More Things To Do in York and beyond when moments of laughter, sadness and reflection make List No. 66, from The Press

Beth Hutchinson in her monologue in Rowntree Players’ premiere of The Missing Peace. Picture: Duncan Lomax

FROM The Missing Peace to Shed Seven at the races, Charles Hutchinson finds the missing pieces to fill your diary

Premiere of the week: Rowntree Players in The Missing Peace, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, January 27 to 29, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

ROWNTREE Players director Gemma McDonald has adapted York author, singer, motivational conference speaker and charity champion Big Ian Donaghy’s book The Missing Peace, now billed as “One play…15 endings”.

On stage, Donaghy’s exploration of life after death takes the form of 15 Talking Heads-style monologues, many drawn from interviews he conducted in York. “It’s not a play about death, it’s a play about life,” he says. “There will be moments of laughter, sadness and reflection throughout.”

Look out for Mark Addy, who has recorded the narrator’s role as the Station Announcer. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes of The Shires: Acoustic show in their regular haunt of Pocklington

Country gig of the week: The Shires – Acoustic, Pocklington Arts Centre, January 26, 8pm

THE Shires, Britain’s best-selling country music act, bring their 2022 intimate acoustic tour to Pocklington on the back of working on their upcoming fifth album.

Award-winning duo Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes have made a habit of playing Pocklington since their Studio debut in 2014, appearing regularly at PAC and playing the Platform Festival at The Old Station in 2016 and 2019. To check ticket availability, go to pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk or call 01759 301547. 

Ross Noble: What is a Humournoid? Find out, or maybe not, in his new tour show

Comedy gig of the week: Ross Noble: Humournoid, Grand Opera House, York, January 29, 8pm

WHAT happens when a creature is created and bred to do stand up, asks Geordie comic Ross Noble in his Covid-delayed but finally here new tour show, Humournoid?

“Nobody knows because that isn’t a thing,” says his tour blurb. “What is a thing is Ross Noble doing a show. You can come and see it. This is it.”

As ever with this improviser supreme, it turns out Humournoid has no theme, says Noble, who promises a typically freewheeling performance on his return to one of his five favourite venues in the world. Box office: atgtickets.com/York.

Porridge Radio: Brighton band making waves at The Crescent in York. Picture: El Hardwick

If you discover one band this month, make it: Porridge Radio, The Crescent, York, January 31, 7.30pm

EVERY Bad, their 2020 album released by the super-cool Secretly Canadian label, has propelled Porridge Radio from a word-of-mouth gem of Brighton’s DIY scene to one of the country’s most exciting upcoming bands.

“Last here opening for BC Camplight, we’re very pleased to see them return,” say promoters Please Please You and Brudenell Presents. Pet Shimmers, a new supercharged seven-piece from Bristol, support. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Malaika Kegode: Guest poet at Say Owt Slam’s return to The Crescent

Word wars: Say Owt Slam with guest poet Malaika Kegode, The Crescent, York, February 5, 7.30pm

BRISTOL writer, performer and producer Malaika Kegode will be the special guest at York spoken-word hub Say Owt’s first Slam night for more than two years.

Kegode has appeared at WOMAD and Edinburgh Book Festival, published two poetry collections with Burning Eye Books and created Outlier, an autobiographical gig-theatre with prog-rock band Jakabol. Passionate about cinema, culture and race, her lyrical work journeys through lives and loves, exploring genre, form and the power of the written word made visual.

In the raucous poetry Slam, performers will have three minutes each to wow the audience. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Contrarian comedian Alfie Brown: Emotional moments in his Sensitive Man show

Moral dilemmas: Alfie Brown: Sensitive Man, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, February 10, 8pm

DOES emotion help us make moral judgments? In his new show, contrarian comedian Alfie Moore will address this question, using jokes.

These jokes will weave together to create something greater than the sum of their parts, answering a question about emotion and its complicated relationship with morality.

“I refute that I am saying things to plainly and wilfully disrupt social progress,” he says. “I am not. I might seem smug, I know, apologies, and I am often misunderstood. So, at this particular point in the unfolding history of meaning, intention, signs and signifiers, I am sometimes going to tell you what I mean.” Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Florence Odumosu as Nina Simone in Black Is The Color Of My Voice at the SJT, Scarborough

Nina’s blues: Black Is The Color Of My Voice, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, March 12, 7.30pm

FLORENCE Odumosu plays Nina Simone in Apphia Campbell’s story of the North Carolina-born jazz and blues singer and activist seeking redemption after the untimely death of her father. 

Simone reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy, destined for a life in the service of the church, to a renowned vocalist and pianist at the forefront of the civil rights movement. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Chasing winners: Shed Seven to play after the May 14 race card at Doncaster Racecourse

Racing certainty…hopefully: Shed Seven, Live After Racing @Doncaster Racecourse, May 14, from 11.15am

YORK band Shed Seven’s day at the races should have taken place on May 15 2021, but Covid made it a non-runner. Now they are under starter’s orders at Doncaster Racecourse for a hit-laden live set after the May 15 race card this spring.

Among the Sheds’ runners and riders will be Going For Gold, Chasing Rainbows, She Left Me On Friday, Disco Down, Dolphin, Where Have You Been Tonight? and fan favourites from 2017’s comeback album Instant Pleasures, Room In My House and Better Days. For tickets for the race-day and concert package, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on.

There is nothing like…two dames

Berwick Kaler: Had to miss the last week of Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House, York, after positive Covid test. Picture: David Harrison

HOW did a York theatre cope with Covid crocking its legendary dame? Find out in Episode 73 of Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson‘s Two Big Egos In A Small Car podcast. Under discussion too are Peter Jackson’s fab, formidable Beatles documentary Get Back; Mike Leigh’s Naked foreseeing Britpop and The Tourist going down better than Novax in Australia.

To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/9886020

Alan McHugh: Aberdeen’s dame answered the call when Covid struck Berwick Kaler

Odin Dragonfly go down to the sea to launch the alluring call of their Sirens album

Sirens by the sea: Odin Dragonfly’s Heather Findlay and Angela Gordon. Picture: Howard Rankin

YORK duo Odin Dragonfly release second album Sirens tomorrow, fully 15 years since their debut, Offerings.

Heather Findlay and Angela Gordon met in their late teens, first writing, playing and singing together when on the road with York prog-rock band Mostly Autumn.

“Lovingly crafting away behind dressing room doors, in hotel rooms, on the tour bus and in airport lounges while we whiled away the spare hours touring life brought, in 2007 we decided we had collected enough songs together to make a record, and so our debut album was born,” they say on their website.

They duly offered up Offerings, released under the name of Odin Dragonfly, an anagram of their surnames Findlay and Gordon.

They have gone on to play together across Britain, Europe and the United States, while Heather has built up her solo career post-Mostly Autumn and Angela has performed with Leather’O, a gypsy, Celtic and folk band, and Stout Boots, who specialise in “Celtic pub songs played hard”.

Odin Dragonfly in their Offerings days

Sirens has emerged under contrasting circumstances to Offerings, under the shadow of the pandemic. Last May, Heather posted: “Myself and Angela are tracking our instruments for the new Odin Dragonfly album in our home studio spaces and we are planning to get together to record our vocals in the very near future! 

“This album has a very mystical, evocative and oceanic vibe to it and the artwork is being created by our wonderful and very talented friend Howard Rankin, whose work we absolutely love!

“We’ve been brainstorming with him online and the three of us will be heading to a blustery Yorkshire beach next month [June 2021] to capture some vibey, windswept shots!”

At the time, Heather was hopeful Sirens would come a’calling towards autumn, and yes, she and Angela did meet up to record their vocals and did make it to the beach for photographing Rankin’s beautiful album artwork. However, the album launch was moved to today, preceded by the January 7 single, Driving, and pre-orders for the limited-edition “1st 500” bundles of Sirens.

Now the day has arrived, Angela says: “It feels like the most personal piece of work I’ve been involved in. It has my heart and soul in it. I think people will hear that. It’s been kind of strange, listening back, how current some of the themes sound, given that some of these songs are 15, 20 years old.”

Howard Rankin’s album cover artwork for Odin Dragonfly’s Sirens

Heather reflects: “In creative terms, I feel Sirens features some of our most accomplished song-writing. As Angela says, it’s been quite magical to see how these songs have woven themselves together into this one body of work, which has ended up feeling so cohesive.

“It’s almost as if Sirens was written completely as a concept album, made to reflect the current times we are sharing on this planet.

“It kind of confirms to me the sense that songs really do come from somewhere else. I imagine it almost as though they were like a message in a bottle that was always meant to be washed ashore right now.”

Heather found the album’s journey to the finishing line becoming increasingly cathartic and therapeutic against the backdrop of Covid’s stultifying grip. ” It was magnifying glass to a lot of what was going on: the enforced separation that led us to look within. The recording process we had to do brought out what was already in the songs,” she says.

“This album has a very mystical, evocative and oceanic vibe to it,” say Odin Dragonfly

Angela, pianist, flautist and singer, explains the lengthy hiatus between albums: “Sirens has been a long time in the making because it was a backburner project for us as we’re both busy with lots of other projects, but then we found time to record the piano and guitar parts separately, and after the first lockdown we were able to get together for Heather to record my vocals and flute,” she says.

“The songs were devised before Covid struck and some of them we’d been playing live for a couple of years, so a lot of the collaborative work had been done.”

One progression for Angela has been in her confidence in singing. “Heather has coached me through my vocals, where I can be front and centre in my own songs for Odin Dragonfly, to the point where I can sing some lead vocals for Leather’O and Stout Boots. Heather has fed my confidence for those other projects.”

Heather, vocalist, guitarist, low whistle player and percussionist, says: “It’s difficult to express it in words, but I know what shape the voice needs, or what way the face should be pulled, for singing. It’s a very unschooled way of ‘feeling’ the other person’s feelings, but I would say Angela needs a lot less coaching than she thinks!”

Angela rejoins: “Part of having confidence is being able to get up and perform in front of people, but it was more personal than that for me. It was about mine and Heather’s relationship with the songs, and this album came from deeply expressed emotions that are really difficult to sing.

“It’s almost as if Sirens was written completely as a concept album, made to reflect the current times we are sharing on this planet,” says Heather Findlay

“So, there are things on the recordings that I wouldn’t have kept, but Heather’s super-skill is her ability to draw out both the emotion and the technical craft. I wouldn’t have kept as much of the emotional side if I’d been working with someone else but that would have been detrimental to the album. It became like a therapy session as much as a recording session, expressing those deep, deep feelings.”

Heather concurs: “The more singing you do, the more it opens your heart to show your vulnerabilities. If something is tugging at the heartstrings so much that you need to sing about, it becomes cathartic.

“You have to sing from your heart; otherwise you will not connect with the song; it has to have that authenticity,” she says. “But I’ve had awful experiences with a lack of confidence, where I’ve had to have a word with myself about ‘self-sabotage’ when singing.”

Performing a song requires you to “connect to the moment”, suggests Heather. “When you are singing or using the instrument that you’ve grafted over till it becomes part of you, that’s when you should be in ‘the moment,” she says.

Angela notes: “If you’re performing your own songs, it’s different to performing music written by someone else or your ensemble or a cover version. The feeling of vulnerability comes when you’re singing your own song.”

They must go down to the sea again: Odin Dragonfly’s siren call. Picture: Howard Rankin

“But at other times, it can come from a fear of being judged when there’s already a precedent there for singing that song,” says Heather.

Describing herself as “an instrumentalist before a vocalist,” Angela says: “You can express yourself through that instrument, and I believe the ultimate musical experience is not singing your own songs but performing with others.”

Prompted by enjoying the moment when Kate Bush sat alone playing the piano at the end of her concerts in her 2014 residency at London’s Eventim Apollo Hammersmith iand Tori Amos’s solo performances too, Angela played some solo piano concerts but…

…”It turns out there’s very little joy in performing alone, where you learn that’s not what music is for,” she says. “I now have no desire to perform on my own: as a vocalist I love creating harmonies and as a musician I love being part of the overall sound.”

The Sirens motif for the album emerged in part from a song that does not appear on the recording: Sirens Of The Sea. “It’s a classic pop song, an Ibiza trance kind of tune by OceanLab that we kept thinking would be a lovely song for Odin Dragonfly to cover, with a deep, emotional feel to it,” says Heather. “So that became like the intro track to what Sirens would become.”

“It feels like the most personal piece of work I’ve been involved in,” says Angela Gordon

Sirens Of The Sea sparked the nautical theme. “It lent itself to water sound effects at the start of the record and to the songs that we’d already collected like Across The Sea and Gulls,” says Angela. “It wasn’t a case of reverse engineering. It just felt right to call it Sirens.”

The vinyl edition, scheduled for springtime, will continue the theme with its transparent design with splashes of blue, and it has had an impact on the track order of CD, download and LP alike.. “The first side has the darker songs; Side B has the songs where it feels comforting and that it’s all going to be all right,” says Angela.

Track seven, Four And Twenty Moons, marks the change, taking on greater resonance in Covid times. “You think about the two years we’ve been through, with all that tumult, and there’s that feeling of ‘Enough. Blow the candles out’,” says Heather.

And what should we make of the choice of album title? Sirens may carry a Greek mythical status as dangerous temptresses whose singing drew sailors towards the rocks, but Angela counters: “We like to think of them luring you to their songs with their singing.” Odin Dragonfly certainly do that.

Odin Dragonfly release Sirens on Black Sand Records tomorrow on CD and download; the vinyl edition will follow in March or April. They will NOT be supporting One Iota at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, tomorrow as first planned.

If there’s a funny side to Macbeth, be assured The HandleBards will find it

Crowning gory? Not when Kathryn Perkins plays Macbeth in The HandleBards’ Macbeth. Picture: Rah Petherbridge

SOMETHING wickedly funny this way comes in irreverent Shakespeare troupe The HandleBards’ all-female Macbeth, the first burst of York Theatre Royal’s Spring! Season on January 25 and 26.

Anyone fearing that “The Scottish Play” will be all gloom and doom instead will encounter “The Skittish Play”, with the tragedy-trampling promise of a frantic, delirious, full-of-beans farce delivered by Kathryn Perkins, Natalie Simone and Jenny Smith. 

Director Emma Sampson, now returned to Australia, says: “Working with The HandleBards is always the most fun job of my calendar year and the all-female cast has been a delight to direct. They are truly three of the funniest women I have ever met in my life.”

Tom Dixon, co-producer and co-founder of these cycling purveyors of environmentally sustainable Shakespeare, concurs. “Having three women playing all the roles brings real joy to poking fun at all the toxic masculinity in Macbeth. There’s a tradition of finding men dressed as women funny, and this way we can mock men by having women play them.

Jenny Smith’s Donalbain. Picture: Rah Petherbridge

“Lucy Green’s design has gone for a rocker biker theme, so lots of the costumes have bicycle motifs. Macbeth’s leather jacket has tyres on the shoulder pads, and for the motorbikes we have bicycle handlebars and children’s toy parts too.

“We also have Macbeth and MacDuff squaring off and comparing sizes, shall we say, because they’re such ‘manly men’, with all the humour that goes with that when played by women.”

Revelling in The HandleBards’  “very weird ‘Weird Sisters’” taking on all before them in Macbeth, Tom suggests Shakespeare’s tragedy is a joy because it is “such a giving play”, one that continues to draw myriad reinterpretations, whether on stage or screen, where Joel Coen’s The Tragedy Of Macbeth, starring  Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, is the latest addition.  

“I’m sure you can think that Shakespeare wrote some scenes with comedy in mind, not just the Porter’s scene but how Macbeth addresses everyone towards the end,” says Tom, The HandleBards’ artistic director. “That’s something we like to have fun with when finding a theme for our productions.

“In 2015, when we first did Macbeth, we went for a camping theme, with half baked beans/half tomato soup for all the blood, but Emma vetoed that for the new production. Back in 2015, it was the original [all-male] company that performed it, and we were very willing to get messy!

Every witch way: Jenny Smith, left, Natalie Simone and Kathryn Perkins in The Handlebards’ irreverent Macbeth. Picture: Rah Petherbridge

“Maybe Emma thought, ‘that was back then, but we don’t want it to be so messy’. Now it’s more about ‘meta-theatre’, with one of the characters always trying to play the clarinet behind every Macbeth soliloquy, much to Macbeth’s annoyance.”

Extracting the toxic masculinity from Macbeth meets a counterpoint in Lady Macbeth’s plea to “unsex me here”. “It’s that whole idea that being a woman and committing these acts [of murder] is something that a woman just wouldn’t do, which makes her such a fascinating character.

“We do explain why she says it but we come to a silly conclusion, where our Lady Macbeth really loves Strictly Come Dancing. What’s fun for us is that we’ll have these serious discussions about what masculinity means but then that breaks out into silly jokes.”

Not everyone finds The HandleBards’ pursuit of humour to be a barrel of laughs. ”To be fair, we do meet some people who don’t like our style, and that’s fair enough,” says Tom. “It’s not for everybody, but I would argue we have a wider reach than most, because a lot of people think Shakespeare is not for them, but, look, he wrote for the masses.

“We get this situation a lot of the time, where someone, usually a man, comes along with a friend who bought a ticket for them, and they come for a nice picnic, but they leave converted. Our shows can be a gateway to Shakespeare for them, thinking they would now be prepared to go to a more serious production.

Out, damned spot! Natalie Simone’s Lady Macbeth. Picture: Rah Petherbridge

“But our productions are always grounded in the truth of the text. We still hold the text in the highest esteem, and we keep the dialogue in period. We’re Shakespeare nerds but we like to have fun, and with Macbeth, there are so many iconic images, like the floating dagger and the Witches, it gives us themes to explore humorously.”

As a generalisation, The HandleBards can have more fun with a tragedy than a straight-up Shakespeare comedy. “A lot of what Shakespeare finds funny is now outdated, which sets a challenge, so it’s nice to be able to surprise people with a silly version of Macbeth, where we can take the tragedy and make it funny,” says Tom.

Last May’s Theatre Royal visit with Romeo & Juliet showed The HandleBards could make the most of a tricky mix of Mercutio-led comedy making way for murder and tragic teen suicides. Now prepare for an all-female, bewitching, unhinged, dead funny take on Macbeth.

The HandleBards present Macbeth, York Theatre Royal, January 25, 7.30pm, and January 26, 2pm and 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

NE Musicals York’s big cast to start The Wind In The Willows rehearsals on Feb 17

NE Musicals York’s poster for this spring’s production of The Wind In The Willows, The Musical

THE cast is in place for rehearsals to start on February 17 for NE Musicals York’s spring production of The Wind In The Willows, The Musical.

“Yes, we have one of our strongest and largest casts for the most amazing show; a musical by George Stiles & Anthony Drewe and Julian Fellowes that’s brand new to York,” says director Steve Tearle. “It’s an hilarious adventure, a great musical for the whole family.”

Based on Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic, The Wind In The Willows, The Musical is a wild, thrill-seeking tale with a book by Oscar-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and songs by Olivier Award-winning composer-and-lyricist duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

This riotous comedy follows Mole, Rat, Badger and the impulsive Mr Toad, whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious trouble.

When his beloved home comes under threat from the notorious Chief Weasel and his gang of sinister Wild Wooders, Mr Toad must attempt a daring escape, leading to a series of misadventures and a heroic battle to recapture Toad Hall.

“Full of humour and wit, with a gorgeous, soaring score and heart-warming lessons of friendship, The Wind In The Willows is the perfect fit for family audiences everywhere,” says Steve.

Tearle’s production will run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from April 27 to May 1 with a cast led by Lee Harris as Mr Toad; Finlay Butler as Ratty; Tom Henshaw as Badger and Jack Hambleton as Mole. Hambleton was last seen as teenage diarist Adrian Mole in Pick Me Up Theatre’s musical production of The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ at Theatre@41, Monkgate, last month.

Sam Richardson will play Chief Weasel; Steve Tearle, Kenneth Grahame and Magistrate; Neve Greenley, Julian ‘Mouse’ Grahame; Libby Anderson, Portia; Perri Ann Barley, Mrs Otter; Ellie Roberts, Lesser Weasel/Olivia Otter, and Kristian Barley, Horse/Scared Weasel.

Maia Stroud has been cast as Sheryl Stoat; Becky Warboys, Mrs Hedgehog; Paul Jefferson, Mr Hedgehog; Carolyn Jensen, Henrietta Horse/Sheila Stoat; Pat Mortimer, Barge Woman/Fiona Fox; Millie Warboys, Shelly Squirrel/Gaoler’s Daughter, and Erin Greenley, Scarlett Squirrel/Engine Driver.

Henry Barker will be Stephano Squirrel/Engine Driver Assistant; Scott Kendrew, policeman Shaun Squirrel/Car Driver; Toby Jensen, policeman Sam Squirrel/Rob Rabbit; George D Moore, prison guard Freddie Fox; Elizabeth Farrell, Serena Swallow/Opal Otter, and Roxy Hurst, SoSo Swallow/Odessa Otter.

Evie Latham will play Skye Swallow/Octavia Otter; Suraya Pickersgill, Harriet Hedgehog; Ishbel Nicholson, Hannah Hedgehog; Callum Richardson, Rabbit Butler; Sam Reed, Michael Fieldmouse/Richard Rabbit; Jack Reed, Josh Fieldmouse/Robert Rabbit, and Scarlett Waugh, Abbie Fieldmouse/Rebecca Rabbit.

Zachary Pickersgill’s roles will be Ben Fieldmouse/Rich Rabbit; Molly Pashley, Molly Fieldmouse/Rosie Rabbit; Missy Barnes, Missy Fieldmouse/Ruth Rabbit; Aimee Dean-Hamilton, Maisie Mouse; Darcy Powell, Monica Fieldmouse; Elenor Powell, Matilda Mouse; Rosie Musk, Faith Fox/Oval Otter; Julie Blackburn, Grandma Fieldmouse, and Katie Ann Thackeray, Felicity Fox.

Eve Parker has been cast as Fern Fox; Freya-Mai Bayley, Faye Fox; Tracy Hurst, Fran Fox; Megan Snelgrove, Wren Weasel; Freya Chilvers, Winni Weasel; Maia Smith, Ce Ce Swallow/Willow Weasel; LaCie Martin, Willowlow Weasel; Sophie Dean-Hamilton, Sophie Stoat; Sophia Cocker, Sylvia Stoat/Olive Otter; Beth Clavery, Stefani Stoat; Lucy Leaf, Shona Stoat, and Kalayna Barley, Sally Stoat.

Ali Butler Hind will be Sara Stoat; Matthew Musk, Matt Fieldmouse/Brian Rabbit; Abigail Ainley, Fifi Fox; Lexi Brooks, Mango Fieldmouse; Charlotte Smith, Shelby Stoat; Dylan Probert, Reginald Rabbit; Mae Bradley, Stella Stoat; Charlotte Bowman, Flame Fox; Holly Walker, Felicia Fox; Maia Baker, Wendy Weasel; Harry Wright, Will Weasel, and Emily Hagyard, Rascal Weasel.

Tickets for the 7.30pm evening performances and 2.30pm Saturday and Sunday matinees are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Peter Schoenecker invites ‘a new way of looking’ at Pocklington Arts Centre show

Pocklington artist Peter Schoenecker and his wife Janet at the opening of his Pocklington Arts Centre exhibition

PETER Schoenecker’s A New Way Of Looking mixed-media artworks open Pocklington Arts Centre’s 2022 season of studio exhibitions.

On show until Saturday, February 19 are watercolours, acrylics and lino prints by the Pocklington artist, a former graphic designer, who is inspired by the landscape and seascape textures and lighting in and around his Yorkshire home.

Schoenecker has painted since he was a child, and after working mainly in print and graphics during his professional career, retirement has allowed him to pursue more of an interest in fine art while simultaneously offering him a chance to experiment with a variety of techniques.

Abstract Collage by Peter Schoenecker

“My aim is usually to create a mood or atmosphere using colour or black and white,” says Peter. “All the media are enjoyable to work in and switching between them keeps me interested and innovative, hopefully bringing a freshness to the work.”

Schoenecker often combines more than one medium in one piece. Take, for example, the set of acrylic paintings on Perspex that he names among his favourites in the exhibition.

“I really enjoyed creating the three acrylics on Perspex works as this was a new technique for me and one that I feel has many possibilities,” he says. “By using multilayers, new landscapes reveal themselves with the same mood as the original, but more abstract and with a life of their own.”

Branch On Table, lino print, by Peter Schoenecker

He wants visitors to feel galvanised by A New Way Of Looking. “Hopefully, they will take a little time to look more closely into the pictures to see some of the details and perhaps see how they have been created,” he says.

“I also hope they leave inspired to try something different and not stay locked into one medium or style, to be open to learning and trying something new.”

The exhibition is free to view during Pocklington Arts Centre’s opening hours only. For more details, go to pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk or call 01759 301547.

Angel Of Light by Peter Schoenecker

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York Theatre Royal to support artist or company at this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe

York Theatre Royal: Taking part in Pleasance Theatre’s Edinburgh National Partnership programme for this summer’s Fringe festival

A YORKSHIRE or Humber artist or company could receive up to £2,000 and a guaranteed place in the 2022 Pleasance Edinburgh Fringe programme in a York Theatre Royal scheme.

The partnership with the Pleasance Theatre’s Edinburgh National Partnerships programme will provide support both financially and artistically.

York Theatre Royal is “delighted to be working with the Pleasance Theatre once again as part of their programme to identify and support exceptional local artists and companies who want to take work to the Fringe.”

Each partner is a leading national producing house with a commitment to supporting and developing new artists.

Fellow partner organisations in the scheme are: Bristol Old Vic, Leicester Curve, HOME Manchester, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Scotland, and Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.

The Theatre Royal statement adds: “Working with the Pleasance, we will identify dynamic artists at different stages in their careers, with the primary aim of the scheme being to uncover and support the best companies and artists from Yorkshire and Humber, and across the UK, to present work at the Fringe.”

The successful applicant will receive:

* Up to £2,000 financing from the Pleasance towards the costs of presenting their show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

* Guaranteed inclusion within the Pleasance Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme.

* Edinburgh Fringe registration covered by York Theatre Royal.

* A minimum of one week’s in-kind rehearsal and development space at York Theatre Royal.

* A programming option in the Pleasance London transfer run post-Edinburgh Fringe.

* Support to deliver accessible performances as part of the Fringe run.

* Mentorship, support and advice from both York Theatre Royal and the Pleasance leading up to and during the Fringe.

* Support to build new touring relationships with other National Partnership venues.

To apply, artists and companies should send a pitch to admin@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk, detailing the piece of work to be presented (synopsis, design ideas etc), the creatives involved and information on past productions (reviews, footage, etc).

The closing date for applications is Monday, January 31 at 10am. The application form can be found at: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/latest/york-theatre-royal-and-pleasance-pathways-call-out/.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Paul Lewis, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, January 14

Paul Lewis: ” A strain of melancholy threaded through the evening but the result was riveting”

PAUL Lewis is among Britain’s finest pianists. So to have him visit York at the invitation of the British Music Society – which is enjoying a bumper season – was a special privilege.

He presented two of Beethoven’s better-known sonatas, the ‘Pathétique’ and the ‘Appassionata’ (not names assigned by the composer), which framed a Debussy suite and Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasy.

A strain of melancholy threaded through the evening but the result was riveting. The opening Grave of the ‘Pathétique’ was exceptionally spacious, with chord-resolutions delayed to the absolute maximum, so that the succeeding Allegro, taken at lightning pace, felt even quicker by contrast.

The accompanimental figures in the slow movement were rich and dark, which lent the main melody, beautifully sustained, an autumnal fireside warmth. In contrast, the rondo theme in the finale was surprisingly light and frisky at first, becoming progressively more urgent until its resolute last appearance, which recaptured the intensity of the very opening of the work.

Debussy’s Children Corner suite is not kiddies’ music, either for players or listeners. Lewis offered the pretence that it was, touching in the details of these character-pieces with a delicate brush while keeping their droll humour to the fore.

Jimbo’s clumsy lullaby, the doll’s clockwork serenade and a snowy white-out were but preludes to the loneliness of the little shepherd and the Golliwogg’s self- satisfied strut (with a moment of self-doubt thrown in). It was hard not to smile throughout.

Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasy Op 61 in A flat. which dates from 1846, three years before he died, is one of the most forward-looking pieces he ever penned. It belonged next to Debussy in this programme exactly because it is so impressionistic.

Its dance element – the polonaise section of the title – only really becomes clear towards the end, after a considerable stretch of varying, improvisatory ramblings. Lewis excelled in differentiating its many changes of colour, where lesser pianists can get lost in its brambles. In his hands it became a ballade, often tinged with melancholy, with the third of its three main sections building persuasively into dramatic closure.

By now, Lewis’s adrenaline must really have been flowing: volatility was the name of his game in Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’, Op 57 in F minor. Where there was some cloudiness in the first movement’s bass line, its very detail endowed the central variations with a marvellous nobility, stoically underpinning the increasingly taxing decorations.

He preferred to gloss over the ‘ma non troppo’ (not too much) of the third movement’s Allegro – which added to its fearsome frenzy but left little acceleration in reserve for the closing Presto. No matter: it still became a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, daringly delivered.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Nina Simone’s life story as jazz singer and civil rights activist charted in Black Is The Color Of My Voice at Scarborough’s SJT

Florence Odumosu as Nina Simone in Apphia Campbell’s play Black Is The Color Of My Voice

BLACK Is The Color Of My Voice, writer-director Apphia Campbell’s play Inspired by the life of Nina Simone, plays Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre on March 12.

After sell-out seasons in Shanghai, New York, Edinburgh and London’s West End, Seabright Productions’ national tour will take in further Yorkshire performances at the Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax, on March 8 and the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield, on March 16, all three starting at 7.30pm.

Florence Odumosu will play the North Carolina-born jazz singer and civil rights activist in Campbell’s story of Simone seeking redemption after the untimely death of her father. 

Simone reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy, destined for a life in the service of the church, to a renowned jazz vocalist and pianist at the forefront of the civil rights movement.

Campbell, the IASH playwrighting fellow for 2021, is originally from the United States, where she graduated from Florida International University with a BFA in theatre performance.

She wrote Black Is The Color Of My Voice in 2013. In 2017, her show with Meredith Yarbrough, Woke, was presented as part of the Made In Scotland Showcase, where it won a Scotsman Fringe First.

In 2019, she made her West End debut with Black Is The Color Of My Voice at Trafalgar Studios and had a London premiere of Woke at Battersea Arts Centre.

In 2020, her first commission for the BBC, the children’s story Zachary The Zebroid, was aired; she wrote Birdie’s Dilemma for Scenes For Survival (BBC in collaboration with NTS Scotland), and she was among the six writers for the National Theatre of Scotland’s Christmas show, Rapunzel.

Black Is The Color Of My Voice is recommended for age 12 upwards. Scarborough box office: 01723 370 541 or at sjtg.uk.com; Halifax, 01422 349422 or squarechapel.co.uk; Huddersfield, 01484 430528 or thelbt.org.

Rosemary Bentley RIP: ‘Warmth, honesty and compassion at York Theatre Royal’

Rosemary Bentley

THE funeral of York Theatre Royal stalwart Rosemary “Bud” Bentley will be held tomorrow (18/1/2022).

Rosemary, who passed away on Christmas Eve, will journey with family members from their home onto Bishopthorpe Road, down Scarcroft Road and across to English Martyrs RC Church, on Dalton Terrace, for the 10.30am celebration of her life. The family would welcome smiling faces on the route.

Rosemary, who was 74, worked at York Theatre Royal for more than 20 years in catering, costume hire and front of house.

She died from a stroke in York Hospital where she was being treated for fractured ribs following a fall while ushering at the St Leonard’s Place theatre.

Rosemary also was a former teaching assistant at St George’s Primary School for many years, participated in amateur dramatics at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre and was prominent in the Friends of Rowntree Park voluntary organisation, helping to establish the Sensory Garden.

She leaves husband Hugo, son Paul and foster daughter Caitlin. Born and raised in Surrey, she had met Hugo when hiking at Ben Nevis and they moved on York in 1979. They were married for 49 years.

Those attending tomorrow’s Requiem Mass are invited to wear a splash of colour with their mourning attire “as Rosemary would have wanted”. Light refreshments will be served at English Martyrs Church Hall afterwards; Rosemary’s family will be there after a private ceremony at Bishopthorpe Crematorium.

The family has asked that there be flowers only from close relatives but donations to St Leonard’s Hospice would be appreciated greatly.

Hugo thanks everyone who has sent messages of condolence and those who have shared memories of how Rosemary has touched their life in some way.

The Theatre Royal’s website announcement paid tribute to “our much-loved friend and colleague”.  “We all loved Rosemary for her warmth, honesty and passion for our theatre,” it reads. “She lit up our organisation whenever she was around, and we will miss her very, very much. All our thoughts and love are with Hugo and all their family and friends at this time.”

Chief executive Tom Bird said: “We all loved Rosemary, and she loved the theatre. We’re absolutely heartbroken that she’s gone. We’ll remember her warmth, honesty and compassion – and her husband Hugo remains a much-loved and valued part of our team.”

God bless you, Rosemary, and thank you for always adding joy to a night at York Theatre Royal, no matter what took place on that stage, whether good or not so good. The end of a show was often the beginning of our chats, full of your humour, candour and wisdom, sharing that love of the world of theatre, its characters, gossip and magic. Happy, happy memories to treasure at your final curtain.