More Things To Do in York and beyond, as York welcomes York to York for the weekend. List No. 67, from The Press

Enjoy free admission to York Art Gallery’s Young Gainsborough: Rediscovered Landscape Drawings exhibition as part of York Residents’ Festival. Booking required. Picture: Charlotte Graham

YORK attracts 8.4 million visitors, but this weekend you are invited to be a tourist in your own city, as Charles Hutchinson highlights.

Festival of the week: York Residents’ Festival, today and tomorrow

MORE than 70 events, attractions and offers make up this weekend’s York Residents’ Festival, with the offers continuing all week.

Organised by Make It York, this annual festival invites all York residents with a valid YorkCard to “explore the city and be a tourist for the weekend”, one card per person. 

Pre-booking is required for some highlights of a festival that takes in museums, theatres, galleries, churches, hidden gems, historic buildings, food and drink and shops.  For more details, visit: visityork.org/residents-festival.

Tall storey in Tall Stories’ The Smeds And The Smoos at York Theatre Royal this weekend

Children’s show of the week: The Smeds And The Smoos, York Theatre Royal, today, 2.30pm and 4.30pm; tomorrow, 10.30am and 1.30pm

SOAR into space with Tall Stories’ exciting new stage adaptation of writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler’s joyful tale of star-crossed aliens.

On a far-off planet, Smeds and Smoos cannot be friends. Nevertheless, when a young Smed and Smoo fall in love, they promptly zoom off into space together.

How will their families get them back? Find out in an interplanetary adventure for everyone aged three upwards, full of music and laughter, from the company that delivered The Gruffalo and Room On The Broom on stage. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Bedtime story: Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens as Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in Eric & Ern

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be; it’s better in: Eric & Ern, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7.30pm

IAN Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens bring you sunshine in their uncanny portrayal of comedy duo Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in a show that has been touring for more than five years.

Combining renditions of famous comedy sketches with contemporary references, Eric & Ern contains some of the first new writing in the Morecambe & Wise  style in more than in 30 years. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Abstract collage, by Peter Schoenecker, at Pocklington Arts Centre

Exhibition of the week outside York: Peter Schoenecker, A New Way Of Looking, Pocklington Arts Centre, until February 19

PETER Schoenecker’s mixed-media artworks open Pocklington Arts Centre’s 2022 season of exhibitions in the studio.

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

“My aim is usually to create a mood or atmosphere using colour or black and white,” he says. “Switching between media keeps me interested and innovative, hopefully bringing a freshness to the work.”

Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant: From Liverpool to Leeds on Wednesday

Gig of the week outside York: Echo & The Bunnymen, Leeds O2 Academy, Wednesday, doors, 7pm

AHEAD of the February 18 vinyl reissue of their 1985 compilation Songs To Learn & Sing, Liverpool legends Echo & The Bunnymen play plenty of those songs and more besides in Leeds (and at Sheffield City Hall the night before).

Available for the first time since that initial release, the “Best Of” cherry picks from their first four albums with the single Bring On The Dancing Horses as the icing on top. On tour, vocalist Ian McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant will be leading a band now in their 44th year, still too cool to be called a heritage act. Box office: gigsandtours.com/tour/echo-and-the-bunnymen.

Granny (Isabel Ford) and Ben (Justin Davies) in the Crown Jewels-stealing scene in Birmingham Stage Company’s Gangsta Granny

Family show of the week: Birmingham Stage Company in Gangsta Granny, Grand Opera House, York, February 3 to 5, 2.30pm and 7pm; February 6, 11am and 3pm

IN David Walliams’s tale, Friday night means only one thing for 11-year-old Ben: staying with Granny, where he must put up with cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake.

Ben knows one thing for sure – it will be so, so boring – but what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret. Soon Friday nights will be more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny, in Neal Foster’s touring production, back in York next week for the first time since 2016. Suitable for age five upwards. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.

Two out of Seven: Shed Seven’s Rick Witter and Paul Banks to perform as a duo in Scarborough

Compact Sheds: Rick Witter and Paul Banks, Scarborough Spa Theatre, April 17, 7.30pm

SHED Seven shed three when frontman Rick Witter and lead guitarist Paul Banks “go where no Shed has gone before” to play Scarborough over the Easter weekend.

Mr H Presents promoter Tim Hornsby says: “Expect a special night of classic Shed Seven material and a few surprises”.

“You already know this whites-of-their-eyes show is going to sell out, so don’t get bothered with the regular unholy last-minute scramble for tickets and purchase early for a holler-along to some of the best anthems ever,” he advises. Box office: scarboroughspa.co.uk.

James Swanton as Lucifer with cast members of The Last Judgement when plays from the 2018 York Mystery Plays were staged in the Shambles Market. Picture: Lewis Outing

Looking ahead to the summer: 2022 York Mystery Plays, York city centre, June 19 and 26

HERE come the wagons, rolling through York streets on two June weekends, as the Guilds of York maintain their four-yearly cycle of York Mystery Plays set in motion in 1998.

As in 2018, Tom Straszewski is the artistic director for a community production involving nearly 600 people creating hours of drama, performed for free, on eight wagons at four locations, including St Sampson’s Square, St Helen’s Square and King’s Manor.

“The plays will cover the creation of the world, floods, last meals together and resurrections,” says Strasz. “We’re still seeking directors, performance groups and actors, who should email director@yorkmysteryplays.co.uk to apply.”

How cabbage soup, David Walliams and a Crown Jewels-thieving Gangsta Granny became a recipe for stage show success

Oh, no, cabbage soup again: Granny (Isabel Ford) serves up another spoonful to 11-year-old grandson Ben (Justin Davies) in Birmingham Stage Company’s Gangsta Grammy. Picture: Mark Douet
,

WHEN actor, humorist, author, talent-show judge, Channel swimmer and activist David Walliams was a child he spent time aplenty with his grandmas.

So began his odyssey to writing Gangsta Granny, his book for children that has since transferred to the stage in Birmingham Stage Company’s touring production, whose latest itinerary takes in the Grand Opera House from February 3 to 6, having first played the York theatre in September 2016.

“Sometimes I would selfishly think spending time with my grannies could be boring,” he says. “But when I got them on a subject like living in London during World War II, when bombs were raining down, they would become very animated and I would be enthralled. I realised everyone has a story to tell.”

In Walliams’s tale, Friday night means only one thing for Ben: staying with Granny, where he must put up with cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake. Ben knows one thing for sure – it will be so, so boring – but what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret.

Soon Friday nights will be more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny.

“I realised everyone has a story to tell,” says David Walliams, who drew on childhood memories of his grandmothers for Gangsta Granny

“There was definitely a smell of cabbages in one of my grandmas’ houses,” recalls Walliams, giving an insight into his inspiration for Gangsta Granny. “The other did break wind like a duck quacking when she walked across the room.”

Walliams acknowledges the special bond between children and their grandparents. “I think grandparents love being grandparents because they get to give the children back to the parents!” says the 50-year-old Little Britain and Partners In Crime television star.

“Children love spending time with their grandparents because they love hearing their stories and being allowed to stay up past their bedtime.”

He is delighted that Gangsta Granny has become a stage show. “It’s a huge thrill seeing Gangsta Granny have this whole new life on the stage. It’s already been a TV film. People seem to really like the story,” says Walliams. “In fact Gangsta Granny is my best-selling book by far, and the stage show is brilliant – better than the book.”

Assessing the potential challenges or difficulties in staging Gangsta Granny, he says: “There is lots of action, especially when they try to steal the Crown Jewels. It’s quite a challenge for Birmingham Stage Company to bring those scenes to life but they do it so well,” he says. “Shows for children need to be fun and fast paced, which Gangsta Granny certainly is.”

Birmingham Stage Company cast members in Gangsta Granny. Picture: Mark Douet

“The great thing about seeing Gangsta Granny on stage is you will get to share it with an audience. So hopefully you will laugh and cry along with everyone else. That’s what makes theatre so special.”

What does Walliams hope children will take away from watching Gangsta Granny in York next month? “The moral of the story is, ‘don’t assume old people are boring just because they are old’,” he advises. “In fact, they are likely to have had a much more interesting life than yours. Talk to old folk, listen to their stories. They are bound to be full of magic and wonder.”

Wise words indeed from Walliams, who took up writing children’s fiction 15 years ago. “I had an idea for a story: what if a boy went to school dressed as a girl? I thought it would be a thought-provoking children’s book. That became The Boy In The Dress, my first of many children’s novels,” he says.

“The only limitation in a children’s book is your imagination. You can take children on magical journeys in books that many adults would be reluctant to go on.”

Walliams highlights the challenges presented by writing for children? “Children love to be scared but it can’t be too horrifying. Children love to laugh but it can’t be too rude. You always have to be the right side of the line,” he says.

He admires the work of Roald Dahl, arguably the 20th century doyen of children’s authors. “I think Dahl’s books always feel a little bit forbidden. He manages to balance the humour and scary elements in his stories perfectly,” says Walliams, who picks The Twits as his favourite Dahl story. “It’s utterly hilarious and I love that it’s a children’s book with no child characters.”

Birmingham Stage Company actor-manager Neal Foster, who has adapted and directed Gangsta Granny

He recalls enjoying other writers, such as Dr Seuss, in his childhood days. “I loved Dr Seuss books as a child, especially Green Eggs And Ham. His books are like nightmares come to life. They are rich and strange and utterly unlike anybody else’s work,” says Walliams.

David Walliams has become popular in his own right as a children’s author and ticket sales for Gangsta Granny testify to that popularity. “I imagine children like the humour and that I don’t patronise them,” he says, summing up his appeal as a storyteller. “I deal with quite big topics, cross-dressing, homelessness, grief. I know children are a lot smarter than most grown-ups think.”

Premiered in 2015, Gangsta Granny has become a West End hit twice over, prompting stage adaptations of Walliams’s books Awful Auntie and Billionaire Boy too. Now Birmingham Stage Company actor-manager Neal Foster’s adaptation returns to York for a second Grand Opera House run, full of Walliams’s humorous home truths wrapped inside family relationships. 

Birmingham Stage Company in Gangsta Granny, Grand Opera House, York, February 3 to 6; Thursday to Saturday, 2.30pm and 7pm, Sunday, 11am and 3pm. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/york. Suitable for age 5+.

Did you know?

SINCE the 2008 publication of his first novel, The Boy In The Dress, David Walliams’s  books have sold  44 million copies worldwide and been translated into 55 languages.

Isabel Ford’s Granny and Justin Davies’s Ben in the Crown Jewels scene in Gangsta Granny. Picture: Mark Douet

More Things To Do in York and beyond as panto takes over an airfield car park. List No. 61, courtesy of The Press, York

Finding his feet: Jared More’s Fizzy Finn with Meg Blowey’s Tink the Cobbler in Riding Lights Theatre Company’s “crackling new Christmas adventure”

PLAN B may need its own Plan B amid the Omicron surge, but Charles Hutchinson seeks to be positive – in Christmas spirit only – until otherwise informed.

Children’s show of the week: Riding Lights Theatre Company in Fizzy Finn Finds His Feet, Friargate Theatre, York, today to December 23

JON Boustead’s “crackling new Christmas adventure” addresses children’s mental health problems arising from lockdowns and separation from family and friends.

Finn is a fidget whose brain is ablaze with an unbreakable buzz that fizzes to his fingers and tickles his toes, or it would do if he could only find his feet in a 50-minute story of fear and bravery suitable for children aged five to 11.

The show’s magical blend of vivid storytelling, original music by Patrick Burbridge and creative puppetry is presented by Jared More’s Fizzy Finn and Meg Blowey’s Tink the Cobbler. Box office: 01904 613000 or at ridinglights.org/fizzy-finn.

Christmas Eve would not be complete in York without…City Screen showing It’s A Wonderful Life

Christmas film tradition of the week: It’s A Wonderful Life (U) at City Screen, York, today, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Christmas Eve

AN elderly angel is sent from Heaven to help desperately frustrated businessman George Bailey (James Stewart) as he contemplates suicide.

Taking George back through his life to point out what good he has done, the angel shows him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Frank Capra’s classic from 1946 is a Christmas Eve big-screen staple: City Screen has shows that day at 3pm and 6pm. Box office: 0871 902 5747 or at picturehouses.com.

Joe Alexander Shepherd: York pianist returns to the NCEM tonight

Pianist of the week: Joe Alexander Shepherd, National Centre for Early Music, York, tonight, 7.30pm

YORK pianist and composer Joe Alexander Shepherd combines beautiful contemporary and classical music with a Christmas ambience tonight, complemented by special guest appearances by singer-songwriter Wounded Bear and singer Amelia Saleh on his return to the NCEM. Expect new compositions, by the way.

Shepherd composed the music for UEFA’s First World War Truce video, starring footballers Sir Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale, and for a UK Women’s Rugby Football Union advert.

Concert proceeds will go to the Charlie Gard Foundation to support families affected by mitochondrial disease. Box office: 01904 658338 or at ncem.co.uk.

Art attack: Replete’s mural Shark at Piccadilly Pop Up, Piccadilly, York

Finale of the week: Uthink Piccadilly Pop Up art studios and gallery, 23 Piccadilly, York,  today and tomorrow

THE Uthink Piccadilly Pop Up art studios and gallery must vacate their temporary premises by the end of the month after being served notice by the re-developers.

Since August 2020, the studios opened to the public on Saturdays to showcase work by 15 artists, ranging from painting, drawing, abstract art and collages to photography, sculpture, installation and poetry.

Today, public opening will be from 12 noon to 6pm; on Sunday, a festive market and extended art exhibition will run from 11am. Admission is free.

Shed Seven: Two “Shedcember” nights in Leeds on the Another Night, Another Town tour

Gigs of the week outside York: Shed Seven, Another Night, Another Town – Greatest Hits Live Tour, Leeds O2 Academy, Monday and Tuesday

SHED Seven have restarted their Covid-stalled tour after calling off December 10 to 16’s run of shows to next March when a member of the touring party tested positive.

Earlier this week, the York band tweeted: “Excited to confirm that the tour will resume this Friday [December 17] in London – let’s finish what we started!! New dates for the shows that were postponed will be announced next week. Shed Seven ride again. See you down the front. X.”

Tickets are still available for both Leeds gigs at ticketmaster.co.uk/shed-seven-leeds. Doors open at 7pm each night.

Head’s up: Michael Head to play The Crescent on Tuesday

Cult gig of the week:  Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band, The Crescent, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

IN the wake of Adios Señor Pussycat in 2017, Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band are working on a new album, nearing completion.

Devotees of the 60-year-old Liverpudlian’s gilded songwriting brio can expect to hear new songs as well as much-loved nuggets from his days in Shack and The Pale Fountains. Pet Snakes support at this standing-only gig. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com/event/michael-head

Car Park Panto’s Horrible Christmas: Parking up at Elvington Airfield on January 2

Pantomime in a car park? Oh yes it is, in Car Park Panto’s Horrible Christmas, Elvington Airfield, near York, January 2, 11am, 2pm and 5pm

BIRMINGHAM Stage Company’s Horrible Histories franchise teams up with Coalition Presents for Car Park Panto’s 14-date tour of Horrible Christmas to racecourses, airfields, stadiums and a motor-racing circuit.

In writer-director Neal Foster’s adaptation of Terry Deary’s story, when Christmas comes under threat from a jolly man dressed in red, one young boy must save the day as a cast of eight sets off on a hair-raising adventure through the history of Christmas.

At this car-centred, Covid-secure experience, children and adults can jump up and down in their car seats and make as much noise as they like, tuning in to the live show on stage and screen. Box office: carparkparty.com.

Rachel and Becky Unthank: York Barbican concert on Sorrows Away tour

Looking ahead to 2022: The Unthanks, Sorrows Away, York Barbican, May 31; doors 7pm

NORTHUMBRIAN folk sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank will perform forthcoming new album Sorrows Away and Unthanks favourites with an 11-piece ensemble in a co-promotion by York’s Please Please You, The Crescent and Black Swan Folk Club and Brudenell Presents from Leeds.

As the album title suggests, Sorrows Away promises to be a blues-belter and a step into the light for sisters known more for melancholia and, well, sorrow. For tickets for The Unthanks’ return to touring after a two-year hiatus, go to: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Panto in a car park? Oh, yes it is, in Horrible Christmas at Elvington Airfield on January 2

Horrible Histories’ cast for Car Park Panto’s Horrible Christmas, destined for Elvington Airfield

THE world’s first drive-in pantomime is to park up at Elvington Airfield, York, for a “terrible end” to Christmas on January 2, courtesy of the gleefully grotesque Horrible Histories team.

Car Park Panto’s Horrible Christmas will be performed at 11am, 2pm and 5pm that day in the finale to a 14-date tour of racecourses, airports, stadiums and a motor-racing circuit that begins on Friday.

This is the second tour of a show first prompted by the pandemic-enforced closure of theatres nationwide in 2020. Birmingham Stage Company and Coalition Presents responded by working together to save Christmas for more than17,000 families by putting on their drive-in panto premiere. 

Writer-director Neal Foster, actor/manager of Birmingham Stage Company, says: “We have to thank the remarkable pandemic closing all the theatres for these car park shows coming about.

“At first, we didn’t know what to do, but various people had ideas about doing things in car parks, and in fact we were contacted by seven companies, but only Coalition followed it up, and so we did Horrible Histories’ Barmy Britain in car parks.

“Then, Guy Robinson, from Coalition, asked if we had a Christmas show, and we said, ‘yes, we have Horrible Christmas’.”

Cue the first tour last winter, when, “by December 31, we were the only company still doing a show, because the theatres had had to close again, and our last show, after two weeks of performances, was in Harrogate [at the Great Yorkshire Showground],” says Neal.

“We then put together Billionaire Boy for car parks, for May, when shows could re-start, and that show then went into the West End. Since May, we’ve done eight shows in seven months; we just haven’t stopped!  

Birmingham Stage Company’s cast for Horrible Histories’ Barmy Britain, the first car park tour show

“In fact, it’s been one of our most successful years, and a lot of that was down to the money we received from the Culture Recovery Fund. We didn’t need to apply for the third round of grants, but we wouldn’t have been able to do this year’s shows without the £200,000 we received earlier on.”

Neal was “amazed and thrilled by how totally successful the Car Park Party productions have proved to be”. “We’re delighted to be back on tour again with Horrible Christmas. It turns live theatre into a truly unique and festive event.”

In a nutshell, Horrible Christmas is a car-centred, Covid-secure experience, wherein children and adults are able to able to jump up and down in their own seats, cheer and make as much noise as they like, even beeping horns, as they watch a celebration of Christmas “delivered in a way that only Horrible Histories can”.

“You don’t need to worry about anyone else because you’re in your own bubble in your car, like everyone there,” says Neal. “It’s like you’re in your own VIP tent!”

In the panto, when Christmas comes under threat from a jolly man dressed in red, one young boy must save the day, but can he save Christmas? From Victorian villains to medieval monks, Puritan parties to Tudor treats, the Horrible Histories cast of eight sets off on a hair-raising adventure through the history of Christmas in the company of Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Henry VIII and St Nicholas as they all join forces to rescue the festive season in Terry Deary’s tale.

True, it is not strictly speaking a typical panto, but nevertheless Horrible Christmas will spark up the audience’s festive spirit, from the comfort and security of their own cars.

In doing so, the Car Park Panto seeks to address these scenarios: children being unable to sit still; the need to cater for different snack requirements; the feeling of anxiety in crowds; the inability to find a dog sitter; and a desire to wear pyjamas, fancy dress or a Christmas jumper at the panto and not be judged.

“You can leave all worries at home and relax as a family with Car Park Panto’s Horrible Christmas,” say the promoters. “If traditional panto at your local theatre is proving too expensive for all the family, Horrible Christmas! is the best value ticket for you. 

The poster for Car Park Panto’s Horrible Christmas show

“The ticket covers the car, not the people inside, so you can bring your grandparents and babies and be sound in the knowledge you will be safe seated among family and friends, rather than in a packed theatre auditorium.”

Horrible Histories’ own history of Horrible Christmas began in 2013. “We first did it in a co-production with Derby Playhouse that year, and apart from one year, it’s been put on every year since then, at such places as the Lowry, Salford Quays, Blackpool Winter Gardens, Cambridge and Birmingham,” says Neal.

“It’s different from our other Horrible Histories stories, with a cast of eight, making it the biggest Horrible Histories show we do, whereas we do the Barmy Britain show with a double act and big 3D special effects. Not only do we use eight actors but there’s a screen on stage too, so it’s like a concert, with everything being filmed live.”

Horrible Christmas tells the story of a young boy having all his Christmas presents stolen by ‘Father Christmas’, who turns out not to be Father Christmas.  “The boy goes back to the times of Charles Dickens, Charles II, Oliver Cromwell and Henry VIII, Saint Nicholas, and back to Bethlehem itself, and what’s different to other Horrible Histories is that it’s very touching,” says Neal.

“It’s worth saying, there’s nothing gory about Horrible Christmas, unlike our other shows. It’s more about being silly and funny – and it works really well in a car park.

“Because the play is about how special Christmas is to people, it was great for us that last Christmas, for some, it was the only way to experience a Christmas show. It remains the safest way to see a Christmas show, and it’s particularly good if you have anyone elderly or vulnerable in your family.”

What comes next for Horrible Histories? “We’ve been doing Horrible Histories shows for 16 years now, starting in 2005, and there’s no end to that history,” says Neal. “Fortunately, humans have produced all sorts of horrible history down the years, and Boris Johnson is doing that for us now, isn’t he?!”

Car Park Panto presents Horrible Histories in Horrible Christmas, Elvington Airfield, near York, January 2 2022. Bring blankets, sleeping bags, maybe a favourite festive hat – oh, and a car, obviously. Tickets: £49.50 per car, plus £2.50 booking fee, at carparkparty.com.  

Did you know?

“HENRY VIII is one of the reasons why turkey became popular on Christmas Day,” says Neal Foster. “The world seems to follow the fashion of what the Royals do, and it was Henry who introduced the eating of turkey at Christmas. As with all the Horrible Histories, that story is taken from a Terry Deary book.”

More Things To Do in and around York for Grayson Perry’s ‘normal people’. List No. 47, courtesy of The Press, York

What’s up Duck? The Dead Ducks sketch comedy troupe head for Theatre@41 Monkgate, York

CLOWNS, ominous things, Grayson, James, tango, chamber music, horrible British history and watercolours in teamwork add up to shows aplenty for Charles Hutchinson and normal people alike to check out.

Sketch comedy show of the week: The Dead Ducks: Ducks Out Of Water, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, tomorrow (3/9/2021), 8pm

UNIVERSITY of York Comedy Society sketch troupe The Dead Ducks make their Theatre@41 debut with Ducks Out Of Water as a cast of five serves up fun scenes that range from the relatable to the ridiculous.

Be prepared for completely original content in a humorous mix of parody and farce with a delectable side order of top-notch acting.

Look out for pirates, cowboys, clowns and assorted animals, alongside Winnie the Pooh, Sherlock Holmes and Mickey Mouse “like you have never seen them before”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk/events/.

Sunset Gazing, by Suzanne McQuade, on show at Village Gallery, Colliergate, York

Exhibition of the week: Suzanne McQuade, Touch Of Tranquillity, Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, until Octoger 23; open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm

LEEDS watercolourist Suzanne McQuade quit her long-standing customer service job five years ago to take the plunge and become a full-time artist.

“Using watercolours is like teamwork; I have to allow the watercolour to move and merge, and utilise the patterns it creates,” says Suzanne, who loves how this medium’s translucency enables light to flood into her landscapes and seascapes.

Drawing inspiration from the British countryside and coastline, she paints what she finds captivating, from a dramatic sky to underwater rocks. “I try to make the scene in front of me to be as beautiful as possible,” she says.

Alexander Wright: Performing Small, Small Ominous Things with Megan Drury at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington

Open-air theatre show of the week: Small Small Ominous Things, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington Mill, near York, Saturday, 8pm

LOOK out for a tiny red gun hidden in the grass; a picture of a puppy eating a toy dinosaur; a dull feeling in the pit of your stomach; a bug burrowing into your skin.

Welcome to a late-night mix of stories, tales and unsettling considerations from partners Megan Drury and Alexander Wright, Australian actor, writer and creative artist and North Yorkshire writer, theatre-maker and visionary facilitator respectively.

Gather around the fire as they collaborate for the first time live At The Mill, bringing small, small ominous things out into late-summer’s fading light. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/

Making a splash: The new Normal for artist Grayson Perry, performing on tour at York Barbican

Who-knows-what-to-expect gig of the week: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, York Barbican, Monday, 7.30pm

IN his own words, despite being an award-winning artist, Bafta-winning TV presenter, Reith lecturer and best-selling author, Grayson Perry is a normal person – and just like other normal people, he is “marginally aware that we’re all going to die”.

Cue Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, where Grayson takes you through an enlightening, eye-watering evening wherein this kind of existentialism descends from worthiness to silliness. “You’ll leave safe and warm in the knowledge that nothing really matters anyway,” his show patter promises.

Grayson asks, and possibly answers, these big questions in a show “sure to distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Home, James? Briefly, yes, when rehearsing at Broughton Hall, near Skipton. Scarborough Open Air Theatre awaits. Picture: Lewis Knaggs

Gig of the week outside York: James, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, September 9, gates open at 6pm

WHERE better for James to play a summer show in the wake of releasing their 2021 single Beautiful Beaches than at Scarborough Open Air Theatre.

The Manchester legends will be combining myriad anthemic favourites with selections from their “sweet 16th” album, All The Colours Of You, released in June.

Fronted by Clifford-born Tim Booth, James are completing a hattrick of Scarborough OAT visits after shows in May 2015 and August 18. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com

Prima Vocal Ensemble artistic director Ewa Salecka with Misatango composer Martin Palmeri

Well worth the wait: Misatango: Prima’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration, Temple Hall, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York, September 11, 7.30pm

AFTER a year’s delay, Prima Vocal Ensemble director Ewa Salecka is thrilled to be holding the York choir’s tenth anniversary concert at last at a socially distanced Temple Hall.

At the concert’s core will be “the fabulous Misa a Buenos Aires, Misatango, an exhilarating fusion of Tango and Latin Mass”, by Argentinian composer Martín Palmeri, performed with the Mowbray Orchestra string quartet, bandoneon virtuoso Julian Rowlands, pianist Greg Birch and mezzo-soprano soloist Lucy Jubb. Box office: primavocalensemble.com.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival director and cellist

Festival of the month: York Chamber Music Festival, September 16 to 18

CANADIAN pianist Angela Hewitt plays YCMF’s opening recital on September 16 and joins fellow festival artists Anthony Marwood and Pablo Hernan, violins, Lilli Maijala, viola, and Tim Lowe, cellist, for the closing gala concert on September 18, both at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.

Marwood, Hernan, Maijala and Lowe play string quartets by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann at the NCEM on September 17.

Festival director Lowe joins pianist John Paul Ekins for the first 1pm concert at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, on September 17; on the next lunchtime, Ekins plays works that connect Beethoven and Liszt. Box office: tickets@ncem.co.uk.

The Horrible Histories poke fun at Barmy Britain at the Grand Opera House, York, in October

History in the re-making: The Horrible Histories in Barmy Britain, Grand Opera House, York, October 21 to 24

CAN you beat battling Boudicca? What if a Viking moved in next door? Would you lose your heart or head to horrible Henry VIII? Can evil Elizabeth entertain England?

Will Parliament survive gunpowder Guy? Dare you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin? Escape the clutches of Burke and Hare and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria?

So many questions for The Horrible Histories’ Live On Stage team to answer with the aid of the 3D illusions of Bogglevision as skulls hover, dams burst and missiles fly into the family audience. For tickets for Birmingham Stage Company’s eye-popping, gruesome, scary and unbelievable trip through British history, go to atgtickets.com/york.

Oh, Deary! Harrogate shows on Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain tour cancelled

History on the move: Neal Foster and Morgan Philpott will be performing Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain on later spring dates than first planned on the Car Park Tour. Picture: Mark Douet

HORRIBLE blow for Harrogate, as the Government roadmap out of the lockdown has consigned the April 3 performances of Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain at the Yorkshire Event Centre to history.

Other dates on the nationwide Car Park Tour booked originally for before April 12 have been rearranged after the proposed timing of the Government’s four-step plan necessitated a later itinerary.

Seventeen locations will accommodate the tour, ranging from racecourses to sports stadia, showgrounds to an airport, an exhibition centre to country houses, but no new space in the diary could be found for the Great Yorkshire Showground show in Harrogate.

By contrast, the April 5 performance of the live-action version of Barmy Britain at Harewood House, near Leeds, has been switched to Sunday, May 2 at 11am.

Tickets holders have been notified of the changes but tickets are still available via carparkparty.com, priced at £39.50 upwards, plus £2.50 booking fee. Further information can be found there too.

Heads you lose: Horrible Histories’ King Henry VIII will not be heading to Harrogate after all

The Barmy Britain tour will present two actors playing a multitude of classic characters from barmy and horrid British history, taking in Queen Boudica, King Henry VIII, Guy Fawkes, Dick Turpin, Queen Victoria and plenty more besides.

Based on Terry Deary’s broad-humoured historical books of the same name, Horrible Histories have transferred from page to stage for 18 live shows presented by Birmingham Stage Company, as well being made into a musical sketch comedy television series.

In the Covid-safe Car Park Tour show, on tour from April 13 to May 3, families sit in their cars watching the actors on stage and on a large screen while listening live on their radios and, if so inclined, honking their horns in appreciation.

Birmingham Stage Company and “concept creators” Coalition Agency “plugged the pantomime-less gap” with Horrible Christmas and now they are teaming up again for two Horrible Histories tour shows: Barmy Britain and Gorgeous Georgians & Vile Victorians.

Neal Foster, actor-director of Birmingham Stage Company, will be joined on stage by Morgan Philpott. I’m over the moon to be back on tour with Barmy Britain after its hugely successful tour last summer,” he says. “It’s weird and wonderful to be performing in car parks and to see the audience having fun behind their windshields. We can’t wait to get back out there”.

Harewood House, here we come: Morgan Philpott, left, and Neal Foster , will take a humorous journey through history in Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain on May 2 on the Car Park Tour. Picture: Mark Douet