MUSICAL theatre in a park, drag cabaret at a sports club, Shakespeare sonnets and songs in churchyards, high-speed film action at an airfield and chamber music online catch Charles Hutchinson’seye
Graveyard smash of the week: York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets, Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York, until Saturday
WHEN York Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth bit the dust in March, put on hold by the Covid lockdown, York’s purveyors of Shakespeare’s Sonnet Walks decided to stage a sit-down, but not as an act of protest.
Director Mick Taylor and producer Maurice Crichton hatched a plan to present assorted familiar Shakespeare characters, brought into the modern world, to reflect on the pandemic with an accompanying sonnet.
Holy Trinity’s churchyard, with its five park benches, tree shelter and mown grass, provides an ideal socially distanced open-air setting. Bring a rug, cushion, camp chair, flask and biscuits, suggests Maurice, to performances at 5.45pm and 7pm, plus 4.15pm on Saturday.
Double bills in another churchyard: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, tonight, September 16 and 17
SONGS Under Skies brings together the National Centre for Early Music, The Crescent, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance for an open-air series of acoustic concerts.
The opening night with Amy May Ellis and Luke Saxton on September 2 was driven inside by the rain. Fingers crossed for more clement conditions for Wolf Solent and Rosalind tonight, Polly Bolton and Henry Parker on September 16 and Elkyn and Fawn the following night.
Gates will open at 6.30pm for each 7pm start; acts will perform either side of a 30-minute interval with a finishing time of 8.30pm.
Musical theatre showcase part one: Bev Jones Music Company, Strictly Live In The Park, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, Sunday, 3pm.
THE Bev Jones Music Company stage a full-sized musical theatre concert with more than 20 socially distanced singers and a five-piece band on Sunday afternoon.
Strictly Live In The Park promises a “spectacular show for all the family, with popular show music, pop music, dance and comedy”, under the musical direction of John Atkin with choreography by Claire Pulpher.
Expect numbers from Adele to Robbie Williams, Cabaret to Hairspray, Mack & Mabel to South Pacific, The Full Monty to Chess, Miss Saigon to the finale, Les Miserables, all arranged by the late company driving force Bev Jones. Also expect temperature tests on arrival.
Musical theatre showcase part two: York Stage Musicals present Jukebox Divas, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, September 18 to 20, 7pm
AFTER the sold-out three-night run of York Stage Musicals’ first ever outdoor show last month, producer/director Nik Briggs and musical director Jessica Douglas return to their Rowntree Park psychedelic igloo to stage Jukebox Divas.
Jessica’s band line-up has changed, so too has the singing sextet, with Conor Mellor from the debut show being joined by Dan Conway, Sophie Hammond, Grace Lancaster and Eleanor Leaper.
“With music from We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia! and more modern releases like + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, audiences will be entertained for 90 minutes with vocal tributes to artists such as Elvis Presley, Queen, Meat Loaf, Katy Perry, Carole King and many more,” says Nik.
Car experience of next week: AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema, Elvington Airfield, near York, September 18 to 20
AFTER Daisy Duke’s Drive-in Cinema on Knavesmire, now comes a celebration of high-speed thrills and derring-do skills at Elvington Airfield…on screen, courtesy of AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema.
Tickets have sold out already for the September 19 screenings of James Gunn’s 2014 space chase, Guardians Of The Galaxy (12A), at 2.30pm and James Mangold’s 2019 Ford v Ferrari race-track clash, Le Mans 66 (12), at 7.30pm.
Bookings can still be made, however, for Guardians Of The Galaxy on September 18 at 2.30pm and September 20 at 7.30pm and Edgar Wright’s 2017 getaway-car heist thriller, Baby Driver (15), September 18, 7.30pm, and September 20, 2.30pm.
Stepping out of her Bishopthorpe kitchen into the York open air: Velma Celli: An Evening Of Song, York RI Community Sports Club, New Lane, Acomb, tomorrow, 8pm.
AFTER a spring and summer of concerts live-streamed from home, York drag diva Velma Celli takes to the outdoor stage at a sports club.
“The show will be a mixed bag of whatever I fancy on the day – pop, rock, impressions and some musical theatre obviously – and of course requests online. Message me on Facebook,” advises Velma.
Very special guests are promised: definitely York soul powerhouse Jessica Steel will be among them.
Festival of the month: York Chamber Music Festival, September 18 to 20
THE 2020 York Chamber Music Festival is going online to live-stream three concerts from the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, in a celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.
Festival artistic director and cellist Lowe will be performing with Simon Blendis and Charlotte Scott, violins; Matthew Jones, violin and viola; Jon Thorne, viola, and Katya Apekisheva, piano. For full details on the programme and on how to watch the concerts, go to ycmf.co.uk.
One for the 2021 diary: Anton & Giovanni, Him & Me, Grand Opera House, York, July 12
STRICTLY Come Dancing staples Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice will link up for their debut tour together, Him & Me, next year.
Details are sketchy, but the dapper Sevenoaks ballroom king and the Italian stallion say: “This show promises to be thebest night out in the Summer of 2021 for all ages…A true dance extravaganza!”
Anton and Giovanni will be joined by a “world-class cast” of dancers and singers for a show produced by Strictly Theatre Co and directed by Alan Burkitt.
And what about…?
A visit to the reopened Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre exhibition in Blossom Street, York. Malton Harvest Food Festival on Saturday. New Light Prize Exhibition, with more than 100 artists, opening at Scarborough Art Gallery on September 19. York Walking Festival, running or, rather, walking until Sunday (details at iTravel York website).
THE new AA Getaway Drive-In Cinema will park up at Elvington Airfield, near York, from September 18 to 20, with the now customary social-distancing measures in place.
“We are working hard to provide the ultimate viewing experience for guests,” say the organisers of the AA’s first drive-in enterprise. “Each car will be provided with a high-quality remote sound system and films will be projected onto three giant, back-lit LED screens. Independent locally sourced food and drink will be available to order direct to cars, contact-free.”
Saturday’s screenings are available exclusively to AA Members, with free tickets being offered on a first-come, first-served basis for James Gunn’s 2014 space chase, Guardians Of The Galaxy (12A), at 2.30pm and James Mangold’s 2019 Ford v Ferrari race-track clash, Le Mans 66 (12), at 7.30pm.
Public bookings can be made, however, for Guardians Of The Galaxy on September 18 at 2.30pm and September 20 at 7.30pm and Edgar Wright’s 2017 getaway-car heist thriller, Baby Driver (15), September 18, 7.30pm, and September 20, 2.30pm.
AA Getaway’s celebration of high-speed action movies at Elvington Airfield will be the second open-air cinema event of the summer in the York area after Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema on Knavesmire from July 31 to August 2, when Grease, Rocketman, Toy Story, Mamma Mia!, 28 Days Later, Pulp Fiction, Shrek 2, A Star Is Born and Joker were shown.
YORK Mediale returns next month to deliver ambitious and cutting-edge digital arts projects inspired by and reacting to 2020.
For its second iteration, the international new media arts organisation has lined up six new commissions, five being world premieres, the other, a UK premiere.
Running from October 21 into the New Year, the programme of events will take place in York neighbourhoods, online and at two cultural landmarks, York Minster and York Art Gallery.
The first York Mediale in 2018 was the largest media arts festival in Britain, drawing an audience of 65,000 to diverse digital-rooted events over ten days, celebrating York as the UK’s first and only UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts.
The Coronavirus pandemic has led York Mediale to forego the original 2020 festival dates of October 21 to 25, instead “pivoting from a biennial festival to a charity creating and delivering a year-round programme of exceptional digital arts events, embedded in and enriching the creative life of the city of York and beyond”.
In a progression from the 2018 debut, this will involve working closely with York artists, young people and neighbourhoods.
Themes of love, nature and community – particularly poignant at this time following months of lockdown and isolation – will run through artists’ installations and interactive performance, engaging audiences both in person and digitally.
Leading artists in their field from across the world have created work for York, such as Marshmallow Laser Feast, fresh from their show at the Saatchi Gallery in London; composer, musician and producer Elizabeth Bernholz, otherwise known as the artist Gazelle Twin, and arts collective KMA, whose installations have transformed numerous public spaces, from London’s Trafalgar Square to Shanghai’s Bund.
The York community is being encouraged to take part, so today the Mediale team is launching two calls for participation. Firstly, Mediale is calling out for 50 members of the public to feature in a piece that will serve as a memento for the times we live in.
Secondly, in collaboration with York’s Guild of Media Arts and nine other UNESCO Creative Cities of Media Arts, Mediale is launching a call-out to York artists, worth £2,500.
Tom Higham, York Mediale’s creative director for the 2018 festival and now the 2020 one too, says: “York Mediale is a place where, through digital arts, we can explore, challenge and reflect on our lives.
“Plans for this year’s Mediale were well underway as the pandemic took hold. That we’re able to work with artists and producers to create an event at all is something we’re really proud of.”
Mediale planned “as best it could” for what it knew would be a different type of event. “We looked closely at the works already submitted and worked to develop the pieces that would most closely examine these extraordinary times,” says Tom.
“We wanted to explore how we connect with loved ones, with our community, with nature and with our culture. We have been developing projects around those themes, and we’re excited to now present a series of works.
“All of these projects resonated with us at the start of 2020 but we could never have imagined how they could develop to so beautifully reflect our worries, hopes and relationships to our communities.”
York Mediale audiences will discover how the human body is hardwired, synchronised and inextricably linked to nature; experiment with a new form of performance, and explore the invisible transaction between a person and a piece of art and how WhatsApp has shaped communities for the COVID generation at this year’s “diverse, digitally engaged and mentally stimulating event”.
What digital delights are upcoming in York Mediale 2020-2021?
People We Love, November 2 to 29 at York MInster
THIS commission from creative collective KMA will be positioned in the Minster nave, where a new temporary “congregation” will be made up of a collection of five large high-definition screens, showing a series of video portraits focused on people that have been filmed looking at a photograph of someone they love.
The viewer will not know who is being looked at but will experience the emotion on the face projected on screen before them, interpreting each unspoken story.
Visitors can add their story to the installation as a pop-up booth will be on-site, ready to capture the love stories of the city without the need for words.
Human Nature, October 21 to January 24 2021 at York Art Gallery
A TRIPTYCH of installations under the banner of Human Nature, curated by York Mediale and York Museums Trust, comes together as a centrepiece of York Mediale 2020 in a “hugely ambitious show”.
Embers And The Giants, a short film by Canadian media artist Kelly Richardson, makes its UK premiere, exploring human intervention through thousands of tiny drones mimicking a natural spectacle, suggesting a time when we will need to amplify nature in order to convince the public of its worth.
The Tides Within Us, a commission from immersive art collective Marshmallow Laser East, looks at the journey of oxygen from lungs to the heart and body in a series of installations that echoes the ecosystem within nature.
Fine artist Rachel Goodyear presents Limina, a series of animations supported by her intricate drawings, in response to an untitled sculpture from York Art Gallery’s collection; all offering a glimpse into the psyche and fragments of the unconscious.
Absent Sitters, October 21 to 25, online
GAZELLE Twin, billed as “one of the UK’s most vital contemporary voices in electronic music”, collaborates with York artist and filmmaker Kit Monkman and the University of York Music Department to experiment with a new form of performance.
In this intimate, shared event, you will be guided by a “performer medium” to investigate what is live performance in 2020? The audience, contributing via video call, will become part of an online audio-visual experience that examines the power of “collective imagination” and the importance of “presence/absence” in a live event. Are we live? Can we connect? Who are you? Questions, questions, questions.
Good Neighbours, October 21 to 25, The Groves, York
GOOD Neighbours, from Amsterdam’s affect lab – interactive artist Klasien van de Zandschulp and researcher Natalie Dixon – is based on research into the micro-politics of communities and the increase in WhatsApp neighbourhood watch groups through lockdown.
Individual audience members will use their own mobile devices as they immerse themselves in a weirdly familiar fictional documentary walk alongside live performance, taking place in The Groves area of York.
What exactly is York Mediale?
York Mediale is an international media arts organisation that celebrates York as the UK’s first and only UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts. The independent arts charity was founded in 2014 to mark that designation.
As well as bringing new commissions from leading artists to the city for each festival, Mediale provides opportunities for the best emerging talents to showcase their art. Through incorporating technologies into their works, artists of all kinds will challenge, provoke, interrogate and celebrate our cities, our landscapes, our lives.
THE #goggledance Scarborough series of short films showcasing Scarborough residents’ dance moves will be available to view from next week.
Made by the Stephen Joseph Theatre in a co-production with dance theatre company Voxed, the films feature people from around the East Coast resort watching, commenting on and joining in with freelance professional dancer Alethia Antonia as she gives bespoke performances outside their houses.
The results are “uplifting, inspiring and occasionally hilarious”, says Alethia, who loves experimenting with different styles and sharing her passion for movement through improvisation and performance.
The project was developed by choreographer, director and movement director Wayne Parsons, Voxed’s founder and artistic director, who says: “We spent a brilliant day filming with residents in Eastfield and other areas of Scarborough.
“Everyone involved really got into the spirit of it. As one participant put it: ‘We all need a little D.I.S.C.O in our lives’!”
SJT creative producer Amy Fisher says: “This was our first live performance since March and it was brilliant to see families enjoying it together and joining in. It felt really special to be able to perform it on their home turf – or pavement! – as a way of engaging with the community.”
Made by James Williams, the films are narrated by self-proclaimed “Irish loudmouth” Sarah Blanc, whose show My Feminist Boner was a hit at the SJT pre-lockdown.
Films will be released at 5pm each Friday for five weeks from September 4 on the Voxed and SJT Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts.
Did you know?
VOXED are an associate company of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, creating work that, at its heart, is all about storytelling, aiming to bring people together through the shared experience of dance. Whether in their indoor or outdoor work or participation projects, Voxed seek to reflect the world we live in and the stories we share.
A BANK Holiday on Monday, the return to schools drawing ever closer, masked or unmasked, the summer calendar is speeding by.
Make the most of the outdoors before the crepuscular Covid uncertainty of autumn and beyond arrives for theatres, concert halls and gig venues alike.
Charles Hutchinson pops outside, then quickly head back indoors in the rain with these recommendations.
Comedy for your living room…from theirs: Your Place Comedy presents Paul Sinha and Angela Barnes, Sunday, 8pm
YORKSHIRE virtual comedy project Your Place Comedy returns after a summer break to deliver a second series of live streamed shows over the next three months, re-starting with The Chase star Paul Sinha and BBC Radio 4 News Quiz guest host Angela Barnes this weekend.
Corralled by Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones, ten small, independent theatres and arts centres from God’s Own Country and the Humber are coming together again, amid continued unease for the industry, to provide entertainment from national touring acts.
Sunday’s show will be broadcast live to viewers’ homes for free, with full details on how to watch on YouTube and Twitch at yourplacecomedy.co.uk. “As before, viewers will have an option to make a donation to the venues if they have enjoyed the broadcast,” says Chris.
Garden theatre part three: Park Bench Theatre in Every Time A Bell Rings, Friends Garden, Rowntree Park, York, until September 5
SAMUEL Beckett’s First Love has left the bench for good. Children’s show Teddy Bears’ Picnic, starring Cassie Vallance, resumes daytime residence from today. From this week, the premiere of Engine House Theatre artistic director Matt Aston’s lockdown monologue Every Time A Bell Rings occupies the same bench on evenings until September 5.
Performed by Slung Low and Northern Broadsides regular Lisa Howard and directed by Tom Bellerby on his return to York from London, Aston’s 50-minute play is set in Lockdown on Easter Sunday 2020, when isolated, grief-stricken Cathy searches for solace on her favourite park bench in her favourite park in this funny and poignant look at how the world is changing through these extraordinary times.
Tickets for performances in the Covid-secure Friends Garden must be bought in advance at parkbenchtheatre.com or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. Bring picnics, blankets and headphones to tune in to shows delivered on receivers.
Deckchairs will be provided: Pop-Up On The Patio, week three at York Theatre Royal, August 28 and 29
YORK Theatre Royal’s Covid-secure summer festival of outdoor performances on Hannah Sibai’s terrace stage climaxes with five more shows, three tomorrow, two on Saturday.
First up, tomorrow at 4pm, is York company Cosmic Collective Theatre’s cult show Heaven’s Gate, an intergalactic pitch-black comedy starring satirical writer Joe Feeney, Anna Soden, Lewes Roberts and Kate Cresswell as they imagine the final hour of four fictionalised members of a real-life UFO-theistic group.
York performance poet Henry Raby puts the word into sword to slice up the past decade in Apps & Austerity at 6.30pm; Say Owt, the York outlet for slam poets, word-weavers and “gobheads”, follows at 8pm. On Saturday, York magician, juggler and children’s entertainer Josh Benson is unstoppable in Just Josh at 1pm before York pop, soul and blues singer Jess Gardham closes up the patio at 4pm.
York exhibition of the week and beyond: Jo Walton, Paintings and Rust Prints, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, until September 30
YORK artist Jo Walton uses rust and rusted metal sheet in innovative ways to create her artworks. Iron filings are applied as ‘paint’ and as they rust, reactions occur, resulting in every painting being unique and unrepeatable.
“Jo’s work is abstract, inspired by horizons,” says Pyramid Gallery owner Terry Brett. “Her work features enhanced rust-prints on plaster surfaces, combinations of rusted sheet metal with oil painting and painting seascapes on gold-metal leaf.”
First blockbuster of the summer…at last: Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, at York cinemas
THE wait is over. This summer has been more blankbuster than blockbuster, thanks to the stultifying impact of the Covid lockdown and the big film companies’ reluctance to take a chance on a major release in the slow-burn, socially distanced reopening of cinemas.
Step forward Christopher Nolan, director of Memento, Inception, three Dark Knight/Batman movies and Dunkirk to grasp the nettle by releasing the 151-minute psychological thriller/action movie Tenet.
John David Washington (yes, Denzel’s son), Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh ride a rollercoaster plot that follows a secret agent who must manipulate time in order to prevent the Third World War. Apparently, Tenet is a “film to feel, not necessarily understand”, like a Scarborough fairground ride, then.
Double bills galore outside a church: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, between September 2 and 17
SONGS Under Skies will bring together the National Centre for Early Music, The Crescent, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance for an open-air series of acoustic concerts next month in York.
Dates for the diary are: September 2, Amy May Ellis and Luke Saxton; September 3, Dan Webster and Bella Gaffney; September 9, Kitty VR and Boss Caine; September 10, Wolf Solent and Rosalind; September 16, Polly Bolton and Henry Parker; September 17, Elkyn and Fawn.
Gates will open at the NCEM’s Walmgate home, St Margaret’s Church, at 6.30pm for each 7pm start; acts will perform either side of a 30-minute interval with a finishing time of 8.30pm.
And what about…
Discovering The Waterboys’ new album, Good Luck, Seeker, Mike Scott’s latest soulful blast, met with universal thumbs-up reviews. Or bunking down with 1981 Ashes-winning captain turned psychoanalyst Mike Brearley’s new book for the end of summer, Spirit Of Cricket.
WANTED! Badapple Theatre, the Green Hammerton company that takes shows to your doorstep, needs your urgent help to secure funding for two autumn projects.
Urgent really does mean urgent, as company founder and artistic director Kate Bramley explains: “We’ve just been offered a new grant from Arts Council England to cover our interim work between now and December 2020. They have set a deadline of Monday, August 31 for us to have six outdoor performances and six film events confirmed, so please do get in touch as soon as possible if you would like to be included.”
To put flesh on those bones: “As part of that, we’re looking to find a small number of outdoor spaces that would be willing to host a performance of Danny Mellor’s new play, Suffer Fools Gladly, between September 16 and 23,” says Kate, who commissioned Danny in the spring to write the piece for Badapple’s Lockdown Podcast series.
“It’s an extremely inventive and witty short comedy that at its core simply looks at the perils and perks if you had to tell the truth…all the time!” says Kate.
“Appealing to young and old audiences alike, this upbeat tale narrates the comic fall from grace of Ozzy, the court jester who is exiled from the magical kingdom of Marillion. It takes an unlikely friendship with a cynical 17-year old Earth girl, Stevie, to bring the joy back to both of their worlds.
“Danny’s play has a hint of political comment for the times but is really just meant to be a fun hour of upbeat storytelling to give people a bit of a lift.”
Danny has signed up to perform in next month’s mini-tour with Anastasia Berham, his co-star in last year’s Badapple Christmas show, Bramley’s warming winter play The Snow Dancer.
“They’re two great young actors who’ll be taking on the many voices and parts in a show with costume and puppetry design by Catherine Dawn,” says Kate, who will co-direct next month’s production. “So, I’m now hoping to find a few hosts/ venues – we need six in mid-September – to make it work and we’re moving swiftly to do this.”
Badapple’s second putative autumn project has been prompted by an “overwhelming response from halls” [village and community halls] to a survey, expressing an interest in high-quality filmed versions of theatre shows.
“We’re looking at late October to early November for bookings for film-live screenings of Eddie And The Gold Tops,” reveals Kate. “To this end, we are again seeking a minimum of six venues to take part.
“When we started looking for the ultimate ‘feel-good’ show from the Badapple back catalogue, there was no contest! Eddie And The Gold Tops is our 1960s’ comedy about the unexpected and meteoric rise to stardom of Eddie, the local Bottledale milkman.
“With award-winning design by Charlie Cridlan and catchy and comic 1960s-style songs from our Sony Award-winning resident composer Jez Lowe, this show has delighted our audiences since 2012.”
In the Eddie And The Gold Tops storyline, Eddie inherited the family milk round from his father and has fulfilled his deathbed promise to never miss a delivery to the good people of Bottledale. Suddenly things are on the up: his songs are heading up the charts and if he can turn up by tonight, he will be on Top Of The Pops…so, get ready, Eddie, go! When things take a churn for the worse, however, will he arrive back in time for the morning milk round?
“Arts Council England have accepted our programme to make Eddie And The Gold Tops the first of these live-film featured events,” says Kate. “Our ambition is to create a new style of filmed performance – the ‘hybrid-live’ – that captures the energy, theatricality and immediacy of our live theatre shows while providing a quality of filmed entertainment that modern audiences have come to expect.
“The filmed show will feature a cast of three versatile performers leaping swiftly through a multitude of roles and songs, for audiences of all ages to tap their feet and laugh along to. We’re therefore looking for a small number of organisers to screen these pilot Theatre Film Night performances for socially distanced audiences at indoor venues in late October. Even better, make it a Sixties’ themed night with fancy dress and Bring Your Own.”
Summing up Badapple’s aims in an open letter headlined “Badapple Theatre: To Boldy Go… “, administrator and company director Claire Jeffrey says: “As you all know, the Coronavirus pandemic has meant the closure of all live events for a prolonged period and we are hoping to now work in partnership with Arts Council England to safely deliver a small number of live events between September 2020 and January 2021.
“Our project ambition is simply to offer a series of pure feel-good events that are open to all ages and are just about local people having the confidence to gather safely with friends and neighbours at our ultra-small-scale Theatre On Your Doorstep events.
“We will, of course, be preparing a full Covid-19 risk assessment in line with Government guidelines for both of these projects that have been specifically designed to build audience confidence for live events by offering reduced capacity/ socially distanced showings.”
Claire’s letter concludes: “We would be delighted to answer any questions that you may have about the details, including finances and being Covid-19 safe. I’m working from home at the moment and can be reached on 01423 331304 or by email to email@example.com if you have any questions or wish to talk anything through.”
Hurry, hurry, with that phone call or email as Badapple need six of the best twice over…venues, that is. “We have to get them confirmed for Eddie And The Gold Tops before we can get the money to do the filming,” urges Claire.
YORK Theatre Royal is giving the green light to young people from Yorkshire to lead the way to a bright future for the arts despite the heavy Covid cloud.
Welcome to Futureproof, a dozen-strong team determined to have a voice in the changing landscape of arts and culture. Through a combination of activities, events and consultations, their mission is to “ask the big questions and debate, make and inspire others to explore how the arts and young people can have a future together”.
Circle Saturday, August 22, on the calendar: launch day for the first big Futureproof online event to kick-start a long-term dialogue between young people and the cultural sector. This weekend, the Futureproof team is inviting 14 to 26 year olds to join in a day of free participatory workshops, consultations, careers sessions, debates and shared online performances from 9.45am to 9pm.
Futureproof is split into four different themes: Futurepractice; Futurepaths; Futureproof Symposium and Futurevoices.
Futurepractice is a series of online skills-building workshops delivered by specialists, covering choreography, beatboxing, playwriting, acting and film making.
Futurepaths looks at careers in design, directing, performing and writing for stage from the perspective of those who work in those fields.
Futureproof Symposium is a conversation between film and theatre director Abigail Sewell, Namiuki Dance Theatre director Edenamiuki Aiguobasinmwin, the Futureproof programming team and panellists with key roles in the arts sector.
Along with Sewell and Aiguobasinmwin, among those leading the day’s activities will be playwrights Richard Hurford and Mike Kenny; Pilot Theatre artistic director Esther Richardson; York Theatre Royal associate director Juliet Forster and Freedom Studios’ filmmaker Dermot Daly.
So too are set designer Hannah Sibai; Royal Shakespeare Company actor Laura Elsworthy; company members from Pilot Theatre’s Covid-curtailed Crongton Knights production and choreography session leaders Luella Rebbeck and Lizzy Whynes, youth theatre officer at Harrogate Theatre.
Juliet Forster asks: “Is anything future-proof? We’ve never been in a time like this, and the question in many of our heads is this: how on earth are the performing arts going to survive this pandemic, and will the theatre industry we know now even be recognisable in a few years’ time?
“The arts have survived many disasters and setbacks over the centuries, and not without pain, but only through a process of renewal and reconnection, discovering the arts’ relevance in a changing society.
“The future has never felt more unknown or more fragile, but with the uncertainty comes this incredible opportunity for change. The voices, thoughts and ideas of the young generation have therefore never felt more timely or more urgently needed, as they could shape, re-invent and dream an exciting new cultural landscape – one that reflects their experiences, speaks to them, inspires them and is inspired by them.”
OPERA North is ready to Switch ON for an autumn programme of outdoor events and digital projects after Covid-19 put paid to the indoor season.
Coming up will be Will Todd’s new community opera, Song Of Our Heartland, released as a film in a digital premiere in October; South African cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe’s new soundwalk for Leeds, As You Are, in November, and a new animation, La Petite Bohème, that re-interprets Act III of Puccini’s La Bohème in a digital project to be shown in northern cities in the run-up to Christmas.
First up, from Tuesday, August 18, will be a tour of socially distanced open-air performances of Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel And Gretel for family audiences, concluding at the National Centre for Early Music, York, on September 5.
The re-arranged season “embodies the Leeds company’s commitment to make music with and for audiences in communities across the North of England, respecting Government guidelines on social distancing and live performances”.
In the coming weeks, Opera North plans further announcements of concerts and staged opera, either live or available digitally, as the national opera company responds to the changing Coronavirus guidelines.
Those guidelines forced the postponement of the previously planned season of large-scale operas that Opera North would have toured to theatres across northern England from September.
Richard Mantle, Opera North’s general director, says: “We are extremely pleased to be able to announce such varied projects as the first newly planned activity for this autumn. Switch ON is our first step back to sharing music and performance with audiences in villages, towns and cities across the North of England.
“We have not been silent during lockdown, with thousands of people from around the world engaging with films of our work online, from Wagner’s Ring cycle to The Turn Of The Screw, and over 1,000 amateur singers taking part in weekly lessons alongside the Chorus of Opera North in From Couch To Chorus, but we are delighted now to be announcing this first selection of new work.”
On Friday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed that indoor performances with socially distanced audiences would be allowed from August 15, after the original re-opening date of August 1 was called off by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the last minute.
Nevertheless, as Mantle says: “The overall picture regarding live indoor performances remains unclear over the next few months. We hope to be able to plan and present more live performance of great opera and music for audiences across our region, in as many different cities and communities as possible, once we are able to perform within social-distancing guidelines.
“We are currently undertaking detailed planning with our partner venues in Leeds [Leeds Grand Theatre] and beyond to ensure that we will be ready to restart performances safely and with financial viability, once there is a clear green light from the Government.”
In the meantime, tickets for Switch ON events will all be “accessibly priced”. “We hope as many people as possible will have the opportunity to experience music with us either live or digitally,” says Mantle.
“We are a partner in Leeds Says Thanks, an initiative by Leeds City Council to thank NHS and frontline workers for their enormous efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic; as part of this we will ensure that tickets to As You Are, our soundwalk for Leeds, will be made available to frontline staff.
“We remain committed to our purpose and whatever challenges we face, Opera North will continue to use music to create extraordinary experiences every day for and with the communities we serve. Live or digitally, in classrooms, theatres, homes and public spaces; we will continue to share music with people of all ages and backgrounds.”
All productions previously planned for Autumn 2020 – La Traviata, Jack The Ripper and Trouble In Tahiti/West Side Story Symphonic Dances, in association with Phoenix Dance Theatre – and Winter (early) 2021 – Carmen, Alcina, and The Girl Of The Golden West – have been postponed and will be rescheduled over the next two years.
Opera North’s new concert staging of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal, scheduled for concert halls across the country in Spring 2021, remains on sale.
For ticket details for Switch ON, go to operanorth.co.uk/.
SWITCH ON: Event information
Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel And Gretel, August 18 to September 5
DEVISED and directed by John Savournin for four singers and accordion, Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel And Gretel provides an introduction to opera for families, as well as being suitable for adults.
This 40-minute performance uses excerpts from Engelbert Humperdinck’s magical 1893 opera to retell the fairy tale of two hungry children, lost in the woods, and a gingerbread cottage that hides a scary secret.
Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel And Gretel will be performed in outdoor settings across the North in August and September, with social distancing in place for audience members and performers and limited numbers of tickets available, in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.
Tickets will be on sale for “pods” of up to five people, with each space including two seats and a floor mat. Exact seating arrangements may vary from venue to venue; please check with venues for further details.
Performers include Laura Kelly-McInroy (Jennie Hildebrand in Street Scene, 2020) as Hansel; Jennifer Clark (Flora, The Turn Of The Screw, 2020) as Gretel; Claire Pascoe (Emma Jones, Street Scene, 2020; Witch, Into the Woods, 2016) as Mother/Witch, and director John Savournin (Carl Olsen, Street Scene, 2020; Priest Fotis, The Greek Passion, 2019) as Narrator/Sandman. Miloš Milivojević will play accordion.
Venues and dates: Slung Low, The Holbeck, Leeds, August 18, 4.30pm; Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, August 20, 1pm and 3pm; Ushaw House, Durham, August 22, 1pm and 3pm; Allendale Village Hall, Hexham, August 25, 6.30pm; The Lowry, Salford Quays, August 26, 11.30am and 1.30pm; Harewood House, Leeds, August 30, times to be announced; Stage@TheDock, Hull, September 2, times to be announced; Pontefract Castle, Pontefract, September 4, 4.30pm; National Centre for Early Music, York, September 5, 11.30am, 1pm and 3pm.
Song Of Our Heartland, October
THIS new community opera should have premiered at Locomotion, in Shildon, County Durham, in May 2020, but you know the rest.
Commissioned by Northern Heartlands, the Great Place scheme for County Durham, it was written by Durham-born composer Will Todd, with a storyline by Caroline Clegg and libretto by Emma Jenkins, and was developed in partnership with members of north-eastern communities.
However, after the cancellation of rehearsals and performances earlier in the year, Song Of Our Heartland now will be created digitally, with different elements recorded separately under social-distancing guidelines and pieced together as a 60-minute film, expected to be released in October 2020.
Participants in the Community Chorus and members of the community taking solo roles in the opera have been rehearsing with Opera North’s music team via Zoom sessions during lockdown; their parts will each be recorded individually.
Set in a town marked by declining industry and loss of civic spaces, Song Of Our Heartland is both a love letter to the landscape, the heritage and the people of the area and an act of storytelling by three generations of indomitable women.
After the death of Harold, a former miner and railwayman, the opera shines a light on his family, his wife Lilian, daughter Jacqueline and granddaughter Skylar, as they face a stark choice between moving away to find jobs and new opportunities or staying to face an uncertain future.
Forced by Harold’s death to remain and driven by her grandad’s spirit, Skylar fights to save the things that are most important to her: the school choir and the abandoned Moonlight Ballroom Theatre.
Directed by Caroline Clegg and conducted by Holly Mathieson, the film of Song Of Our Heartland will be filmed on location at Locomotion and the surrounding County Durham area and recorded by the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North and the newly formed Community Chorus, with solo roles shared between members of the Chorus of Opera North and community participants.
Clegg says: “Having had to cancel the planned live performances, everyone involved in the creation of Song Of Our Heartland was utterly determined to find a way to share this inspiring community opera with audiences this year.
“The people of south-west County Durham have been so generous in sharing their rich and diverse stories and experiences with us. Many of the participants have been with us all the way through this project, from the first poetry and drama workshops that inspired the story, the music and the libretto, to community chorus rehearsals and ultimately now to rehearsing online over Zoom and taking part in the film.
“This project exists because of them and I feel privileged to be a part of it. The opera is a celebration of their cultural legacy, their strength in community, and their hopes and dreams. We couldn’t let it disappear this year.”
Jill Cole, director of Northern Heartlands, says: “Song Of Our Heartland was intended to be the culmination of our work as a Great Place Scheme in south-west Durham. Although we were not able to perform it live, I am delighted that we have found a way to turn the project into a film, so that we can share it with others in the local community and beyond.
“It is a real tribute to this unique part of the county, its history and heritage, and to the communities who live and work here.”
As You Are, November 14 2020 to January 6 2021
AS You Are, an interactive outdoor soundwalk for Opera North’s home city of Leeds, will be composedby South African cellist Abel Selaocoe. The journey will start and end at Victoria Gate, Leeds, following a route that will explore many of the city centre’s most recognisable landmarks, as well as its arcades and sidestreets and the River Aire waterfront.
Audience members taking part in the soundwalk in small groups each will be given a set of headphones connected to a wireless receiver, triggering new musical chapters at different points on the walk through Leeds, experiencing the cityscape through a new and transformative journey.
Taking inspiration from his South African heritage, Abel Selaocoe is creating music that embraces the healing power of walking. At times uplifting with full orchestra and chorus, at others reflective with only a single voice, As You Are expresses acceptance that there will be difficult times, but that we will come through to the other side.
To record the music, Selaocoe will be joined by guest African musicians such as Sidiki Dembele, as well as the full Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North.
“It is exciting to be writing during a time of incredible personal and collective change, focusing on the importance of celebrating resilience and being adaptable to change, by walking and exploring what is around us while we listen,” says Selaocoe.
As You Are will run in Leeds city centre from November 14 2020 to January 6 2021. Tickets will go on sale in September.
La Petite Bohème, in the run-up to Christmas
THE fourth Switch ON new project is an animation re-imagining Act III of Puccini’s La Bohème, snipped from black paper and animated by artist and filmmaker Matthew Robins with his customary eye for emotion and humour.
In the frozen streets of Paris, two pairs of lovers sing of their jealousy, passion and desire and wonder if they will still be together when spring comes again.
This heart-breaking scene from the core of Puccini’s classic opera will feature a newly recorded soundtrack by the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North and four soloists.
The finished animation will be projected outdoors in found spaces in towns and cities across the North, with limited audiences at each screening listening via headphones.
Projected on to walls in the familiar streets of our cities, the film and music will transform your surroundings and have the power to transport you to another time and place.
Artist and filmmaker Matthew Robins says: “I like trying to find my own way into telling a story that already exists. How can I make these characters mine? Do I see myself or my friends’ lives reflected in them?
“Working with cut-out silhouettes is a way to create my own stylised version of the big emotions and melodies that are intrinsic to the piece. The stylised cut-out paper shapes are detailed but leave room for the audience to add their own imagination as well to the piece.
“I come from the West Country and as a teenager used to visit London about six times a year just to queue up and get cheap front-row tickets for Rent, another retelling of La Bohème, so I feel like this story is deeply embedded in me, and in a way makes me feel at home exploring my own characters and settings for this story.”
Dates and locations for La Petite Bohème will be announced as soon as possible.
WEST End musicals, ballet, a waltz king and new and classic British films will be on the big screen at Stephen Joseph Theatre through September.
The Scarborough theatre re-opened its Art Deco cinema at the end of August, with a comprehensive programme of measures for the safety and comfort of cinema patrons, such as limited capacities and aisle access for every pair of seats booked.
The SJT has been awarded the VisitEngland We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying its adherence to Government and public health guidance, and full details can be found at sjt.uk.com/were_back. The films and streams will be open captioned (OC), by the way.
The West End Musical Season presents Kinky Boots (captured live) on September 3 at 7pm. In Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein’s musical, Charlie has inherited a failing shoe factory and goes into partnership with drag queen Lola to save the business.
The Tony Award-winning Lincoln Center Theater productionof The King & I (captured live) will be shown on September 10 at 7pm. Filmed at the London Palladium in 2018, it tells the story of Anna, hired by the King of Siam to serve as an English teacher in his palace in an attempt to modernise his country.
The September film programme opens with Summerland, British writer-director Jessica Swale’s account of a reclusive writer, Alice, who has lived in a small Kent town for years and is regarded by the locals as a witch.
During the Second World War, Alice’s sequestered life is upended when Frank, an evacuee from the London Blitz, is left in her care. Despite initially resolving to be rid of him, Alice finds herself and her emotions reawakened by him.
Alice is portrayed in her younger days in the 1940s by Gemma Arterton and later by Scarborough-born Penelope Wilton. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Tom Courtenay also star in the screenings on September 4 at 7pm, September 5 at 2pm and 7pm, September 8 and 9 (OC) at 7pm and September 10 at 2pm.
In British-writer director William Nicholson’s Hope Gap, Annette Benning and Bill Nighy play Grace and Edward, whose idyllic life in a British seaside town is torn apart when he tells her he is leaving for another woman after 29 years of marriage.
Showing on September 11 at 7pm, September 12 at 2pm, September 15 and 16 September at 7pm and September 18 at 7pm, Hope Gap also stars Steven Pacey, who played Bertie Wooster in Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s By Jeeves, the first show at the SJT when it moved into the former Odeon cinema in 1996.
Irvin Kershner’s The Empire Strikes Back, considered by many to be the finest of all the Star Wars films, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2020 with a remastered edition, to be shown on September 12 at 7pm, September 17 at 2pm and September 22 at 7pm (OC).
Based on a George Lucas story, Star Wars: Episode V of the epic American cinematic space opera is the one where Darth Vader is determined to turn Luke Skywalker to the dark side, Master Yoda trains Luke to become a Jedi Knight, while his friends try to fend off the Imperial fleet.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s cult romantic classic I Know Where I’m Going! will be screened in remastered HD on September 19 at 2pm and 7pm, when WEA film studies tutor George Cromack will give an introduction.
The 1945 film follows the emancipated Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) as she tries to reach a remote Hebridean island for her wedding and meets naval officer Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey) on the way.
Released in January, Robert Eggers’s black-and-white psychological anti-thriller The Lighthouse is still the bleakest film of this bleak, bleak year, as can be witnessed on September 23 at 7pm and September 24 at 2pm and 7pm.
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson play lighthouse keepers struggling to keep their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
A disparate group of women seeks to disrupt the 1970 Miss World competition in Philippa Gowthorpe’s 2020 comedy-drama Misbehaviour, showing September 25 at 7pm, Saturday 26 September 26 at 2pm and 7pm and September 29 at 7pm (OC).
Held in London, the contest was hosted by comedian Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear) and was the first to be won by a black woman, Jennifer Hosten, Miss Grenada (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Keira Knightley, Jessie Buckley, Phyllis Logan, Keeley Hawes, Lesley Manville and Rhys Ifans also join the starry cast.
Music and ballet complete the SJT’s September line-up. First, Andre Rieu’s Magical Maastricht: Together In Music (captured live) celebrates 15 years of hometown concerts as the King Of Waltz brings the joyous atmosphere of his open-air concerts in Maastricht to the big screen on September 18 at 7pm and September 20 at 2pm.
Then, Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes (captured live) dances on to the McCarthy screen on September 30 at 7pm and October 4 at 2pm.
Bourne’s Olivier Award-winning adaptation of Powell and Pressburger’s 1948 film has dazzled audiences across Britain and the United States with its tale of obsession, possession and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world.
Cinema tickets at the SJT for films cost £7, concessions £6; Circle members/NHS/under-30s £5; for event cinema, including ‘captured live’, £12; for live streams, £17.
To book, go to sjt.uk.com/whatson or call 01723 370541, Thursday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm, when the box office also is open for in-person bookings.
MUSEUMS, galleries and cinemas are welcoming you in, but in the summertime, when the weather is surprisingly fine, now is the chance to capitalise on the great outdoors, from pop-up patio shows to musical theatre in an amphitheatre.
In the interests of balance, Charles Hutchinson’s recommendations also take in a new exhibition indoors and a night in that drags on and on…in spectacular vocal and visual fashion.
Outdoors entertainment number one: Pop-Up On The Patio, at York Theatre Royal, August 14 to 29
TAKING part in a Covid-secure summer season of outdoor performances, on a terrace stage designed by Yorkshire theatre designer Hannah Sibai, will be “Yorkshire’s finest theatre and dance makers”.
Step forward York Dance Space’s Dance//Shorts; Mud Pie Arts; Story Craft Theatre for Crafty Tales; Paul Birch’s Fool(ish) Improv; The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre in Orpheus and Eurydice and puppeteer Freddie Hayes in Fred’s Microbrewery.
Look out, too, for Cosmic Collective Theatre in the cult show Heaven’s Gate; York performance poet Henry Raby in Apps & Austerity; Say Owt, the York outlet for slam poets, word-weavers and “gobheads”; magician, juggler and children’s entertainer Josh Benson in Just Josh and pop, soul and blues singer Jess Gardham.
Theatre in a summer’s garden: Engine House Theatre’s Park Bench Theatre, Friends Garden, Rowntree Park, York, until September 5
ROLL up, roll up, for Samuel Beckett’s rarely performed monologue, First Love, artistic director Matt Aston’s new play, Every Time A Bell Rings, and a family show inspired by a classic song, Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
Each production is presented in Covid-secure, carefully laid out and spacious gardens, allowing audience members to keep socially distanced from each other. Chris Hannon performs the Beckett piece; Lisa Howard, the play premiere; Aston’s co-creator, Cassie Vallance, the new children’s show.
Headphones or earphones will be required to hear the dialogue, sound effects and music in performances. All audience members will be given a receiver on entry; takeaway headphones cost £1 when booking a ticket online. Bring blankets or chairs.
Musical celebration of the month: York Stage at Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, August 23 to 25
YORK Stage are bringing musical theatre back to life this summer with their first ever outdoor show, taking over the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre for three nights.
Songs from Grease, Hairspray, Cats, Cabaret, The Greatest Showman, West Side Story and many more will be sung by Emily Ramsden, Ashley Standland, May Tether, Joanna Theaker and Richard Upton under the musical direction of Jessica Douglas.
“We wanted to keep it light, with singers of great quality and a band of great quality performing songs we all know so well, presented as a concert rather than as a staged performance, so it’s very much about the music,” says producer and director Nik Briggs.
Outdoor festival of the month: North York Moors Chamber Music Festival, Welburn Abbey, Ryedale, until August 22
AN evolution as a much as a Revolution, the 2020 North York Moors Chamber Music Festival has swapped the indoors for the outdoors, now taking place in an open marquee sited in the grounds of Welburn Abbey, Welburn Manor Farms (YO62 7HH), between Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside, in Ryedale.
For its theme of Revolution! in the festival’s 12th year of celebrating chamber works, the focus is on and around the music of Beethoven – the “revolutionary” – and beyond to mark the 250th anniversary of the German composer’s birth in Bonn.
Full details can be found at northyorkmoorsfestival.com. Season tickets have sold out, but do check if tickets remain available for individual concerts on 07722 038990.
York exhibition of the week: Jill Campbell, Featured Artist, Blue Tree Gallery, Bootham, York, until September 19
BLUE Tree Gallery, York, is marking the opening of North Eastern artist Jill Campbell’s exhibition of intuitive and soulful landscape paintings by introducing temporary new opening hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm.
“Most of my work is based on an ancient mining landscape called Cockfield Fell, where I walk nearly every day,” says Jill. “I use elements of what I see and combine these with my imagination to create my paintings.
“I’m fascinated by the fell’s strange, other worldly, abstract shapes defined by the morning shadows and framed by big dramatic skies. Its pools, pathways, mounds, dips and curves are my motifs.”
Drag show of the week: Velma Celli in A Night At The Musicals, tomorrow, 8pm
YORK drag diva supreme Velma Celli has embraced the world of the live stream through lockdown and beyond.
Velma’s satellite nights from her Bishopthorpe kitchen started in quarantine, back home in York after her Australian travels, and now she has vowed to keep these glamorous, if remote, gatherings going.
“I’m thrilled to be doing another live streamed show on August 14,” says Velma, the exotic cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair. “As venues are now closing up again in London, I will be doing more of these again! Bring on the fun! Watch out for news of special guests.”