the sticky-floored world behind the bar on a busy Saturday night. Here come the girls, the lads, the yuppies and the luvvies, all played by Sophie Bullivant, Laura Castle, Abi Carter and Holly Smith under the direction of Jamie McKeller, who worked previously with Bullivant and Castle on Godber’s Teechers in 2022. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Boyzlife’s Keith Duffy, left, and Brian McFadden: Heading to York Barbican next February

Gig announcement of the week: Boyzlife, York Barbican, February 1 2025

BOYZLIFE, the supergroup duo of Boyzone’s Keith Duffy and Westlife’s Brian McFadden, will return to York Barbican on their 14-date tour in 2025. The Irishmen will combine hits from both bands, such as Boyzone’s I Love The Way You Love Me, All That I Need and No Matter What and Westlife’s My Love, I Lay My Love On You and Uptown Girl. Tickets go on sale on Friday at 10am at ticketmaster.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond as the time to book up for the literati arrives. Hutch’s List No. 10, from The Press

Tuck into An Audience with Grace Dent, the Guardian food writer, columnist, author and presenter, at the Grand Opera House, York, on March 30 (7pm) as part of York Literature Festival

LITERATURE festivities, psychological bunny puppetry, sci-fi theatre, paranormal investigations and explosive dance promise out-of-this-world cultural experiences, reckons Charles Hutchinson.

Festival of the month: York Literature Festival, ends April 4

YORK Literature Festival is under way with events spread between St Peter’s School; York St John University; York Explore Library; Theatre@41; The Mount School; The Basement at City Screen; York Museum Gardens; York Medical Society, Stonegate; The Crescent; the Grand Opera House and The Blue Boar, Castlegate.

Among the highlights are today’s (2/3/2024) Folk Horror Day; food writers Nina Mingya Powles and Ella Risbridger on Thursday and Grace Dent on March 30; Nicholas Royle David Boiwe, Enid Blyton and The Sun Machine, March 12; journalist and broadcaster Steve Richards on Turning Points in modern Britain, March 16; Lush founder and lead singer Mike Berenyi, discussing her memoir Fingers Crossed, March 24, and poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay’s morning poems, March 30. For the full programme and bookings, visit yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk.

Lemn Sissay: British-Ethiopian poet will perform morning poems from Let The Light Pour In at York Literature Festival on March 30 (2pm). Picture: Hamish Brown

When Tuesday is on a Saturday: 1812 Youth Theatre in Tuesday, Helmsley Arts Centre, tonight (2/3/2024), 2.30pm, 7.30pm

AN ordinary Tuesday turns really, really weird when the sky over the school playground suddenly rips open in Alison Carr’s funny and playful play Tuesday. Pupils and teachers are sucked up to a parallel universe as a new set of people rain down from above. ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ must come together to work out what is going on and how to return things to how they were.

Carr combines “a little bit of sci-fi and a lot of big themes”: friendship, family, identity, grief, responsibility – and what happens when an unexpected event turns the world upside down. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Exploring psychological damage: George Green in Foxglove Theatre’s Rabbit at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

New play of the week: Foxglove Theatre in Rabbit, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight (2/3/2024), 7.30pm

YORK company Foxglove Theatre identified a need for weirder, more experimental theatre in the city, focusing on “psychological exploration through innovative visual storytelling”. Here comes their debut new work, Rabbit, wherein a brave bunny wakes up lost in a murky forest determined to find her way home to Mumma.

Blending puppetry and visual effects, George Green’s performance explores the psychological damage that develops from even the smallest mishandlings of our childhood selves. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Back on the Chain Gang: Miles Salter, second left, and his York band make a second visit to Ampleforth Village Hall tonight

Village gig of the week: Miles and The Chain Gang, Ampleforth Village Hall, near Helmsley, tonight (2/3/2024), 7.30pm

YORK band Miles and The Chain Gang return to Ampleforth Village Hall by popular demand after a first outing there last summer. Expect rock’n’roll, acoustic songs, new wave, soul and country, plus Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell and Johnny Cash covers.

Their latest digital single, the country-tinged Raining Cats And Dogs, is sure to feature in the set by Miles Salter, guitar and vocals, Mat Watt, bass, Steve Purton, drums, and Charlie Daykin, keyboards. Tickets: 07549 775971.

Yvette Fielding: Leading the paranormal investigations at the Grand Opera House, in the haunted city of York, in a Sunday fright night

Paranormal show of the week: Most Haunted: The Stage Show, Grand Opera House, York, Sunday (3/3/2024), 7.30pm

YVETTE Fielding, “the first lady of the paranormal”, joins Karl Beattie, producer and director of the Most Haunted television series, in the investigative team to take Sunday’s audience on “the darkest, most terrifying journey of your life”, followed by a question-and-answer session.

In a city bursting at the seams with ghost stories and walks, Fielding and Beattie present Most Haunted’s All-Time Top Ten Scares, complete with unseen video footage from haunted castles, manor houses, hospitals and prisons. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Excellent entertainment? Phil Ellis reckons so at Theatre@41 on Tuesday

Comedy gig of the week: Phil Ellis’s Excellent Comedy Show, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday, 8pm

DO you like comedy? Do you like shows? What are your thoughts on excellence? “If you like all three, then the award-winning Phil Ellis’s Excellent Comedy Show is the excellent comedy show for you,” advises Ellis, who promises an hour of stand-up and fun from “the North West’s most punctual working-class comedian”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Diversity: Dancing around the Supernova at the Grand Opera House, York, for two nights. Harrogate and Hull to follow

Dance show of the week: Diversity in Supernova, Grand Opera House, York, March 7 and 8, 7.45pm; Harrogate Convention Centre, March 9, 3.30pm; Hull Connexin Live, April 7, 2.30pm

2009 Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity return to York on their biggest tour yet to stage Supernova, devised by founder Ashley Banjo. More than 120,000 tickets have sold for more than 90 dates in 40 cities and towns through 2023 and 2024, with both Grand Opera House performances down to the last few tickets.

Diversity will be supporting the Trussell Trust, the anti-poverty charity, inviting audience members to bring food donations to place in collection points. Cash donations in buckets are welcome too. Box office: York, atgtickets.com/york; Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk; Hull, connexinlivehull.com.

Suzi Quatro: Using this iconic image from her first photographic session with Gered Mankowitz in 1973 to promote her 60th anniversary tour. York Barbican awaits

Gig announcement of the week: Suzi Quatro, York Barbican, November 15

SUZI Quatro will mark the 60th year of her reign as “the Queen of Rock’n’Roll” by embarking on a five-date autumn tour, taking in York Barbican as the only Yorkshire venue.

Born in Michigan, Quatro flew to England in 1971 to work with songwriting duo Chinn and Chapman, chalking up chart toppers with Can The Can and Devil Gate Drive and further hits with 48 Crash, Daytona Demon, The Wild One, If You Can’t Give Me Love and She’s In Love With You, as well as co-writing Babbies & Bairns with dame Berwick Kaler in his York Theatre Royal panto pomp. Box office: ticketmaster.co.uk/event/360060579D80156E.

In Focus: Two Houses, One Story: York ‘s Forgotten Women at Bar Convent and Fairfax House

Special collections manager Dr Hannah Thomas studies a reproduction of Lady Hungate’s unofficial will alongside items left to the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre

TWO Houses, One Story: York’s Forgotten Women, a collaboration between the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre and Fairfax House, opens today, marking International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

Running until April 27, the project explores the long intertwining histories of these illegal Catholic houses with an exhibition at each house that enhances the other.

Two of York’s most iconic historic houses, they share a history of strong Catholic women. One was founded as a secret convent, operating a pioneering school for girls, in Blossom Street; the other was constructed as the winter townhouse of Charles, 9th Viscount Fairfax of Emley, gifted to his daughter, the Hon Anne Fairfax, with its richly decorated interiors and stucco ceilings in a masterpiece of Georgian design and architecture in Castlegate.

Dr Hannah Thomas, the Bar Convent’s special collections manager, says: “The histories of the Bar Convent and Fairfax House are so closely intertwined that a joint exhibition such as this makes perfect sense.

The welcome to the Two Houses, One Story exhibition at Fairfax House

“Not many people are aware of the links between the houses but both Anne and Mary Fairfax attended the school here and Lady Hungate lived here with the sisters for 29 years.

“This exhibition gives us a fantastic opportunity to explore and share this exciting little-known narrative with the public and to work with the incredible team at Fairfax House.”

Sarah Burnage, curator at Fairfax House, says: “We are delighted to be working with our friends at the Bar Convent on this joint venture. The exhibition tells the story of women living in York in the 18th century and offers a fascinating glimpse into the little-known world of Catholicism in York”.

Two Houses: One Story features recently discovered documents, beautiful portraits and intriguing artefacts that give new insight into the day-to-day lives of these exceptional Yorkshire women.

Original 18th century account books referencing Lady Hungate, on display for the first time at the Bar Convent

The exhibitions explore how they navigated their faith during an era of persecution and suspicion, and how some were linked to dangerous underground activity that ultimately aided the survival of the Catholic faith in York and beyond.

At the Bar Convent, discover the early years of the Fairfax daughters who attended the school, how and why their grandmother, Lady Hungate, lived at the house for 29 years and the significance and legacy of this alliance.

At Fairfax House, learn more about the limited life choices that woman, like Anne Fairfax, faced in the 18th century. Also discover more about the Catholic networks in the city and how this clandestine community supported each other.       

Each exhibition complements the other, and visitors to one house receive a 30 per cent discount on admission to the other with proof of receipt. The Bar Convent is open 10am to 5pm (last entry 4pm), Monday to Saturday; Fairfax House, from 10am to 4pm daily (Fridays: guided tours at 10am, 12pm and 3pm). Tickets: Bar Convent, barconvent.co.uk or 01904 643238; Fairfax House, fairfaxhouse.co.uk or 01904 655543.

Discover what Lady Hungate left to the Bar Convent in her unofficial will, on show at the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre

Terry Brett launches third volume of Good Rabbits Gone cartoon tributes with Refugee Action York event at Pyramid

The cover artwork for Good Rabbits Gone 3: cartoons by Bertt deBaldock, words by Terry Brett

TERRY Brett launches his third volume of cartoon rabbit tributes to celebrities and remarkable individuals at a charity event at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, tomorrow (16/1/204).

Publishing costs are met by the gallery, enabling copies to be given away from there, but voluntary donations are encouraged in aid of Refugee Action York at the 4.30pm to 7pm event, where Terry/artist Bertt deBaldock will sign copies.

“From my experience with the first and second volumes, people enjoy being given the book,” says Terry. “Most of those people have then offered a donation, which can be done through the Just Giving website,  www.justgiving.com/page/terry-brett.”

RIP Lee Scratch Perry: Bertt deBaldock’s cartoon valedictory to the innovative Jamaican record producer and composer

The 108-page third compendium of death notices, entitled Good Rabbits Gone Volume Three 4 Equality, spans September 2021 to December 2022 with a fourth volume covering the fallen of 2023 on its way.

Among those featured are Queen Elizabeth II (Delivered: 21 April 1926, Post: 8 September 2022); Leslie Phillips (‘Hello-o-o’: 20 April 1924, ‘Ding Dong!’: 7 November 2022); June Brown (Year Dot : 16 February 1927, Bless Her Cotton Socks: 3 April 2022); Ruth Madoc (Hi-de-Hi! : 16 April 1943, Bye-de-bye: 9 December 2022); Terry Hall (Special : 19 March 1959, Much Too Young : 18 December 2022), and Kathleen Booth, British computer scientist and mathematician, (Ticking: 9 July 1922, Ticker stopped: 29 September 2022).

The cartoon drawings by “the Scribbler” Bertt deBaldock, the nom d’art of Pyramid Gallery owner, colour-blind artist, ukulele player and long-ago chartered surveyor Terry Brett, are each drawn in response to an individual’s death and then assembled in a book with Terry’s own witty tributes or poignant memories.

The qualifications for inclusion have changed for Volume Three’s memorial works. “The first volume was just about musicians, actors and comedians who had made an impact on my life,” says Terry.

“The second featured more scientists because I’m fascinated with technology and science. For the third one, I became interested in people who had made a difference with respect to social matters.

“The work celebrates a period in which prejudice and inequality has not only been challenged, but also has been noticed and the individuals rewarded,” says Terry Brett of Good Rabbits Gone 3

“I realised there was a social record evolving that is interesting to me because the order in which a narrative unfolds is dictated purely by the date on which a person died.

“But their story tells much about society in decades that have gone past. So I got interested in individuals who had made some sort of impact on society in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.”

Gradually, a collective theme for the latest volume emerged, hence the title of Good Rabbits Gone Volume Three 4 Equality. “It came to me as I was collecting names,” says Terry. “I noticed that many of the individuals chosen for the book were noted for their involvement with campaigns that fought against inequality or prejudice or misogyny.

“I didn’t go looking for these subjects but found them when listening to the BBC Radio 4 programme Last Words, which has given much quality airtime to great, quiet people who have decided to stand up to prejudice or do some good. These individuals are not massively wealthy, not famous as a media personality, but had perhaps been awarded a CBE or OBE for their campaigning activities.

Bertt deBaldock’s rabbit cartoon tribute to The Ronettes’ Ronnie Spector

“A good example is Ma Smith, who was awarded the Pride of Britain award for setting up a soup kitchen in Oxford. and another is Avtar Singh Jouhl, who was made an OBE for fighting racial inequality in Birmingham. Jouhl had persuaded Malcolm X to visit the factory in Smethwick just a few days before he was assassinated.”

Such dedicated individuals, numbering 18 “if we include women who have excelled in careers that used to be dominated by men”, add interest and substance to the book, says Terry.

“In this way, the work celebrates a period in which prejudice and inequality has not only been challenged, but also has been noticed and the individuals rewarded. Though many would say that there is still some way to go!

“I think the media now gives more coverage relating to the #metoo movement and the horrible Windrush scandal, whereby the Government pushed forward a policy of deliberately being cruel to immigrants and also legitimate citizens who had come to Britain on the Windrush ship from the Caribbean, to the point of extraditing some of them back to the West Indies, even though they may have been born in the UK. 

Farewell fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, from Good Rabbits Gone 3

“Many great women feature in this book after battling against prejudice in the workplace, just getting on with their jobs, and at last they’re being recognised for what they did.”

The broader focus has had an impact on the creative process too. “The pictures are not drawn straight away anymore and there’s a huge backlog,” says Terry. “It’s become quite time consuming. Much of the work has been done with me sitting in a beach hut in Goa for eight weeks in January 2023 and three more last October. It’s the only way I can find enough time to do them.”

A theme is yet to strike Terry for the next volume. “But looking through the list, there are so many actors, musicians and television personalities to consider, as well as footballers,” he says. “I will search for more designers and artists to join Mary Quant, Paco Rabanne and Phylida Barlow and cartoonist Bill Tidy.

“I’m also keen to include icons such as Barry Humphries, Paul O’Grady, Mike Yarwood, Len Goodman and writers Benjamin Zephaniah, Martin Amis, Fay Wheldon and Burt Bacharach. So many big names that reflect the impact of television in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Two of my favourite scribbles so far are those of David Crosby and Tina Turner, both very pleasing to draw.”

Queen Final: Bertt deBaldock’s drawing to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II

Explaining the latest book’s support for Refugee Action York, Terry says: “I started fundraising for them when asked to draw a rabbit for Jean Moss, who was involved with the charity before she died in 2020. Donations for the second volume raised £2,400 for Refugee Action York in memory of Jean.

“They provide support to refugees by giving advice, helping fill out forms and providing necessities such as school uniforms. They aim to change the narrative about refugees and help them become useful members of society.

“Refugee Action York assists refugees and asylum seekers by means of a weekly meeting every Wednesday at York St John’s University and a monthly Sunday meeting, called The Hub, at Clifton Green Primary School.

A second charity event will be held at Pyramid Gallery on March 9 from 4.30pm to 7pm, when donations will go to St Leonard’s Hospice, in memory of Terry’s father, who died of prostate cancer.

Terry Brett/Bertt deBaldock’s first Good Rabbit Gone: David Bowie, January 10 2016

Terry’s Good Rabbits Gone series began on January 10 2016. “Upset that David Bowie had suddenly left us, I decided to draw him as a rabbit, using a shape that I’d first drawn on stencils for wall hangings and a comic-style Christmas card in 1994.

More rabbits followed (Terry Wogan, Glen Campbell Ken Dodd, Keith Flint, Judith Kerr) and deaths of loved celebrities became an obsession, first publishing them on Twitter and Facebook at #GoodRabbitsGone,” he says.

“During a spell of Covid confinement in 2020, I put them into a book, Good Rabbits Gone and made the decision to offer the books only for donations to charity. As of July 1 2023, charitable donations of the books and other means of collecting money in Pyramid Gallery have amounted to £8,000 for St Leonard’s Hospice as well as £2,400 for Refugee Action York.”

Why depict rabbits, Terry? “It might seem weird to be creating memorials to people by representing them as a rabbit, but I don’t see the need to question it too much,” he says. “I find the act of drawing helps relieve the sense of loss and my own anxiety about mortality. The process of reading about the individual’s life and trying to capture a tiny segment of their character in a simple drawing is a little bit cathartic. 

Terry Brett, as depicted by alter ego Bertt deBaldock, when compiling the first volume of Good Rabbits Gone under the Covid cloud

“The rabbit body and ears create a limitation in the final drawing, preventing each portrait from being too complicated or serious. All the individuals become united by the addition of rabbit ears!”

Or, in a nutshell…? “There’s a long-held belief in the Bertt/Brett household that if you have lived a good life, well, let’s say a mostly good life, i.e. if you have been nice or have achieved something for the benefit of others, then when you die you will become a rabbit.”

Contemplating what gravestone humour may lie in store for Terry himself, he suggests: “He was hoppiest when scribbling a rabbit”.

Terry Brett/Bertt deBaldock launches Good Rabbits Gone Volume Three 4 Equality at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, tomorrow (16/1/2024) with a book-signing session and charity fundraiser for Refugee Action York from 4.30pm to 7pm.

Why use the name Bertt deBaldock?

Terry Brett/Bertt deBaldock at Pyramid Gallery, York

“A PARTICULAR friend in my youth always called me ‘Bertt’ and I was born in Baldock, well, a mile away in a tiny hamlet called Bygrave, in north Hertfordshire,” explains Terry.

“I use the French preposition ‘de’ in the same way that it is used in the name ‘DeBrett’s’, which is basically a list of the most influential people, many of whom are deceased or about to be.”

Two Big Egos In A Small Car Episode 157: Yorkshire’s Now Then and The Beatles’ Now And Then; Sunderland’s Pop Recs Indie HQ

Stephen Millership’s cover illustration for Rick Broadbent’s Now Then: A Biography Of Yorkshire

GRAHAM Chalmers unexpectedly introduces a new fashion slot, where he reviews the surprising return of a plethora of fashion styles enjoying a comeback.

Charles Hutchinson explores the Yorkshire phrase “Now Then” with a look at Rick Broadbent’s new book Now Then: A Biography Of Yorkshire and Richard Hawley’s new compilation album Now Then and follows up with questions for Graham on The Beatles’ remarkable resurrection single Now And Then.

Finally, Graham recounts what happened when he spent a night in Sunderland at the heart of the city’s indie scene, watching Field Music’s Peter Brewis in concert.

Head to: https://bit.ly/47R59RH

The cover artwork for South Yorkshireman Richard Hawley’s career retrospective Now Then

York novelist Tim Murgatroyd’s debut play Sea Stones journeys into a dark night of the soul by the sea at Theatre@41, Monkgate

Father and daughter: Mick Liversidge’s Phil Goodman and Raqhael Harte’s Sophie Goodman in the dark in Sea Stones. Picture: Chris Mackins

AFTER eight novels, with his ninth on the way, Tim Murgatroyd has written his debut play, Sea Stones, an emotional, suspenseful night of the soul when four people are brought together in a lonely house by the sea.

Two fathers. Two daughters. Each confronted with the consequences of the past as a high tide is turning and tests to their relationships are escalating. Tests that might cost them not only their dearest hopes and loves, but their very lives. “The truth can set you free. Or drown you,” says York writer Tim.

Sea Stones will be premiered from tonight (14/11/2023) at Theatre@41, Monkgate, by Lumar Productions, the York company run by film and stage director Martin Handsley, with a cast of Mick Liversidge as Phil Goodman, Raqhael Harte as Sophie Goodman, Ian Giles as Ratko Ilich and Ukrainian-born York Opera mezzo-soprano Polina Bielova as Jana Ilich.

Introducing the storyline, Tim says: “The play opens in 2000 in a small town in the former Yugoslavia celebrating a new millennium. It is ten years since bloody civil war tore the Communist federation apart, unleashing horrific ethnic conflict.

“But some legacies are not easily forgotten, especially when the victims find no justice and the so-called victors are unpunished, even rewarded.”

Roll forward to 2008: “All around the world, greed-fuelled banking systems are collapsing, creating new victims among the ‘little people’ who trusted in their institutions and leaders. New winners and losers, all over the world.

“But some people never accept losing. It’s not just the corrupt bankers who seek to claw back what they can. The stage is set in an isolated cottage by the sea for further crimes against the best sides of human nature: love, reconciliation and compassion. Or perhaps, this time, for redemption.”

Martin was captivated immediately by Tim’s compelling story on two grounds. “Sea Stones delves into the intricate tensions and dynamics between fathers and their daughters, a theme that resonated deeply with me as I’m the proud father of three girls,” he says.

Money talks in Sea Stones: Mick Liversidge’s Phil Goodman and Raqhael Harte’s Sophie Goodman in negotiation with Ian Giles’s Ratko Ilich. Picture: Chris Mackins

“This is also a story how history never quite dies. My personal experience as an aid worker during the Yugoslav Civil War [travelling from Leeds in 1992 to bring refugees from Bosnia to the UK] provided me with a profound understanding of the challenging circumstances the characters in the play find themselves in.

“Even in 2023, the world continues to grapple with the same issues that the play addresses. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine serves as a stark reminder that war and its aftermath still haunt us. That’s why we’re so excited to bring Sea Stones to life on stage, setting free the power of theatre to illuminate and provoke thought about the enduring challenges our world faces.”

Tim felt “more poacher than gamekeeper” when writing Sea Stones. “My career as a published writer has been exclusively as a novelist,” he says. “Eight in print to date, two of them translated into Chinese.

“I have written stories about Ancient China, a dystopian Yorkshire, even silent cinema musicians in York, but I had never written a play. So it came as a surprise when I found myself scribbling down stage directions, then dialogue, that would emerge as Sea Stones.

“It began with a man in a lonely cottage by a pebbly beach startled by the arrival of a car where no-one comes. Dark memories of the Yugoslav Civil War and anger at injustices in the world crept into his home with the sound of waves grinding the shingle.

“Then came a long-lost daughter corrupted by money and greed, dragging far worse in her wake, and the stage was set for conflict: love, morality, and bare survival. As the character Phil Goodman says: ‘Sometimes we touch, connect, brought together by the tide. Sometimes we grind each other into sand like millstones. Sometimes we just break apart’.”

First play for Tim, first stage directing challenge for Martin: “I’ve directed film before, which is completely different,” he says. “I never thought I’d enjoy theatre because it’s so ephemeral, whereas you put everything into getting the image right, you film it and it’s there forever.

“However, what I’ve learned with this production is that theatre’s ephemeral nature is what it’s about, being in the now, what’s going on live in front of you. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve become a volunteer at Theatre@41, doing tech work, working behind the bar. I just love it.

The other father and daughter: Ian Giles’s Ratko Ilich and Polina Bielova’s Jane Ilich in Sea Stones. Picture: Chris Mackins

“The fact that Sea Stones is a great play and we’ve got great actors helps as well! I’ve been with this play for over a year, and still the hairs stand up on the back of my neck when I hear certain lines being said.”

Whether as a novelist, or now as a playwright, Tim says: “At the heart of all this writing is storytelling. If you think about how humans understand the world, it’s through stories, with bigger narratives in plays and novels.

“With novels, you can use descriptions, whereas plays rely on what’s being stated or implied by the characters in speech, so the real challenge was to make sure the play’s dialogue was naturalistic, but not too naturalistic because I wanted to have deeper philosophical and emotional layers to the characters’ experiences.”

Sea Stones has taken three years to evolve. “That’s when Tim first contacted me and sent me a copy of the original script,” recalls Martin. “I read it but just didn’t think I’d be the one to stage it. But then Covid came along, and afterwards I just wanted to do something different after the film.

“Tim contacted me again, we got some actors together, did some readthroughs and made sure that the heart of the story would remain, but we would need to lose some of the dialogue to make it more pacy.”

Further challenges were to secure a theatre for the production and to find the right cast. Tick and tick, albeit with changes in one role. “We’ve ended up with the highly experienced Ian Giles as our fourth iteration of Ratko Ilich,” says Martin. “He’s bringing a level of confidence to the role that we were struggling with before, and lots of humour too, and we have an ensemble that gets on really well.”

Ian has made such an impact that Tim is writing a role expressly for him in his next play. Meanwhile, Tim and Martin have found a way to integrate Polina Bielova’s operatic singing in Sea Stones. “I can guarantee people will have tears in their eyes,” says Tim.

Actress and yoga teacher Raqhael Harte brings 15 years of acting and performance studies, coupled with a few years of York productions, to her role as troubled daughter Sophie. “She’s a Scottish actress and when she auditioned, I just loved her accent and knew it work really well in the play,” says Martin. “Her character is jarring, and her voice can be quite jarring too, so she’s the whole package.”

“These characters can be contradictory in their beliefs and behaviour because people are contradictory,” says Sea Stones playwright Tim Murgatroyd

Summing up his play, Tim says: “Essentially it’s about two parallel father-daughter relationships, with each one casting light on the other, and from that they learn lessons, some hard, some redemptive, but all of them life-changing.

“In many ways, the play is designed to work on two levels: the parent/child relationships and the wider content of the world, referring to the Yugolsav war and to the 2008 banking crisis, with questions about corruption and  human behaviour in a difficult, flawed world.

“That makes it incredibly relevant to today, where there’s corruption that’s pretty much not even hidden now, and all the violence and war that we see on our TV screens every night. We ask, ‘are we powerless? What can a good parent do?’.”

Important to Tim too was the need to make the characters believable. “Looking at human nature, these characters can be contradictory in their beliefs and behaviour because people are contradictory, and you have to get that complexity across – which can be challenging for everyone involved, not only the writer.

“What I’m hoping the audience will take from the play is not only an emotional journey but also a lot of tension because the potential for violence is always lurking in what I’ve written, so in that sense it’s not just about their relationships but also about survival.”

As indicated by the title, the sea is a significant character in the play too. “A lot of the meaning of the play comes from the dialogue, but plenty will come from metaphors too, where you’re trying to connect the audience with places and feelings they have experienced. The sea is perhaps the best example of that,” says Tim. “It represents movement and change, and characters being swept along by the tide of history.”

From the moment of arrival in the John Cooper Studio, audiences will be surrounded by the rhythmic roll of crashing waves with the high tide on its way. “I love the sound of the sea, and we use it as background in pretty much all the scenes set at the cottage,” says Martin.

The poster for Lumar Productions’ Sea Stones at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

Tim adds: “It’s almost like a musical soundtrack in this play. There’s a theory that we evolved from aquatic apes and that’s why we have this immediate bond with the sea.”

Sea Stones is “as uncomfortable as possible” for the audience, or “intimate”, as Tim prefers to describe the viewing experience. “By creating four contrasting characters, I can show the different facets of humanity, so we see good in the play, sometimes incredibly heroic good deeds, but also the bad in people, the potential for corruption, which creates dramatic tension,” Tim concludes.

Lumar Productions present Sea Stones, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight (14/11/2023) to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk. Running time: 100 minutes plus interval.

Back story: Lumar Productions

SMALL independent film, video and theatre production company dedicated to creating innovative content and storytelling, delivered with energy and passion. Its latest film feature, Wiccan, is scheduled for release in 2024.

The company is run by Martin Handsley, an IT professional, who reinvented himself after a life-altering event as an actor, writer, producer and director.

Writer’s profile: Tim Murgatroyd

READ English at Hertford College, Oxford University, and now lives with his family in York. Internationally acclaimed author of several novels of historical fiction, a dystopian series, whose latest novel, October 2022’s The Electric, is set in the glamorous world of silent cinema in York in 1919.

Former weekly columnist for The Press, York.

Sea Stones is his first play. His next novel, Dust Of The Earth, will be published next year.

For a preview of Sea Stones, visit: https://youtu.be/pviM6iKB0dw

Rick Broadbent returns home to find the soul of Yorkshire then and now in Now Then

Rick Broadbent: Exiled Yorkshireman, The Times journalist and author

IT began inauspiciously in the library of the old Yorkshire Evening Press building in Coney Street, York.

Rick Broadbent was 16/17, living in Tadcaster, twixt York and Leeds, and was on work experience. His first taste of journalism, in the mid-1980s.

“I certainly made an impression because I remember writing an obituary of someone who hadn’t died. Can’t remember the guy’s name, but relatively obscure. Jeremiah…”

Deep in the labyrinth of cuttings files, he found a Jeremiah, but the wrong one as it turned out. “It was clearly a baptism of ineptitude,” says the award-winning author and journalist for The Times for more than 20 years, recalling his cub reporter howler.

Rick would leave Yorkshire at 18 to study at Reading University – one of three northerners at a southern university, alongside a Scouser and a Geordie – but Yorkshire has never left him. So much so, his latest book is Now Then: A Biography Of Yorkshire, whose publication today is accompanied by a Meet The Author tour that visits St Peter’s School Memorial Hall, York, tomorrow, as well as South Cave, Malton, Ilkley, Sheffield, Farsley and Ripon.

As he writes in the book’s final words: “I live in Dorset, but Yorkshire is where I’m from and, more often than not, where I’m at. It’s a state of its own and a state of mind. That’ll do.”

He depicts a “remarkable county, swathed in world-stopping beauty and practical magic, stunning in positive and negative ways, but it’s like the Hotel California – you can check out, but you can never leave”.

The Leeds-born “exiled Yorkshireman” has written a humorously honest, unsparing, celebratory biographical mosaic, not a hagiography. “I loved the place but had sometimes loathed it too”, writes the outsider with the insider’s knowledge.

Broadbent acknowledges the tropes, the ee bah gums, the Stereotykes, as one chapter is headed – Boycott’s batting, ferret-leggers and folk singers without flat caps on Ilkley Moor – as he seeks the true soul of the Texas of England and ponders whether “Yorkshireness” even matters in a shrinking world.

Social history, memoir and reportage, high hills and flat vowels, are woven into the mosaic of Yorkshire now and Yorkshire then, ordinary Yorkshire and its extraordinary lives. “What I didn’t want to do was do a chronological history,” he says of his task of representing a Yorkshire “so large, multifarious and unmanageable”.

Hence the diversity of interviews, from rock stars (Richard Hawley) to rhubarb growers, ramblers to William Wilberforce’s descendants, William and Dan, the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, to Barnsley bard Ian McMillan.

“I thought, you have to pool all this information, draw these disparate places and stories into themes and sections.” In a nutshell, Outsiders. Workers. Writers. Miners. Minstrels. Artists. Yorkists. Stereotykes. Champions. Ramblers. Chefs. Pioneers. Legends. Seasiders. Now. Then.

As a starting point, he dug up his own past, before turning to Britain’s largest county at large. Excavating his father’s remains from a Tadcaster graveyard in 2011, gathered in a coffee jar, to be scattered at sea in accordance with his wishes at Lamorna Cove, in Cornwall, where the Broadbents had always holidayed and family members had since gravitated south. “It was not so much scattering ashes as throwing rocks at seagulls,” he recalls with typical Broadbent humour.

Cornwall and Yorkshire share common ground: a belief that devolution and self-sufficiency from such natural riches would suit each county. “From that moment I started to think about the Yorkshire we had known. It felt like a severing of roots, and leaving again made me reconsider,” Rick writes. “Basically, I wanted to know if we had made a mistake by chucking Dad off the Cornish coast.”

Explaining the choice of a Yorkshire greeting with a nod to past and present for the title, he says: “It just seemed a natural title to me. Evocative of Yorkshire. If you live there, you have every right to gripe, but when you move from Yorkshire, your pride grows in exile; like the further away you are, your affection for the Knaresborough Bed Race grows in direct proportion to the likelihood of you never having to attend it.

“One of the key goals of the book is getting away from the stereotypes. Some of it is because of Yorkshire’s size; some of it is down to the stereotype Yorkshire personality. In that chapter, I mention the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, but the best ones are by Harry Enfield and Hale & Pace.”

Stephen Millership’s cover illustration for Rick Broadbent’s Now Then: A Biography Of Yorkshire

That “’ear all, see all, say nowt”, stiff-necked stereotyping means Yorkshire has a defined image like no other county. Hence the tea towels, the Ey Ups, the Nora Battys.

“But when people talk of Yorkshire as ‘God’s Own Country’, they’re not talking about inner-city Sheffield, but the dales and moors and All Creatures Great And Small,” says Rick. “It’s a badge of honour, a badge of pride.”

Stephen Millership’s cover illustration depicts York Minster on fire (“I asked for the fire to be on there,” says Rick); a band stand, but with Jarvis Cocker, arms aloft, rather than a brass band; Kes’s kestrel, but no ferrets; colliery and cricket; White Rose flag and dry stone wall; farmer and sheepdog; viaduct  and verdant pastures. “The ferret is mentioned but only to show how people reduce this huge county to two or three tropes,” says Rick.

Battles of distant days, Towton and Marston Moor, feature as does the battle of Orgreave in the Miners’ Strike.  “I wanted to look at Yorkshire’s industrial heritage: when [Margaret] Thatcher was doing that to the mining communities, wrecking them with no after-plan. Or talking about the Grimethorpe Brass Band story, the Brassed Off story, but also the steel industry and shipbuilding,” says Rick.

“Looking at common themes, one of them is of Yorkshire being abandoned, now with HS2, and that feeds into the desire for devolution. Going back to being victimised in the Harrowing of the North [in William the Conqueror’s reign); the purging of the dales under Elizabeth I.

“These things come down to being abandoned and neglected, and I wanted to reflect that, rather than have some ee-bah-gum fun with the book. Johnny Giles said ‘being Leeds United [the “Dirty Leeds of Don Revie’s 1960s-’70s], we just had to defend ourselves’, and it’s the same with Yorkshire.”

Relegation-bound Leeds United were “a constant drain” on lifelong fan Broadbent’s enthusiasm throughout his writing project and feature as they “disappoint their fans week after week” in “the most controversial poem ever written”, Tony Harrison’s V, a Leeds work full of verses and versus and verbal V signs that strikes a chord with Broadbent’s own sentiments.

“I was a kid when it came out and I remember we giggled at the swear words at school. All those complaints came in when it was on TV. But reading it again, it’s all so relevant, with all that class division.”

You can allus tell a Yorkshireman, but tha’ can’t tell him much, as the saying goes, but Now Then will tell Yorkshiremen and outsiders alike plenty, from stories of industrial neglect and forgotten tragedies to the Bronte Sisters and Marks & Spencer, a lost albatross to a stuffed crocodile.

“I’m fascinated by that phrase, ‘it’s where you’re from and where you’re at’.  For me it means taking your roots with you, though others say it’s where your mind’s at. But I read it differently: you can take Yorkshire with you wherever you are. Doing this book, as the outsider from inside, that feeling is stronger than ever.”

Now Then:  A Biography Of York, by Rick Broadbent, published in hardback by Allen & Unwin/Atlantic Books on October 5.

York Literature Festival presents Rick Broadbent in conversation on Now Then: A Biography Of Yorkshire, St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, tomorrow, 7pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rick’s Meet The Author tour of Yorkshire also takes in Festival of Words, South Cave Library, near Hull, Saturday, 1.30pm, sold out, with Yorkshire Tea and Cake. St Michael’s Church, Malton, Saturday, 7.30pm, presented by Kemps Books; box office, kempsgeneralstoreco.uk/pages/events.

Ilkley Literature Festival, Ilkley Grammar School, Hall B, Sunday, 3.45pm; ilkleyliteraturefestival-tickets.ticketsolve.com. In Conversation at La Biblioteka, Eyre Lane, Sheffield, Tuesday, 6.30pm; labiblioteka.co.

Farsley Literature Festival, Truman Books, Town Street, Farsley, near Leeds, Wednesday, 6.30pm; trumanbooks.co.uk. An Evening with Rick Broadbent, Ripon Arts Hub, Allhallowgate, Ripon, presented by The Little Ripon Bookshop, Thursday, 7pm; littleriponbookshop.co.uk/events.

Each event will be a talk, followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing.