Badapple Theatre to revive The Snow Dancer at Joseph Rowntree Theatre with Crowdfunder backing…but await Covid restrictions update for the go-ahead

Anastasia Benham and Danny Mellor in Badapple Theatre’s December 2019 tour of The Snow Dancer

GREEN Hammerton company Badapple Theatre are to present their only indoor performances of 2020 at a socially distanced Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, on December 5 and 6, subject to updated Covid-19 Government measures.

Danny Mellor and Anastasia Benham will resume their stage partnership in artistic director Kate Bramley’s The Snow Dancer, the Christmas show they toured last year, concluding at Yarm Fellowship Hall on December 29 2019.

In September, they teamed up again for outdoor performances of the premiere of Mellor’s play, Suffer Fools Gladly, as part of Badapple’s 21st anniversary celebrations.

Mellor’s quick-moving, quick-witted hour-long comedy delighted in testing and tracing the merits of always having to tell the truth: a compulsion from which our parliamentarians seem to be socially distanced, alas.

Anastasia Benham and Danny Mellor in Badapple Theatre’s open-air tour of Suffer Fools Gladly in September

Now, Badapple are fundraising to support the performers in the Covid-secure performances of The Snow Dancer through a Crowdfunder appeal that will run until November 30.

At the JoRo theatre, newly equipped with chair wraps to denote the socially-distanced seating plan, Mellor and Benham will stage writer-director Bramley’s cautionary global-warming tale, set in the Great Wood, where something is awry.

The animals are desperate for sleep, but with the onset of climate change, the weather is just too warm. Step in Mellor and Benham’s intrepid heroes, who decide they must seek out the mysterious Snow Dancer if there is to be any chance of ever making it snow for Christmas.

“I’ve worked on a lot of Christmas stories in the past, so even though this one is completely original and doesn’t follow an existing story, there are still recognisable elements,” says Kate.

“We have Ida the March Hare, who is a meddling villain, for example. But, if anything, it’s a classic ‘quest’ story, where the children head off through the woods to save the world and encounter a few setbacks on the way.”

Jonny McPherson in Badapple Theatre’s one-man show An Honorary Yorkshireman: The James Herriot Story

Among those to lend their support to the Crowdfunder appeal is Emmerdale actor Jonny McPherson, who plays Liam Cavanagh in the long-running Yorkshire soap, having appeared in two Badapple productions.

“My absolute pleasure. Least I could do for a wonderful company which has provided me with a some of the most memorable experiences of my life,” says Jonny, who has been tweeting his backing. “Wouldn’t be where I am today without you all. Good luck.”

McPherson toured with Badapple to some of the smallest venues in Yorkshire with the Theatre On Your Doorstep specialists, starring in the one-man show An Honorary Yorkshireman: The James Herriot Story and the original 2012 tour of Bramley’s hit musical Eddie And The Gold Tops.

For more information on the Crowdfunder appeal, head to https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/badapple-christmas-tour-un-cancelled.

Tickets for The Snow Dancer on December 5 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and December 6 at 1pm and 6pm will go on sale on December 2 via josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk, pending the Government loosening Lockdown 2 restrictions.

More Things To Do in York and at home in what’s left of Lockdown 2020 and beyond. List No. 18, courtesy of The Press, York

We face the second wave…but somewhere on the horizon….

AFTER the tiers of a clown, now comes the even greater frustration of Lockdown 2 from today, knocking the growing revival of arts, culture and life in general back into hibernation.

Nevertheless, in one chink of light, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has decreed that theatre companies can continue rehearsing shows in Covid-secure workspaces, behind closed doors, with a view to lockdown being lifted in early December.

Whether that turns out to be a mere fairytale, only time will tell, so please forgive the unpredictability of what may or may not be happening.

Charles Hutchinson picks through the debris of Lockdown 2 to find signs of artistic life for now and the months ahead.

Films, films and yet more films: Aesthetica Short Film Festival has a feast of film to enjoy while being stuck at home in lockdown

It’s started and it won’t finish until November 30: Aesthetica Short Film Festival online

YORK’S tenth anniversary Aesthetica Short Film Festival opened on Tuesday, switching from a spread of historic and modern locations to a digital and live-streamed festival for home entertainment, enlightenment and education on phones, TV sets, tablets and computers.

Films in competition at ASFF 2020 will span animation, documentary, drama, dance, fashion and thriller. This year they will be released in six strands this week, with no fewer than ten programmes per day under the strand titles of Just Another Day On Earth; Humans And Their Environment; Connections: People, Places and Identity; Breaking Down Barriers; Reclaiming Space: Universal And Personal and Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life.

Masterclasses, guest speakers, panel discussions, guest film programmes and an industry market are further highlights of an online festival unimpeded by the new lockdown. Go to asff.co.uk for tickets and to download the full programme.

Kate Bramley’s latest podcast: “Some strange and wonderful goings on at the allotment”

Fighting off the new lockdown blues: Badapple Theatre’s Theatre On Your Desktop podcast

GREEN Hammerton’s Badapple Theatre Company has added a new Kate Bramley play to its Theatre On Your Desktop series as it extends its lockdown season of free podcasts. 

Click on https://badappletheatreonyourdesktop.podbean.com/ for The World Is Still Next Door, artistic director Bramley’s account of some strange and wonderful goings on at the allotment as Mo and her young son search for a place to fight off the lockdown blues.

Set during four sunny days in May in deep lockdown, Bramley’s play seeks to capture the power of soundscapes to inspire imagination. “I got really interested in the idea of creating a new short piece with many voices of varying ages and accents, as well as delving into sound montages that evoke settings from our local Yorkshire all the way to Watamu Beach in Kenya,” says Kate. “With a bit of Badapple signature magic-realism thrown in for good measure.”

All roads lead to…21 York wards for York magician and entertainer Josh Benson in York Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime next month

Travelling Pantomime, not travailing pantomime, as the show must go on…hopefully: York Theatre Royal’s alternative neighbourhood watch

YORK Theatre Royal began rehearsals in the billiards room on Tuesday for associate director Juliet Forster’s Travelling Pantomime production.

It could still be pot luck whether the first collaboration between Evolution Pantomimes and the Theatre Royal will go ahead, everything hanging on Lockdown 2’s fate, but plans are taking rapid shape to cement the itinerary for a tour of 21 York wards from December 3, plus York Theatre Royal performances too.

Just Josh magician and entertainer Josh Benson, Robin Simpson’s Dame Dolly, Anna Soden’s Fairy/Singing Captain, Faye Campbell’s Jack/Dick and Reuben Johnson’s villainous Fleshcreep/Ratticus Flinch will rehearse three pantomimes, Jack And The Beanstalk, Dick Whittington and Snow White, all scripted by Evolution’s Paul Hendy, for each show’s audience to vote for which panto they want to see.  

Bean team: top row, from left, Jordan Fox, May Tether, Ian Stroughair and Livvy Evans; bottom row, Alex Weatherhill, Emily Taylor, Matthew Ives and Danielle Mullan

The other Jack And The Beanstalk in York this Christmas: York Stage at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, December 11 to 30

YORK Stage are going full team ahead with their inaugural pantomime, to be staged in the Covid-secure John Cooper Studio, where Perspex screens will be in place for the first time for the traverse staging.

Writer-director Nik Briggs has added West End choreographer Gary Lloyd to his production team, proclaiming: We’re taking our West End-worthy panto to the next level with the addition of Gary to our company.”

Jordan Fox, May Tether, Livvy Evans, Alex Weatherhill, Ian Stroughair, Danielle Mullan, Emily Taylor and Matthew Ives will be the cast bringing life to Briggs’s debut panto script.

Yorkshire Pudding Song: Martin Barrass will lead the Song Sheet singing at Bev Jones Music Company’s Strictly Xmas In The Park concert

Barrass is back: Bev Jones Music Company in Strictly Xmas In The Park, Rowntree Park, Amphitheatre, York, December 13, 2pm

MARTIN Barrass will be starring in a York pantomime after all this winter. Dame Berwick’s perennial comic stooge may be missing out on the Covid-cancelled Kaler comeback in Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House, but now he will lead the pantomime section of Strictly Xmas Live In The Park.

As part of Bev Jones Music Company’s Covid-secure, socially distanced, open-air performance, Barrass will tell a few jokes and orchestrate the song-sheet rendition of You Can’t Put A Better Bit Of Batter On Your Platter Than A Good Old Yorkshire Pud.

Barrass will wear black and pink to honour the late Bev’s favourite colour combination.

Helen Charlston: Performing at the York Early Music Christmas Festival

Early notice: York Early Music Christmas Festival, National Centre for Early Music, York, December 4 to 13

AS the NCEM website states: “We are planning for these concerts to go ahead and are still selling tickets. If the situation changes, we will of course be in touch.”

Fingers crossed, then, for a socially distanced festival in St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, featuring Palisander, The Marian Consort, Illyria Consort, Joglaresa, The York Waits and Bethany Seymour, Helen Charlston, Frederick Long and Peter Seymour.

Among the highlights, on December 9, festival favourites The York Waits will present The Waits’ Wassail: Music for Advent and Christmas: Carols, songs and dance from across medieval and renaissance England and Europe, played on shawms and sackbuts by York’s Renaissance town band.

Duran Duran: Making their Scarborough Open Air Theatre debut next summer

A hat-trick of new shows on the East Coast: Duran Duran, Lewis Capaldi and Snow Patrol at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

IN quick succession, Duran Duran, Lewis Capaldi and Snow Patrol have been confirmed for Cuffe and Taylor’s ever-expanding programme at Britain’s biggest purpose-built outdoor concert arena.

Booked in for July 7, Birmingham glam pop band Duran Duran will introduce their first new material since 2015, alongside such favourites as Save A Prayer, Rio, Girls On Film and The Reflex.

Lewis Capaldi: “Buzzing” to be back at Scarborough Open Air Theatre in 2021

Glaswegian singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi sold out two nights at Scarborough OAT in 2019 and says he is “buzzing” to be returning on July 25 next summer. “It’s a great venue, the crowds there are always unreal and so here’s to another unforgettable night,” he says.

Snow Patrol’s sold-out 2020 Scarborough show had to be scrapped under Covid restrictions but Gary Lightbody’s band are now booked in for July 3 2021. Tickets for all three shows go on sale tomorrow morning at 9am via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Kate Rusby at Christmas…now online

And what about?

THE Kate Rusby At Christmas tour will not be happening, ruling out her South Yorkshire pub carol concert at York Barbican on December 20.

However, in response to the Covid restrictions, the Barnsley folk nightingale has decided to go online instead, presenting Kate Rusby’s Happy Holly Days on December 12 at 7.30pm (GMT). Expect all the usual Rusby Christmas ingredients: sparkly dress, twinkling lights, her regular folk band, her “brass boys”, Ruby the reindeer and a fancy-dress finale.

Tickets go on sale on Friday (6/11/2020) via https://katerusby.com/happy-holly-day/

Badapple Theatre posts allotment drama as finale to lockdown free podcast series

Kate Bramley: Podcast play “inspired by the power of soundscapes to inspire imagination”

GREEN Hammerton’s Badapple Theatre Company has added a new Kate Bramley play to its Theatre On Your Desktop series as it extends its lockdown season of free podcasts. 

Click on https://badappletheatreonyourdesktop.podbean.com/ for the first instalment of The World Is Still Next Door, artistic director Bramley’s account of some strange and wonderful goings on at the allotment as Mo and her young son search for a place to fight off the lockdown blues.

Set during four sunny days in May in deep lockdown, Bramley’s play was prompted by her discussion with a BBC Radio York colleague about the power of soundscapes to inspire imagination.

“I got really interested in the idea of creating a new short piece with many voices of varying ages and accents, as well as delving into sound montages that evoke settings from our local Yorkshire all the way to Watamu Beach in Kenya,” says Kate. “With a bit of Badapple signature magic-realism thrown in for good measure.”

Featuring the voices of Kathryn Hanke, Thomas Frere, Anastasia Benham, Danny Mellor, Pauline Babula and A.J. Lowe, The World Is Still Next Door is the final commissioned show of Badapple’s Arts Council England-funded Theatre On Your Desktop season. Once more, Sony Radio Academy Award winner Jez Lowe provides the music.

Still available at https://badappletheatreonyourdesktop.podbean.com/ is the extended radio version of Badapple’s hit comedy Eddie And The Gold Tops, set against the backdrop of the Swinging Sixties, with original songs and music by Lowe.

Bramley’s tale follows Eddie, a much-loved milkman from a family of great Italian milkmen, who finds himself becoming a chart-topping Beat group star wholly by accident. However, when things take a churn for the worse, will he return home in time for the morning milk?

Based at Green Hammerton, near York, Badapple Theatre Company is celebrating 21 years of touring this year, highlighted by the open-air performances of Danny Mellor’s Suffer Fools Gladly in September.  

Badapple specialises in inventive new comedy designed specifically for small community venues, taking theatre to the most unexpected of places.

REVIEW: Suffer Fools Gladly, Badapple Theatre Company, on tour to September 23

Anastasia Benham’s Queen Avril and Danny Mellor’s Geordie jester Jagger in Badapple Theatre Company’s Suffer Fools Gladly

WANTED urgently, the plea went out. Open-air venues to host Badapple Theatre Company’s new short play. Apply promptly, help Badapple hit their required target in their 21st anniversary year and Arts Council England would back it.

Sure enough, such is the fond support for Green Hammerton’s “Theatre on your Doorstep” exponents that a list of North and East Yorkshire private gardens, campsites and hall car parks was full as quick as a finger click.

ACE has provided a £14,998 grant that will cover not only the doorstep tour of Yorkshire actor and writer Danny Mellor’s Suffer Fools Gladly, but also the “creative filming” of artistic director Kate Bramley’s smash-hit play Eddie And The Gold Tops for a November to February itinerary of film performances at familiar Badapple indoor venues under Covid-secure, socially-distanced guidelines.

This “Hybrid-Live” season opens with Suffer Fools Gladly’s September 15 to 23 run. Such was the ticket demand that doorstep destination number two presented three sold-out performances in one day – in the pantomime tradition of bygone days – under an awning on the terracing of a Stockton-on-the-Forest garden.

Danny Mellor as the “Mad Dad” in the premiere of his play Suffer Fools Gladly

In one side, out the other, hand sanitiser stations at the garden entry and exit, socially scattered garden chairs, this was theatre-going for the Covid age, and Arts Council England should be thanked for making it possible.

You may have rather different feelings towards the Government’s flowery response to the plight of an arts world still largely stymied since lockdown, but we are where we are, sitting in a Yorkshire country garden watching two actors, Mellor and Anastasia Benham, working for the first time since lockdown. Indeed for the first time since they performed Badapple’s winter warmer, The Snow Dancer.

Mellor has created Suffer Fools Gladly in that time: a quick-moving, quick-witted hour-long comedy that delights in testing and tracing the merits of always having to tell the truth: a compulsion from which our parliamentarians seem to be socially distanced, alas.

Mellor is playing Ozzy, a Brummie-voiced jester, exiled by Queen Avril from the magical kingdom of Marillion, where he is replaced by the lying Jagger. Ozzy, Marillion, Jagger…are you spotting all the rock references? Plenty more are on their way, punk henchmen Sid and Nancy making their day too.

One of three performances of Suffer Fools Gladly in one day in a Stockton-on-the-Forest garden

Through portal travel, Ozzy and his truth-dispensing marotte (the French word for a fool’s bauble) end up on Earth, where he strikes up an unlikely – but very likely in this upbeat, daft play – friendship with Earth girl Stevie (Benham).

She is 17, wont to be sceptical, even cynical, and expected to make the grades to study science at Oxford, with no time for fun, she complains.

Her rock-obsessed Yorkshireman father, the “mad dad” who named her after Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, has his mind on other things, forever reliving the 1980s. Queen to be precise, irresponsibly and misguidedly resolving to give up his job to be Freddie Mercury in a tribute band, although his singing voice is more lead than mercury. No wonder, her mum left him, says an exasperated Stevie.

Here we have two Queens in one show. The ubiquitous band and the autocratic ruler of Marillion (Benham’s second role), with a penchant for a bustle that “makes her bottom look big”, but Jagger won’t say that, whereas, stick in hand, Ozzy would.

Sticking to the truth: Danny Mellor’s jester, Ozzy, with his marotte in Suffer Fools Gladly

Mellor and Benham have comedy-and-pathos chemistry aplenty from The Snow Dancer, and even with the requirement for two metres of separation at all times, they bond so well again as they move to and fro between multiple roles.

Under Mellor and Bramley’s brisk co-direction, they are a joy to watch, full of fun and invention, whether sending up teenage proclivities, regal divas or rock gods or spoofing Boris Johnson, so glad to be playing to an audience once more too.

From topical Covid references and a Cummings dig to Ozzy’s observation that butterflies are “just moths with make-up on”, Mellor’s script has lip and zip, quirky observation and home truths…and even a Sex Pistols lyric. “No future, no future, no future for you”? Wrong, Mellor definitely has a future as a writer as much as an actor with an ear for so many accents.

Whoever holds the marotte, truth will out in a fearless play where protagonists are caught between rock (music) and a hard place. Stick to the truth is the message here. Truth be bold, truth be told. Politicians, take note.

Kate Bramley: Badapple Theatre Company founder and artistic director and co-director of Suffer Fools Gladly

Suffer Fools Gladly’s September tour itinerary continues at:

19: Colton Farm, near Tadcaster, 2pm, sold out.
20: St. Alban’s Church, Hull, car park, 2pm, sold out.
20: Skipsea, 7pm, tickets available.

21: Private garden, Driffield, 2pm, sold out.
22: Private garden, Gilberdyke, Goole, 5pm, tickets available.
23: Moor Monkton, 5pm, tickets available.

For tickets, go to: badappletheatre.co.uk/show/suffer-fools-gladly/

Badapple Theatre happy to Suffer Fools Gladly in gardens with Arts Council support

Badapple Theatre Company’s poster for this month’s Suffer Fools Gladly tour

BADAPPLE Theatre Company can look forward to an autumn harvest of outdoor shows after hitting the Arts Council England deadline to find at least six willing venues for Danny Mellor’s new short play, Suffer Fools Gladly.

Awarded a £14,998 grant, the Green Hammerton purveyors of theatre on your doorstep will perform a Hybrid-Live season of Covid-secure outdoor and filmed shows in the months ahead.

Up to ten open-air performances of Suffer Fools Gladly will be staged at private gardens, campsites and hall car parks across North and East Yorkshire area from September 15.

Danny Mellor and Anastasia Benham in last winter’s Badapple play, The Snow Dancer. Now they are to perform together in Suffer Fools Gladly

In addition, the ACE funding will support the “creative filming” of Badapple’s hit 1960s-era comedy Eddie And The Gold Tops for a new film-theatre partnership with small halls and arts centres from November to February.

Furthermore, Badapple can now film their Christmas show The Snow Dancer, first toured last winter, to enable free distribution in Yorkshire schools, and Badapple Youth Theatre activities can resume too. 

Thanking Arts Council England, founder and artistic director Kate Bramley says: “We’re bowled over by this continued support from ACE at this difficult time that supports our concept of feel-good and safe small-scale events for the communities we partner with and support for our team of creative artists.

Anastasia Benham: On a front door step near you soon

“We’ve always specialised in Theatre On Your Doorstep and now for some garden owners in Yorkshire it’s just got even closer to their front door!

“We had as many as 25 offers of interest in hosting the show, and some wonderful hosts will be throwing open their gardens to audiences to experience this great new play from young Yorkshire writer Danny Mellor.”

Suffer Fools Gladly is a witty short comedy, around an hour in length, that drills down on the perils and perks of always having to tell the truth. “Appealing to young and old alike, this upbeat tale narrates the comic fall from grace of Ozzy, the court jester, who is exiled from the magical kingdom of Marillion,” says Danny.

“We’re bowled over by this continued support from ACE at this difficult time,” says Badapple artistic director Kate Bramley

“It takes an unlikely friendship with a cynical 17-year-old Earth girl called Stevie to bring the joy back to both their worlds.”

Co-directed by Bramley, with costume and puppetry design by Catherine Dawn, the premiere will be performed by Mellor and Anastasia Benham, resuming their stage partnership from The Snow Dancer tour last December.

Watch this space for updates on the Eddie And The Gold Tops film-theatre tour, with dates filling up in the Badapple diary for November, December and February.

Danny Mellor: Suffer Fools Gladly writer and actor

Suffer Fools Gladly tour itinerary in September:

15: Stonegate Farm, Whixley, 5pm;

16: Private garden, Stockton on the Forest, York, 2pm and 4pm;
17: The Poplars, Myton on Swale, 6pm;
18: Beech Cottage, Green Hammerton 2pm;
19: Colton Farm, near Tadcaster, 2pm;
20: St. Alban’s Church, Hull, car park, 2pm;
21: Private garden, Driffield, 2pm;
22: Private garden, Gilberdyke, 5pm;
23: To be confirmed.

Details on how to apply for tickets will be updated regularly on the Badapple website, badappletheatre.co.uk

Can you provide a home for Badapple Theatre’s new play Suffer Fools Gladly or live film Eddie And The Gold Tops? Urgently

Kate Bramley: Badapple Theatre artistic director is looking to launch two autumn shows, one outdoors, the other indoors

WANTED! Badapple Theatre, the Green Hammerton company that takes shows to your doorstep, needs your urgent help to secure funding for two autumn projects.

Urgent really does mean urgent, as company founder and artistic director Kate Bramley explains: “We’ve just been offered a new grant from Arts Council England to cover our interim work between now and December 2020. They have set a deadline of Monday, August 31 for us to have six outdoor performances and six film events confirmed, so please do get in touch as soon as possible if you would like to be included.”

To put flesh on those bones: “As part of that, we’re looking to find a small number of outdoor spaces that would be willing to host a performance of Danny Mellor’s new play, Suffer Fools Gladly, between September 16 and 23,” says Kate, who commissioned Danny in the spring to write the piece for Badapple’s Lockdown Podcast series.

“It’s an extremely inventive and witty short comedy that at its core simply looks at the perils and perks if you had to tell the truth…all the time!” says Kate.

“Appealing to young and old audiences alike, this upbeat tale narrates the comic fall from grace of Ozzy, the court jester who is exiled from the magical kingdom of Marillion. It takes an unlikely friendship with a cynical 17-year old Earth girl, Stevie, to bring the joy back to both of their worlds.

Danny Mellor: Actor and writer for Badapple Theatre’s September play, Suffer Fools Gladly

“Danny’s play has a hint of political comment for the times but is really just meant to be a fun hour of upbeat storytelling to give people a bit of a lift.”

Danny has signed up to perform in next month’s mini-tour with Anastasia Berham, his co-star in last year’s Badapple Christmas show, Bramley’s warming winter play The Snow Dancer.

“They’re two great young actors who’ll be taking on the many voices and parts in a show with costume and puppetry design by Catherine Dawn,” says Kate, who will co-direct next month’s production.  “So, I’m now hoping to find a few hosts/ venues – we need six in mid-September – to make it work and we’re moving swiftly to do this.”

Badapple’s second putative autumn project has been prompted by an “overwhelming response from halls” [village and community halls] to a survey, expressing an interest in high-quality filmed versions of theatre shows.

“We’re looking at late October to early November for bookings for film-live screenings of Eddie And The Gold Tops,” reveals Kate. “To this end, we are again seeking a minimum of six venues to take part.

Last Christmas: Danny Mellor and Anastasia Berham in Badapple Theatre’s 2019 tour of The Snow Dancer.
Picture: Karl Andre

“When we started looking for the ultimate ‘feel-good’ show from the Badapple back catalogue, there was no contest! Eddie And The Gold Tops is our 1960s’ comedy about the unexpected and meteoric rise to stardom of Eddie, the local Bottledale milkman.

“With award-winning design by Charlie Cridlan and catchy and comic 1960s-style songs from our Sony Award-winning resident composer Jez Lowe, this show has delighted our audiences since 2012.”

In the Eddie And The Gold Tops storyline, Eddie inherited the family milk round from his father and has fulfilled his deathbed promise to never miss a delivery to the good people of Bottledale. Suddenly things are on the up: his songs are heading up the charts and if he can turn up by tonight, he will be on Top Of The Pops…so, get ready, Eddie, go! When things take a churn for the worse, however, will he arrive back in time for the morning milk round?

“Arts Council England have accepted our programme to make Eddie And The Gold Tops the first of these live-film featured events,” says Kate. “Our ambition is to create a new style of filmed performance – the ‘hybrid-live’ – that captures the energy, theatricality and immediacy of our live theatre shows while providing a quality of filmed entertainment that modern audiences have come to expect.

“The filmed show will feature a cast of three versatile performers leaping swiftly through a multitude of roles and songs, for audiences of all ages to tap their feet and laugh along to. We’re therefore looking for a small number of organisers to screen these pilot Theatre Film Night performances for socially distanced audiences at indoor venues in late October. Even better, make it a Sixties’ themed night with fancy dress and Bring Your Own.”

Anastasia Berham: Signed up to co-star with Danny Mellor in Suffer Fools Gladly

Summing up Badapple’s aims in an open letter headlined “Badapple Theatre: To Boldy Go… “,  administrator and company director Claire Jeffrey says: “As you all know, the Coronavirus pandemic has meant the closure of all live events for a prolonged period and we are hoping to now work in partnership with Arts Council England to safely deliver a small number of live events between September 2020 and January 2021.

“Our project ambition is simply to offer a series of pure feel-good events that are open to all ages and are just about local people having the confidence to gather safely with friends and neighbours at our ultra-small-scale Theatre On Your Doorstep events.

“We will, of course, be preparing a full Covid-19 risk assessment in line with Government guidelines for both of these projects that have been specifically designed to build audience confidence for live events by offering reduced capacity/ socially distanced showings.”

Claire’s letter concludes: “We would be delighted to answer any questions that you may have about the details, including finances and being Covid-19 safe. I’m working from home at the moment and can be reached on 01423 331304 or by email to clairebadappletheatre@gmail.com if you have any questions or wish to talk anything through.”

Hurry, hurry, with that phone call or email as Badapple need six of the best twice over…venues, that is. “We have to get them confirmed for Eddie And The Gold Tops before we can get the money to do the filming,” urges Claire.


The poster for Badapple Theatre’s first tour of Eddie And The Gold Tops, or Eddie & The Gold Tops as it was billed in 2012

Badapple Theatre’s slice of bakery comedy The Daily Bread to be served up at home

Scottish actor, clown, raconteur and cake business boss Colin Moncrieff in Badapple Theatre’s 2014 production of The Daily Bread, a play he now revives for the Podbean podcast

THE Daily Bread rises again as the latest free Podbean podcast from Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre.

Glaswegian actor, clown and raconteur Colin Moncrieff reprises his 2014 stage performance in artistic director Kate Bramley’s comedy about a master baker who is the talk of the tiny village of Bottledale, thanks to his sumptuous sponges and beautiful buns, this time giving a relaxed reading from home, accompanied by songs by Sony Award-winning singer-songwriter Jez Lowe.

Go to badappletheatreonyourdesktop.podbean.com to discover whether the baker’s cheery façade hides a dark secret. How come his name is so uncannily similar to that of disgraced media magnate August de Ville, who hid the truth behind the Bottledale bank crash?

For the villagers, is it a case of better the de Ville you don’t know, or will the truth come out, as Bramley adds more and more ingredients to her play recipe, ranging from a Women’s Institute narrator and a dour Yorkshireman to a Nigella Awesome send-up, a Mafia boss and a lumbering thug?

When toured in 2014, The Daily Bread was delivered to each village doorstep with “live baking” in a working oven. The one-man show was bread and butter to Moncrieff, who once worked with a French baker in New York and later ran his own cake business in Scotland.

Moncrieff’s prowess with flour, water, salt and yeast had come to light as he toured with Badapple in Laurel & Charlie, prompting writer-director Bramley to see the potential in writing a play that would combine all his skills.

What ensued was a nimble show of Machiavellian subterfuge, comedy, multiple role-playing, physical clowning as dextrous as Keaton and Chaplin, the aforementioned live baking, banking, and “a little bit of politics”, as Ben Elton once was wont to say too often.

A second Badapple show, audience favourite The Carlton Colliers, is available for free too at badappletheatreonyourdesktop.podbean.com. Bramley’s comic tale of an amateur football team saved from an eternal losing streak by a stroke of allotment magic is read from home by Thomas Frere, Robert Wade and Stephanie Hutchinson, again complemented by songs by Lowe.

Badapple Theatre writer-director Kate Bramley

“This is a story about a village, a story about love, optimism and yes, sometimes a story about football,” says Bramley.

She sets that story in Carlton Flatts, a northern place where “nobody notices you’re doing nothing, ’cause there’s nothing for anyone to do” since the village pit closed: a stasis captured in Lowe’s evocative folk music.

“But you have to dream, don’t you,” reckons the playwright, who gives the dreamer role, the escape route, to Jemmy, the sharp-shooter of the hapless Carlton Colliers football team, whose quality left foot could land him a contract with a League side. First, however, he must lead the Colliers out of trouble, Roy Of The Rovers style, while keeping both feet out of his mouth in the presence of Nina.

Frank, no-nonsense, ever efficient, she hates football but doggedly runs her Zumba classes and hopes her bit-part as a dancer on Coronation Street could be her ticket to bigger opportunities elsewhere.

Meanwhile, taciturn Chris has withdrawn to a barge but when he is left an allotment by a man to whom he has not spoken for 15 years, change beckons.

In Bramley’s head, The Carlton Colliers was always a love story. “Whether the love affairs with friends, football or hometown ever work out quite the way you expect is another story – but the love remains, just the same,” she says.

Without giving the plot away, the world does alter for each of her protagonists in a play where they bloom as much as the allotment at the back of the football pitch does.

Although the allotment is sited on Carlton Roadends, as one road ends, new paths begin, poetically symbolised by the presence of a plethora of parrots in Bramley’s storyline.

So, sit back at home and enjoy the nuggety northern humour, the borrowed football sayings – courtesy of the likes of late Liverpool gaffer Bill Shankly – and love in its myriad forms in this hymn to village life.

Only one question for…Badapple Theatre Company artistic director Kate Bramley

Kate Bramley: artistic director of Green Hammerton touring troupe Badapple Theatre Company

Question: In her opinion piece in The Stage, esteemed theatre critic Lyn Gardner speculated on whether rural touring shows would be the first to be released from the lockdown prohibitions. Could Badapple’s Theatre On Your Doorstep shows be back soonest, Kate?

“Unfortunately, I think Lyn has overlooked the [often older] age of the hall organisers and their community audiences and the latent fear factor, which I believe will make them unlikely to want to socialise in groups at all.

“I think she’s right about the flexibility of the seats, i.e. seats can be spaced apart to give social distance, and arts events that are ultra-local must be safer. But audiences would still have to move to and from the venue safely and, of course, the performers would have to be safe.”

“It’s just as complex for a small hall as for an arena when you start to break down the variables. Venues would still have to operate at 30 per cent of capacity for people to move around within them safely and certainly, for us, it doesn’t seem economically viable on that basis.”

Badapple Theatre switch from theatre on your doorstep to desktop for podcasts. UPDATED with Kate Bramley interview

Badapple Theatre Company podcast duo Frances Tither, left, and Sarah Paine, pictured in Badapple’s 2018 touring show Amy Johnson

BADAPPLE Theatre Company’s Theatre On Your Doorstep van is parked up, the hand brake applied by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of travelling to Yorkshire’s smallest and hardest-to-reach village halls this spring, the Green Hammerton company is switching to Theatre On Your Desktop.

“At a time when arts projects of all kinds are on hold, we’re keeping spirits up by making freely available podcasts of one of our best-loved productions, Back To The Land Girls,” says artistic director Kate Bramley, who founded the grassroots touring company 21 years ago with the mission to “offer the best of new theatre in the most unexpected of places”.

“Now you can access relaxed readings of our popular World War Two comedy in a series of free ten-minute podcasts, starring Frances Tither and Sarah Raine.”

Explaining the rationale behind the Desktop initiative, Kate says: “For the past 21 years, we’ve been touring original productions to rural communities that do not normally get the chance to host shows locally.

“But the creative team decided the best way to keep the plays coming during lockdown was to bring them direct to people’s desktops and hopefully spread a little virtual cheer.”

Back To The Land Girls is an apt choice for Badapple’s debut virtual venture, given the parallels with the strictures of 2020 life in Covid-19 lockdown limbo. “This historic play of ours is surprisingly resonant at this time as our Land Girls are facing life-changing times head on, but are resilient and manage to triumph,” says Kate.

“The most resonant aspect of looking at the Land Girls play again is their uncertainty and trepidation about what’s going to happen, and then a decent amount of grit and determination as they turn their hands to learning new skills in a hurry.

“It seems that a lot of us are having to do that, albeit from the confines of our own homes, rather relocating to the country.”

Kate’s story follows the adventures of Buff and Biddy, two young women who volunteer for the Women’s Land Army in Yorkshire, played by Frances Tither, BBC docu-drama award winner for 2018’s Emmeline: Portrait Of A Militant, and Sarah Raine, whose credits include Wild Rumpus Theatre’s Colour The Clouds.

Kate Bramley: Badapple Theatre Company artistic director and playwright

“Expect a humorous look at Buff and Biddy’s experiences as they are bonded by hard physical work, back ache and plenty of banter,” says Kate, whose script is complemented by original songs and music by Sony award-winning singer-songwriter Jez Lowe.

The podcast episodes were recorded during April by Kate, Frances and Sarah via Zoom from their homes. “The quality reflects that, but there is a relaxed feel to the readings that our listeners have commented they are enjoying,” says Kate.

“Hopefully, as the series develops, we’ll be able to upgrade the recording process, as well as continuing to employ a number of freelance performers who are currently out of work.”

Looking ahead, Kate says: “We’re hoping to expand the series to include more shows from the Badapple back catalogue – we have more than 20 years of plays to choose from – and we’re already looking at the possibility of delivering The Thankful Village, as it’s very resonant for rural communities and also those who are missing family they can’t be with.”

What else? “Probably The Carlton Colliers, for the football feel-good factor, and also Eddie And The Gold Tops, our ultimate rural touring Sixties’ music show,” says Kate. “Anything upbeat and fun, so we can spread good cheer around our isolated audiences.”

There is the possibility of new material too. “Subject to funding, we hope to commission some new short plays for the podcast series,” reveals Kate.

She has been “surprisingly busy” in lockdown with a combination of home-schooling and various creative projects on the back burner. “We’re still preparing for our next live tour of Elephant Rock, which we’re delighted has received Arts Council support,” she says.

Until Covid-19’s pandemic strictures intervened, dates were in the diary for Badapple to tour Kate’s latest play to 30 venues from April 16 to May 31. The Elephant Rock tour has been rearranged for September and October, pending Coronavirus governmental policy updates.

“But many of our partners are now re-considering moving it again to Spring 2021,” says Kate. “It’s a case of wait and see, but the creative team are still working and the designs look wonderful, so that’s some good news for us.

“We’ve had a full read-through of the new play – done virtually – and a lot of good discussions about the ins and outs of the staging, so it’s moving along well.”

From theatre on your doorstep….to theatre on your desktop

Theatre journalist and esteemed reviewer Lyn Gardner wrote an opinion piece in The Stage on May 4 speculating on whether rural touring shows could be the first to be released from the lockdown prohibitions.

Kate, however, strikes a cautionary tone: “Unfortunately, I think Lyn has overlooked the [often older] age of the hall organisers and their community audiences and the latent fear factor, which I believe will make them unlikely to want to socialise in groups at all,” she says.

“I think she’s right about the flexibility of the seats, i.e. seats can be spaced apart to give social distance, and arts events that are ultra-local must be safer. But audiences would still have to move to and from the venue safely and, of course, the performers would have to be safe.

“It’s just as complex for a small hall as for an arena when you start to break down the variables. Venues would still have to operate at 30 per cent of capacity for people to move around within them safely and certainly, for us, it doesn’t seem economically viable on that basis.”

Seven weeks in lockdown, how has village life been for Kate in Green Hammerton? “It’s very quiet in our village at the moment, though our premises are shared with the Post Office, village shop and village Coffee Shack, so we’re able to see villagers cautiously passing by to run their household errands and grab a socially distanced beverage or two,” she says.

“It’s pleasant to see other people passing, even if we can’t interact! A number of community groups have sprung up to support older households as well, and it’s great to see people looking beyond their own four walls to help others.”

Days spent in lockdown limbo afford time for learning, discovering and appreciating anew. “I have learned that my allotment works better when I’m not working full time! And I realise how lucky I am to live and work in a rural area,” says Kate.

“It has been a very different experience for my family than it has been for many others, and one has to hope that the societal will is now present to give greater equality to families who are struggling for either economic or geographical reasons.”

For more details of how to download Back To The Land Girls via Podbean, go to badappetheatre.com.

Badapple Theatre switch from theatre on your doorstep to desktop for podcasts

Badapple Theatre Company podcast duo Frances Tither, left, and Sarah Paine

BADAPPLE Theatre Company’s Theatre On Your Doorstep van is parked up, the hand brake applied by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of travelling to Yorkshire’s smallest and hardest-to-reach village halls this spring, the Green Hammerton company is switching to Theatre On Your Desktop.

“At a time when arts projects of all kinds are on hold, we’re keeping spirits up  by making freely available podcasts of one of our best-loved productions, Back To The Land Girls,” says artistic director Kate Bramley, who founded the grassroots touring company 21 years ago with the mission to “offer the best of new theatre in the most unexpected of places”.

“Now you can access relaxed readings of our popular World War Two comedy in a series of free ten-minute podcasts, starring Frances Tither and Sarah Raine.”

Explaining the rationale behind the Desktop initiative, Kate says: “For the past 21 years, we’ve been touring original productions to rural communities that do not normally get the chance to host shows locally.

Badapple Theatre Company artistic director and playwright Kate Bramley

“But the creative team decided the best way to keep the plays coming during lockdown was to bring them direct to people’s desktops and hopefully spread a little virtual cheer.”

Back To The Land Girls is an apt choice for Badapple’s debut virtual venture, given the parallels with the strictures of 2020 life in Covid-19 lockdown limbo. “This historic play of ours is surprisingly resonant at this time as our Land Girls are facing life-changing times head on, but are resilient and manage to triumph,” says Kate.

Her story follows the adventures of Buff and Biddy, two young women who volunteer for the Women’s Land Army in Yorkshire, played by Fran Tither, BBC docu-drama award winner for 2018’s Emmeline: Portrait Of A Militant and Sarah Raine, whose credits include Wild Rumpus Theatre’s Colour The Clouds.

“Expect a humorous look at Buff and Biddy’s experiences as they are bonded by hard physical work, back ache and plenty of banter,” says Kate, whose script is complemented by original songs and music by Sony award-winning singer-songwriter Jez Lowe.

Until Covid-19’s pandemic spread intervened, dates were in the diary for Badapple to tour Kate’s latest play, Elephant Rock, to 30 venues from April 16 to May 31. The tour is now being rearranged for September and October, pending Coronavirus governmental policy updates.

For more details of how to download Back To The Land Girls via Podbean, go to badappetheatre.com.