Theatre@41 combines the new and familiar in autumn and winter of theatre, music, comedy, cinema and pantomime rehearsals

Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Helen Bauer in Madam Good Tit at Theatre@41 in October

NEW partnerships, returning performers, comedy acts aplenty and community theatre regulars make up the autumn and winter season at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York.

One year on from throwing open its doors post-pandemic, the black-box studio will play host to Yorkshire and national companies and artists alike.

“We’re doing all right, whether by chance or design!” says chair Alan Park.  “In the year since we took over the programming, there’s been a nice balance between comedy, music and theatre, with a focus on new writing, as well as continuing our relationships with York Stage, Pick Me Up Theatre, White Rose Theatre, York Settlement Community Players and York Musical Theatre Company.

“The mailing list has gone up from 40 to 2,000 and we feel that people are invested in the building, our charity status, the work we present, and want us to do well. There are plenty of people who run theatres, but we want to run a ‘movement’ and we think we’re getting there.”

Colin Hoult in The Death Of Anna Mann. Picture: Linda Blacker

Looking ahead to the new season, one new partnership finds Theatre@41 linking up with York promoter Al Greaves’s well-established Burning Duck Comedy Club, complementing his programme at The Crescent (and previously at The Basement at City Screen Picturehouse).

“Maggie Smales, one of our trustees, reached out to Al,” says Alan.  “Initially, comedy promoters were contacting us directly, and we were doing maybe two comedy shows a season, but we got in touch with Al to say ‘we don’t want to tread on your toes, but we’d love to work with you’, and so now we have six shows this autumn through linking up with Al.”

Among those shows will be Lauren Pattinson’s It Is What It Is on September 16; Colin Hoult, from the Netflix series After Life, presenting The Death Of Anna Mann  on October 8; the returning Olga Koch, star of her own BBC Radio 4 series, in Just Friends on October 15 and fellow Edinburgh Festival Fringe Best Newcomer nominee Helen Bauer’s Madam Good Tit, on October 22. Look out too for Taskmaster winner Sophie Duker next April.

Returning to Theatre@41 will be Dyad Productions, following up the sold-out I, Elizabeth with Christmas Gothic, adapted and performed by Rebecca Vaughan, on November 26 and 27, and  Sarah-Louise Young, building on the sold-out success of Alan’s favourite show so far, An Evening Without Kate Bush, by presenting her charming yet cheeky West End and Off-Broadway cabaret hit Julie Madly Deeply, a tribute to Julie Andrews.

Sarah-Louise Young in her Julie Andrews tribute, Julie Madly Deeply. Picture: Steve Ullathorne

Further returnees will be East Riding company Other Lives Theatre Productions in Landmarks, Nick Darke’s environmentally topical story of a farming family feud, and Nunkie Theatre’s Robert Lloyd Parry with two more gripping MR James ghost stories by candlelight in Oh, Whistle on November 25.

“We’ve had a lot of good feedback from artists, such as Olga Koch’s agent,” says Alan. “We know there’s paint peeling off walls, the roof is leaking, but we believe in making the artists welcome, like giving them a little York Gin pack on arrival. We try to be a friendly venue where everyone will want to come back.”

Endorsements for Theatre@41 are spreading, leading to debut visits by Mark Farrelly in his Quentin Crisp show, Naked Hope, on September 7 and Olivier Award-winning actor and director Guy Masterson, staging his one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on November 24.

Seven York companies and performers are booked in. Robert Readman’s Pick Me Up Theatre will stage Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical Jr from September 23 to October 2 and The Sound Of Music from December 16 to 30 in the Christmas slot. York Settlement Community Players will perform Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning Broadway comedy Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike from November 3 to 5.

Rebecca Vaughan in Dyad Productions’ Christmas Gothic. Picture: Ben Guest

White Rose Theatre will deliver The Last Five Years, an emotionally charged musical full of upbeat numbers and beautiful ballads by Jason Robert Brown that tells the story of two lovers over the course of five years, with Cathy starting her tale at the end of the relationship and Jamie telling his story from the beginning. Directed by Claire Pulpher, it will run from November 9 to 12.

Barnstorming country-rock band The Rusty Pegs will play Rumours (Again!) in a 45th anniversary celebration of the Fleetwood Mac nugget on October 9, after giving Theatre@41’s re-launch gig post-Covid; Jessa Liversidge will sing Some Enchanted Sondheim on October 9, and York Musical Theatre Company will mark their 120th anniversary with A Musical Celebration on October 13 and 14.

Spookologist and ghost-botherer Doctor Dorian Deathly, a winner in the 2022 Visit York Tourism Awards, will make his Theatre@41 debut with his Halloween show, A Night Of Face Melting Horror!, from October 26 to 31.

“Each night, Dorian will be hot-footing over here after doing his Deathly Dark ghost tour for a cabaret evening with a bar of the dead and cocktails,” says Alan. “He came to us with the idea, and we thought, ‘yeah, let’s do it’. He has a huge following, so we’re delighted he wanted to come here.”

The horror! The horror” The poster for Doctor Dorian Deathly’s Halloween show, A Night Of Face Melting Horror!

Paul Birch, one of the stand-outs in York Theatre Royal’s Green Shoots showcase for new work in June, will bring his improv group, Foolish, to Theatre@41 for the third time. On September 15, he will host a night of ad-hoc comedy improvised from suggestions written in chalk on the stage floor under the title of Cobbled Together.

Seeking to foster a growing relationship with The Groves community, Theatre@41 will play host to the inaugural Groves Community Cinema: a weekend of classic films old and new right on residents’ doorsteps when visitors will be invited to “pay what you feel”, with support from an ARG Events and Festivals Grant in partnership with Make It York and City of York Council.

“Historically, we’re on the edge of The Groves, and maybe The Groves has never quite felt this is The Groves’ theatre, but we hope that putting on a community cinema weekend will make it feel more like it’s part of their community, rather than people just walking past our doors,” says Alan.

Olga Koch: Returning to Theatre@41 to present Just Friends

September 10 will offer Encanto Singalong at 2.30pm and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind at 6pm; September 11, Kes at 2.30pm and Nomadland at 6.30pm.

Three more new additions add to the sense of momentum at Theatre@41. Firstly, £5,000 funding from City of York Council and the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation will ensure the lighting rig “no longer wobbles”; secondly, the theatre will resume being a polling station for elections.

Last, but not least, the Monkgate building will be turned into the rehearsal rooms for veteran dame Berwick Kaler’s Grand Opera House pantomime, Old Granny Goose. “We’re giving them multiple rooms, including the dance studio,” says Alan. “They’ll have the run of the building basically.”

For performance times and to book tickets for the new season, head to: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

Pantomime dame Berwick Kaler and daft-lad sidekick Martin Barrass will be rehearsing Old Granny Goose at Theatre@41 ahead of its run at the Grand Opera House, York

The Howl & The Hum, Bull and Huge to play Make It York’s new YorkLife festival weekend in Parliament Street in April

The Howl & The Hum: York Life headliners on April 3

YORK’S new spring festival weekend will showcase the city’s musicians, performers, comedians and more besides on April 2 and 3.

Organised by Make It York, YorkLife will see more than 30 performers and organisations head to Parliament Street for a free open event from 11am to 9pm each day with no need to book tickets in advance.

The Saturday headliners will be Big Donaghy’s long-running York party band Huge; the Sunday bill will climax with The Howl & The Hum in their biggest home-city performance since gracing York Minster on May 25 2021.

Both bands will play the main YorkLife stage as part of a programme curated by York’s Music Venue Network, presenting such York acts as Bull, Kitty VR, Flatcap Carnival and Hyde Family Jam.

An array of interactive sessions will be held by York organisations, taking in theatre workshops, instrumental workshops, face painting, comedy and dance performances, plus fire performers and circus acts.

The main stage on Parliament Street will have an open viewing area with a 500 capacity, while a covered stretch tent will hold a York Gin bar and seating area for 90 people with a one-in, one-out policy.

YorkLife is supported by City of York Council’s ARG (Additional Restrictions Grant) funding, which aims to boost businesses impacted by Covid-19. The April 2 and 3 programme has been curated with York residents in mind and to support the city’s recovery from Covid.

Big Ian Donaghy: Fronting Huge on the YorkLIfe main stage on April 2

Councillor Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities, says: “Our cultural sector is the lifeblood of our communities. There is so much talent in York, from musicians to comedians and poets to performers, which makes our city so vibrant and unique.

“YorkLife is an excellent way to celebrate our home-grown musicians and performers, particularly after what has been a challenging few years for us all. I would encourage residents to join the festival and enjoy the best of York’s own talent.”

Sarah Loftus, Make It York’s managing director, says: “YorkLife is a celebration of York talent and culture, from our street musicians to our community groups. We want to really celebrate the sense of community in York and we’re encouraging residents to join the party and see some of the hottest talent York has to offer.”

Chris Sherrington, from the York Music Venue Network, says: “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to showcase some of York’s amazingly talented artists who have developed their careers across the city of York’s many great grassroots music venues.

“As part of YorkLife weekend, we’re looking forward to celebrating the return of live music to the city and enjoying the wonderful variety of music for one and all. This event has been a true cooperative effort of York’s event industry and creatives and we look forward to working on future events.”

To find out more about YorkLife, head to visityork.org/yorklife. The full line-up will be announced later this month. 

Bull: Home-city gig for York’s first band to sign to a major label since Shed Seven

Confirmed acts and workshops

Musicians

The Howl & The Hum; Huge; Bull; Kitty VR; Flatcap Carnival; Hyde Family Jam;  Floral Pattern; Bargestra and Wounded Bear.

Workshops:

Mud Pie Arts: Cloud Tales interactive storytelling;

Thunk It Theatre: Build Our City theatre workshop; 

Gemma Wood: York Skyline art;

Fantastic Faces:  Face painting; 

York Mix Radio:  Quiz; 

York Dance Space:  Dance performance;

Burning Duck Comedy Club: Comedy night; 

Henry Raby, from Say Owt: Spoken poetry; 

Matt Barfoot: Drumming workshop; 

Christian Topman: Ukulele workshop; 

Polly Bennet: Little Vikings PQA York performing arts workshop; 

Innovation Entertainment: Circus workshops. 

Nicolette Hobson and Gemma Drury of Mud Pie Arts: Hosting Cloud Tales interactive storytelling workshops at YorkLife

What’s on at The Crescent in York tonight? Mark Watson, but his 8pm gig has sold out

Mark Watson: Instructions on How You Can Almost Win at The Crescent. Picture: Matt Crockett

COMEDIAN Mark Watson marks the return of full-capacity gigs at The Crescent community venue, York, with a sold-out 8pm show tonight.

York promoter Al Greaves’ Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Bristol-born Watson, 41, in How You Can Almost Win. Doors open at 7pm.

Watson says: “In 2017, I went on the show The Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls. It involved being abandoned on an island, starved half to death, almost struck by lightning, cut off from all loved ones and turned into a psychological wreck. I was pretty sure it was the most challenging situation I would ever be in. Then, in 2020, the entire planet basically went into survival-show mode.”

As we crawl from the wreckage of the pandemic, tonight Watson dispenses droplets of wisdom brought back from his island misadventure to suggest ways we can adapt. “But still with jokes,” he promises.

Mark Watson, in his pyjamas, sharing the screen with show host Tim FitzHigham at the first Your Place Comedy livestream in April 2020

During the first lockdown last year, Watson was part of the first double bill for Your Place Comedy, the virtual comedy club set up to support independent venues across the Yorkshire and Humber region.

On April 19 2020, a pyjama-clad Watson and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont performed live online from their homes, in his case, in the living room, in hers, down the pub, The Dog And B**tard, that she and fellow comedian husband Jon Richardson have set up in their Hebden Bridge garden.

Watson, comedian, novelist, sports pundit, Taskmaster survivor and No More Jockeys cult leader, is noted for cramming spiritual enquiries, high-octane observational comedy and pathological overthinking into his evenings of stand-up.

Olga Koch up north for Homecoming autumn stand-up show at Theatre@41

Olga Koch: “Figuring out who on earth she is, as an immigrant and certified teen drama queen” in Homecoming

“WHAT does it mean to belong and where is home?”, ponders Russian-born, English-dwelling, story-telling stand-up Olga Koch in Homecoming, on tour at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, on October 8.

New passport in hand, Olga will try to figure out who on earth she is, as an immigrant and certified teen drama queen.

Homecoming will be the third tour for Olga, 28, in the wake of 2018’s Fight and 2019’s If/Then, and once more she has created “cathartic performance art in the privacy of her own home”.

She was nominated for the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s Best Newcomer Award for Fight, her debut “multimedia extravaganza” that took her audience through the making of modern Russia after Olga’s father – who went from “janitor to Mayor to Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, to game-show host, to dissident” – was stopped by authorities on the Russian border, resulting in the most surreal year in her family’s life.

Olga Koch: up for a Fight in her debut stand-up show

A British tour followed in 2019, visiting the Burning Duck Comedy Club at The Basement, City Screen, in February that year, where the tracksuit-sporting Olga dissected this real-life spy drama with nothing but a projector and her comedic insights. The show – an hour of Olga Koch starring in From Russia With Gloves Off – has since been aired as a special for BBC Radio 4 and is being adapted as a television sitcom. 

Olga’s If/Then debuted at the 2019 Edinburgh before touring the UK and was nominated for Best Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival. The show challenged Olga to tell a love story through the medium of computer programming, a subject she studied at university (“and, like, barely ever brings up”).

“In her feminist investigation into what happens when we can’t separate love and technology, Olga will teach you how to code and explore what happens when our expectations for love, happiness and Michael Bublé no longer compute,” the show brief said.

Like Fight, If/Then is now in development for television. Oh, and while on the subject of TV, Olga has appeared on QI, Mock The Week, King Gary, The New Comedy Show and Channel 4’s Sparks.

Ever busy,  she has released the podcast Tech Tech Boom on BBC Sounds and has a new series, OK Computer, running on BBC Radio 4.

Olga Koch’s poster for her newly announced Homecoming autumn tour

Now comes Homecoming, prompting Olga to say: “After various attempts to bring this show to life, I (a stand-up comedian who hopefully hasn’t forgotten how to do stand-up) cannot wait to bring this feel-good extravaganza to an audience (who hopefully hasn’t forgotten how to laugh).”

Homecoming will form part of a full programme of autumn events at Theatre@41. Check out the programme at 41monkgate.co.uk; tickets are on sale at tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Did you know?

OLGA Alfredovna Koch was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia on September 1 1992. She was educated at TASIS England, aka The American International School in England, an American international boarding and day school.

She studied computer programming at New York University and trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, New York, and the Soho Theatre and the Free Association in London.

Olga Koch’s Homecoming will find a home at last this autumn after “various attempts to bring this show to life”