’TIS the season for Dickens shows to begin, from solo shows to a musical, and to venture into Neverland too as Charles Hutchinson gets his festive skates on.
Fantastical adventure of the week and beyond: Christmas In Neverland, Castle Howard, near York, extended until January 7
CASTLE Howard is transformed with floristry, installations, props, soundscapes and projections to create an enchanting festive experience inspired by J M Barrie’s Peter Pan in Charlotte Lloyd Webber Event Design’s sixth magical installations inside the 300-year-old country house.
Look out for the Darling children’s London bedroom, Mermaid’s Lagoon, Captain Hook’s Cabin and the Jolly Roger as the design team prioritises sustainability and recycled materials, such as paper and glass, and teams up with Leeds theatre company Imitating The Dog, whose immersive projections and soundscapes feature for the first time. Tickets: castlehoward.co.uk.
Thriller of the week: Nunkie Theatre Company in Casting The Runes, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Sunday (26/11/2023), 7.30pm
M R James wrote his ghost stories to perform to friends in the years leading up to the First World War. Today they have lost none of their power to terrify and amuse in the hands of Nunkie Theatre Company, presenting two tales in a one-man show.
Casting The Runes’ story of the unforgettable Mr Karswell, magic lanternist, occult historian and scourge of academics, is partnered by James’s most neglected masterpiece, The Residence At Whitminster, wherein a dark shadow looms over the precinct of a peaceful English church. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Comedy gig of the week: Bridget Christie: Who Am I?, Grand Opera House, York, Sunday (26/11/2023), 7.30pm
BRIDGET Christie is hot, but not in a good way, she says, in her menopause comedy, where she is confused, furious, sweaty and annoyed by everything. At 52, she leaks blood, sweats, thinks Chris Rock is the same person as The Rock and cannot ride the motorbike she bought to combat her mid-life crisis because of early osteoarthritis in her hips and RSI in her wrist.
In Who Am I? Christie wonders why there are so many films, made by men, about young women discovering their sexuality, but none about middle-aged women forgetting theirs. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Dickens of a good storyteller: James Swanton’s Ghost Stories For Christmas, York Medical Society, Stonegate, York, select dates from November 27 to December 11, 7pm
SOON to be seen in Lot No. 249, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Christmas ghost story for the BBC, gothic York storyteller and actor James Swanton revives his seasonal Charles Dickens trilogy: A Christmas Carol (six performances), on the book’s 180th anniversary, The Haunted Man and The Chimes (two each).
“‘All three stories are richly rewarding,” says James. “They brim with Dickens’s eye for capturing the weird, the strange and the odd, from human eccentricities to full blown phantoms. Dickens’s anger at social injustice also aligns sharply with our own – and of course, there’s a lot to be angry about at the moment.” Box office and performance details: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
American musical of the week: Shrek The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinee
LEAVE winter troubles far, far away to join the musical adventure as ogre Shrek (Antony Lawrence) and his buddy Donkey (Brandon Lee Sears) endeavour to complete their quest to defeat the dragon and save Princess Fiona (2016 Strictly champ Joanne Clifton). Look out for James Gillan’s Lord Farquaad too.
Based on the first animated Shrek film, DreamWorks’ musical features such David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori songs as Big Bright Beautiful World and I Know It’s Today alongside Neil Diamond’s climactic I’m A Believer. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Festive musical of the week: NE Theatre York in A Christmas Carol, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee
STEVE Tearle first staged Alan Menken’s musical version of Charles Dickens’s heart-warming story A Christmas Carol for NE Musicals five years ago. Once more he will combine directing a cast of 60 with playing the chain-clanking Jacob Marley.
Kit Stroud plays Ebenezer Scrooge, whose deep dislike of mankind is interrupted on Christmas Eve by three ghosts who, one by one, warn him of the consequences of the suffering he has caused. Will he join them, or will he mend his ways? Tickets update: all but the first two performances have sold out; last few tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday, 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Solo play of the week: Mark Farrelly’s Jarman, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm
MARK Farrelly, the writer-performer behind Quention Crisp: Naked Hope and Howerd’s End, turns his attention to Derek Jarman, iconoclastic filmmaker, painter, Prospect Cottage gardener, gay rights activist and writer.
“His influence remains as strong as it was on the day AIDS killed him in 1994, but his story, one of the most extraordinary lives ever lived, has never been told. Until now,” says Farrelly, whose passionate, daring reminder of the courage it takes to truly live when alive takes Jarman from Dungeness to deepest, brightest Soho. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Gig announcement of the week: Paul Weller, York Barbican, April 17 2024
THE Modfather Paul Weller will head back to York Barbican next spring after kicking off 2024 with a long-awaited January return to Japan and a trip to Australia, highlighted by three nights at the Sydney Opera House. He last performed at the Barbican in April 2022.
In 2023, Weller has played around Europe, performed a handful of Forest Live shows and had a special guest slot to Blur at Wembley Stadium. Next spring’s 14-date tour also takes in Sheffield City Hall on April 11. Tickets go on sale from Friday, December 1 at 10am at ticketmaster.co.uk, seetickets.com, gigantic.com and paulweller.com.
AND then there were thrillers, music, spoken word and comedy gigs, a cricket legend show and smooth crooner tribute for Charles Hutchinson to recommend.
Thriller of the week: Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Grand Opera House, York, November 22 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees
AFTER Pick Me Up Theatre’s September staging at Theatre@41, Monkgate, here comes Lucy Bailey’s “genuinely terrifying” touring production of Agatha Christie’s best-selling 1939 crime novel, starring, among others, Andrew Lancel as William Blore, David Yelland as Judge Wargrave and Sophie Walter as Vera Claythorne.
Ten strangers – eight guests and a butler and his housekeeper wife – are lured to a solitary mansion off the coast of Devon. When a storm cuts them off from the mainland, the true reason for their presence on Soldier Island becomes horribly clear. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Spanish sarcasm of the week: Ignacio Lopez, YO1 Live Lounge, York Barbican, November 18, 8pm
SPANISH export Ignacio Lopez, from Live At The Apollo, The Now Show and Stand-Up Sesh, scrutinises his immigrant upbringing and family tree in a show about clashing cultures and never fitting in.
Sharing his biggest failures with a globe-trotting story of music, comedy and admin cock-ups, exotic outsider comedian Ignacio skewers Britain and Spain with an armada of stand-up sarcasm, silliness and songs. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Comedy times two at Grand Opera House, York: Simon Brodkin, Screwed Up, November 18, 8pm; Lucy Beaumont, The Trouble & Strife, November 19, 8pm
THE most viewed British comedian of all time on TikTok, notorious prankster and Lee Nelson creator Simon Brodkin rips into celebrity culture, social media, the police, Putin, Prince Andrew and Jesus in his new stand-up show, Screwed Up. Nothing is off limits, from his mental health to his five arrests and his family.
An award-winning stand-up (and actress) before she met Leeds comedian and now husband Jon Richardson, Hull-born Lucy Beaumont lets slip on her rollercoaster world through a surrealist lens. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Chat show of the week: An Audience With Henry Blofeld, York Theatre Royal, November 20, 7.30pm
TEST Match Special alumnus Henry Blofeld, 84, will discuss rather more than the art of cricket commentary. “If you think you’re going to learn how to play a forward defensive, you’ll be sadly disappointed,” he forewarns.
Instead, expect his colourful life story in a tongue-in-cheek show, full of after-dinner anecdotes and meandering digressions where Blowers pokes fun at himself and his TMS gaffes and his subjects veer from intergalactic travel to horticulture to mountaineering. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Folk gig of the week: The Trials Of Cato, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm
2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato pay homage to the folk tradition while twisting old bones into something febrile and modern, combining stomping tunes and captivating stories.
Formed in Beirut, Lebanon, the Welsh/English band have been based in Britain since 2016, releasing the albums Hide And Hair in 2018 and Gog Magog, named after the mythical giant of Arthurian legend and a Cambridgeshire hilltop, last year. Mandolin player and vocalist Polly Bolton has joined the trio after leaving The Magpies. Support act will be Annie Dressner, once of New York City, now of Cambridgeshire. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk
Underground movement of the week: Navigators Art & Performance, The Basement Sessions, The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York, November 25, doors, 7pm
YORK creative hub Navigators Art & Performance launches the Basement Sessions series of Music, Spoken Word and Comedy – Live, Local and Loud! with a bill of performers from the York area and “a few surprises up the sleeve”.
In the line-up are punk/post-punk/alt. rock/indie band What Fresh Hell, playing their farewell gig; pop, soul and acoustic singer-songwriter Jess Gardham; comedian John Pease; performance artist Carrieanne Vivianette, exploring the legacies of radical women through voice, movement and improvisation, and jazz-turned-punk Battle of the Bands finalists Attacker TV. Box office: bit.ly/nav-base-1 or on the door.
Tribute show of the week: Atila Huseyin in King For A Day: The Nat King Cole Story, National Centre for Early Music, York, November 26, 7pm
ATILA Huseyin combines live music, narration and projected archive images and footage in his concert celebration of one the 20th century’s greatest vocalists and entertainers, Nat King Cole. of the Twentieth Century: Nat King Cole.
Accompanied by world-class musicians, Huseyin performs such favourites as Nature Boy, Unforgettable and When I Fall in Love alongside stylish reworkings of his lesser-known gems. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Looking ahead: Chris McCausland, Yonks!, Grand Opera House, York, November 10 2024
LIVERPUDLIAN comedian Chris McCausland will follow up his 140-date Speaky Blinder tour with 104 shows on his Yonks! travels in January to May and September to December 2024. Why Yonks? “I’ve been called an ‘overnight success’, even though I’ve been doing this for yonks,” he reasons after more than two decades on the stand-up circuit.
This year, McCausland, 46, has hosted his own travel series, Wonders Of The World I Can’t See, on Channel 4. His Work In Progress show at Selby Town Hall on Wednesday (8pm) has sold out. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
PYRAMID Gallery, in Stonegate, York, will hold a second opening of its festive show, Comfort And Joy, on Friday (17/11/2023), when award-winning glass maker Allister Malcolm and Alison Vincent will be in attendance from 3pm to 7pm.
“We’ll be serving drinks and nibbles in celebration of their work and their success following being on BBC One’s Make It At Market, which was first aired in January,” says gallery owner Terry Brett, ahead of the show’s repeat airing on BBC One on November 24 at 7.30pm.
“As part of Allister’s mentorship with Alison, he arranged for her to have an exhibition of her work here at Pyramid. We’re very grateful for the mention of Pyramid on the show and for the continued success of our relationship with both Allister and Alison.”
Terry adds: “We’ll also have former teacher-turned-artist Jo Kenny here for Friday’s special event. Jo and her colleague Caroline White have created Joy Jars for our Christmas show, and Jo will be here to talk about her processes and inspirations.”
Comfort And Joy, a celebration of art and sculpture all made by hand in the UK, will run until January 20 2024, featuring ceramics, glass, prints and paintings.
“From the affordable to the aspirational, we have curated a very joyful show for the festive period filled with fantastic art for sale for presents or for your own home,” says Terry.
Artists include: Lesley Birch, paintings; Emma Whitelock, paintings; Dinny Pocock, needlefelt sculpture; Helen Martino, ceramic sculpture; Anita Klein, linocuts and paintings; Paul Smith, sculpture; Peter Hayes, sculpture; Joy McMillan, glass sculpture and jewellery; Tracy Knowles, stained glass; Jo Kenny, blown glass, and Sarah Williams, paintings.
Hilke Macintyre, paintings, prints and ceramics; Eva Mileusnic, ceramics; Eliza Southwood, prints; Hannah Gibson, glass sculpture; E&M Glass, glass sculpture; Morag Reekie, glass sculpture; Fidelma Massey, bronze and ceramic sculpture; Louise Connell, mixed media sculpture; Kate Buckley, porcelain origami, and many more. Jewellery by more than 75 makers features too.
POLITICAL dramas, a heap of big comedy names, a newly revived Eighties’ band and a belated American debut will keep Charles Hutchinson out and about.
Controversial play of the week: The Merchant Of Venice 1936, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm, plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees
WATFORD Palace Theatre’s ground-breaking touring production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice has been adapted and directed by Brigid Larmour from an original idea by co-creator and actress Tracy-Ann Oberman.
As the tide of fascism swells in 1936, Oberman’s Shylock is a strong-willed single mother who runs a pawnbroking business from her house in Cable Street, where Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts will soon march. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Comedy at the treble at Grand Opera House, York: Dave Gorman, Monday, 7.30pm; Ross Noble, Wednesday, 8pm; Paul Smith, 7.30pm
DAVE Gorman’s Powerpoint To The People show aims to demonstrate that a powerpoint presentation need not involve a man in a grey suit standing behind a lectern and saying “next slide please”. Far more important things demand analysis, he urges.
Geordie surrealist Ross Noble returns to York on his 21st tour, Jibber Jabber Jamboree, for another journey into inspired, improvised nonsensical comedy with detours galore. Paul Smith’s Joker gig, full of audience interaction and everyday true stories, has sold out. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Exhibition launch of the week: Not Black Friday But Colour Friday!, Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, until December 22
ORIGINAL art by more than 70 artists features in the Christmas exhibition at Kentmere House Gallery. “Among them is Jonathan Hooper, a Leeds painter deservedly becoming recognised, winning awards and now showing in London and at the Millenium Gallery in Sheffield,” says gallery owner and curator Ann Petherick.
“Then there’s Susan Bower, a Marmite painter – most love her, a few don’t! Look out for Andrew Morris’s delightful view of Knaresborough’s marketplace. We have new work arriving all the time.” Open any day, 11am to 5pm; ring 01904 656507 or 07801 810825 or take pot luck.
Tribute show of the week: The Chicago Blues Brothers, Cruisin’ For A Bluesin’ Tour, Grand Opera House, York, November 12, 7.30pm
JOIN Jake and Elwood, The Sweet Soul Sisters and the amazing CBB Band for a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, hard-hitting night of soul, rhythm & blues, country and Motown. Expect exuberant spirit, irresistible energy and even a few surprises. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Premiere of the week: Lumar Productions in Sea Stones, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee
AFTER eight novels and a regular column in The York Press, Tim Murgatroyd has written his debut play, 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 Murgatroyd. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Double act of the week:Wright & Grainger in Orpheus, Rise@Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, York, Wednesday, 7pm to 9pm
ALEXANDER Flanagan Wright and Phil Grainger’s Greek myth adaptation in spoken word and song heads to Rise after Adelaide Fringe award-winning success in Australia and at the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as back home at Stillington Mill.
Dave is turning 30. Eurydice is a tree nymph. Bruce Springsteen is on the karaoke. Cue a tale of dive bars, side streets, ancient gods and how far you would go for love. Box office: bluebirdbakery.co.uk/rise.
Gig of the week: Ben Folds, What Matters Most Tour, Grand Opera House, York, Thursday,7.30pm
AT 57, North Carolina pianist, songwriter, author and podcast host Ben Folds plays his debut York show in support of What Matters Most, his first studio album since 2015.
At the only Yorkshire gig of his nine-date British and Irish tour, Folds will be combining his new material with songs from his 35-year career. Guitarist and singer Lau Noah, from Catalonia via New York, is the support act. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Jazz gig of the week: Snake Davis & Friends, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm
JAZZ At PAC presents Snake Davis, saxophonist to the stars, from Paul McCartney, James Brown, Tina Turner and Eurythmics to Take That, Amy Winehouse, M-People and Lisa Stansfield.
First making his mark in York band Zoot & The Roots, Davis plays not only the saxophone family, but flutes, whistles and an ancient Japanese wind instrument, the Shakuhachi, too. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Fantastic day to see: Haircut 100, York Barbican, Friday, 8pm
NICK Heyward’s short-lived Brit-funk band Haircut 100 are back together after more than 40 years, following up May’s Pelican West 40th anniversary shows in London and Oxford with the 15-date Haircut 100% Live tour that ends in York, their only Yorkshire location.
“We are coming back with a tour to beat all tours this autumn,” says Beckenham-born Heyward, now 62. “All the hits that you love [Favourite Shirts (Boys And Girls), Love Plus One, Fantastic Day et al] and new tracks that we are bursting to share with you.” The support act will be Brighton band of brothers Barbara. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Lovely jubbly look-ahead: Only Fools And Horses The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, November 5 to 9 2024
DIRECT from a four-year sold-out West End run, Only Fools And Horses The Musical is heading to York in Paul Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan’s show, based on John Sullivan’s record-breaking 1980s’ BBC comedy.
Directed by Caroline Jay Ranger, it features a script and original score by John’s son and Whitehouse, bringing Peckham rogues Del Boy, Rodney, Grandad, Cassandra, Raquel, Boycie, Marlene, Trigger, Denzil, Mickey Pearce, Mike the Barman and the Driscoll Brothers to the stage with wide-boy humour and 20 songs. Bonnet de douche! Box office: atgtickets.co.uk.
Recommended but sold out already
THREE nights, three sell-outs for South Shields humorist Sarah Millican at York Barbican from November 14 to 16 on her Late Bloomer tour, where she discusses Sarah then and now, dinners and lady gardens at 8pm nightly. Come along, laugh at her, with her, beside her, reads the invitation.
In Focus: Best dog in show: Zeus the collie collars role in Jack And The Beanstalk
YOUNG Kennel Club Crufts trophy winner Zeus has won a lead role in this winter’s pantomime at York Theatre Royal.
The six-year-old Border Collie, from York, will make his stage debut alongside EastEnders star Nina Wadia, returnee panto dame Robin Simpson and CBBC’s Raven star James Mackenzie in Jack And The Beanstalk from December 8 to January 7 2024.
A theatre spokesperson says: “Zeus’s amazing audition gave us all paws for thought. He’s a natural stage performer whose dogged determination to win the role was a real tail-wagging moment.”
Already Zeus is a winner on the canine stage with three Young Kennel Club Crufts trophies to his credit. Those closest to him say he is very agile and loves to play but has an “off switch”and likes to wind down too.
Pantomime director Juliet Forster was delighted to hear that Zeus is “very eager to please, playful and up for learning” as she will be training him for his acting debut.
Zeus loves cream cheese, squeezy cheese too, and sometimes has carrots for breakfast. He eats at the table and even has his own chair. His favourite toys are balls and he has a collection of soft toys.
Zeus enjoys rounding up horses but not, as you might expect from a Border Collie, rounding up sheep. He is, however, best friends with two sheep, Maisie Midnight Fluffington and Wallace.
He is yet to meet cows but will have his first close encounter with the bovine world in the rehearsal room as one of his co-stars will be Dave the Cow.
Dave is a rare breed of pantomime cow. “You’d almost think Dave is human,” says York actor and musician Anna Soden, who will inhabit the role on her own, rather than the usual two people squeezed uncomfortably into a cow costume.
Writer Paul Hendy, director of York Theatre Royal’s producing partner Evolution Productions, says: “In 19 years of writing and producing pantomimes, we’ve never had a human cow before. We wanted to do something different and director Juliet Forster was very open to that. It makes more opportunities in the show for the cow. It’s a much bigger part than usual. Dave is very much one of the gang.
“Our company is called Evolution for a reason: we are constantly evolving. One of the reasons pantomime has survived for 150 years or more is that it changes. There has to be a formula but within that you have to be original.”
Evolution is producing three Jack And The Beanstalk pantomimes around the country this winter. York has Dave; the shows at The Grove, Dunstable (starring EastEnders’ Steve McFadden, by the way), and Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury, will have a more traditional cow.
Meanwhile, the Theatre Royal’s legendary pantomime cow Patrica is heading for pastures new this Christmas with a role in Bridlington Spa Theatre’s pantomime, Beauty And The Beast.
Patricia’s career has taken in television appearances in The Crystal Maze with pantomime stalwart Christopher Biggins and Bargain Hunt, as well as starring in her own series of moo-vies on You Tube.
York Theatre Royal presents Jack And The Beanstalk, December 8 to January 7 2024. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
FIVE days of short films lead off a week long on Latin pop and school rock musicals, plus science and sticks, dance moves and festive designs, as Charles Hutchinson reports.
Festival of the week: Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York city centre, November 8 to 12
THE 13th edition of York’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival combines 300 films and 15 venues in a five-day showcase of worldwide independent film that champions emerging creative talent.
Guest programmes explore the climate crisis, Black British cinema and LGBTQ+ experiences. Look out too for the Aesthetica Games Lab, in celebration of video game culture, plus multiple masterclasses, networking sessions, kids’ workshops, AI workshops and the VR Lab’s selection of 360 (degree) and immersive film experiences. York residents can save 50 per cent each day with the York Days Discount. Full programme and tickets: asff.co.uk.
Exhibition launch of the week: Comfort And Joy, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, November 4, 11am to 3pm, until mid-January 2024
PYRAMID Gallery’s Christmas show, Comfort And Joy, combines paintings, prints, ceramics, sculpture and glass. Look out for needlepoint by Dinny Pocock, jewellery by Joy McMillan and sculpture by Paul Smith, Lynn Muir, Helen Martino, Peter Hayes, Eva Mileusnic, Gwen Vaughan, Fidelma Massey and Louise Connell, among others.
On show too will be paintings and original prints by Sarah Williams, Anita Klein, Lesley Birch, Eliza Southwood, Emma Whitelock, Trevor Price, Mychael Barratt and Hilke Macintyre, porcelain origami by Kate Buckley, plus glass by Keith Cummings, E&M Glass, Hannah Gibson, Tracey Knowles, Will Shakspeare, Morag Reekie, Jo Kenny and more besides. Attending today’s launch will be Smith, Birch, McMillan, Whitelock and Knowles.
Inspired event: York Artists & Designer Makers’ Annual Christmas Show, York Cemetery Chapel, Cemetery Road, York, November 4 and 5, 10am to 5pm
YORK artists and designers return to York Cemetery Chapel this weekend for their Inspired festive showcase. Adrienne French will be exhibiting paintings; Jo Bagshaw and Richard Whitelegg, jewellery; Elliot Harrison, illustrations; Catherine Boyne-Whitelegg, pottery; John Watts and Wilf Williams, furniture; Petra Bradley, textiles; Sally Clarke, prints, and Simon Palmour, photography.
Science show of the week: Tutti Frutti and One Tenth Human in The Lightbulb Princess, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, November 5, 2pm
LEEDS company Tutti Frutti Productions and Lancaster’s One Tenth Human team up for a magical, fun-filled 50-minute extravaganza for children aged four and upwards that explores the science behind electricity.
Kai’s sister Ray is determined that Mum will enjoy a perfect Christmas. It may be way too early, but already she has Kai and Ali hunting everywhere for decorations. When they find tree-top sparkly fairy Filomina, an unexpected adventure begins, one where they will need your help in a show full of electrifying storytelling and original songs. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Song and dance of the week: An Evening With Anton Du Beke And Friends, York Theatre Royal, November 6, 7.30pm
STRICTLY Come Dancing legend and judge Anton Du Beke sashays into York with his live band, guest singer Lance Ellington and dancers for a fab-u-lous evening of song, dance and laughter. The ballroom king will be combining songs and dances that have inspired him with behind-the-scenes stories from his many years on Strictly. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
New musical of the week: La Bamba!, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; Wednesday and Saturday, 2.30pm
NOT to be confused with the 1987 film of the same name or Richie Valens’ teenage hit from 1958, La Bamba! is a new musical fiesta of passion, pride and Latin pop anthems starring Strictly Come Dancing champion Pasha Kovalev, The Wanted’s Siva Kaneswaran and rising star Inês Fernandez, choreographed by Strictly’s Graziano Di Prima.
Follow young Los Angeles dreamer Sofia as she takes her first steps toward stardom and witnesses the power of music to unite communities. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Children’s show of the week: Freckle Productions in Stick Man, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 4.30pm; Wednesday, 10.30am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm
WHAT begins as a morning jog becomes a misadventure for Stick Man: a dog wants to play Fetch, a swan builds a nest with him, and he even ends up atop a fire. How will Stick Man return to the family tree in time for Christmas?
Adapting Julia Donaldson’s book, Freckle Productions combine puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves in the 55-minute performance. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Are you ready to rock?York Light Youth in School Of Rock, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee
YORK Light Youth’s tenth anniversary show is the York premiere of the technically and musically challenging musical School Of Rock, combining young performers aged ten to 17 and York Light Opera Company adults.
Based on the 2003 film, the storyline follows Jonny Holbek’s Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rock star, who vows to turn his clueless prep school students into a rock band to enter Battle of the Bands. Along the way, Dewey finds romance, self-worth, a proper job, while initiating the children and their parents in the beauty of rock. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Recommended but fully booked
QUEEN of British soul Beverley Knight’s York Barbican concert on Thursday has sold out, as has indie pop trio Scouting For Girls’ gig there the next night.
In Focus:Gigs of the week: Teenage Fanclub on tour in Leeds and Sheffield with new album Nothing Lasts Forever in tow
GLASGOW indie legends Teenage Fanclub follow up September’s release of 11th full-length studio album Nothing Lasts Forever with a 12-date November tour, taking in Yorkshire gigs in Leeds on Wednesday (sold out) and Sheffield on November 12
On songs looking for positives while faced with the grim realities of the 21st century, songwriters and guitarists Raymond McGinley and Norman Blake are joined by Francis Macdonald on drums, Dave McGowan on bass and Euros Childs on keyboards.
Light is a recurring theme, both as a metaphor for hope and as an ultimate destination further down the road. That said, although McGinley and Blake found themselves covering similar ground, it was pure coincidence.
McGinley says:“We never talk about what we’re going to do before we start making a record. We don’t plan much other than the nuts and bolts of where we’re going to record and when.
“That thing about light was completely accidental; we didn’t realise that until we’d finished half the songs. The record feels reflective, and I think the more we do this thing, the more we become comfortable with going to that place of melancholy, feeling and expressing those feelings.”
Blake reflects: “These songs are definitely personal. You’re getting older, you’re going into the cupboard getting the black suit out more often. Thoughts of mortality and the idea of the light must have been playing on our minds a lot.
“The songs on the last record were influenced by the break-up of my marriage. It was cathartic to write those songs. These new songs are reflective of how I’m feeling now, coming out of that period.
“They’re fairly optimistic, there’s an acceptance of a situation and all of the experience that comes with that acceptance. When we write, it’s a reflection of our lives, which are pretty ordinary.
“We’re not extraordinary people, and normal people get older. There’s a lot to write about in the mundane. I love reading Raymond Carver. Very often there’s not a lot that happens in those stories, but they speak to lived experience.”
While the vocals and finishing touches on Nothing Lasts Forever were added at McGinley’s place in Glasgow, the music was recorded in an intense ten-day period in the bucolic Welsh countryside at Rockfield Studios, near Monmouth, in late August.
This environment led to a record full of soft breezes, wide skies, beauty and space. “We like to get something out of where we go, and you can definitely hear a stamp of Rockfield on the record,” says McGinley.
“We recorded our album Howdy there in the late ’90s. Prior to that, I’d been a bit reluctant to go as everyone seemed to record there, especially if you were signed to Creation, but I thought I’d go and have a look at the place. “
McGinley continues: “When I went down there, I loved the fact that there’s no memorabilia about anyone who’s ever been in the studio. The only visual musical reference is a picture of [pioneering space age record producer} Joe Meek on their office wall.
“Anyway, over 20 years after our first visit, we decided to go back. When you’re there, it feels like your place. We’re really rubbish at trying to find words to describe how our music sounds, but maybe because we recorded in Rockfield in late summer, there’s something pastoral about the record.”
Blake, McGinley, Macdonald, McGowan and Childs arrived at the residential studio without a fixed plan. Their confidence and ease with working together meant the record came together quickly.
McGinley says: “When we got offered ten days in Rockfield, we weren’t ready in our minds but then we just thought, ‘**** it’ and went for it. If you’re sitting around waiting for the stars to align, you can end up never doing anything. We turned up and worked our way through ideas, and came up with some while we were there.
“The song Foreign Land was born in the studio. If we hadn’t gone there at that point through happenstance, that song wouldn’t exist. We like to let things happen. As people, we find a deadline inspiring. We like to put ourselves on the spot and see what happens. We usually get away with it. This record is the cliche of the blank canvas, which thankfully we managed to fill.”
Blake adds:“We’ve all been playing together for such a long time. In the past, whoever had written the song would have been the director. ‘This is how I’m hearing the drums, if you could play the bass like this’…We don’t do that now.
“Raymond or myself would just bring in the idea and people would listen and play what works with it. We’d play for a couple of hours and that would be the arrangement. There’s a trust that comes from knowing each other such a long time, a kind of telepathy. Everyone knows where they fit in the puzzle.”
The seven-minute acoustic closing track, I Will Love You, looks to a point beyond the fury and polarisation of our modern discourse, to a time when“the bigots are gone/after they apologise/for all the harm that they’ve done”.
McGinley says: “In many ways, us-and-them-ism has taken over the world. I Will Love You is looking for positivity but it’s being totally fatalistic at the same time. This s**t will exist forever, what are you going to do about it?
“I came up with the line ‘I will love you/until the flags are put down/and the exceptionalists are buried under the ground’ while I was playing the guitar. I started wondering what that was all about and where it might go. It’s looking for positives within a fatalistic, negative view of human nature.”
The full track listing is: Foreign Land; Tired Of Being Alone; I Left A Light On; See The Light; It’s Alright; Falling Into The Sun; Self-Sedation; Middle Of My Mind; Back To The Light and I Will Love You.
Teenage Fanclub play Leeds Brudenell Social Club, Wednesday, doors 7.30pm, sold out; Leadmill, Sheffield, November 12, 7.30pm. Support comes from Sweet Baboo. Box office for Sheffield: leadmill.co.uk.
THE 13th edition of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival will be bigger and better than ever with big industry names, new features, more masterclasses and a 50 per cent YorkDays residents’ discount each day.
Significantly too, the festival is determined to highlight York’s status as the UK’s first and only UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, not only through a festival with one eye on the future, but also through the newly launched Reignite drive, propelled by Aesthetica director Cherie Federico, to highlight the financial impact of York’s creative sector and the need to transform York into a knowledge-based economy.
“The time for complacency is over,” says Cherie. “York has a unique cultural heritage and we must re-define ourselves as a regional city that thinks nationally and internationally, with a strategy for start-ups, education and inward investment.”
At the heart of the five-day festival, spread across 15 venues from November 8 to 12, will be 300 films in competition, including new works by Rick Gervais, Maxine Peake, Ben Whishaw and Oscar-winner Tim Webber, from Framestore.
The 2023 Official Selection of shorts, feature-length films and documentaries VR experiences and games screenings has been curated into five themes: Now, In This Very Moment; Standing at the Threshold of Change; A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With One Step; Be Free From Yourself and It’s Nice to Meet You.
The Guest Programmes for 2023 come from BFI Doc Society, Iris Prize and We Are Parable, among others, while the New Wave initiative provides a platform for up-and-coming directors. Issues such as gender, identity, the climate crisis and social injustices will be prominent throughout the festival film choice.
Festival films span 12 genres: advertising; animation; artists’ film; comedy; dance; documentary; drama, experimental; family friendly; fashion; music video and thriller. They can be experienced on the big screen at assorted locations during the festival run or streamed from home via the festival’s Virtual Platform, open for viewing On Demand until November 30, along with the masterclasses.
Top film industry organisations will be participating in more than 60 masterclasses and practical workshops for adults and children from November 8 to 11, with pre-booking recommended.
The 2023 event welcomes directors and cinematographers such asSarah Gavron (Rocks), Mark Jenkin (Bait), Nicolas Brown (1917), Diana Olifirova (Heartstopper) and Kathryn Ferguson (director of the Sinead O’Connor documentary Nothing Compares), to give sessions on their experience working in the industry, from editing, sound design and cinematography to screenwriting, interactive storytelling, games, AI (artificial intelligence) and VR (virtual reality).
Festival-goers can go behind the scenes with multi-award-winning British animation studio Aardman; BBC Studioswill demonstrate its work in the Natural History Unit, producing series with David Attenborough, while Ridley Scott Associates will delve delves into The Future of Storytelling.
Aesthetica also welcomeGeorge Lucas’s VFX studio, Industrial Light and Magic, alongside Oscar winners Framestore, to discuss the world of visual effects and post-production.
One event asks What is the Role of the Intimacy Co-Ordinator, while another looks at the female gaze and what it means for women to depict women. Other compelling topics will be: Next Level Scriptwriting, Developing Award-Winning Animations; Where to Shoot Your Film; the Power of True Stories and Composing for Screen.
Practical sessions take place at Pitcher & Piano, the StreetLife Hub, the Guildhall and York Theatre Royal, hosted by key organisations, from the London College of Communication to the Pitch Film Fund.
Festival visitors can travel to the past to uncover the magic oftraditional printmaking or look to the future inTestbed of AI Generators and Writing in 360°: A Practical Workshop. Look out too for sessions on how to pitch, a virtual production demonstration and a showcase of Canon’s cinema cameras.
Children can learn to direct, edit and make their own films in Do You Want to Be a Director and How to Make a Film, led by the Pauline Quirke Academy. New for 2023 is How to Make a Game and Do You Want to be a Game Developer? from Impact Games: a chance for young people to learn the secrets behind their favourite games. Pre-booking is essential.
In its 13th year, ASFF becomes the first British film festival to introduce a Games Lab, at Spark:York, inviting audiences to explore new worlds and interactive storytelling with 40 new independent games to play in a celebration of game culture, design and production on PC, console and headset. Workshops, events and masterclasses will accompany the Games Lab too.
“The video game industry is undergoing dramatic change culturally and technologically and is now larger than the film industry and music industry combined,” says festival director Cherie Federico. “We see journeys into narrative design as a crucial way to understand how storytelling is evolving in the 21st century. We see gaming much like film, but as a player you are involved in bringing a story to life.
“The inaugural Games Lab marks a new chapter in the festival’s story and reflects how the screen industry evolving. It’s an exciting moment to take stock of and recognise the impact of gaming culture, and how it touches our daily lives.”
Twenty VR projects in the Screen School VR Lab will be part of the festival’s ever-expanding offering of Virtual and Expanded Reality experiences, presented in tandem with Investigative Games and Kit Monkman’s York-based special effects studio Viridian FX.
This year’s Aesthetica Fringecomprises a sound installation, looking at feminism and women’s experiences in public places, at Bedern Hall; the Inside [Out] exhibition by three female photographers, celebrating women behind the lens, at City Screen Picturehouse; a display of contemporary film posters from the Official Selection at StreetLife Hub and workshops in printmaking, gaming and film for children and adults.
For the festival programme and tickets, head to: asff.co.uk.
THE British Museum touring exhibition Drawing Attention: Emerging Artists In Dialogue has opened at York Art Gallery as part of a new Season of Drawing.
Compelling up-and-coming names in the field of contemporary drawing are displayed alongside works by celebrated artists within the British Museum collection of prints and drawings.
These new acquisitions include works by some of the youngest living artists ever collected by the British Museum, presented in tandem with works by celebrated artists from Mary Delany and Édouard Manet to Barbara Hepworth, Andy Warhol and Yinka Shonibare.
In this surprising and thought-provoking selection, emerging artists take the medium of drawing in new directions and use innovative approaches. A wide range of techniques and practices are represented, including drawings using make-up on face wipes by Sin Wai Kin and a drawing made with chalk collected from the White Cliffs of Dover by Josephine Baker.
Artists show how drawing, often considered a quiet or private medium, can be used to challenge social norms, explore identity and protest injustice. Catherine Anyango Grünewald has described the time and labour invested in her monumental drawings as a “direct homage” to their subjects, often the victims of institutional crimes.
The painstaking detail of Irish artist Miriam de Búrca’s drawings of clods of earth from cilliní – the unmarked graves of those deemed unfit for Christian burial – forces us to confront an uncomfortable history.
Isabel Seligman, the British Museum’s curator of modern and contemporary drawing, says: “We are excited to share our dynamic and growing collection of contemporary drawings with York Art Gallery, alongside treasures of our historic collection.
“This touring exhibition enables us to highlight over 20 new acquisitions by some of the freshest and most compelling new voices in the field, exploring questions of identity, memory and materiality, and using innovative materials and processes.”
Drawing Attention: Emerging Artists In Dialogue forms part of a broader Season of Drawing that will run until April 21 2024, taking in the annual Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition from February 15 to April 21.
This season of events and exhibitions includes a new commission by artist Ugonna Hosten, an exhibition of works created by participants in the York Art Gallery’s Teenage Art School and a drawing studio space for visitors to make their own drawings.
Ugonna Hosten’s commission, chi; Altarpieces, Liturgy & Devotion, chronicles a heroine’s enchanted journey to initiate a relationship with her chi, a personal guiding spirit central to the Igbo-speaking people of Southeast Nigeria.
Ugonna uses the process of drawing to investigate and reimagine alternate precolonial histories. Paintings from the York Art Gallery collection connect her research to her Christian upbringing, while ceramics expand on relationships between the use of water vessels in sacred rituals and ceremonies.
Multi-disciplinary artist Ugonna works across media encompassing collage, drawing and printmaking. Born in Nigeria, she migrated to Great Britain as a child, and in many ways her work seeks to explore the notion of duality – namely earthly and spiritual – as being central to the human experience. Themes of myth as a form of reality and the realm of the unconscious are prevalent in her art.
Ugonna’s route into fine art was via a BA Honours in Criminology that led to a career in the civil service. Those early explorations into the human mind on her degree programme filter into her work now, her artistic practice being an evolution of a sort in piecing fragments together and investigating experiences; historically, personally and imagined.
Seeking to convey the dimensions of the self and its connection to the collective unconscious, she considers her exploration as building on the rich legacy and tradition of storytelling and myth making.
As part of the Season of Drawing, Ugonna has developed and led York Art Gallery’s annual Teenage Art School programme. Participants created work guided by their own experiences and interests, using a broad interpretation of drawing that aligns with Ugonna’s own practice in an exploration of the relationship between printmaking and drawing.
The installation of their works alongside Ugonna’s commission offers visitors the chance to reflect on the vast creative and interpretive potential of drawing.
With that in mind, a range of drop-in sessions and bookable events will run in the specially created Drawing Studio, where visitors can have a go at different types of drawing. Becky Gee, York Art Gallery’s curator of fine art, says: “The Season of Drawing is a dynamic series of exhibitions and events that we hope will inspire visitors to think deeply about different aspects of drawing, and be inspired to try it for themselves.
“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to bring together so many different artists, from the famous and contemporary names of the British Museum to our own Teenage Art School participants.”
Among the Emerging Artists In Dialogue is Charmaine Watkiss, exhibiting her 2021 pencil, water-soluble graphite, watercolour and ink work Double Consciousness: Be Aware Of One’s Intentions, acquired by the British Museum with Art Fund and Rootstein Hopkins Foundation support.
Charmaine, who lives and works in London, completed her MA in Drawing at Wimbledon College of Art, 2018. Her work is concerned with what she calls “memory “, wherein she creates narratives primarily through research into the African Caribbean diaspora, then mapped onto female figures.
Charmaine depicts herself as a conduit to relay stories that speak of a collective experience; starting with an idea, then allowing intuition and a dialogue with the work to take over. Her practice addresses themes of ritual, tradition, ancestry, mythology and cosmology.
Since her first gallery solo show, The Seed Keepers, for Tiwani Contemporary Gallery, London, in 2021, she has been investigating the herbal healing traditions of Caribbean women; especially those of her mother’s generation, connecting those traditions through colonisation back to their roots in Africa.
In 2022, Charmaine undertook a six-week residency in southwest France at Launchpad LAB that enabled her to explore nature and ecology in a more focussed way, and to combine drawing with making sculptural forms.
On her return, she was selected as a commissioned artist for the 12th edition of the Liverpool Biennial 2023. This allowed her to develop her practice further by creating an installation that consisted of life-sized drawings and sculpture, embodying a healing frequency in response to Liverpool’s troubled historical past.
Charmaine’s first institutional solo show, The Wisdom Tree, ran at Leeds Art Gallery from May to October last year, combining her signature large-scale drawings with more private artworks and notebooks in works that fused her interests in herbalism, alchemy and history and drew on her research into the medicinal and physical capabilities of plants.
Drawing Attention: Emerging Artists In Dialogue runs at York Art Gallery, launching the Season of Drawing, until January 28 2024. The season is backed by the Little Greene Paint Company.
To find out more about the exhibition, the Season of Drawing events programme and how to book tickets (£7, concessions available) at www.yorkartgallery.org.uk.
The full list of emerging artists in the Drawing Attention exhibition
EMII Alrai (born 1993); Catherine Anyango Grünewald (b.1982); Josephine Baker (b.1990); Miriam de Búrca (b.1972); Somaya Critchlow (b.1993); Jake Grewal (b.1994); David Haines (b.1969); Rosie Hastings & Hannah Quinlan (b.1991); Mary Herbert (b.1988); Jessie Makinson (b.1985); Sam Metz, Jade Montserrat (b.1981); Ro Robertson (b. 1984); Sin Wai Kin (b.1991), and Charmaine Watkiss (b.1964).
EXPERIENCE a vast range of films from around the world with the Official Selection, Guest Programmes and New Wave screenings. This year’s outstanding selection includes films by Ricky Gervais, Maxine Peake, Ben Whishaw and Oscar-winner Tim Webber.
The Official Selection is curated with more than 300 films spanning 12 exciting genres, covering comedy, drama, animation, documentary, family friendly, thriller and more. Guest Programmes come from BFI Doc Society, Iris Prize and We Are Parable among others. New Wave spotlights new talent and is the only strand in a UK festival to showcase graduate films, introducing the filmmakers of the future.
UK film festival first: Pioneering Games Lab
THE Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom sold 10 million copies in three days, making it the fastest-selling game in Nintendo history. Games enable players to interact with stories like never before, from journeying through vast open worlds to navigating mesmeric VR (virtual reality) experiences.
Aesthetica sees the games industry evolving and wants to spotlight and celebrate all that interactive media offer, proudly becoming the first British film festival to develop a Games Lab alongside the film screenings, VR and immersive experiences.
Head to Spark:York to play your way through 40 captivating titles, from squirrel mysteries to mythical island escapades, as these Official Selection games immerse users in imaginative worlds.
Masterclasses and Panel Discussions
WHETHER you are an actor, cinematographer, director, developer, producer, screenwriter or a film aficionado, ASFF has world-class masterclasses to suit you, bringing together big names from across film, games and VR. Speakers include representatives from Aardman, Guardian Documentaries, the BFI, Film4, Ridley Scott Associates, Ubisoft and BBC Writersroom.
The list of directors, producers and visual effects specialists have worked such iconic projects as: Avengers: Endgame, Bridgerton, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Gravity, Ready Player One, Wallace And Gromit, and much more.
Family Friendly screenings: Bring the whole family
INSPIRE your children with a selection of incredible films. The whole family can experience the best in independent cinema at Family Friendly film screenings of comedies, engaging dramas and fun-filled animations. Follow compelling characters, from a brave hummingbird to a shy presenter, in shorts that encourage us to be our best selves. ASFF’s three reels are divided into ascending age groups.
Screen School VR Lab: Expanded Realities here in York
THE possibilities of 360° film are endless. Immersive experiences like these bring audiences closer to the action than ever before, positioning them in both real and entirely imagined environments.
Aesthetica and LCC’s (London College Of Communication) Screen School invite you to dive into a bold selection of imaginative stories. Embark on a multi-sensory journey as you explore the world of 360 cinema. The VR Lab will be held at The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, alongside panel discussions at York Explore. To join virtually, buy a cardboard headset and experience at home.
Networking Sessions: Meet filmmakers
BUILD relationships, seek out collaborations and make lasting memories. Whether you are looking to connect with industry representatives, discover new opportunities or learn new approaches to filmmaking, Networking Sessions are the perfect opportunity to meet with film sector professionals and share ideas. 2023’s representatives are from renowned organisations such as Canon, The Pitch Film Fund and York special effects studio Viridian FX.
Insightful Workshops: Learn new skills
TRAVEL to the past to uncover the tactile magic of traditional printmaking or look to exciting futures with Test Bed of AI Generators and Writing in 360: A Practical Workshop. A series of workshops will run at Pitcher & Piano, StreetLife Hub, The Guildhall and York Theatre Royal’s Studio, with a host of key organisations, ranging from the London College of Communication and The Pitch Film Fund to Viridian FX and Canon.
These practical workshops are centred around expanded realities, making them essential for those looking to try out new technologies and learn from industry professionals.
Three Exhibitions: Sound & Photography
THE premiere of Flux & Possibilities, Martyn Riley’s deep listening, multi-channel sound installation, explores personal identities and histories at Bedern Hall. Created in partnership with Aesthetica, LCC and Audible, it invites you to listen to numerous female-identifying interviewees across different locations and generations, revealing their personal stories of feminism, inequality and gendered spaces.
Look out too for a film poster exhibition at the StretLife hub and photography exhibition, Inside (Out), featuring three female photographers, at City Screen Picturehouse, both in Coney Street.
Pitching Sessions: Speak with the experts
DEVELOPING a new short or feature project? ASFF offers a series of 20-minute pitching sessions where experts provide guidance on how to develop ideas, break into the industry and further your distribution goals.
These sessions will be led by delegates from BBC Film, Goldfinch, Film4, Guardian Documentaries and Neal Street Productions across various days at Malmaison York, as well as virtually. Pre-selection and applications are required.
Kids’ Workshops: Filmmaking & Games
ASFF believes in nurturing children’s creative potential. New for this year, children can attend workshops to learn how to direct, edit and make films. Budding game developers can join Impact Games to learn what goes into creating the games they love.
Pauline Quirke Academy will lead workshops for young directors keen to get behind the camera, shout “action” and “cut” and tell their unique stories.
Two types of workshops will run: filmmaking and gaming, where children can learn how to code and develop their own games.
Aesthetica Short Film Festival runs in York from November 8 to 12; full programme and tickets at asff.co.uk.
HALLOWEEN films and double bills, classic comedy and a time-travelling York legend, a Disney deep freeze and a punk/jazz collision help Charles Hutchinson leave behind October for November frights and delights.
Play of the week: Noises Off, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees
MATTHEW Kelly, Liza Goddard and Simon Shepherd lead the cast in Theatre Royal Bath’s touring revival of Michael Frayn’s riotous Noises Off, directed by Lindsay Posner, who staged Richard III and Romeo And Juliet for York’s first season of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre productions in 2018.
Structured as a play within a play, this cherished 1982 farce follows the on and off-stage antics of a touring theatre company stumbling its way through the fictional farce Nothing On, from shambolic final rehearsals to a disastrous matinee, seen silently from backstage, before the catastrophic final performance. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
York legend of the week: Punch Porteous – Lost In Time, All Saints North Street, York, tonight, 7pm.
HAVE you heard or indeed seen the eccentric, evasive York legend Punch Porteous: soldier, philosopher, worker (when absolutely unavoidable), husbandman, connoisseur of ale and now the subject of poet Robert Powell, creative practitioner Ben Pugh and producer John Beecroft’s “multi-media drama experience”?
York Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster directs Powell, Nick Naidu and Imogen Wood in Powell’s story of an ordinary man with an extraordinary predicament, lost in time in York. While the city shape-shifts around him, he is catapulted unpredictably into different eras of its history from c.70 to c.2023. Box office: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/show/punch-porteous-lost-in-time/.
Music, poetry and comedy bill of the week: Navigation Art & Performance present Punk Jazz: A Halloween Special, The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York, tonight, 7.30pm
COMPLEMENTING the ongoing Punk/Jazz: Contrasts and Connections exhibition at Micklegate & Fossgate Socials, Navigators Art & Performance bring together energetic York punk band The Bricks; intense improvisers Teleost; the Neo Borgia Trio, formed for the occasion from a University of York big band; grunge-influenced Mike Ambler and the experimental Things Found And Made.
Taking part too will be firebrand polemical poet Rose Drew and comedians Isobel Wilson and Saeth Wheeler. Box office: https://bit.ly/nav-punkjazz.
Children’s concerts of the week: MishMash presents String!, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, tomorrow, 11.30am and 2pm
THE Gildas Quartet lead tomorrow’s double celebration of the string quartet in informal 40-minute performances featuring a diverse programme from Haydn to Jessie Montgomery, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges to Dvorak, and everything in between.
Staged creatively to bring the audience into the music, these fun concerts are suitable for ages seven to 11 and their families. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Community film event of the week: The Witches (PG), Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tomorrow, 2.30pm
MAKE It York and The Groves Community Centre team up for a Halloween screening of Robert Zemeckis’s visually innovative 2020 film The Witches. Based on Roald Dahl’s novel, it tells the darkly humorous, heartwarming tale of an orphaned boy who goes to live with his loving Grandma in late-1967 in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis, where they have an run-in with the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway). Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Folk concert of the week: Emily Portman & Rob Harbron, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm
EMILY Portman, from The Furrow Collective, and Rob Harbron, who performs with Leveret, Fay Hield and Jon Boden, have formed an inspired collaboration to delve into English folk traditions with an intricately woven contemporary sound.
Portman (voice, banjo and piano) and fellow composer Harbron (concertina, guitar and voice) released their debut album, Time Was Away, last November, comprising eight English folk songs and two 20th century poems set to music. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Halloween screaming/screening of the week: Nosferatu: Live Silent Cinema, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm
CHRIS Green’s score was commissioned by English Heritage for an outdoor screening of FW Murnau’s 1922 German Expressionist vampire film at Dracula’s spiritual home of Whitby Abbey. Now the composer plays his haunting blend of electronic and acoustic instruments for the first time in York to accompany the first cinematic interpretation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, one that gave birth to the horror movie. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Double bill of the week: Please Please You presents Steve Gunn & Brigid Mae Power, Rise@Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, York, Wednesday, doors 7.30pm
EXPERIMENTAL Brooklyn guitarist and songwriter Steve Gunn’s “forward-thinking” songwriting draws on the blues, folk, ecstatic free jazz and psychedelia, suffused with a raga influence. His website says he is “currently somewhere working on new music”, although York will be the first of 12 solo gigs in Britian, Spain and Poland in November.
Wednesday’s gig will be opened by Irish singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power, whose latest folk-tinged dreampop album, Dream From The Deep Well, arrived in March. Box office: seetickets.com/event/steve-gunn/rise-bluebird/.
Musical of the week: York Stage in Disney’s Frozen Jr, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee
IN a story of true love and acceptance between sisters, Disney’s Frozen Jr follows the journey of Princesses Anna and Elsa, based on the 2018 Broadway and West End musical set in the magical land of Arendelle, with all the Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez songs from the animated film.
Producer Nik Briggs directs a cast led by Megan Pickard, Bea Charlton, Matilda Park and Esther de la Pena as the princesses. Malachi Collins plays the Duke of Weselton, Lottie Marshall, Bulda, and Oliver Lawery, King Agnarr. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
In Focus: Say Owt Slam, with special guest Polarbear, The Crescent, tonight, 7.45pm
SAY Owt, York’s loveably gobby gang of performance poets, take over The Crescent community venue twice a year for a raucous night of spoken word and poetry in the form of a stellar slam.
Fast, frantic and fun, a slam gives each poet three minutes to wow the audience. Regular host Henry Raby enthuses: “We love doing Say Owt on a Saturday night, because it’s a party! A poetry party!
“Although one poet will be crowned a Say Owt Slam Champion, this isn’t a bitter battle. It’s a celebration as poets bring a variety of styles and forms. In the past, we’ve had tender personal reflections, hilarious laugh-out-loud comedy poems and fiery political tirades.”
Special guest at tonight’s Say Owt Slam in York will be Polarbear. “The last time he graced our city, Polarbear (a.k.a Steven Camden) was supporting Scroobius Pip and Kae Tempest,” says Henry. “He’s an internationally acclaimed spoken word artist and award-winning writer from Birmingham, whose poetry drips with gorgeous storytelling.
“He talks about people and places with a unique ear for language: celebrating the tiny human characteristics.”
Since first stepping on stage in 2004, Polarbear has performed his work and led creative projects from Manchester to Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur to California, as well as featuring on BBC Radio1, 3 and 6Music, attracting 155,000 views on YouTube and releasing a live album on Scroobius Pip’s Speech Development record label.
A few surprises might be in store tonight too. Box office: thecrescentyork.com/events/say-owt-slam-featuring-polarbear/ or on the door.
THE Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, in Blossom Street, York, is inviting you to find answers to clues and discover secrets that helped to save Catholics from being caught by their persecutors in Hide & Seek – The Trail.
Secrets such as objects concealed in everyday household items; priest hiding holes, to be found within the Bar Convent; or invisible ink, used to write the secret letters sent by Mary Ward, but how did the recipients read them? Follow the trail and find the answers.
Explore the collections to uncover the ways that Catholics kept their true religion hidden from the authorities to avoid arrest or death. Discover the reason why Father Edward Oldcorne was hanged, drawn and quartered in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. His crucifix – the only item to survive the raids on Catholic properties – forms the centrepiece of the exhibition.
On November 5 1605, the day of the State Opening of Parliament, Guy Fawkes, of York, was discovered preparing to light a fuse on 36 barrels of gunpowder, hidden under the Houses of Parliament in London.
Had he succeeded in his mission to blow up Parliament, he would have wiped out the entire Royal Family, the Lords and the Commons.
What was Edward Oldcorne’s connection to Guy Fawkes? How did the Bar Convent manage to build an illegal chapel in the middle of York without being caught?
So many questions to be answered in Hide & Seek, an exhibition that goes behind the scenes of the turmoil, suspicion, persecution and tragedy of that time.
Hide & Seek runs until November 5. Admission is £6, concessions, £4, children aged six to 15, £2, under 6s, free, family of four, £12; trail included. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm; last entry 4pm. Tickets: 01904 643238 or barconvent.co.uk.