Bar Convent marks Mary Ward Week as sainthood campaign launches petition

Dr Hannah Thomas, the Bar Convent’s special collections manager, with a portrait of Mary Ward and her 17th century paternoster bead. Picture: Charlotte Graham

THE online campaign to support the cause to have 17th century York-born nun and educational pioneer Mary Ward declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church will be launched today.

This petition launch heralds the beginning of the global annual celebration of Mary Ward Week 2024, marking her birth on January 23 1585 and death on January 30 1645.

In a nutshell, at a time when Roman Catholicism was illegal in England, Mary Ward strived for the equality and dignity of women in religion and education and paved the way for the first schools for girls to offer an education equal to boys, the second being established at the Bar Convent, Blossom Street, York, in 1686.

Today her vision is thriving in 42 countries at around 200 schools worldwide, and yet she was declared a heretic by the Catholic Church and was subjected to a 1631 Bull of Suppression that destroyed her first institution.

The subject of Ciaran O’Connor’s documentary, Mary Ward: Dangerous Visionary, voiced by Dane Judi Dench, Mary was the foundress of the Congregation of Jesus who reside at the Bar Convent, the oldest surviving Catholic convent in Great Britain.

On show there in the permanent display about Mary and her legacy is the 17th century crucifix that she carried on her multiple walks across the Alps to speak to the Pope, along with a pair of shoes from those walks and much else besides.

Prominent in the step-by-step progression to Mary’s “long overdue” beatification and canonisation by the Church is Sister Elizabeth Cotter, Canon Lawyer and Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Mary Ward, who will be promoting the campaign in York this week, with its centrepiece of an online petition to “take the cause to the next level”.

Sister Ann Stafford with Mary Ward’s 17th century crucifix at the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, York. Picture: Charlotte Graham

“As part of our case, we need to provide evidence that Mary Ward remains relevant today,” she says. “Key to this was her passionate belief that ‘women in time to come will do much’, which has always been the driving force of followers who brought her vision to 42 countries from her time and up to the present day.

“This recognition by the Church would provide the women of our time with a fine example of the Church’s willingness to promote the dignity of women in a world which badly needs such witness.”

Sister Elizabeth continues: “For the hundreds of thousands of Mary Ward followers worldwide, recognition by the Church would validate the belief that Mary Ward is a saint for the modern world; she is needed as much by our 21st century world as she was in those dark days of opposition to women in the 17th century.

“Support for and belief in Mary Ward has never waned in more than 400 years and her beatification and canonisation by the Church is long overdue.”

Sister Ann Stafford, sister in charge at the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, says: “We have been contributing to the ongoing global campaign to have Mary Ward officially recognised by the Church as a saint. As someone who campaigned for the dignity of women all of her life, we truly believe that Mary Ward is a vital role model for our time.

“Please help our cause in any way you can. You can sign the petition; join the conversation across the social media platforms using #MaryWardForSaint; visit us at the Bar Convent to discover more about Mary Ward; help us to raise awareness about this local woman who made international history, or let the Cause Office know if you can help us in other ways by emailing causemaryward@gmail.com.”

Canon Lawyer Sister Elizabeth Cotter, Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Mary Ward, with the Sisters in Asansol, India

Explaining the present state of play, involving theological and historical commissions, Sister Elizabeth says: “The process is in the phase where the Church has to be sure that a person never worked or wrote against the Church or did anything contrary to the faith.

“But why has it taken so long? Mary was interred in a monastery in Anger, Munich, in 1631 when she was declared a heretic. When she was let out, she went to the Pope in Rome to seek her exoneration, but it has taken four centuries to do undo the damage done in what was written about her.

“The year of Veneration came in 2009 under Pope Benedict XVI, who had attended a Mary Ward kindergarten school in Germany as a five-year old.”

Now comes the Beatification stage. “We have to find proof of a miracle,” says Sister Elizabeth. “I was appointed to my role in 2015, and I spent 2015 to 2019 asking if anyone had come across a miracle resulting from a prayer to Mary Ward. We came across plenty.”

One such miracle has been selected, whereupon a tribunal/board enquiry has been set up in the Catholic diocese where it occurred, requiring proof of the person’s medical cure.

“Only when they have brought the enquiry to a conclusion will the authorities in Rome decide if Mary is to be beatified or not.”

Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, in Blossom Street, York: the oldest surviving Catholic convent in Great Britain, opened in secrecy in 1686

The case for Mary Ward was submitted in December 2019, but a combination of the Covid 19 pandemic and the workload of the tribunal priest has kept Sister Elizabeth and Mary’s followers waiting and waiting.

“But what keeps me going is remembering how long it took for Mary to be venerated. I just handle the process on Mary’s behalf and make sure it’s all in order, and we pray for this priest all the time, hoping he will be able to conclude the tribunal because he has so much on his plate.”

In the meantime, special events will be running throughout Mary Ward Week and until February 17 at Bar Convent to highlight the cause. These will be led off by today’s 12.30pm to 1pm talk by special collections manager Dr Hannah Thomas on Mary Ward’s history-making, ground-breaking vision for religious and educational change, against all the odds, and why she should be declared a saint.

At Sunday’s annual ecumenical service at 4pm at St Thomas’s, Osbaldwick, the Anglican church where Mary Ward is buried, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell will give the homily.

“When Mary Ward died, Catholics were not allowed to be buried in York, but Mary’s followers were so honest in their ‘bribing’ of the Anglican priest at this tiny church in Osbaldwick that he agreed for her to be buried there,” says Sister Elizabeth.

Mary’s tombstone is now placed inside the church, bearing an epitaph with a coded reference to her determination that women might take inspiration from St Ignatius: “To love the poore, persever in the same, live, dy and rise with them was all the ayme of Mary Ward”.

Now the aim is to make Mary Ward a saint.

For more details and the link to the online petition, head to: www.barconvent.co.uk. Bar Convent opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm.

Mary Ward: Painted Life Congregatio Jesu Augsburg (Germany); Foto Studio Tanner, Nesselway

Mary Ward: the back story

MARY Ward was born into a devout Catholic family after the English Reformation had taken place.

She had a tumultuous childhood; her family was forced to relocate several times to avoid detection and was linked with the Gunpowder Plot.

She witnessed the brutal persecution of her fellow Catholics, including the imprisonment of members of her own family, such as her grandmother, Ursula Wright and the martyrdom of her cousin, Fr. Francis Ingleby, on Knavesmire, York.

Mary felt called to the Catholic religious life that had been banned in England for 70 years and travelled to the continent where many other Catholics had fled. 

She and her companions founded the first religious congregation for women modelled directly on the newly founded Society of Jesus (Jesuits), who take a fourth vow of universal mission to go wherever the Pope might send them.

Mary Ward believed that women were spiritually and intellectually equal to men and deserved an education that reflected that equality. Providing a proper education for girls was central to her work, and she travelled widely across Europe, founding schools in ten European cities by 1628.

These views and methods were far ahead of her time and the Catholic Church opposed her at every step and even had her imprisoned.

In 1617 she famously said: “There is no such difference between men and women that women may not do great things – and I hope in God it will be seen that women in time to come will do much.”

To put this into context, this was at a time when philosophers were debating if women even had souls; and her own religious adviser questioned whether women had as much religious fervour as their male counterparts due to the weakness of their sex.

It was a firmly held belief that too much education would be too taxing for the female brain. Even centuries later, in 1895, a manual on child development argued that if a girl overused her brain, it would damage her ability to bear children, noting that ‘this New Woman is only possible in a novel and not in nature’.

Mary Ward died on January 30 1645 during the English Civil War, having never seen her vision fully realised. She is buried in the churchyard at St Thomas’s, Osbaldwick, York, where her tombstone can be seen inside the church.

Across the global network of her religious congregation, the Bar Convent is the focal point and home of the historic legacy of her work.

After her death in 1645, her followers continued her work and opened a secret convent in York. They were the first to open schools for girls in this country that offered the same education as boys.

There is now a global following of thousands of religious sisters, along with around 200 schools worldwide in Mary Ward’s name, lay collaborators and Friends of Mary Ward.

Pope John Paul II singled out Mary Ward as an “extraordinary Yorkshire woman and a pioneer” in 1982 when he celebrated a Mass in York attended by 210,000 people.

In 2009, she was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI, in the first step on the road to canonisation and sainthood. The next step is to have Mary Ward beatified, an ongoing task.

Mary Ward, by Ellie Lewis, an illustration from the In The Footsteps Of Mary Ward guide book at Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre

Why does Mary Ward deserve to be a saint? The Bar Convent charts the reasons

1. Mary Ward pioneered a new way to live the consecrated life at a time when the monastic life was the only way acceptable to the Catholic Church. Believing that God’s will was driving her towards this new way, she persevered despite imprisonment and condemnation by the Church she sought to serve.

Exonerated eventually, Mary Ward’s holiness of life was recognised by the Church in 2009 when Pope Benedict declared her “Venerable.” At a time when the worldwide Synod called by Pope Francis is urging stronger roles for women within the Church, Mary Ward is a prime role model for future generations and especially for girls.

2. Mary Ward’s passionate belief that “women in time to come will do much” has been the driving force of those who brought her vision and values to 42 countries in every continent from her time and up to the present day.

She continues to provide inspiration to the women of our time. Recognition by the Church would provide a much-needed example of the Church’s willingness to promote the dignity of women in a world which badly needs such witness.

3. Her key values of freedom, justice, sincerity and joy, vital in her 17th context, retain their significance and importance in a world so devoid of these virtues today.

4. Despite the way she was treated by the Church of her time, Mary Ward retained her love for it, urging her followers to “love the Church”. She is a model of critical fidelity at a time when many struggle within the Church.

5.Mary Ward lived and worked for the greater glory of God despite the obstacles in her way. Her life challenges us to do the same.

6. Mary Ward was an Englishwoman who held fast to the Catholic faith in an era of persecution and hostility to the Church. What a role model she is to English Catholics today. By making her a saint, the Church would give recognition to the many faithful women and men who hold fast to the faith despite difficulties.

7. For the hundreds of thousands of Mary Ward followers worldwide, recognition by the Catholic Church would validate the widely held belief that Mary Ward is needed as much by our 21st century world as she was in the dark days of opposition to women in the 17th century.

“There is no such difference between men and women that women may not do great matters,”wrote Mary Ward in 1617

Prayer for Mary Ward’s Beatification

God, Creator of all that is good,

we thank you for giving Mary Ward

to the Church and to the world.

Impelled by the fire of your love

she did not shrink from risks,

labours or sufferings.

She lived and worked for your greater glory

for the good of the Church,

for the nurture of faith,

and for the dignity of women.

She was a pilgrim,

who spread the joy of the Gospel,

a woman of our times.

Grant that through the solemn

testimony of the Church the example

of her life may be a light for all

who seek God’s will.

Amen

Shadow and Light chapel installation brings messages of Hope to Let There Be Light! festive celebrations at Bar Convent

Hope: Shadow and Light: global drawing installation in the Bar Convent chapel, in Blossom Street, York. Picture: Greg McGee

HOPE: Shadow and Light, the new luminous installation in the 18th century chapel, takes centre stage in Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre’s Christmas experience in York.

Under the title of Let There Be Light!, the 17th century Blossom Street convent is aglow with a twinkling tree and decorative decorations, complemented by window displays of the Nativity.

Hope: Shadow and Light is a collaborative community work of art that not only responds to the Bar Convent’s Christmas theme but forms part of a global drawing campaign that originated in Viborg, Denmark, one of York’s fellow UNESCO Creative Cities of Media Arts.

Run in partnership with Greg and Ails McGee’s York arts charity New Visuality and installation artist Nick Walters, the installation projects more than 200 drawings from 15 countries on five continents on to the chapel dome, alongside work created in York as part of the #DrawWithDenmark – Green Together 2023 Campaign.

Councillor Martin Sanderhoff, from Viborg Kummune, Denmark, addressing the launch of Hope: Shadow and Light at Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre. Picture: Greg McGee

“Drawing is a universal language,” says Bar Convent marketing, PR and volunteering manager Lauren Masterman. “This global campaign uses creativity to generate positive change in a way that makes the world come together; a message that particularly emanates at Christmas.

The “visual conversation” has been joined by York schools Our Lady Queen of Martyrs and St George’s RC Primary; learners from Blueberry Academy; ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages] students from York College, and York’s Civic Party, led by the Lord Mayor of York, the Reverend Councillor Chris Cullwick. All art has been distilled into the video installation in the chapel and accompanying exhibition.

Greg McGee, New Visuality co-director and According To McGee art dealer, says: “Art is what makes life better than art, so we owe huge thanks to Bar Convent for reminding us of what a great thing UNESCO’s designation of York as a City of Media Arts is.

“We’re also grateful to City of York Council’s wards and more than 100 hundred of York’s young people who joined us to get creative, especially with working in tandem with Viborg’s globe-straddling Draw with Denmark campaign.

The window display of the Nativity at Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre. Picture: Frank Dwyer

“The results are here to view in the Bar Convent chapel, illuminated so beautifully by projectors from York’s XR Stories that let us paint in light. I’m also thanking in advance members of the public who are continuing to co-create with us by grabbing a blank tag, filling in their prayer, hope, and aspiration for next year for us to include in this ever-evolving exhibition.”

After attending the official launch event, City of York Councillor Jo Coles, executive member for health, wellbeing and adult social care, posted on social media: “It’s tough out there – the mental health of many has been affected. We’re all looking for hope wherever we can find it.

“Thanks to the Bar Convent, New Visuality, York UNESCO City of Media Arts and Guild of Media Arts, a long-standing partnership between City of York Council and Viborg, and some very tenacious individuals, we have a beautiful new exhibition to give us just that.

“Beautiful drawings by children from across the world, including many here in York, have been brought to life thanks to the amazing skills from the Viborg Animation Festival. All projected on to the ceiling of the beautiful Bar Convent chapel. Go see it! It’s stunning!”

City of York Councillor Jo Coles (Labour, Westfield Ward) speaking at the Hope:Shadow and Light launch event

In attendance too as part of a Viborg delegation’s three-day visit to York was Viborg Kummune councillor Martin Sanderhoff, who said: “The Draw with Denmark project, started in Covid to express what ‘hope’ meant to children, showed the power of drawing and creativity for young people. Drawing is needed for creative thinking to address and conquer our problems.

“We now have a global drawing campaign where 6,000 children from 45 countries, from Europe to  Africa to America, are expressing hope under this year’s theme of Green Together.”

Bar Convent festive visitors also can experience the Georgian parlour, dressed for Christmas and a special Christmas display in the exhibition.

Let There Be Light! runs at Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, Blossom Street, York, until December 19. Admission to the Hope: Shadow and Light installation and Georgian parlour is free; the Bar Convent exhibition, Secrets and Spies, costs £6, concessions £4, children £2, family ticket £12, at barconvent.co.uk. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm; last admission, 4pm.

Greg McGee, New Visuality co-director, left, Henrik Holmskov, Focal Point of Viborg UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, Chris Bailey, Focal Point of York UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, Sister Patricia Harriss, of Bar Convent, Councillor Martin Sanderhoff, from Viborg Kummune, Jane LH Jensen, director of Viborg Animation Festival, and Ails McGee, New Visuality co-director at the launch of the Hope: Shadow and Light installation

Creative Connections: York and Viborg

THE UNESCO Creative Cities of York and Viborg, Denmark, are working together to improve life for citizens, to make the cities more liveable and to boost the economy.

Delegates from Viborg returned to York from December 5 to 7 to broaden the conversation between the cities, bringing together elected members, higher education, creative industries and business representatives and public health managers.

Those delegates were Councillor Martin Sanderhoff, Viborg Kummune, Henrik Holmskov, Focal Point of Viborg UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, and Jane LH Jensen, director of Viborg Animation Festival and visibility director of Viborg Animation Workshop.

The aim is to explore the benefits from the creative sector becoming a permanent feature of the political landscape in both cities and regions.

The dialogue between York and Viborg started with ‘Hope’. In 2020, in the depths of lockdown during the Covid 19 pandemic, children and young people were among that hardest hit, shut out of school and away from their friends and wider communities.

In Denmark, Viborg City of Media Arts initiated the Draw with Denmark project, inviting children from around the world to submit drawings of ‘Hope’ to a team of creative animators. Children in York’s schools, led by REACH, the city’s creative education partnership, embraced the opportunity and had the chance to see their drawings exhibited in cities worldwide, as “the world became whole again and it was possible to think beyond confining walls”.

Since then, York and Viborg have continued to discuss shared opportunities and challenges for culture and creativity to make more successful, sustainable communities.

In 2022, with the support of the UK Department of Business and Trade, a Creative Export visit to Viborg was organised for York small creative businesses, while York welcomed two artists from Viborg to run family drawing workshops during the Viking Festival.

York media artist Kit Monkman, whose artwork People We Love was first installed in York Minster for Mediale 2020, remade the work with the participation of Viborg residents for exhibition in the Danish cathedral.

In April, York played host to Denmark’s Ambassador and Cultural Attache to the UK, as well as the UK’s Ambassador to UNESCO, and the deputy chief executive of Arts Council England, as an intensive three-day Study Visit by all 19 municipalities from Midtjylland in Denmark learned of creative approaches to common concerns, covering digital transformation of culture, cultural wellbeing and support for culture.

Chris Bailey, Focal Point of York UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, says: “Creativity and culture are key to the future success of both of our cities in so many ways. We want to encourage York’s brilliant creative sector to take advantage of the opportunities to work with Viborg, a city with which we share so much history.”

Creative Connections: York and Viborg

THERE are 25 Media Arts Cities in the UNESCO Creative Cities group, the latest designations being for Caen, Casablanca, Novi Sad and Oulu.

The range of work York has undertaken through the Media Arts network over the past eight years includes:

Contributing to specialist conferences, e.g. in Gwangju, Changsha;

Supporting artists for residency or exhibitions in Guadalajara, Austin;  

Enabling artist-to-artist collaborations such as City to City with Cali, Karlsruhe, Austin;

Hosting Media Arts Cities’ first meeting in 2018 in York.

York has been the deputy coordinator of Media Arts Cities for the past six years and has been working bilaterally with Viborg since the Danish city was designated a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts in 2019 in the most fruitful collaboration to date.

Since 2020’s Draw With Denmark launch, York’s creative education partnership, REACH, has continued its engagement with Viborg every year. Drawings have been seen, sometimes animated, other times projected sky-high on the side of buildings, and have been celebrated at conferences around the world.

Further major projects, for instance in performance and in heritage interpretation, are distinctly possible, suggests Chris Bailey. “If these are not be isolated successes, we have to embed the relationship at all political levels and secure community support.

“With more creative organisations involved in the conversation, we believe there will be a steady flow of projects of all sizes, both as part of normal business or with additional funding. December’s visit provided an opportunity to identify potential partners and areas for further collaboration between Viborg and York.”

Did you know?

THE Guild of Media Arts is York’s membership organisation for the creative sector. The Guild is the Focal Point of York UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts

So many questions to answer in Hide & Seek trail at Bar Convent until November 5

The hiding hole in the Bar Convent chapel

THE Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, in Blossom Street, York, is inviting you to find answers to clues and discover secrets that helped to save Catholics from being caught by their persecutors in Hide & Seek – The Trail. 

Secrets such as objects concealed in everyday household items; priest hiding holes, to be found within the Bar Convent; or invisible ink, used to write the secret letters sent by Mary Ward, but how did the recipients read them? Follow the trail and find the answers.  

Explore the collections to uncover the ways that Catholics kept their true religion hidden from the authorities to avoid arrest or death. Discover the reason why Father Edward Oldcorne was hanged, drawn and quartered in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. His crucifix – the only item to survive the raids on Catholic properties – forms the centrepiece of the exhibition.

On November 5 1605, the day of the State Opening of Parliament, Guy Fawkes, of York, was discovered preparing to light a fuse on 36 barrels of gunpowder, hidden under the Houses of Parliament in London.

Had he succeeded in his mission to blow up Parliament, he would have wiped out the entire Royal Family, the Lords and the Commons. 

Father Edward Oldcorne’s crucifix

What was Edward Oldcorne’s connection to Guy Fawkes? How did the Bar Convent manage to build an illegal chapel in the middle of York without being caught?

So many questions to be answered in Hide & Seek, an exhibition that goes behind the scenes of the turmoil, suspicion, persecution and tragedy of that time.

Hide & Seek runs until November 5. Admission is £6, concessions, £4, children aged six to 15, £2, under 6s, free, family of four, £12; trail included. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm; last entry 4pm. Tickets: 01904 643238 or barconvent.co.uk.

The Bar Convent chapel. Picture: Gareth Buddo

More Things To Do in York and beyond in a time of secrecy, horror and odd socks. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 41, from The Press

Dr Hannah Thomas, special collections manager at the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, with Father Edward Oldcorne’s crucifix from the Hide & Seek: The Aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot exhibition, opening today. Picture: Frank Dwyer

AN historic crucifix, a Wolds art trail, 40th anniversaries at the quadruple and a York-made horror double bill promise a heap of interesting encounters for Charles Hutchinson and you alike.

Exhibition launch of the week: Hide & Seek: The Aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, Bar Convent Living Heritage CentreBlossom Street, York, today until November 16

THE only surviving item from thousands seized in raids on Catholic houses after the 1605 Gunpowder Plot goes on show in York. The late 16th/early 17th century crucifix belonged to Father Edward Oldcorne (1561-1606), who was hanged, drawn and quartered despite being innocent of involvement. His crime: he attended school in York with infamous plotter Guy Fawkes and committed the treasonous act of becoming a Catholic priest.

On display will be new research into the crucifix, more information on Oldcorne and the men he was caught alongside, and an exploration of how priest hiding holes were constructed within the fabric of buildings. Tickets: barconvent.co.uk.

Andy And The Oddsocks: Songs, slapstick and silliness from Andy Day, centre, and co at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Alex Lake

Children’s gig of the week: Andy And The Odd Socks, York Theatre Royal, today, 1pm

STRAIGHT off the telly and onto the live stage, Andy And The Odd Socks bring their madcap mix of songs, slapstick and silliness to life with a 70-minute show to entertain families of all ages.

Fronted by Andy Day, CBeebies regular and 2021 York Theatre Royal panto star as Dandini in Cinderella, their sock’n’roll makes for the ideal first concert for children. Andy And The Odd Socks are patrons for the Anti-Bullying Alliance, by the way. Tickets update: filling up fast; 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Michael Mears and Riko Nakazono in Essential Theatre’s The Mistake

Studio show of the week: Essential Theatre in The Mistake, York Theatre Royal Studio, tonight, 7.45pm

DIRECTED by Rosamunde Hutt, Michael Mears’s Spirit of the Fringe award-winning play explores the events surrounding the catastrophic ‘mistake’ that launched the nuclear age, followed by a post-show discussion.

1942. On a squash court in Chicago, a dazzling scientific experiment takes place, one that three years later will destroy a city and change the world forever. Two actors, one British (Mears), one Japanese (Riko Nakazono), enact the stories of a brilliant Hungarian scientist, a daring American pilot and a devoted Japanese daughter, in a fast-moving drama about the dangers that arise when humans dare to unlock the awesome power of nature. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Delta Saxophone Quartet: Playing Steve Martland and The Soft Machine works at York Late Music’s concert tonight

Season start of the week: York Late Music, Franko Bozak, 1pm; Delta Saxophone Quartet, 7.30pm, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York, today

FRANKO Bozac showcases the reasons why the accordion should not be underestimated in his afternoon programme, featuring a collaboration between composer James Williamson and visual artist Romey T Brough. 

Celebrating their own ruby anniversary, the Delta Saxophone Quartet mark York Late Music’s 40th year by performing Steve Martland, The Soft Machine and new works. Box office: latemusic.org or on the door.

Elijah Dsenis-Constantine, as Tony, and Rebecca Ulliott, as Maria, in Be Amazing Arts’ West Side Story at the JoRo

Musical of the week: Be Amazing Arts in West Side Story, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, today and tomorrow, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

MALTON company Be Amazing Arts present Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s musical transition of Shakesespeare’s Romeo And Juliet to modern-day New York City, where two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the “American” Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks.

Arthur Laurents’s book remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever, charting the lovers’ struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice in this innovative, heart-wrenching landmark Broadway musical. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Ceramicist Gerry Grant: Taking part in Pocklington Area Open Studios 2023 at Venue 4, Fangfoss Pottery, with illustrator Sarah Relf

Art event of the weekend: Pocklington Area Open Studios 2023, today and tomorrow, 10am to 5pm

TAKING in Pocklington, villages with ten miles of the East Yorkshire market town, the Yorkshire Wolds and North Derwent Valley, Pocklington Area Open Studios 2023 features 28 artists in 14 venues.

This compact art trail features paintings, ceramics, textiles, jewellery and photography, with the chance to meet diverse painters and makers, many in their own studios, who will preview their latest works for sale, discuss their creative processes, potential commissions and upcoming workshops and courses.

Venue 1: Park Lane End Studio, Park Lane, Bishop Wilton: Colin Pollock, oils, acrylics and watercolour; Judith Pollock, printmaking and mixed media.

Venue 2: The Studio, The Old School, Skirpenbeck: Lesley Peatfield, fine art and abstract photography; Richard Gibson, sculptures.

Venue 3: Rocking Horse Studio, Rocking Horse Yard, Fangfoss: Shirley Davis Dew, painting; Sue Giles, textile art exploring Japanese Shibori techniques of dyeing; Richard Moore, handmade ceramic tiles.

Venue 4: Fangfoss Pottery, The Old School, Fangfoss,: Gerry Grant, ceramics; Sarah Relf, drawing and illustration.

Venue 5: I Woldview Road, Wilberfoss: Mo Burrows, jewellery; Bernadette Oliver, acrylic, ink and collage; Tori Foster, jewellery.

Venue 6: 4 Archibald Close, Pocklington: Peter Schoenecker, 2D and 3D art works.

Venue 7: 35 St Helens Road, Pocklington: Mary Burton, acrylics and pastels; Lee Steele, ceramics; Ingrid Barton, mixed media.

Venue 8: Newfold House Granary Studio, Newton upon Derwent: Chris Cullum, textile arts.

Venue 9: Tullyframe, Main Street, Barmby Moor: Penny De Corte, ceramic art; Avril Cheetham, jewellery.

Venue 10: Providence House, Ellerton: Jill Ford, ceramics; Heather Burton, palette knife painting (landscapes and figurative); Terri Donockley, ceramics.

Venue 11: Church Farm, Town Street, Hayton: Noreen Thorp, pastel, watercolour and mixed media, Lynda Heaton, watercolour and mixed media.

Venue 12: Hayton Studio, Manor Farm, Town Street, Hayton: Peter Edwards, mixed media; Harry Hodgson, mixed media.

Venue 13: Plum Tree Studio & House, Pocklington Lane, Huggate: Belinda Hazlerigg, paintings, printmaking, silk scarves and ceramics.

Venue 14: 3 Stable Court, Londesborough: Tony Wells, ceramics.

For the brochure, map and artist details, head to: pocklingtonareaopenstudios.co.uk/info.html. Free entry.

Hannah Sinclair Robinson’s Grete and a suspended Felipe Pacheco’s Gregor Samsa in Frantic Assembly’s Metamorphosis, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Tristram Kenton

Touring play of the week: Frantic Assembly in Metamorphosis at York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

POET, author, broadcaster and speaker Lemn Sissay has adapted Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis for Frantic Assembly, visceral purveyors of theatre full of physicality, movement and emotional truths, who last toured Othello to York.

Gregor Samsa finds himself transformed from breadwinner into burden in this absurd and tragic story, wherein humans struggle within a system that crushes them under its heel in Kafka’s existential depiction of the limitations of the body and mind, imagination and aspiration.  Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Howard Jones: Songs old and new at York Barbican on Wednesday

Sing something synth-full: Howard Jones: Celebrating 40 Years 1983-2023, York Barbican, Wednesday, doors, 7pm

SINGER, songwriter and synth player Howard Jones, 68, is marking the 40th anniversary of his revolutionary debut single, New Song, performing in a five-piece with Kajagoogoo’s Nick Beggs on bass and Robert Boult on guitar. Expect a “sonic visual feast” of hits and fan favourites and a support spot from Blancmange.

“I think my ’80s’ work still resonates through the generations because of the positive message in the lyrics,” says Jones. “I’ve always believed that music can give the listener a boost, especially when things in life prove challenging. Things can only get better when we realise the power of our own actions and engagement.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Mike Scott: Leading The Waterboys for the seventh time since 2012 at York Barbican

More 40th anniversary celebrations: The Waterboys, York Barbican, Thursday, 7.30pm

MIKE Scott has made a habit of playing York Barbican, laying on his Scottish-founded folk, rock, soul and blues band’s “Big Music” in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018 and October 2021.

Since then, The Waterboys have released 15th studio album All Souls Hill in 2022; re-released 2000’s Rock In A Weary Land, 2003’s Universal Hall and 2007’s Book Of Lightning on vinyl; appeared on Sky Arts’ The Great Songwriters and announced a six-CD box set of This Is The Sea for early 2024. Joining Scott will be Memphis keyboard player “Brother” Paul Brown, British drummer Ralph Salmins and Irish bassman Aongus Ralston.

Level 42’s Living It Up tour date on Friday the 13th is unlucky for some – it has sold out – but tickets are still available for fellow Eighties’ combo The Waterboys at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The horror, the horror: Book Of Monsters and Zomblogalypse, made in York, screened in York on Friday the 13th

Spooky screening of the week: Book Of Monsters and Zomblogalypse, Spark: York, Piccadilly, York, Friday, 6pm to 11pm

YORK’S horror filmmaking community gathers this Friday The 13th for a special double screening of Dark Rift Horror’s Book Of Monsters and MilesTone Films’ Zomblogalypse.

Both York-made indie films have enjoyed award-scooping film festival tours, with Dark Rift’s follow-up feature, How To Kill Monsters, now screening internationally. 

Meet the filmmakers, cast and crew of each movie, including directors Stewart Sparke, Hannah Bungard, Miles Watts and Tony Hipwell and star Lyndsey Craine. Add in signings, photo opportunities with cast and props, and merchandise to buy, including both films on Blu-ray, official posters, art cards and other fun stuff. Box office: ticketpass.org/event/EGUKTC/dark-rift-double-bill. 18-plus only.

In Focus: How York composer James Williamson, artist Romey T Brough and Croatian accordionist Franko Bozac collaborated for Late Music premiere and Blossom Street Gallery exhibition

Croatian accordionist Franko Bozac: Premiering James Williamson’s Romey Collages at York Late Music today

YORK composer James Williamson’s composition, Romey Collages, will be premiered by accordionist Franko Bozac as part of the 2023 York Late Festival season today.

The work is a collaboration between James and artist Romey T Brough that emerged from him seeing her work at Blossom Street Gallery, Blossom Street, York.

Romey, who lived and worked in York for many years, now resides at her studio in the Hertfordshire countryside. Her latest collages will be on show at Kim Oldfield’s gallery until October 29 under the exhibition title of A Collaboration in Music and Colour

“It’s a really interesting exploration of the relationship between the audible and visual,” says Kim.

Croatian accordion virtuoso Franko Bozac will be making his Late Music debut at St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel this afternoon, when Romey Collages will be showcased.

York composer James Williamson delivering Romey T Brough’s collaborative collages to Blossom Street Gallery

Composer James Williamson says: “This set of five pieces is a direct response to a set of monoprint collages by Romey. I first came across her work in 2016 in Blossom Street Gallery, where one of Romey’s collages was displayed on the wall and it immediately caught my eye.

“The collage was a vibrant display of repeated strips of colours, each strip with its own character, yet similar to the one before and after; a kind of self-similarity.”

At the time, James was working towards his PhD in composition, which drew on minimalist visual art and a fascination with the Deleuzian idea of difference and repetition and how might this apply to composing.

“To cut a long story short, I contacted Romey through the gallery to learn more about her work. We immediately connected over a coffee and thought it would be a great idea to collaborate on a project,” says James.

“Romey then created a series of five collages that drew inspiration from music, with each work having a musical title: Chaconne, Aubade, Nocturne, Pastorale and Berceuse. I then responded to these works and created a set of five pieces, each one being a musical interpretation of the works and their titles.

Chaconne Midday, mono’collage, by Romey T Brough

“Like most of my recent work, I use one or two ideas in each piece. I flesh these ideas out using repetition of singular fragments or phrases, juxtaposed by other contrasting fragments, similarly to Romey’s collages.”

Around the same time, James was contacted by Franko Bozac to commission a new piece. “I thought it would be great to tie the two projects together. I have always loved the accordion for its sound and versatility, and rather fittingly, when the bellows open up, it reminds me of collages themselves.”

In turn, Romey recalls: “I had a phone call from Kim, when I was exhibiting my monoprint collages in Blossom Street Gallery, saying that a young composer was interested in meeting me as he composed music the way I created my collages.

“I was very intrigued, and we met up for coffee outside York Theatre Royal. I hadn’t heard any of James’s compositions but was amazed by how we both could understand each other’s creative processes, and when he suggested a collaboration I was delighted to agree.”

Artist Romey T Brough at work on her mono’collages

On the bus back to her York studio, she thought of moods of the day from dawn to night. “Early the next day I travelled to Monks Cross on a very misty morning and Aubade/Dawn came to me,” she says. “The rest followed on, culminating in Nocturne/Night, inspired by the view from my studio through an established beech hedge of car headlights flashing past.

“I have since then indulged in listening to James’s compositions and created more collages inspired by his work. It’s been an exciting collaboration for me, and I hope to continue creating music-inspired images.”

Describing her modus operandi, Romey says: “My monoprints are created by painting with acrylic paint onto glass; the image is then transferred to paper. The glass is wiped clean each time a print is taken, therefore each one is unique.

“The collages are a development following on from the photographic ones I occasionally create. I am fascinated by how reorganising strips of my monoprints can bring more intensity to the colours and evoke memories and emotions.”

Berceuse Twilght, mono’collage, by Romey T Brough

Dr James Williamson: the back story

STUDIED at University of Huddersfield and Royal Academy of Music, completing PhD in Composition at University of York.

His works have been performed by: Psappha; Aurora Orchestra; Hebrides Ensemble; London Sinfonietta; CoMA London; Croatian Philharmonic Orchestra; Lunar Saxophone Quartet; Delta Saxophone Quartet; Quatuor Diotima; Ligeti String Quartet; University of York Symphony Orchestra; RAM Symphony Orchestra; Kate Ledger (piano); Anna Snow (voice); Ian Pace (piano), Franko Bozac (accordion) and Stephen Altoft (19-division trumpet). 

Broadcasts include BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction and Hear And Now, Beethoven FM (Chile) and Radio 3 Beograd. 

Nocturne Night, mono’collage, by Romey T Brough

Romey T. Brough: the back story

STUDIED initially at Harrow Art School in Middlesex, north of London. Awarded various certificates including national Diploma in Design.

Studied overseas in Italy in Positano, winning a scholarship. Studied with Professor Spadini at Rome Academy.

Work exhibited regularly at Royal Academy, London, and is in archives of Tate Gallery, London, and galleries and collections throughout UK, Japan, Australia and United States of America.

York Shakespeare Project to perform Shakespeare’s Songs in buildings ancient and modern from September 22 to 24

Shakespeare’s Songs producer and composer Nick Jones with, front pew, Meg Ollerhead and Lowen Frampton, and, second pew, Emma Scott, left, and Tracey Rea. Picture: John Saunders

ST Mary Bishophill Junior, probably the oldest working church in York, will swap hymns for Shakespeare’s Songs on September 22 and 23.

Taking over the ancient building – dating in parts to before the Norman conquest – York Shakespeare Project (YSP) will perform acoustic songs and instrumental music written specially for productions of As You Like It (2008), Troilus And Cressida (2011), Twelfth Night (2014) and The Tempest (2022), complemented by new songs from The Winter’s Tale and Love’s Labours Lost.

St Mary’s churchwarden, Graeme Thomas, says: “We’re always delighted to welcome visitors to our historic church. We’ve had theatre here before, and it will be an atmospheric setting for Shakespeare’s Songs.”

The venerable church has a Roman arch and Anglo-Saxon stonework and would have been centuries old already in Shakespeare’s own time. In contrast, the music by Nick Jones, Fergus McGlynn and York International Shakespeare Festival director Philip Parr is more contemporary, with Jones’s cast singing and playing instruments from guitars, ukelele and mandolin to cello, oboe, recorders and cajon.

Among those performers will be Maurice Crichton, who played Sir William Maleverer in York Theatre Royal’s community play, Sovereign, and fisherman Hector in YSP’s Sonnets At The Bar this summer; Emma Scott, the lead actress from YSP’s Macbeth and Rape Of Lucrece, and musical theatre regular Tracey Rea. Cast members from YSP’s Twelfth Night and The Tempest will feature too, alongside familiar faces from York Mystery Plays productions.

Introducing his new compositions for the show, producer Nick Jones says: “From The Winter’s Tale we have two new settings of songs for Maurice Crichton’s Autolycus, the pedlar with a taste for cheating and petty theft, in which he sings about his roving life: When Daffodils Begin To Peer and Jog On.

“From Love’s Labours Lost, Emma Scott and Sally Maybridge will sing the final song, When Daisies Pied. The play ends with an anticipated marriage halted by a death. The suitors are told to wait a year and prove their seriousness. The year passes in the course of the song, as winter follows spring. I think it’s Shakespeare’s most lovely song.”

Nick, who has devised Shakespeare’s Songs, says: “The York Shakespeare Project was set up in 2001 with the aim of performing all the Bard’s plays in York and completed that initial mission last year with Philip Parr’s production of The Tempest that toured North Yorkshire before a final performance at York Theatre Royal.

Producer Nick Jones: At the helm of a light-hearted revue of Shakespeare’s Songs. Picture: John Saunders

“Original music by local composers has often been a highlight of YSP’s productions and we thought it deserved to be heard again, in a light-hearted revue.

“Staging a musical celebration of our 22-year history, we’re marking that achievement with Shakespeare’s Songs, revisiting the original music from several of those plays and introducing some new songs with a cast of YSP regulars. It should be fun – and we’re exploring a couple of new venues to us, separated by about 1,000 years of architectural history.”

After the St Mary’s performances (7.30pm, September 22; 3pm and 7.30pm, September 23), Shakespeare’s Songs will switch to the thoroughly modern Super Sustainable Centre, Derwenthorpe, Osbaldwick, on September 24 at 7.30pm.

YSP heads into the autumn on the back of Sonnets At The Bar taking over the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre’s secret garden from August 11 to 19. “We were blessed with dry weather and delighted with the response, drawing a record 600+ audience,” says chair Tony Froud.

The next production will be the first of YSP’s expanded mission to embrace works by Shakespeare’s contemporaries in the project’s second cycle, namely Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, from October 17 to 21 at 7.30pm nightly plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee.

Edward II is king at last. Determined to shower his loved ones with gifts, he summons his exiled lover, Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall. King, court and country are intoxicated by their passions, whereupon the Queen takes her own lover and the nation is torn apart in a merciless divorce.

Their child watches from the shadows, desperate to mend his broken family and nation, or bring them to heel, in Marlowe’s poetic play about power and love: who has it, who seeks it and who suffers for it.

Box office: Shakespeare’s Songs, yorkshakespeareproject.org/shakespeares-songs or, if available, on the door; Edward II, tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Maurice Crichton in his role as fisherman Hector in York Shakespeare Project’s Sonnets At The Bar in the Bar Convent ‘s secret garden last month. Picture: John Saunders

Shakespeare’s Songs: the cast in full

Maurice Crichton, York stage regular, fresh from a summer playing Sir William Maleverer in York Theatre Royal’s Sovereign and Hector the fisherman in YSP’s Sonnets At The Bar.

Emma Scott, from YSP’s Macbeth and The Rape Of Lucrece.

Tracey Rea, musical theatre stalwart ( such as York Stage’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, April 2023).

Meg Ollerhead, from YSP’s The Tempest and York Mystery Plays.

Lowen Frampton, from York company Baron Productions and YSP’s The Tempest .

Michael Maybridge, from YSP’s The Tempest and York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust’s A Nativity For York and The Baptism Play from the Mysteries.

Sally Maybridge, from YSP’s The Tempest and York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust’s A Nativity For York and The Baptism Play from the Mysteries.

Tim Olive-Besly, from YSP’s The Tempest.

Nick Jones. “Apparently I’ve been in more YSP plays than anyone else, most recently The Tempest,” he says.

REVIEW: York Shakespeare Project in Sonnets At The Bar, Bar Convent garden, Blossom Street, York, until Saturday ***

Helen Wilson’s Sister Augusta looks to the heavens…but the weather forecast is encouraging for the rest of the garden run at the Bar Convent. Picture: John Saunders

FIRST came the Sonnet Walks around York from 2014 to 2019; next, the alliterative Sit-down Sonnets at Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, and now Sonnets At The Bar, in its third year in Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre’s “secret” garden.

Or not-so-secret, judging by the word-of-mouth popularity of York Shakespeare Project’s “entertaining and accessible” summer season of sonnets in the open air, delivered to the accompaniment of a complimentary drink in the admission price.

Each year’s splay of sonnets is supported by an overarching theme, devised this summer by Helen Wilson, who has been prompted by the Bar Convent’s convivial hospitality to conjure the merry-go-round whirl of a York hotel’s comings and goings, eccentric staff and guests on a mission in the rush of the summer wedding and tour traffic.

Judith Ireland’s receptionist Bronwyn and Harold Mozley’s Mr S, the hotel manager on a short fuse, in York Shakespeare Project’s Sonnets At The Bar. Picture: John Saunders

Judging by the character she plays – the hen-tending, egg-collecting Sister Augusta – she has been inspired too by the presence of the resident community of sisters at England’s oldest surviving Catholic convent.

The convent garden serves as the hotel garden, where York Shakespeare Project’s nine sonneteers make their entrances and exits and re-entries and re-exits too on the breakfast-is-served morning after the wedding the night before. The setting is modern-day, the language likewise until each sonneteer’s conversational thoughts elide into a Shakespearean sonnet and then back out again as each character reveals a secret.

First up is YSP veteran Frank Brogan’s deluded, ageing romantic rock god – long white hair, long dark coat, head band and gold chain – from the wedding party band, who is wondering what happened to the young sprat he failed to hook last night. His Flash Hunter struts and frets his five minutes upon the stage, gone in a flash, the failed hunter, returning later, still forlorn.

Nigel Evans’s Colin, the DJ with the platter patter, in Sonnets At The Bar. Picture: John Saunders

Your reviewer has been asked not to give too much away, as to what happens. Let’s focus on the coterie of characters instead. Judith Ireland takes willingly to a more comedic role than usual, Ireland turning Welsh to play the hotel’s psychic receptionist, Bronwyn Jones, with her vibes and talk of auras and energies.

Harold Mozley’s enervated hotel manager Mr S (for Scruton) is a no-nonsense sort, a stickler for timekeeping. We are told he “barks a lot”, but in this case his bite is even worse than his bite, especially if you happen to be tour guide Stevie Sykes from Betterway Travel, a dodgy East End firm run by Reggie and Ronnie. “Cut the bunny and hop it,” Mr S advises.

Director and YSP chair Tony Froud makes much of this slippery, often apologetic character, who turns the audience into his tour party.

Sarah Dixon’s wedding guest Susie (seated) in discussion with Diana Wyatt’s mother-of-the-bride Moira. Picture: John Saunders

We meet the agitated mother of the bride, Diana Wyatt’s mortified Moira; debutant sonneteer Sarah Dixon’s wedding guest Susie, as she encounters a former crush with hopes of re-kindling that flame, and the morning DJ with a cheesy lyric in every thought, Nigel Evans’s chirpy Colin.

Enter YSP producer Maurice Crichton’s “derelict” Scottish-born lobsterman Hector, in his eye patch and rather fetching fisherman’s gansey jumper, talking of coastal erosion at his adopted home of Skipsea. Aha, climate change comes to Sonnets At The Bar.

Hector has a lunch date, one to whom he will pick up a guitar to sing one of Crichton’s own compositions, a maritime ballad with a kiss at its heart and the chance for an audience singalong.

Not a patch on his subsequent performances: Maurice Crichton’s lobsterman Hector at the dress rehearsal. The eyewear would be added on the first night. Picture: John Saunders

Northern humour, pathos, morsels of gossip, a missing guest, assorted love stories and spilled beans are stirred into the hotel melting pot by Wilson and Froud as each vignette adds more spice. As for which sonnets feature, you will have to attend to find out.

Next up from York Shakespeare Project will be Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II, to be staged at Theatre@41, Monkgate, from October 17 to 21, as YSP spreads its wings beyond the Bard.

York Shakespeare Project presents Sonnets At The Bar in the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre garden until August 19, 6pm and 7.30pm, plus a 4.30pm Saturday performance. Box office: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/show/sonnets-at-the-bar-2023/ or 01904 623568.

More Things To Do in York and beyond from festive folk to hot Chilean rhythms. Hutch’s List No. 33 for 2023, from The Press

The Magpies: Hosting their folk festival at Sutton Park today

ART and cinema outdoors, folk and classical festivals, nostalgic gigs and ant adventures on a theatre terrace prompt Charles Hutchinson into arts action.

Heading to the park: The Magpies Festival, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, today. Gates open at 10am; live music from 12 noon

TRANSATLANTIC folk trio The Magpies head into the final day of their open-air festival of music, activities, stalls and food and drink. They will be among today’s main stage acts (at 8pm), along with Liz Stringer, Honey & The Bear, Blair Dunlop, Rachel Sermanni and Edward II.

The Brass Castle Stage plays host to Jack Harris, Megan Henwood, Tom Moore & Archie Moss, Gilmore & Roberts and Bonfire Radicals, concluding with a Ceilidh with Archie Moss. Box office: themagpiesfestival.co.uk.

York River Art Market: Up to 30 artists and makers per day down by the riverside

Art in the open air: York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk by Lendal Bridge, York, today and tomorrow, then August 19 and 20, 10am to 5.30pm

YORK River Art Market returns for its eighth summer as York’s answer to the Left Bank in Paris. Organised by founder, director and artist Charlotte Dawson, the weekend event showcases a different variety of more than 30 independent artists and makers from all over Yorkshire and beyond each day.

Boom, by Evie Measor, from New Visuality’s exhibition project, Colour, at Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre

Easels at the ready: Sketching in the Garden, Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, Blossom Street, York, until September 23, 10am to 5pm daily

THE Bar Convent invites artists and those who would like to give it a go to use its easels free of charge in the garden, where art and heritage combine to create an outdoor sketch space.

This opportunity coincides with the Bar Convent’s exhibition run of Colour, featuring works by young York artists, who have used photography skills and innovative AI technology to reinterpret York’s heritage buildings and landmarks. Why not draw inspiration from the exhibition to create your own artistic interpretations?

The Greatest Showman Sing-A-Long: Part of the Outdoor Cinema season at Castle Howard

Screen on the green: Outdoor Cinema at Castle Howard, near York today and tomorrow

THIS outdoor cinema experience in the grounds of Castle Howard presents Matilda The Musical (PG) today at 2pm, Grease (PG) tonight at 8pm, The Greatest Showman (PG) Sing-A-Long tomorrow at 2pm and Top Gun: Maverick tomorrow at 7pm.

Gates open at 12 noon for the afternoon screenings; 6pm for The Greatest Showman; 5pm for Top Gun: Maverick. Picnics and drinks are welcome at all screenings but no glassware. Blankets and camping chairs are allowed. Under-16s must be accompanied by an adult. Box office: castlehoward.co.uk.

Pianist Katya Apekisheva: One of 30 international musicians playing at North York Moors Chamber Music Festival

Classical festival of the week: North York Moors Chamber Music Festival, Welburn Manor marquee, near Kirkbymoorside, and assorted churches, Sunday to August 26

THE 15th North York Moors Chamber Music Festival ventures Into The Looking Glass for a fantastical fortnight with 30 international musicians, including pianist Katya Apekisheva, French horn virtuoso Ben Goldscheider and violinists Charlotte Scott and Benjamin Baker.

Directed by cellist Jamie Walton, the festival takes inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s 1872 novel to “explore the psychology of the mind through the prism of music, conveying its various chapters with carefully curated music that takes the audience on an adventurous journey through many twists and turns”. For the programme and tickets, head to: northyorkmoorsfestival.com. Box office: 07722 038990.

The Searchers & Hollies Experience: Sixties’ nostalgia at the double at the JoRo

Tribute show of the week: The Searchers And Hollies Experience, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

IN The Searchers & Hollies Experience: The Best Of Both Worlds, The FOD Band celebrate the magical, haunting hits of these legendary Sixties’ harmony bands from Liverpool and Manchester respectively. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Newen Afrobeat: Chile meets Fela Kuti at The Crescent

Chilean gig of the week…in York: Newen Afrobeat, The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

NEWEN Afrobeat, a 13-piece Chilean orchestra, make music inspired by the legacy of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. Applying a Latin stamp, they unify the African rhythms with a colourful and energetic staging, embedded in a deep social message that talks about their roots and cultural awareness.

In a ten-year career of four albums and eight international tours, Newen Afrobeat have performed at Montreal International Jazz Festival, WOMEX, Africa Oyé and Felabration Lagos. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Janet Bruce, left, and Cassie Vallance: Hosting Story Craft Theatre’s The Secret Life Of The Garden

Children’s event of the week: Story Craft Theatre in The Secret Life Of The Garden, Friday, 11am and 1pm

HAVE you ever imagined shrinking down to the size of an ant to go on an awesome adventure through a garden? York company Story Craft Theatre’s Janet Bruce and Cassie Vallance provide that opportunity in their magical new show, packed full of fun and wonder on the Theatre Royal patio.

This interactive production for two to eight-year-old children combines visual storytelling tools, such as puppets and Makaton signs and symbols, with games and dancing, plus crafting and colouring sheets beforehand. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Herman’s Hermits: Hits, hits, hits at Pocklington Arts Centre

Retro gig of the week: Herman’s Hermits, Pocklington Arts Centre, August 19, 8pm

FORMED in 1964, Manchester band Herman’s Hermits chalked up 23 hits, hitting the peak straightaway with the chart-topping I’m Into Something Good.

Producer Mickie Most oversaw their glory days with such smashes as No Milk Today, There’s A Kind Of Hush, Silhouettes, Mrs Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter, Wonderful World, I’m Henry VIII, I Am, Just A Little Bit Better, A Must To Avoid, Sleepy Joe, Sunshine Girl, Something’s Happening, My Sentimental Friend and Years May Come, Years May Go. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York & beyond, from musical mischief to hen night shenanigans. Here’s Hutch’s List No.32, from The Press

Bull: Headlining The Boatyard Festival at Bishopthorpe Marina today

SHAKESPEARE in gardens, music and magic by the riverside, an LGBTQ musical premiere and a riotous hen party on stage are among Charles Hutchinson’s eye-catchers for upcoming entertainment.

Festival of the week: The Boatyard Festival, The Boatyard, Bishopthorpe Marina, Ferry Lane, Bishopthorpe, York, today, 10am until late

THIS family-friendly music festival will be headlined by ebullient York band Bull. Look out too for Bonneville, Tymisha, London DJ Zee Hammer, Yorky Pud Street Band, The Plumber Drummer, City Snakes, Rum Doodle and Hutch.

Further attractions will be stilt walkers, a hula-hoop workshop, a giant bubble show, magic, face painting, fayre games, stalls, food and drink, with free admission for accompanied children. Box office: head to the-boatyard.co.uk/events/ for the QR code to book.

Four Wheel Drive director Alfie Howle and cast member Alison Gammon park up at the National Centre of Early Music for a garden of delights in A Midsummer Day’s Dream

Crazy chaos of the week: Four Wheel Drive presents A Midsummer Day’s Dream, National Centre for Early Music, York, today at 11am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm

FOUR Wheel Drive, producers of “off-road theatrical experiences” in York, invite children aged seven to 11 and their families to a musical, magical and mystical diurnal reimagining of William Shakespeare’s romcom in the NCEM gardens (or indoors if wet).

Four Athenians run away to the forest, only for the sylvan sprite Puck to make both the boys fall in love with the same girl while also helping his master play a trick on the fairy queen. Will all this crazy chaos have a happy ending? Anna Gallon and Alfie Howle’s interactive 45-minute adaptation will allow children to engage in the mischief-making Midsummer action, performed by Gallon, Katja Schiebeck and Esther Irving. Grab a boom-wacker and book tickets on 01904 658338 or necem.co.uk.

Three in one: Esk Valley Theatre writer, director and actor Mark Stratton

Debut of the week: Esk Valley Theatre in Deals And Deceptions, Robinson Institute, Glaisdale, Whitby, until August 26

IN artistic director Mark Stratton’s first play for Esk Valley Theatre, Danny and Jen leave London and head to an isolated cottage in the North York Moors. City clashes with country, dark forces are at work and humorous situations arise.

“We may think we know the person we are married to, but do we?” asks Stratton, who is joined in the cast by Clare Darcy and Dominic Rye. “What someone chooses to show the world is not always who they are. If they trade in deals and deceptions, then a day of reckoning will surely come.” Box office: 01947 897587 or eskvalleytheatre.co.uk.

Is this the hen party from hell? Will best friends fall out in Bridesmaids Of Britain? Find out tomorrow night

Hen party comedy heads to hen party haven: Bridesmaids Of Britain, Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow, 7pm

BILLED as “the girls’ night out to remember”, welcome to Diana Doherty’s Bridesmaids Of Britain. Becky is the overly loyal maid-of-honour whose life unravels as she leads best friend Sarah on a wild ride down the road to matrimony.

Things go awry, however, as competition between Becky and Tiffany – Sarah new BFF (best friend forever, obvs) – over who is the bride’s bestie threatens to upend the wedding planning that has been in the making since primary school. Be prepared for dance-offs, sing-offs and eventually shout-offs at the “hen do of the year”, held in a caravan. Will this wedding story have a happy ending, or will these best friends rip each other apart? Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Dan Crawfurd-Porter’s Whizzer and Chris Mooney’s Marvin in rehearsal for Black Sheep Theatre Productions’ Falsettos, opening at the JoRo on Wednesday

York premiere of the week: Black Sheep Theatre Productions in Falsettos, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee.

YORK company Black Sheep Theatre Productions has been granted an exclusive British licence by Concord Theatricals and composer/lyricist William Finn to stage Finn and James Lapine’s “very gay, very Jewish” musical Falsettos, thanks to the persistence of director Matthew Clare.

In its late-Seventies, early-Eighties American story, set against the backdrop of the rise of Aids, Marvin has left his wife Trina and son Jason to be with his male lover Whizzer, whereupon he struggles to keep his Jewish family together in the way he has idealised. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Pennine Suite: Topping Friday’s bill of York bands at The Crescent

York music bill of the week: Northern Radar presents Pennine Suite, Sun King, Everything After Midnight and The Rosemaries, The Crescent, York, Friday, 7.30pm to 11pm

PENNINE Suite play their biggest headline gig to date in an all-York line-up on a rare 2023 appearance in their home city. The five-piece draws inspiration from the alternative rock movements of the 1980s and 1990s, interlaced with shoegaze and pop melodies, typified by the singles Far and Scottish Snow. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Garden secrets: Which character will York Shakespeare Project veteran Frank Brogan play in Sonnets At The Bar? It’s all hush-hush until August 11

Bard convention: York Shakespeare Project in Sonnets At The Bar, Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, Friday to August 19 (except August 14), 6pm and 7.30pm plus 4.30pm Saturday performances

YORK Shakespeare Project returns to the secret garden at Bar Convent for another season of Shakespeare sonnets, this time directed by Tony Froud. Reprising the familiar format, the show features a series of larger-than-life modern characters, each with a secret to reveal through a sonnet.

Inside writer Helen Wilson’s framework of the comings and goings of hotel staff and guests, the characters will be played by Diana Wyatt, Judith Ireland, Sarah Dixon, Frank Brogan, Maurice Crichton, Nigel Evans, Harold Mozley, Froud and Wilson. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Ceridwen Smith in Next Door But One’s The Firework-Maker’s Daughter . Picture: James Drury

Talking elephants of the week: Next Door But One in The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, York Theatre Royal patio, August 12, 11am and 2pm

YORK theatre-makers Next Door But One’s adventurous storyteller travels to Lila’s Firework Festival in this intimate, inclusive, accessible and fun stage adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel, replete with talking elephants, silly kings and magical creatures.

As Lila voyages across lakes and over mountains, she faces her biggest fears and learns everything she needs to know to become the person she has always wanted to be. Makaton signs and symbols, puppetry and audience participation play their part in Ceridwen Smith’s performance. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Grace Petrie: Switching from folk musician to stand-up comedy act on tour in York, Leeds and Sheffield

Change of tack: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Grace Petrie: Butch Ado About Nothing, The Crescent, York, September 17, 7.30pm

FOLK singer, lesbian and checked-shirt-collector Grace Petrie has been incorrectly called “Sir” every day of her adult life. Now, after finally running out of subject matter for her “whiny songs”, she is putting down the guitar to work out why in her debut stand-up show, Butch Ado About Nothing, on her return to The Crescent.

Finding herself mired in an age of incessantly and increasingly fraught gender politics, the Norwich-based Leicester native explores what butch identity means in a world moving beyond labels, pondering where both that identity and she belong in the new frontline of queer liberation. Petrie also plays Old Woollen, Leeds, on August 31 (8pm) and The Leadmill, Sheffield, on September 10 (7.30pm). Box office: gracepetrie.com; York, thecrescentyork.com; Leeds, oldwoollen.co.uk; Sheffield, leadmill.co.uk.

Meet the hotel staff and guests gathering for York Shakespeare Project’s Sonnets At The Bar in Bar Convent’s secret garden

Frank Brogan: Returning to the Bar Convent secret garden next week. Picture: John Saunders

YORK Shakespeare Project is rediscovering the secret garden at the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, in Blossom Street, York, for another season of Sonnets At The Bar from August 11 to 19.

“The invitation is as warm as ever,” says this year’s director, YSP chair Tony Froud. “On a summer’s evening, it has always proved a lovely experience. While sipping your complimentary drink in the convent’s delightful garden setting, sit back and enjoy a taste of Shakespeare that is both entertaining and accessible.”

Sarah Dixon: New sonneteer for York Shakespeare Project. Picture: John Saunders

Reprising the familiar format, the show features a host of larger-than-life modern characters, each with a secret to reveal. Each character in turn will speak a Shakespeare sonnet to expose the heart of their story, to the surprise of the audience.

On this occasion, audiences will watch the comings and goings as hotel staff and guests take a turn in its garden.  “Eavesdrop on the gossip,” reads the invitation. “They may take you into their confidence – perhaps revealing more than they intend – and each will have a Shakespeare sonnet to share.”

Maurice Crichton: Co-founder of York Shakespeare Project’s Sonnet Walks, now starring in Sonnnets At The Bar. Picture: John Saunders

“It’s a simple device that always seems to work,” says Tony. “Very often the actor can be halfway through the sonnet before the audience realises that the language has become Shakespearean.”

York Shakespeare Project first brought Shakespeare’s sonnets to life in 2014 with Sonnet Walks, wherein peripatetic audience members encountered colourful characters as they walked around the streets of York.

Judith Ireland: Regular sonneteer for York Shakespeare Project. Picture: John Saunders

“Many people will remember the Sonnet Walks fondly,” says the show’s writer, Helen Wilson. “But staging the show in a single setting has great advantages, allowing characters to meet, exchange conversations and reappear.”

Helen, who created the original walks in 2014 in tandem with YSP stalwart Maurice Crichton, has shaped the 2023 script based on the cast’s improvisations. “We have been inspired by the show’s hotel setting, but our hotel is very different to the Bar Convent,” says Helen.

Who will Diana Wyatt play? Find out from August 11 to 19. Picture: John Saunders

“The combination of eccentric staff and a whole variety of residents with fascinating back stories has offered great possibilities.”

Tony’s cast features actors aplenty familiar to YSP regulars and a new face. “A big part of the fun in the show is guessing which unusual characters they will be playing,” says Helen.

Tony, Helen and Maurice will be joined in the garden by Frank Brogan, Harold Mozley, Judith Ireland, Diana Wyatt, Nigel Evans and new sonneteer Sarah Dixon.

Helen Wilson, pictured performing in the 2021 Sit-down Sonnets at Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, has written the hotel scenario for Sonnets At The Bar

“The show will be around 45 minutes long,” says Tony. “Our sonnets are aimed at those aged 14 plus but may be enjoyed by younger folk with the right support from their accompanying adult. Two under 14s per adult will be admitted for free. We very much look forward to seeing you.”

York Shakespeare Project presents Sonnets At The Bar in the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre garden from August 11 to 19, except August 14, at 6pm and 7.30pm, plus 4.30pm Saturday performances on August 12 and 19. Box office: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or 01904 623568. The price (£10, £5 for 14 to 17 year olds) includes a drink.

Director Tony Froud with the Sonnets At The Bar banner on the railings at the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre in Blossom Street, York

18th century priests’ vestments from Bar Convent secret chapel’s inaugural mass reunited for York Georgian Festival

Special collections manager Dr Hannah Thomas sets out the Georgian priests’ vestments in the Bar Convent chapel for the York Georgian Festival. Picture: Charlotte Graham

GEORGIAN vestments worn at the Bar Convent’s Opening Illegal Mass are being reunited in the chapel for the first time since 1769 from August 3 to 5 as part of the York Georgian Festival.

Now Great Britain’s oldest living convent, it was established in Blossom Street in 1686 when Roman Catholicism was illegal in this country. The chapel was built in complete secrecy, taking more than 20 years to complete, with the three priest vestments being designed for the inaugural mass, held on April 29 1769.

The vestments were worn together in the chapel only on that occasion. One has since been on display in the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre’s exhibition; the others have been in the possession of other Roman Catholic churches in York – until now.

Special collections manager Dr Hannah Thomas says: “Historically, these three vestments have been lent to different churches in the city, and it has taken some time to arrange for their return to their original home.

“These incredibly significant vestments were designed and made as a set specifically for the opening of this very special chapel and we are both thrilled and moved to be able to share this historic reunion with the public.”

Hannah continues: “The vestments will be displayed behind the altar in the chapel where they were first worn together more than 250 years ago, at great risk to the priests and all those who attended.

“Not only have these Georgian vestments survived a time in which Catholic material was regularly seized and destroyed, but also the fact that the chapel and the convent have survived against all the odds is an incredible story that we will be highlighting as part of the inaugural York Georgian Festival 2023.”

A private view will be held on August 3 from 5.30pm to 7pm; tickets (£15) can be booked at barconvent.co.uk. Guests are invited to enjoy private access to the house where they can discover the story behind its Georgian architecture, including the secret 18th century chapel. Dr Thomas will give an introduction to the history of the Bar Convent and the vestments; a glass of fizz is included on arrival.

A second ticketed event, Secrecy & Survival: Georgian York Through The Eyes Of A  Catholic Convent, will take place on August 5 from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, when the £10 ticket will include admission to the exhibition after the expert talk.

Dr Thomas will explore how the sisters ran an illegal convent under the nose of the authorities without being caught. How did they construct a secret Catholic chapel? What did the rest of York think of what was happening on 18th century Blossom Street? Over to you, Hannah.

Little-known items from the Bar Convent collections will feature as Dr Thomas delves into the archives to find out more.

Bar Convent special collections manager Dr Hannah Thomas with the Georgian priests’ vestments, going on display in the chapel from August 3 to 5. Picture: Charlotte Graham

The Vestments (1769): the back story

DIFFERENT types of priest’s vestments are worn within the Roman Catholic Church. This style is called a chasuble, a sleeveless vestment worn as the top layer by Catholic or High Anglican priests when celebrating Mass.

The shape has varied over time, but this is typical of the 17th and 18th centuries. There is a matching stole too: a narrow, long piece of fabric to be worn underneath the chasuble.

Chasubles often have elaborate embroidery, and these particular vestments are a fine example of 18th century craftmanship. Given that they were made to be worn for the opening of the secret chapel in 1769, the design is befitting of the occasion.

They are handmade with gold threads on a background of silk damask and feature an early use of sequins on liturgical clothing in England.

The icon of the pelican on the back is a direct reference to the pelican on the altar in the Bar Convent chapel. In Roman Catholicism, the pelican is used to symbolise Jesus, as legend has it that the pelican fed its young with its own blood, as Jesus also sacrificed himself for others.

The beautiful flower designs are a symbol of Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

York Georgian Festival, August 3 to 6

THIS summer, the glorious Georgians are taking over the city of York.

The fabulous fashions of dashing dandies, extravagant feasting and romantic country dancing add up to the vibrant tale of a golden social scene hidden within the brickwork of York’s abundant 18th century architecture.

In celebration, York Mansion House is collaborating with York museums, venues and historical experts to present York’s first ever Georgian Festival.

Dust off your petticoat and powder your best wig for a plethora of engagements at Fairfax House, Bar Convent and elsewhere. Learn to dance the minuet, discover Georgian family life with Horrible Histories writer Terry Deary, solve the mystery of tricky Dick Turpin’s missing corpse in an immersive murder mystery night and take a peep behind-the-scenes with York’s curators.

For full festival details, head to: mansionhouseyork.com/yorkgeorgianfestival.