Garden of delights as Alex and Phil stage Orpheus, Eurydice and more at the mill

Definitely not Yorkshire: Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger, when taking Orpheus to the other side of the world. Now they will stage it in Alexander’s back garden near York

ALEXANDER Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger are heading home with their I’ll Try And See You Sometimes art attack for lockdown-eased times.

This summer’s already Hyper Local Tour of their international touring show Orpheus will become even more hyper local for “six days of work” in Alex’s back garden at Stillington Mill, Stillington, north of York.

The one with the mill pond and wooded backdrop, now with social-distancing measures in place for Covid-secure At The Mill shows from August 2 to 7 to a maximum audience of 30 per 7pm show.

“We’re doing some Orpheus, some Eurydice, and one night of New Stuff We Haven’t Done Before,” say the duo.

York theatre-makers Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger take the applause after a performance of their international hit Orpheus. Picture: Hartstone Kitney

Presented by York theatre makers Alex and Phil’s companies, The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre, the duo will stage:

Sunday, August 2: Orpheus, £12;

Monday, August 3: Eurydice, Orpheus’s sister show, £12;

Tuesday, August 4: Either Orpheus or Eurydice, decided via an Instagram poll, £12;

Wednesday, August 5: New work from Alex and Phil, a reading of This Story Is For You and a gig by Clive (Phil’s name for his solo music, Clive being his middle name and his father’s name). A new story from Alex, a new series of songs from Phil, £9;

Thursday, August 6: Double bill of Orpheus and Eurydice. Both shows, back to back, Orpheus first, £16.

Friday, August 7: Double bill of Orpheus and Eurydice. Both shows, back to back, Eurydice first, £16.

Hat, notebook, guitar: Tools of the trade for Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger when performing Orpheus

“All tickets types will show up when you book. Please select the correct price for whatever day/show you are booking,” say Alex and Phil. “It’s pretty obvious, it says on the ticket.

“There are only 30 tickets per event. We will lay out the seats each day depending on what group sizes have booked. However many tickets you book, we’ll lay out that many chairs for your group with a nice table in the garden, socially distanced from other groups.

“There won’t be a bar or refreshments, so feel free to bring your own drinks/ picnic along. There will be a wet-weather option, but it‘s not an indoor option, so if it‘s chilly, please do wrap up.”

To book tickets, go to: theflanagancollective.com/LiveShows.html.

York Theatre Royal to make job cuts to ensure future. “Devastating,” says director

Silent night: The empty York Theatre Royal stage and auditorium bathed in “emergency red” on the nationwide #LightItInRed campaign night on July 6

YORK Theatre Royal is to make “some redundancies”, faced by the need to reduce costs significantly in the Coronavirus blight.

A statement headlined “York Theatre Royal takes steps to ensure its future” was released today, announcing that, “like so many theatres around the country”, the St Leonard’s Place theatre would be entering into consultations with staff that would “regrettably lead to some redundancies due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic”.

“The theatre has been unable to open its doors for performances since March 17 and, despite Government allowing the return of socially distanced performances from August 1, the theatre’s survival will depend on it reducing costs significantly,” the statement continued.

Eighty-nine per cent of the Theatre Royal’s annual income is generated through ticket sales and from revenue streams associated with welcoming audiences. A £196,493 grant from the Arts Council England Emergency Fund, announced on July 7, will support the theatre, but only to September 30, and crucially details are yet to be announced as to how the much vaunted £1.57 billion Government relief package for cultural institutions will be distributed.

The “crown jewels” of British culture are expected to be at the top of the pecking order, although Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has talked of the need to protect small-scale theatre enterprises too.

York Theatre Royal executive director Tom Bird, pictured in happier times. “It is devastating to me that in the coming weeks we are going to have to make some very difficult decisions,” he says

In the statement, Theatre Royal executive director Tom Bird said: “Since 1744, the people of York have enjoyed, supported and celebrated this theatre. It is our job, as custodians of this great community asset, to do whatever we can to ensure its survival for the people of our city.

“All of the leadership team have taken big pay cuts, and we have maximised our use of government [furlough] schemes.

“It is devastating to me that in the coming weeks we are going to have to make some very difficult decisions. But the theatre can survive this and we will make sure that, when we are able to re-open our doors, York Theatre Royal will come roaring back with an epic programme to help re-energise our community’s creativity.”

Tom added: “I want to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of people who are donating to the theatre at this time, as a result of our heightened fundraising messages. This is making a real difference.” Donations can be made online via yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Vicky Biles, the Theatre Royal director of communications and development, said: “We’re not going to add anything else at this time.”

That leaves questions aplenty. How many redundancies? When will the Theatre Royal learn if any slice of the £1.57 billion aid package is bound for York? Will Cinderella still be going to the ball in the Theatre Royal’s first pantomime collaboration with Evolution Productions from December 4 to January 10 2021? Watch this space for the answers, whenever they may come.

Mikron Theatre Company stay afloat for 50th year after rapid fundraising appeal


Artistic director Marianne McNamara and producer Pete Toon at Mikron Theatre Company’s last performance in 2019. Picture: Mark Kelly

MIKRON Theatre Company have shot past their fundraising target to secure next year’s 50th anniversary tour in less than three weeks.

After the Covid curse de-railed their entire 2020 season, the West Yorkshire travelling troupe needed to raise £48,337.49 to continue taking shows not only on the road but on canals and rivers too.

The brisk financial fillip supplied by supporters and the public at large, both home and abroad, means the Marsden company now can plan their 2021 travels aboard their 1936 narrowboat Tyseley.

“We cannot thank people enough,” says buoyant artistic director Marianne McNamara. “We are absolutely humbled by the support we have received. It is testament to not only how valued the company is, but also to the work we have done for the past 50 years.

Staying afloat: Mikron Theatre Company’s vintage narrowboat Tyseley

“We’ve had letters and emails from all over the world: Texas, Catalonia and the Netherlands and, of course, every corner of the country from Cornwall to Cromarty, saying how much Mikron means to them and that they couldn’t see us miss out on our 50th year of touring.”

What happens next? “Every penny raised over the minimum amount we needed for the appeal will, of course, be used wisely and carefully,” says Marianne. “We have Tyseley, our narrowboat, to keep ship shape, and we will be able to continue our aims of developing new writers, directors and creatives for the future of Mikron and the industry as a whole.” 

Based at the Mechanics Hall in the village of Marsden, at the foot of the Yorkshire Pennines, Mikron Theatre Company tour shows to “places that other theatre companies wouldn’t dream of”, be it a play about growing-your-own staged at allotments; a play abuzz with bees performed next to hives; or one about when the chips are down, served up in a fish and chip restaurant.

Game on! Amanda Whittington’s football play, Atalanta Forever, WILL be staged by Mikron Theatre Company next year

Or a play about hostelling that spent nights at YHA youth hostels and one telling the story of the RNLI, launched at several lifeboat stations around the UK coastline. 

The successful appeal ensures 2020’s Covid-cancelled shows can go ahead in 2021: Amanda Whittington’s new work on women’s football in the 1920s, Atalanta Forever, and the premiere of Polly Hollman’s canine comedy caper A Dog’s Tale.

In 48 years until this year’s enforced hibernation, Mikron have performed 64 original shows; composed and written 384 songs; issued 236 actor-musician contracts; spent 30,000 boating hours on the inland waterways; covered 530,000 road miles;  performed 5,060 times and played to 428,000 people.  

For further information on Mikron Theatre Company and the opportunity to donate, visit mikron.org.uk/appeal.

Who wants carrots? Barbara rises to mask task to aid Rowntree Theatre’s roof appeal

Joseph Rowntree Theatre volunteering director Barbara Boyce models one of her face masks in aid of the Raise The Roof appeal

SALES of jazzy face masks designed by volunteering director Barbara Boyce have raised more than £850 for the Joseph Rowntree Theatre roof appeal in York.

Early on in lockdown, before the wearing of masks or facial coverings became commonplace or, in some places, mandatory, Barbara began making and selling fabric face masks for the Raise The Roof appeal. 

Board trustee Barbara bought and donated all the fabric and elastic for the masks,  joining the JoRo’s Just Giving campaign with her fundraiser over the past two months.

“I am making these fun face masks to brighten up those occasions when people need to wear them. They come in a huge variety of high-quality fabrics featuring animals, florals and quirky prints,” she says.

Leaves or carrots? Two of the masks available from Barbara Boyce to boost the Joseph Rowntree Theatre appeal for roof repairs

Now that mask-wearing is to become compulsory in shops, with effect from July 24, Barbara anticipates continued – and hopefully increased – demand for the snazzy masks and in turn a further boost for the £90,000 appeal.

Barbara is asking for a minimum donation of £8 for each mask and buyers can contact her to choose a design and size via justgiving.com/fundraising/barbara-boyce1, with her masks available in adult and child sizes.

“All our usual income has dried up as no-one is able to hire the theatre at the moment,” she says.  “We still need to pay our bills and get the roof repaired.

“So far I’ve made over 100 masks and as long as people keep buying, I’ll keep sewing.”

Dancing in your street? If you live in Eastfield, Scarborough, here’s your chance

“It should be a really fun thing to do. We’re hoping people get dressed up, get creative and get dancing!” says VOXED artistic director Wayne Parsons, introducing the #Goggledance project

THE Stephen Joseph Theatre and dance storytellers VOXED are uniting for an innovative new project in Scarborough.

They are inviting residents of the East Coast resort’s Eastfield area to bid to take part in #goggledance, a co-production wherein participants will watch a dance performance taking place outside their own homes, while filming themselves watching – and joining in.

Their footage will be incorporated into a series of short films that will include professional footage of the performance too.

The films will be posted online and on social media by both VOXED and the SJT over several weeks in the autumn.

The project is the brainchild of choreographer and director Wayne Parsons, the founder of VOXED, formerly Wayne Parsons Dance.

“We’ll be staging five live performances right outside people’s homes in Eastfield: a personalised show for that household and their neighbours,” he says.

“At an agreed time, we’ll turn up on their street and a solo dancer will perform a ten-minute piece. The live performance will be in three sections: Watch Us, Follow Me and finally a Be You section.

“All they need to do is record themselves during the show – on a mobile phone will be fine. They then send us their film and we’ll create short videos combining our performance with their homemade films that can be shared online.”

Wayne adds: “Everyone that applies will be included, even if they’re not selected as one of the final five. Everyone will be sent a short dance to learn that has a moment at the end where each household can showcase their creative sides. These submissions will then be included in our digital distribution, using the hashtag #goggledanceus”

“It should be a really fun thing to do. We’re hoping people get dressed up, get creative and get dancing! The idea is to get loads of people having a boogie and sharing with their local community and their local theatre. They’ll be able to showcase their talents for the world!”

SJT artistic director, Paul Robinson, says: “When Wayne first came to us with the idea for #goggledance, we knew we couldn’t say no! It’s one of the most innovative, inclusive and exciting dance projects we’ve seen in a long time. We’re delighted to be able to bring it to Scarborough.”

If you want to  take part in #goggledance, email goggledance@sjt.uk.com by Saturday, August 8. Please include a short video introduction to you, your family and anyone else who will be there on filming day, plus the view from the window from where you will be watching and the room that you will be in.

“It’s not essential, but if you have a talent, whether it’s dancing, singing or playing a musical instrument, include it in your video submission,” advises Wayne.

Live performances will take place on August 22 and the films will be available online on the VOXED and SJT Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Tik Tok accounts.

For more information, go to: sjt.uk.com/event/1048/goggledance or voxeddancetheatre.com.

Did you know?

VOXED artistic director Wayne Parsons is a director, choreographer and movement director with more than 15 years’ experience of working in dance and theatre.

He graduated from London Contemporary Dance School before embarking on a performance career that spanned 13 years, working for Sydney Dance Company, Richard Alston Dance Company and the National Dance Company of Wales.

As a choreographer, Wayne regularly makes for his own company VOXED, formerly Wayne Parsons Dance, touring work across the UK and abroad. In theatre, he has choreographed shows at Shakespeare’s Globe, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Hampstead Theatre.

“VOXED creates work that is, at its heart, all about storytelling,” he says. “Our aim is to bring people together through the shared experience of dance. Whether it be through our indoor work, our outdoor work or our participation projects, we aim to reflect the world we live in and the stories we share through the work we do.”

More Things To Do in York/Outer Mongolia and at home, masked or unmasked, courtesy of The Press, York. List No. 10

Masking for it: Dress code for the Covid age

CULTURE Secretary Oliver Dowden is on the case, he says, making plans for the gradual re-opening of theatres, comedy joints and music venues, when Covid-safe to do so, but the traffic lights are still stuck at red.

Outdoor performances were given the thumbs-up to resume from last Saturday, not so helpfully at two days’ notice, and cinemas are pencilling in a re-start from July 31, although nothing is confirmed yet. Meanwhile, assorted summer festivals are going virtual, as did this week’s Great Yorkshire Show.

This masked-up column will steer clear of the pubs, bars, restaurants and shops making their welcome comebacks, focusing instead on what’s going on…or not going on, as CHARLES HUTCHINSON reports

Violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen: RyeStream concert on July 25

RyeStream, Ryedale Festival online, July 19 to 26

THE 2020 Ryedale Festival has transmuted into RyeStream, an online festival of eight concerts, streamed straight to your home daily over the course of a week.

Musicians are making the journey to North Yorkshire to perform in three empty but beautiful locations: All Saints’ Church, Helmsley, St Michael’s Church, Coxwold, and the triple whammy of the Long Gallery, Chapel and Great Hall at Castle Howard.

Taking part will be Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano, July 19, 3pm; Rachel Podger, violin, July 20, 11am; Matthew Hunt, clarinet, and Tim Horton, piano, July 21, 1pm; Anna Hopwood, organ, July 22, 11am; Abel Selaocoe, cello, July 23, 6pm; Rowan Pierce, soprano, and Christopher Glynn, piano, July 24, 9pm; Tamsin Waley-Cohen, violin, and Christopher Glynn, piano, July 25, 3pm, and Carducci Quartet and Streetwise Opera, July 26, 6pm.

Go to ryedalefestival.com/ryestream/ for instructions on how to view. This debut online season is free, although donations are welcome.

Staithes Blue, acrylic on canvas, by Giuliana Lazzerini at Blue Tree Gallery

New exhibition of the week: Giuliana Lazzerini: Solo, Blue Tree Gallery, York

BLUE Tree Gallery artist in residence Giuliana Lazzerini has opened an exhibition of new acrylic work online and at the York art-space for viewing by appointment only.

The Bootham gallery is “not fully open as yet”, but Covid-safety measures are in place, enabling viewing appointments to be made for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until August 5. To book one, send an email to bluetreegallery@hotmail.co.uk.

Giuliana’s Solo exhibition can be viewed online at bluetreegallery.co.uk/giuliana-lazzerini-solo-show-exhibi, with free postage and packaging for purchased paintings.

Owner Terry Brett outside Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, York

Gallery re-opening part two: Pyramid Gallery, York

TERRY Brett’s Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, York, has re-opened, operating a two-fold system for visitors.

You can book a 30-minute slot to browse the gallery at your leisure at pyramidgallery.com/ or, alternatively, if there is a sign up saying Please Knock To Enter, knock on the door and either Terry or Fi or Sarah will invite you in, one group at a time, and lock the door behind you.

“If the lights are not on, the shop is closed that day,” says Terry. “We will not be open on Sundays.”

Bootiful: Harrogate artist Anita Bowerman with her Tree of Life installation at Castle Howard for York Cancer Research’s Give It Some Welly fundraising campaign

Art installation of the week: Anita Bowerman’s Give Cancer The Boot, Castle Howard grounds

HARROGATE artist Anita Bowerman has designed a Tree of Life installation, Give Cancer The Boot, for Yorkshire Cancer Research’s Give It Some Welly fundraising campaign.

Hanging from a fir tree by the Atlas Fountain on the South Front, glistening in the sun like a summer variation on Christmas decorations, are 191 hand-polished stainless-steel wellies embossed with the YCR’s rose.

Why 191? They represent the 191,000 Yorkshire people who have “given the cancer the boot” over the past 25 years or live with it. To see the wellies, you will need to book a visit to Castle Howard at castlehoward.co.uk.

Oh, you are Orpheus: Storyteller Alexander Flanagan-Wright and minstrel Phil Grainger await your invitation

Outdoor theatre show of the summer: Orpheus, The Flanagan Collective/Gobbledigook Theatre

LIVE theatre is back, all over North Yorkshire, at your invitation. Step forward York theatre-makers Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger, who are mounting a five-pronged art attack under the banner I’ll Try And See You Sometimes.

Among their analogue enterprises is Orpheus – A Hyper Local Tour. “We’re taking Orpheus on an outdoor tour around North Yorkshire’s local lanes, villages, and towns, performing with social distancing in place and abiding by Government guidelines on how many people can meet at any one time,” says Alex.

“The shows can take place on people’s streets, at their front windows and in parks and gardens,” says Phil. “Instead of announcing a show that the public can book tickets for, we’re asking for people to pop on to flanagancollective.com and book a suitable slot and the whole show will be brought to them.”

Scarborough storyteller and artist Jan Bee Brown

Home entertainment of the week for children: A Bee and Lari the Seagull in Scarborough

SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust will present an online summer programme of seaside and animal-themed stories, crafts and activities, based around objects in the Scarborough Borough Collection, with the help of Lari the Seagull from July 22 to August 20.

On Wednesdays, from July 22 to August 19, families can enjoy Seaside Adventures, whether “meeting” rockpool creatures or magical selkies, all inspired by paintings at Scarborough Art Gallery and designed by storyteller and artist Jan Bee Brown.

On Thursdays, from July 23 to August 20, Animal Antics will take participants on a journey across the world, inspired by animals in the SMT natural history collections. 

The highlight each week will be a new audio story written by Brown, released each Wednesday.

Lockdown disco queen Sophie Ellis-Bextor: Kitchen Disco Tour next May

Seek out the good news

YORK Racecourse’s Music Showcase Weekend with Pussycat Dolls and Rick Astley is a non-runner on July 24 and 25. Les Miserables will not mount the barricades from July 22 at Leeds Grand Theatre. However, Greg and Ails McGee’s According To McGee gallery, in Tower Street, York, will be opening its doors once more from Saturday. Sophie Ellis Bextor has announced a Kitchen Disco Tour date at Leeds Town Hall on May 19 2021; Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan has re-arranged her Pocklington Arts Centre gig for a second time, now booked in for April 23 2021.

And what about…

THE Luminaires on BBC One on Sunday nights; can anyone shine a light on what’s going on with all that to and froing in time? New albums by Sparks, Margo Price and The Streets. The Reading Room café at Rowntree Park, York, re-opening.

Third time luck of the Irish: Mary Coughlan has re-arranged her Pocklington Arts Centre show…again

SIX The Musical’s drive-in tour crashes after localised lockdowns scupper all shows. Church Fenton airfield dates beheaded alas

Brought to its knees: SIX The Musical’s summer of drive-in shows has been scuppered by localised lockdowns. Picture: Johan Persson

DIVORCED, beheaded and now Covid-19ed. Live Nation Entertainment have called off SIX The Musical’s drive-in concert series, hitting for six the August 11 to 16 run at the Church Fenton airfield.

Blame “localised lockdowns” for scuppering the Queens’ irreverent regal shows at 12 locations, explain the “devastated” producers.

“The latest developments regarding localised lockdowns mean it has become impossible for us to continue with the series with any confidence,” say Kenny Wax, Wendy & Andy Barnes and George Stiles.

“This devastating news has come out of the blue and hit us all for six. We are so sorry to disappoint the thousands of fans who have booked tickets and sold out many dates on the tour.

Dead end: The Divorced Beheaded Drive poster for SIX The Musical, no longer hitting the road

“It is also a sad day for our West End and UK Tour Queens who had already started rehearsals and our entire team of up to 60 people who were all working so hard to deliver a spectacular show.”

Their statement continues: “Despite the Government announcing Stage 3 of Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s road map, permitting performances outdoors with an audience, the planned tour was due to visit 12 cities, several of which have since been identified as emerging Covid infection hot spots.  

“We know that ultimately there is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of our company and the Six Queendom. We look forward to better times.” 
Full refunds for “the first West End musical to perform again after lockdown” will be issued directly to all ticket holders within the next seven days from Ticketmaster.

Leeds East Airport, at Church Fenton, was among 12 sites nationwide picked for Live Nation Entertainment’s Utilita Live From The Drive-In: SIX The Musical, The Live Concert.

A bevy of Queens from the West End cast for SIX The Musical in 2019

The West End and tour casts were to have taken to the road in August and September to present the full musical version in the open air, with the Arts Theatre, London company in action at Church Fenton.

Billed as “Divorced, Beheaded, Drive – Live In Concert” for the now cancelled drive-in tour, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss‘s SIX is the “electrifying musical phenomenon that everyone has lost their head over”. First presented by Cambridge University students at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the show has been catapulted into a West End and international hit en route to being named the Musical of the Decade by WhatsOnStage.

From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take to the mic in SIX to tell their tales, remixing 500 years of historical heartbreak into a 75-minute celebration of 21st-century girl power where these queens may have green sleeves but their lipstick is rebellious red.

Wife strife: Drive-in audiences will now miss out on the joy of SIX in the open air after the “out of the blue” cancellation of shows at all 12 locations

The publicity promised: “This intoxicating Tudor take by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss is a histo-remixed pop-concert musical you won’t forget. The Queens are back, so grab your crowns and your picnic blankets and get down like it’s 1533.”

SIX The Musical and Utilita Live From The Drive-In were to have linked up this summer from August 4 to September 12 for shows at Colesdale Farm, London; Birmingham Resorts World Arena; University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton; Filton Airfield, Bristol; Cheltenham Racecourse; the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh; Leeds East Airport, Church Fenton, near Leeds; Lincoln, Central Docks, Liverpool; The National Bowl, Milton Keynes; the July Course, Newmarket Racecourse, and Teesside International Airport.

SIX The Musical, The Drive-In: Divorced, beheaded and now cancelled, alas.

I’ll Try And See You Sometimes, say Alex and Phil in their five-pronged art attack

Oh, you are Orpheus: Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger, one notebook, one guitar, shoes off (out of picture) are here to entertain you “on people’s streets, at their front windows and in parks and gardens”

LIVE theatre is back, all over North Yorkshire, at your invitation.

Step forward York theatre-makers Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger, who are finding new ways of telling stories and creating art and theatre this summer.

As part of the duo’s five-pronged art attack under the banner I’ll Try And See You Sometimes, they are presenting Orpheus – A Hyper Local Tour, a show whose 325 two-hander performances before the Covid curse had taken Alex and Phil across the globe, let alone to Castle Howard.

As of today, announced by Culture Secretary at the Downing Street briefing on Thursday, outdoor performances can return, whether socially distanced theatre, opera, dance or music.

Alex and Phil have been ahead of the Government curve, however, setting I’ll Try And See You Sometimes in motion in mid-June.

“We’re taking Orpheus on an outdoor tour around North Yorkshire’s local lanes, villages, and towns, performing with social distancing in place and abiding by Government guidelines on how many people can meet at any one time,” says Alex.

“The shows can take place on people’s streets, at their front windows and in parks and gardens,” says Phil. “Instead of announcing a show that the public can book tickets for, we’re asking for people to pop on to flanagancollective.com and book a suitable slot and the whole show will be brought to them.”

The I’ll Try And See You Sometimes season is bringing together Wright’s company The Flanagan Collective, Grainger’s Gobbledigook Theatre and industry friends.

“We’re taking theatre and the arts to the people of Yorkshire, keeping spirits up and people connected during these times of social distancing to help combat loneliness, something needed more than ever in the Covid-19 climate,” they say.

“Some of it is hyper local, some of it is spread far further afield, some of it is music, some of it is stories, none of it is digital.”  

All the world’s a stage for Orpheus, whether in New York, on the Ouse Cruise boat in York or out in Australia

The duo’s five-hand of analogue works are: Orpheus – A Hyper Local Tour; Oh, To Be So Lonely – A Pen Pal Project; This Story Is For You – A New Story With Guest Illustrators; Half Man, Half Bull – Two Myths Over A Double Album and The Odyssey – An International Adaptation.

Both theatre-makers attended school in rural North Yorkshire, and still live there, five miles apart, Alexander at a converted 17th century mill in Stillington, Phil in Easingwold.

Usually, however, they spend most of their time away from home, touring theatre across the globe, but Covid-19 and the lockdown has brought them back to Yorkshire, where they are pooling their skills, experience and creativity.

“When the lockdown hit, we were touring in Australia and about to head to New Zealand,” says Alex. “We’ve been touring our adaptation of Orpheus for a few years now, taking it across the UK, around Australia, New Zealand, Bali and over to New York.”

Alex and Phil made a sister show, Eurydice, created with performers Serena Manteghi and Casey Jay Andrews, and this year added The Gods The Gods The Gods to their repertoire, premiered in Australia.

“All three shows were lined up for UK and international touring for the next 18 months or so, including a season at the Edinburgh Fringe. But obviously that has all changed now,” says Alex.

“I’ve been keeping up with the wider industry conversations – the difficulty in using auditoriums, the need for government assistance, the huge case for our industry to be saved – and we agree with all of it and we’ve also been aware of the need to do something.”

Hence the launch of I’ll Try And See You Sometimes, showing initiative, imagination, an eye for innovation and a need for adventure that marked out writer, director, musician and performer Alex’s best-known work: the Guild of Misrule’s immersive, jazz-age hit show The Great Gatsby that began at a closed York pub.

In a nutshell, he and musician, singer, composer, actor, director and sound designer Phil make and deliver work outside of the usual physical four walls. “We have shaped, created, railed against, built, torn down, raised and radicalised perceptions of what theatre, narrative, storytelling and a relationship with an audience can be,” says Alex.

“We’re now finding ways to keep telling stories. It’s not about re-imagining shows we wanted to do live, in rooms full of hundreds of people and, instead, try and fit them on Zoom.

Phil Grainger in a performance of Orpheus in pre-Coronavirus times

“There are wonderful digital storytellers and artists in the world, but we’re not one of them. So, we’ve come up with a season of analogue work: a season of work where you get tangible things, which seeks to connect people, deliver narratives, and tell stories.”

The quintet of works can be booked in North Yorkshire and accessed regionally, nationally and internationally as the season plays across a various outdoor spaces and will be available to download.

Run by Alex and his sister Abbigail Ollive’s Lonely Arts Club, Oh, To Be So Lonely is a pen pal project, whereby those who sign up will receive a letter saying hello, with a bit of chat and reading, listening and watching recommendations.

“Those who wish for their contact details to be shared with others in the group will have the opportunity to write and share their lockdown experiences with others wanting to reconnect with the community,” says Alex. 

This Story Is For You is a “typically sad” new story written by Alex with a soundtrack by Phil and artwork by guest illustrators. “We’ve teamed up with a bunch of pals and asked them to turn the story into a book, and to create unique artworks to go alongside the story,” says Phil. “Audiences will then get the story, the artwork, and the music to keep.”

For the Half Man, Half Bull double album, Alex and Phil have linked up with Ollie Tilney, from The Great Gatsby cast, and Streatham Space Project to retell two ancient Greek myths.

“We’re writing the story of Theseus & The Minotaur and Daedelus & Icarus as a double album release on vinyl, CD and for digital download,” says Phil. “Two stories, told together, made to be listened to.”

The Odyssey – An International Adaptation involves Alex and Phil teaming up with friends in the north, London, Amsterdam, New York, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Wellington to create an adaptation of Homer’s Greek epic poem, told through a series of one-on-one/small-scale encounters.

Those who book a ticket will be told to meet in a certain place at a certain time, to be joined there by a storyteller and or a musician

Details of the full season are available at theflanagancollective.com, where bookings can be made too.

Has notebook, will take bookings: Alexander Flanagan-Wright in Orpheus

York Theatre Royal boosted by emergency funding from Arts Council England

York Theatre Royal’s stage and auditorium bathed in “emergency red” when taking part in the #LightItInRed campaign on Monday night

YORK Theatre Royal is to receive £196,493 from Arts Council England’s emergency response fund.

Executive director Tom Bird tweeted: “We’re massively grateful for the @ace_national support from their emergency fund. It keeps us going so we can keep supporting & developing creativity in this wondrous city. Thanks @ace_thenorth. Back to it.”

Bird told CharlesHutchPress: “We received the sum we requested, and it was strictly done on the basis of ‘what do you need to get you through to September 30’.

“But I must stress it is only a sum to take us to that point, when the reality is that we’re a venue usually with an annual turnover of £4 million.”

From Arts Council England’s £33 million pot for National Portfolio and Creative People & Places Organisations, York Museums Trust has received £362,000; Harrogate Theatre, £395,000; Leeds Playhouse (Leeds Theatre Trust), £669,326; Northern Ballet, Leeds, £500,000 and Sheffield Theatres Trust, £675,569.

Grand Opera House confirms no shows until after September 20 at the earliest

Kevin Clifton in his dream role as Scott Hastings in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom: Now running at the Grand Opera House, York, in November 2021, rather than November 23 to 28 this autumn, directed by Craig Revel Horwood

ALL performances at the Grand Opera House, York, are suspended until September 20 at the earliest “in order to help contain the spread of Covid-19”.

A statement from the Cumberland Street theatre’s owners, the Ambassador Theatre Group, said today: “We apologise for the inconvenience caused but hope you understand, given the exceptional circumstances.”

“We were encouraged to see the Government’s intervention to protect UK culture this week,” it went on. “We continue to work closely with health authorities and look forward to the wonderful re-opening of the Grand Opera House as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.

“To this end, we are sorry to confirm that all performances at Ambassador Theatre Group venues have been suspended until Saturday, September 20.

“If you have a booking that has been affected by this suspension, you do not need to do anything. Over the coming weeks, we will contact you directly and will be able to handle your requests and enquiries.”

Shows aplenty have been rearranged, such as Strictly Ballroom, starring Strictly Come Dancing old boy Kevin Clifton (November 15 to 20 2021) and comedy gigs by Ross Noble (Humournoid, January 21 2021) and Jimmy Case (Terribly Funny, April 28 2021).

“We are working with producers to re-schedule as many postponed shows as possible, so please do bear with us,” ATG’s statement said. “If your performance is re-scheduled, your tickets will be automatically moved to the new dates and you will be informed accordingly.

Jimmy Carr: Grand Opera House show moving to next spring

“We have also recently announced new performances, such as The Rolling Stones Story on January 22 2021 and The Simon & Garfunkel Story on April 29. Please book with confidence, knowing that if there are any further suspensions, your new tickets will remain fully valid for further exchanges or refunds.”

ATG added: “Customers booked for performances between August 3 and September 6 will be contacted in the week commencing July 13. Customers booked for remaining performances will be contacted in the week commencing July 20.”

Full credit vouchers valid until December 31 2021, including all fees, or refunds, are available for all cancelled shows. For further details, go to  ATGtickets.com/corona.

Nationwide, over the past few months, ATGtickets Customer Service Teams up and down the country have handled the re-scheduling of more than 15,000 performances of plays, musicals, comedy and live music.

“From November 2020 and throughout 2021, we have a wonderful array of productions on sale, everything from pantomime to The Book Of Mormon, Disney’s The Lion King to Jimmy Carr and Derren Brown to We Will Rock You,” said ATG.

“On behalf of all our staff, backstage crews, front-of-house teams, actors, dancers, musicians and the entire British theatre industry, we want to thank you for your support and understanding as we work together to ensure the future success of our industry.

“All of us at ATG are enormously proud to be a small part of British theatre, renowned as the greatest in the world. The arts has inspired, educated, entertained and enriched the lives of audiences for hundreds of years but has never been challenged like this. With your on-going commitment, we believe we can come back faster and stronger than ever before.”