Who’s taking part in York Theatre Royal’s Green Shoots showcase of new works?

Bolshee trio Paula Clark, left, Megan Bailey and Lizzy Whynes: Premiering Boss B***h at Green Shoots

NEW work commissioned by York Theatre Royal from dozens of York and North Yorkshire professional artists will be premiered in Green Shoots on June 7 and 8.

Poets, performers, singers, dancers and digital artists will take part in this sequel to Love Bites, last May’s two-night showcase that marked the Theatre Royal’s reopening after the lifting of Covid lockdown restrictions.

Forming part of the Rumours & Rebels season, Green Shoots’s diverse bite-sized performances will be focused on “rebooting post-pandemic and looking to the future of the planet”.

Twenty commissions have been selected by the Theatre Royal from the call-out for submissions for a scheme that offers £1,000 per commission plus £150 each time they are performed.

Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster says: “Love Bites last year was a joyous event that will live long in my mind, not just because we were re-opening after 14 months of enforced closure, but also because our stage was filled to overflowing with the tremendous talent and ingenuity of local artists.

York Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster

“It was moving, spectacular, surprising, thought-provoking and funny in equal measures. We have created this new opportunity with Green Shoots because we are excited to see what they will do next.”

Those who were commissioned have been asked to respond to the title Green Shoots in any way that it can be interpreted. “Pieces might be about hope, recovery, new beginnings, revolution, new life, growth, the environment or anything else that can be imagined as a response,” says Juliet.

Participating next month will be Hayley Del Harrison; Dora Rubinstein; Sam Bond; Fladam; Bolshee; Butshilo Nleya; Ana Silverio; Esther Irving; Gus Gowland; Nettle Soup and Polychrome Studios; Paul Birch and Sam Conway.

So too will be Ella Portnoy; Kate Bramley/Badapple Theatre Company; Robert Powell, Ben Pugh and Kitty Greenbrown; Libby Pearson and Emily Chattle; Alexander Flanagan-Wright; Hannah Davies and Jack Woods; Joe Feeney and Carey Simon.

Hayley Del Harrison: Choreographer and theatre-maker

Hang On Little Tomato, Hayley Del Harrison.

HANG On Little Tomato is about a young woman, growing her very first tomato plant. Some people believe that plants respond emotionally when you talk to them but our novice gardener takes this to the next level. It turns out the shared experience delivers mutual support, faithful companionship and that tiny bit of vibrancy they both needed to feel a little less alone. 

Spring In My Step!, Dora Rubinstein

THIS contortion and acro-dance piece is a physical exploration of how it feels when the sun shines again after a long winter. The feeling of sunlight on your skin; the smell of freshly cut grass; the sight of daffodils. The feeling that light, connection, joy, is back, and the dark days are over.

All The World Is Green, Sam Bond

LONELY retirees Jamie and Clara meet by chance at a concert in their Yorkshire Dales village, bringing love unexpectedly back into their lives. A story of new beginnings, All The World Is Green blends live performance and film to look at the power of memories, life after loss and finding love again in old age.

Greenfingers, Fladam

DID you ever hear the tale of Greenfingers? The wicked boy born with unsightly green hands, who spoils all he touches. But has history misjudged this green-fingered boy? Is he even a boy at all? Find out in this deliciously Dahl-esq treat from madcap musical duo Fladam, alias Adam Sowter and Florence Poskitt.

BOSS B***H, Bolshee

BOSS B***H explores the infamous statement made by influencer Molly-Mae Hague and celebrity media personality Kim Kardashian that we all have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyonce. Cue five minutes of female voices, beats and moves. “Let’s challenge the toxic boss bitch narrative,” say Paula Clark, Lizzie Whynes and Megan Bailey.

Butshilo Nleya: Healing stories

Tatu Dances: Stories Of Healers, Butshilo Nleya

A PLAY with dances, songs, poetry about healing the mind, the body and the spirit celebrated by three generations of displaced, dejected, denigrated and defiant African healers. 

Green Shoots, Ana Silverio (Terpsichoring)

ANA’S solo dance piece, specially created for the Green Shoots commission, explores the processes and emotions of starting over again after an unexpected interruption. This work is about perseverance and the search for possibilities.

Her Face/My Face, Esther Irving

WHAT do you do when you no longer recognise the face that looks back at you in the mirror? How can you re-connect the life you had with the one you live now?

Your Own Road, Gus Gowland

THIS original song takes its inspiration from a quote from James Herriot’s memoir All Creatures Great And Small: “When all t’world goes one road, I go t’other”. Performed by Joe Douglass, this uplifting and empowering anthem encourages you to follow your own path and see hope in the world around you.

Stones On The Riverbed! Nettle Soup and Polychrome Studios

HAVE you ever heard of the legend of the five white stones? This piece of verbatim theatre explores what the residents of York are looking forward to in the future, unearthing their hearts’ truest desires.

Gus Gowland: Uplifting and empowering anthem

Beanstalk, Paul Birch

FOR hundreds of years, you have been telling the story of Jack And The Beanstalk completely wrong.  Beanstalk is the recently discovered true account of the tale, told from the Giant’s point of view. Any similarities to any persons now living, lying or misusing public funds is entirely coincidental. 

‘Don’t Mow, Let it Grow!’, Sam Conway (Little Leaf Theatre)

THIS piece extols the benefits of letting the grass in your garden grow throughout spring. Incorporating dance, music and video, Little Leaf Theatre endeavour to bring a serious message to the stage in a light-hearted and engaging way.

Baby Bird, Ella Portnoy

A MONOLOGUE about breaking out of an egg and feeling new-born after lockdown – being a gosling and pottering around in the world, full of curiosity.

The Three Allotmenteers, Kate Bramley/Badapple Theatre Company

A CURIOUS late-night game takes place at The Gardener’s Arms as The Three Allotmenteers play for what was left after the sudden death of their friend. An unexpected discovery sows the seeds of a joyous outcome to their current situation

Beckon, Robert Powell, Ben Pugh and Kitty Greenbrown

THIS five-minute performance and film-poem drew initial inspiration from a remarkable medieval church window in York. Beckon invites its audience on a brief but powerful journey through a landscape of shared memory, confusion, fear and wonder towards a sense of hope.

The dramatic collage of spoken word, film and sound conjures both past and present times to address our current situation – a world at once treasured and threatened.

Alexander Flanagan-Wright: “Just words, and a little bit of music”

The Sapling!, Libby Pearson and Emily Chattle

SASHA’S history has bonded her to nature in general and to trees in particular, and she knows that sometimes even the smallest of gestures can have the biggest of impacts. Meet Sasha as she tells her personal story of discovery and making a difference.

If There Was Ever Anything Worth Hoping For Then I Hope, Alexander Flanagan-Wright

“THIS is a story. It’s a short story. It’s only five minutes long. But it’s about loads of stuff. It’s about everyone, I guess,” says Alex. “It’s about everything that got each of us to here and it’s about what we do next and, importantly, what we hope will happen after that.

“It’s just words, and a little bit of music. But it’s come from your yesterday, your week before, the years that got you here. And it’s about tomorrow, or next week, or next year. If you’re after a fresh start, they perhaps don’t exist. But tomorrow does, so let’s pin some of our hope on that, shall we?”

The Ballad Of Blea Wyke!, Hannah Davies and Jack Woods

THE traditional selkie myth is reworked for the Yorkshire East Coast, set against the dramatic landscape of Ravenscar. Here the ancient story of the seal-people is re-imagined, placing it in a world not too far off from our own, where cliffs are crumbling and some people have never seen the sea, despite the rising water levels.

Green Man!, Joe Feeney

AT the end of his tether witnessing the climate emergency’s destructive charge towards certain oblivion, and feeling utter powerlessness, an ordinary man calls on the mythical Green Man of yore to save the world.

Ocean/Jura, Carey Simon

PRESENTING two poems with a backdrop of classical music. Ocean focuses on the seething fury of the mighty unabashed ocean, the passion and the volatility of its rolling motion that conceals its briny, gloom-shrouded depths from frail eyes above.

Jura is an elixir that transcends the bounds of the spirit-taste divide. Smoothness, translucence overflowing the senses into something more. Deliciousness, a notion leading to Nirvana’s devotion.

Tickets for the two 7.30pm performances are on sale on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

York Theatre Royal opens applications for Green Shoots commissions for June shows

A montage of Love Bites performances at York Theatre Royal in May 2021

YORK Theatre Royal is to commission new work from dozens of York and North Yorkshire professional artists in a variety of art forms for performances in June.

The Green Shoots project is the follow-up to Love Bites, the showcase of 20 bite-sized works that marked the re-opening of the St Leonard’s Place theatre on May 17 and 18 2021 after the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

Replicating that format as the green shoots of recovery are given the chance to bloom, now comes Green Shoots, two nights of new theatre centred around “rebooting post-pandemic and looking to the future of the planet”.

From the call-out for applications that starts this week with a deadline of March 24, York Theatre Royal will select 20 commissions, offering £1,000 per commission, plus £150 each time they are performed.

Juliet Forster, the Theatre Royal’s creative director, says: “Love Bites last year was a joyous event that will live long in my mind, not just because we were re-opening after 14 months of enforced closure, but also because our stage was filled to overflowing with the tremendous talent and ingenuity of local artists.

“It was moving, spectacular, surprising, thought provoking and funny in equal measures. Now we’ve created this opportunity with Green Shoots because we’re excited to see what they will do next.”

York Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster

The work celebrating York and Yorkshire talent and live performance will be performed on the main stage on June 7 and 8 as part of the Theatre Royal’s Rumours & Rebels summer season.

“More than 2,000 artists across a variety of art forms applied for Love Bites and they ranged from spoken word to circus,” says Juliet. “The 2022 commissions should respond to the title Green Shoots in any way that can be interpreted.

“Pieces might be about hope, recovery, new beginnings, revolution, new life, growth, the environment or anything else that can be imagined as a response. The work should be able to be performed or shared both live and in a digital form and have a duration of up to five minutes.”

Artists may apply as individuals and/or as part of a collective. The Theatre Royal is keen to incorporate as wide a mix of art forms and interpretations of the theme as possible, welcoming submissions from artists working in any medium.

Interested artists are being asked to write a short proposal for their piece, how it might be performed live and how it would translate into a digital form. Submissions should be sent to commissions@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk by midday on March 24.

For more information on Green Shoots and how to apply, go to:  yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Meet the 22 artists putting the Love Bites into York Theatre Royal’s May reopening

THE Love Season will soon set hearts pulsing at York Theatre Royal, where the Step 3 reopening will make its mark with Love Bites: a love letter to live performance and a toast to the city’s creative talent.

More than 200 artists from a variety of art forms applied for £1,000 love-letter commissions to be staged on May 17 – the first day that theatres can reopen after restrictions are lifted – and May 18.

The 22 short pieces selected will be performed each night at 8pm under the overall direction of Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster, who says: “Love Bites is really a love letter to live performance, put together by York artists. It’s a celebration of what we have been missing for over a year now: the chance to come together under one roof and share our stories and experiences. 

“There was no one single theatre production that felt enough to mark the reopening of theatres, the lifting of restrictions, so we decided that we needed multiple ones.”

Shortlisting from 200-plus proposals was both extremely difficult and inspiring, according to Juliet. “There are so many talented, inventive, creative people in York – we could have filled the night several times over,” she says. 

“The selection of short pieces that you will see on our stage represent a wide range of voices, artforms and approaches to the theme of love, created by both well-established artists and those who are newer to the scene. We hope Love Bites will turn out to be ‘a many-splendored thing’.”

Hosted by York  broadcaster Harry Gration, Love Bites will herald the start of The Love Season, wherein Ralph Fiennes will present T S Eliot’s Four Quartets, Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh will perform husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman show The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…and perma-cycling Shakespeare enthusiasts The HandleBards will ride riotously through Romeo & Juliet.

The Love Bites line-up

Vanessa Simmons: Reverie

Vanessa is a composer, pianist and piano teacher who lives just outside York, drawing inspiration from the countryside. Reverie is the retelling of a dream that captures falling in love, the soaring emotions of being in love and remembering a love that is lost.

“It’s a rejoicing of the beauty, sorrow and power of real love in musical form, using some elements of the classic piano sonata with added impressionist colours and tones,” says Vanessa. “Reverie is a journey, one that is universal and timeless.” 

James Lewis-Knight: Staying Connected

James is an actor and the artistic director of Clown Space, a York company specialising in clowning, mask work and physical theatre. “As a clown, I’ve missed the joy that comes from connecting with a live audience and I can’t wait to find that again with Staying Connected,” he says.

Richard Kay

Richard Kay: For The Love Of Singing

Richard is an actor and writer, creating shows for festivals and attractions, such as the York Maze, as well as writing, directing and performing for Badapple Theatre, the Green Hammerton “theatre on your doorstep” company.

Over the past year, he has led four choirs over Zoom and has composed new music, as well as creating “virtual choir” tracks. 

Kitty Greenbrown, Robert Powell, Ben Pugh: The Angels Of Lendal Bridge

Kitty, Robert and Ben are a York trio of artist-producers. The ubiquitous Ben is a creative practitioner with more than 25 years’ experience in working across disciplines, not least for the Covid digital age. Robert has published four collections of poetry, an artist’s book and two short films. Kitty – also known as Katie – is a spoken-word performance poet interested in telling stories and collaborating with artists and musicians.

Story Craft Theatre’s Janet-Emily Bruce and Cassie Vallance

Story Craft Theatre: She Can Go Anywhere

Story Craft Theatre is a children’s theatre company created in York by Cassie Vallance and Janet-Emily Bruce. After setting up in 2018, they have hosted parties, events and classes throughout the UK. Partnerships have been forged with the National Trust, Goose of Harrogate, Rural Arts in Thirsk, Castle Howard, Rowntree Park in York and York Theatre Royal. 

Bridget Foreman: 5 Minute Call

Bridget has written more than 30 plays, ranging from one-person shows to large-scale community productions. Among recent works are Clay Fever for York Theatre Royal, Surprise Ending for York company Riding Lights, and York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre’s co-production of Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes. Her new play, My Place, will tour…sometime soon! She also lectures in playwriting at the University of York.

Claire Spooner and Richard Stephenson: Mise en aby-me

Passionate about theatre and costume, Claire works creatively across several arts sectors as a freelance life model, milliner, costumier for York Theatre Royal and occasional background artist for film and television. In each role, Claire explores and develops ways to tell a story through the human form.

Richard is a professional illustrator, painter, storyteller and music writer living in Leeds. He works predominantly in ink and considers himself more of an image maker, always searching creatively for the next happy accident. 

Gus Gowland: The Streets Of York

Gus is a musical theatre writer/composer based in York. For his first musical, Pieces Of String (Mercury Theatre, Colchester 2018), he won The Stage Debut Award for Best Composer/Lyricist. Other projects include Subway: an audio short, Copyright Christmas at the Barbican, London, and an upcoming EP of original songs, In Motion.

Hannah Davies: Love Song To Spring

Hannah is a York writer, theatre-maker and multi slam-winning poet. She is associate artist at Say Owt, York’s spoken-word night, and artistic director of Common Ground Theatre and teaches playwriting at the University of York.

Hannah Davies

Ashleigh J Mills: In Progress

Ashleigh [they/them] is a black, non-binary and unapologetically autistic creator. Politically and poetically minded, their work seeks to explore and digest their lived experience of life on the margins. They believe that within resistance lies creation. They are a work in progress.

Alice Boddy and Leanne Hope: A Love Letter To Female Friendship

Alice and Leanne trained together at the Northern Ballet School, worked together on cruise ships and have spent the past year creating/dancing in their living rooms/kitchen. Through their love letter, they hope to depict the power of female friendship – something they have relied on so heavily in pandemic times. 

Erika Noda: Ai

After graduating from East 15 Acting School, this Japanese English actor, from York, co-founded a theatre company that specialised in creating shows and workshops for children with complex needs. Ai is Erika’s first solo writing project; a semi-autobiographical account of what it can be like growing up dual heritage.  

Elena Skoreyko Wagner, James Cave and Bethan Ellis: Magic

Elena Skoreyko Wagner is a York illustrator and papercut artist, soon to take part in York Open Studios 2021. Her work seeks to find magic and uncover meaning in the mundane. York composer and singer James Cave sings in the York Minster choir and Gavin Bryars Ensemble. Bethan Ellis is a writer and editor; she works at University of York.

Butshilo Nleya: Ekhaya, Love Them Both? 

Butshilo is a Zimbabwean playwright, now living in York, whose work centres on place, home and the multiplicity of cultures. Since 2002, he has worked in Africa, Europe and the USA, using words, music and dance to explore the language of cultures, migration, identity and diversity.

Fladam (Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter): Love Bytes

York musical comedy duo’s heartfelt and humorous songs tackle the topical with witty wordplay, memorable melodies and a dash of the Carry On! Original songwriting guaranteed to make you smile.

Harri Marshall: I Often Think Of You

Harri is a deaf director based in York, who received training from the Young Vic, Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme and the Bristol Old Vic. She has an affinity for contemporary theatre, including new writing, adaptation and verbatim theatre, and has directed nine shows. She is an advocate for D/deaf and disabled creatives and is a self-proclaimed proactive busy-body!

Luella Rebbeck, Jamie Marshall-White and Isla Bowles: The Art Of Losing 

Luella, Jamie and Isla are three emerging dance artists, studying dance full time at CAPA College, Wakefield, alongside creating their own dance films and works. The Art Of Losing portrays the loving relationships between them and what it means to have contact with one another. 

Paul Birch: Lost For Words

Writer/director Paul is artistic director of Out Of Character, a York company comprised of artists with experience of mental illness. Terence Stamp, Richard O’Brien and George Lazenby have been kind enough to speak his words in performance. In real life, his own words often fail him. 

Harri Marshall

Hannah Wintie-Hawkins: In The Beginning

Born and raised in York, Hannah moved to London to train professionally in dance. She then progressed her performance career and returned to York in 2016 to set up an independent dance organisation, York Dance Space. She now works as a dance artist and movement director in the city and across the UK.

Tom Nightingale: Elaine

Tom is a musician, performance writer and actor. “My motivation is a therapeutic outlet, in order to make sense of the life I’ve experienced, and my challenge is to shape my creations into something objectively understandable to the general public,” he says. 

One of his projects, Nightingales Game. Pretend To Be Like Me, was staged at Tang Hall Smart as a play in the community. He is “very excited” to be able to perform his song Elaine, written for his wife. 

Maurice Crichton: Where Are We Now, You and I? 

Maurice is an active member of York’s amateur theatre community, both on stage and as an organiser. Credits include: The Duchess Of Malfi, The Seagull (York Theatre Royal Studio); Colder Than Here (York Cemetery Chapel/St Nicks environment centre); Antony And Cleopatra (Theatre @41, Monkgate). During the pandemic, he produced York Shakespeare Project’s  Sit-down Sonnets in the churchyard at Holy Trinity, Goodramgate.

Toby Gordon: O Tell Me The Truth About Love by W H Auden

York actor Toby trained at LAMDA. Theatre credits include Two Planks & A Passion and As You Like It (York Theatre Royal and TakeOver), The Great Gatsby (Guild Of Misrule), The York Mystery Plays (York Minster, both as Satan and Jesus) and Antigone (Barbican, London).

Tickets cost Pay What You Feel at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or on 01904 623568.

York Theatre Royal and BBC Radio York team up for Good Friday and Easter Sunday instalments of York Radio Mystery Plays

Director Juliet Forster, top left, and the cast for The Resurrection at a rehearsal on Zoom

BBC Radio York will broadcast two more instalments of the York Radio Mystery Plays in collaboration with York Theatre Royal.

While the Theatre Royal has been closed in Lockdown 3, actors and creatives have been working behind the scenes to record The Crucifixion for Good Friday and The Resurrection for Easter Sunday.

The plays have been adapted by Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster and writer husband Kelvin Goodspeed from excerpts from the York Mystery Plays, dating back to the 1300s, for recording by a combination of community and professional actors. 

These latest recordings follow on from the audio versions of Adam And Eve, The Flood Part 1, The Flood Part 2 and Moses And Pharaoh, broadcast on BBC Radio York last June.

“I’m delighted to have returned to the York Radio Mystery Plays series this Easter,” says Juliet. “The York Mystery Plays are part of the DNA of this city. They belong to the people of York and have brought people together to create, perform, watch, laugh and cry since the 14th century.

“The longevity of these potent plays clearly demonstrates how vital the collective act of storytelling is and has always been to human beings, and how much we need to explore and reflect together on our experiences and understanding of the world.”

The sourcing of the scripts, recruitment of actors and provision of music has been conducted by the Theatre Royal. In keeping with the social-distancing rules, the production required the actors to rehearse remotely on Zoom, then record their lines on a smart phone from home, whereupon the recordings were sent to BBC Radio York for mixing and collating into finished crafted instalments.

Acting assistant editor Allan Watkiss says: “We’re excited to be working with York Theatre Royal once again to keep the centuries-old tradition of the Mystery Plays alive during the pandemic.”

York Radio Mystery Plays director Juliet Forster

The York Mystery Radio Plays project is part of the Theatre Royal’s Collective Acts, a programme of creative community engagement taking place while the building is closed under Coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Joining director Juliet in the production team are Edwin Gray, composition, foley and sound design, and Madeleine Hudson, Theatre Royal Choir musical director, songs.

The cast for The Crucifixion is: Andrew Isherwood, as John; Daniel Poyser, 1st Soldier; Toby Gordon, 2nd Soldier; Adam Kane, 3rd Soldier; Ged Murray, 4th Soldier; Stephanie Wood, Mary, mother of Jesus; Joe Osborne, Pilate; Jared More, Jesus; Elizabeth Elsworth, Mary Cleophas; Maria Gray, 1st Thief on the cross, and Kelvin Goodspeed, 2nd Thief on the cross.

Poyser, Gordon, Kane, Murray, Wood, Osborne, More and Elsworth reprise their roles in The Resurrection, performing alongside Sarah Woodmansey as Angel, Dora Rubinstein as Mary Magdalene and Maggie Smales as Caiaphas.

“Like we did before, we’ve gone for a mix of professionals and community actors, but everyone is new for this production as we’ve moved from the Old Testament to the New Testament, and I wanted to reflect that by using new voices,” says Juliet.

BBC Radio York will air The Crucifixion on Good Friday, April 2, at 6.30am and 1.30pm; The Resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 4, 6.30am and 9.30am. They will be available too on BBC Sounds at bbc.co.uk/radioyork

Actor credits:

Elizabeth Elsworth performed in the York Mystery Plays 2012 and the Wagons Festivals in 2014 and 2018. She appeared in York Theatre Royal’s community productionsBlood + Chocolate, In Fog and Falling Snow and Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes, as well as several productions for York Shakespeare Project and York Settlement Community Players.

Toby Gordon as Lucifer in the 2016 York Minster Mystery Plays, when he memorably switched to playing Jesus during the last week of the run

Toby Gordon appeared in the York Mystery Plays 2012 as Workman, in the 2016 York Minster Mystery Plays as Lucifer and in Two Planks & A Passion as Edward Young. Other credits include Antigone (Barbican, London) and The Great Gatsby(Guild of Misrule).

Maria Gray trained at East 15 Drama School (BA Acting) and Flic Circus School in Turin, Italy. She works as an actor, voice-over artist and movement director. Credits include Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre); The Machine Stops (York Theatre Royal/Pilot Theatre); The Beggars Opera(York Theatre Royal) and The Girl Next Door (Teatro Regio). Shewas movement director for A Midsummer Night’sDream and Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre) and Elves And The Shoe Makers (York Theatre Royal).

Andrew Isherwood has been performing on York stages since the York Mystery Plays in 2012, taking on leading roles in classical and musical productions for Pick Me Up Theatre, the York Shakespeare Project and at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre. He regards playing Max Bialystock in The Producers as his career highlight so far.

Jared More trained at the Newcastle Theatre Royal, graduating from the Project A actor training programme in 2019. He is a creative associate of York company Riding Lights, where his credits include Roughshod Deliver, The Selfish Giant and The Kaleidoscope Tour, as well as writing and editing on various projects.

Ged Murray’s first role in the Mystery Plays was as Joseph in the 1992 production at York Theatre Royal. He has since been in the cast in 1996, 2000 (again as Joseph), 2012 and 2016, along with being involved in the Wagon Plays since their resurrection in 1994. He last appeared in the Plays in December 2019 as Shepherd One in the Mystery Plays Supporters Trust’s Nativity. His wider acting roles range from Shylock in York Shakespeare Project’s The Merchant Of Venice to the Dame in village pantomimes. 

Exchange of views: Paul Joe Osborne’s Sergeant-Major Reg Drummond and Rory Mulvihill’s Acting Captain Teri Dennis in Privates On Parade in March 2019 . Picture: Matthew Kitchen

Paul Joe Osborne featured in the 2012 York Mystery Plays 2012 but that time at the other end of the Bible, starring as Noah in the Potters Cast. He has played assorted characters at York Theatre Royal Studio in The Seagull, Twelfth Night, Breathing Corpses and Waiting For Godot and Sgt Drummond in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Privates On Parade at Theatre @41 Monkgate. He has also explored TV and film opportunities too in Peaky Blinders, Coronation Street, Ghost Stories and the York comedy horror Chestersberg.

Daniel Poyser trained at Arden School of Theatre.  He has played multiple roles for the National Theatre, as well as appearing in The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess Theatre, London); The Crucible (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Island and The Three Musketeers (Young Vic, London); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Les Blancs (Royal Exchange, Manchester); An Enemy Of The People (Sheffield Crucible); Blue/Orange(nominated for MEN Best Actor Award), The Merchant of Venice and The BFG (Bolton Octagon), and Strangers On A Train, Arms And The Man and Blue/Orange (Theatre by the Lake, Cumbria). He has myriad television and radio credits too.

Dora Rubinstein trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Credits include A Page A Day (Northern Stage), Cinderella (Cast, Doncaster), Digital Ghost Hunt (York Theatre Royal), Peter Pan and Aladdin (The Dukes, Lancaster), The Wizard Of Oz (Leicester Square Theatre), Romeo And Juliet and Macbeth (Young Shakespeare Company) and The Ballad Of Robin Hood (Southwark Playhouse). She performs and teaches circus skills, such as contortion and acrobatics, and is developing an interactive circus/theatre show for families in partnership with Dance City, Newcastle. 

Maggie Smales is a York theatre maker with both directing and acting credits. She has directed The Stepmother; an all-female Henry V; Blue Stockings and When The Rain Stops Falling. Among her acting roles: York Mystery Plays, A Winter’s Tale, Coriolanus, Follies, Legacy, Twilight Robbery and Tom’s Midnight Garden.

Stephanie Wood trained at the Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art and worked professionally for several years, most notably appearing in the cult TV show Knightmare as Elita the Cavern Elf.She has been involved in many of York Theatre Royal’s community shows and was last seen as Arkadina in Chekhov’s The Seagull, whose run in the Theatre Royal Studio concluded shortly before the first lockdown.

Sarah Woodmansey is training at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, on the contemporary performance practices course. She has acted in York Theatre Royal productions of In Fog And Falling Snow, Dick Whittington (And His Meerkat), The Beggar’s Opera and Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes.

Love bites in myriad forms as York Theatre Royal seeks artists for May 17 reopening

YORK Theatre Royal will reopen on May 17 with a celebration of York’s creativity, pending any Government update on the roadmap rollout.

A call-out has gone out to York artists – poets, writers, performers, singers, dancers and digital artists – to mark the return of live performance to the St Leonard’s Place building, 14 months since its Covid-enforced closure.

The Theatre Royal is commissioning a series of “love letters” from York artists – under the umbrella title Love Bites – to be performed on the opening night of The Love Season, a programme of plays based on the theme of love. The commissions will then be presented across the following fortnight as a prelude to the theatre production playing each night.

The theatre aims to commission 20 Love Bites love letters, each lasting up to five minutes. Artists will be offered £1,000 per commission plus £150 every time it is performed.

“The love letter could be to a person, a place, an object, the city of York itself – or anything else,” says York Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster

Creative director Juliet Forster says: “We want artists working in any form or medium and living in York to join forces with us in celebrating the start of live performances when restrictions lift in May. 

“We’re looking for artists to create love letters through any medium. The love letter could be to a person, a place, an object, the city of York itself – or anything else. 

“We’re very keen to incorporate as wide a mix of art forms and interpretations of what a love letter is as possible. It could be a poem, a song, a piece of digital art, a dance piece, but should be able to be performed or shared both live and in digital form. 

“The piece should have a duration of up to five minutes. If the artist doesn’t want to perform the piece themselves, we will work with them on engaging an appropriate performer.”

“We’re ecstatic at the prospect of reopening in May with the much-anticipated Love Season,” says York Theatre Royal chief executive Tom Bird

Those interested in being commissioned are asked to write a short proposal for what their love letter might be and how it could be performed live and translated into digital form. They should submit links to their website or previous work too. 

Submissions must be emailed to commissions@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk by March 22 2021. Details of how to apply can be found on the website at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

York Theatre Royal is set to reopen for socially distanced performances from May 17, once Government restrictions are lifted. Chief executive Tom Bird says: “We’re ecstatic at the prospect of reopening in May with the much-anticipated Love Season.

“After the challenges that the pandemic has brought for freelance artists, we’re particularly delighted to be able to commission 20 York artists to relaunch the theatre programme with Love Bites. We’ll be announcing the remainder of the season in April. We can’t wait to welcome the people of York back to their wonderful theatre.”