AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.
Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.
Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8
AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.
Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via http://bit.ly/3nVaa4N; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.
Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26
FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.
The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to lunatickets.co.uk or seetickets.com.
Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5
CHANNEL 4’s champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.
The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.
A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11
CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.
The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.
The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.
Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21
ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.
Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.
Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021
YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.
A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.
Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm
2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.
Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.
And what about?
Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides.
JULY 4 is “Liberation Day”, apparently, but not for theatres and concert halls. They can re-open, not for live performances, however, leaving them in a state of inertia that only exacerbates their growing crisis.
As for cinemas, tipped to return to life next weekend, the consensus is that July 31 is now looking the more likely re-start date for the summer blockbusters.
This column will steer clear of the pubs and bars and restaurants making their comebacks – you can read of that welcome uptick elsewhere – but focus on the widening opportunities for entertainment, enlightenment and exercise beyond the front door, while still highlighting the joys on the home front too.
CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.
Jorvik Viking Centre, re-opening on July 11
THE ever-resilient Jorvik Viking Centre is back on track from next Saturday with the Good To Go certification from Visit England, so all the boxes marked Government and industry Covid-19 guidelines have been ticked.
One important change is a switch to pre-booked visits only, with designated time slots every 20 minutes, to help control visitor flow and numbers, as well as extended hours over the summer months.
Within the building, in Coppergate, free-flow areas, such as the galleries will be more structured with presentations delivered by Viking interpreters, rather than video content or handling sessions.
York Early Music Festival, online from July 9 to 11
NEXT week’s “virtual” three-day event will be streamed online from the National Centre for Early Music, replacing the July 3 to 11 festival that would have celebrated Method & Madness. Concerts will be recorded at the NCEM’s home, St Margaret’s Church, in Walmgate, with social-distancing measures in place and no live audience.
York counter-tenor Iestyn Davies and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny present The Art Of Melancholy on July 9 at 7.30pm, when John Dowland’s Elizabethan music will be complemented by Davies’s renditions and readings of poetry by Robert Burton, Michael Drayton, Rose Tremain, Leo Tolstoy and Dowland himself.
On July 10, online concerts feature lute and theorbo player Matthew Wadsworth at 1pm, harpsichordist Steve Devine at 3.30pm and lyra viol player Richard Boothby at 7.30pm. July 11’s programme includes Consone Quartet at 1pm and Stile Antico at 7.30pm.
Tickets are on sale at tickets.ncem.co.uk and email@example.com, with a festival package at £30, individual concert tickets at £10 each and illustrated talks at £3.50 each.
Remembering Richard, York Musical Theatre Company, Sunday, 7.30pm, online
YORK Musical Theatre Company will mark the first anniversary of leading light Richard Bainbridge’s exit stage left on Sunday with a special online memorial concert.
Streamed on YMTC’s YouTube channel, the 7.30pm programme will celebrate Richard’s theatrical life with songs from all the shows he loved and the many he graced with the company.
Taking part will be Eleanor Leaper; Matthew Ainsworth; John Haigh; Florence Taylor; Moira Murphy; Amy Lacy; Rachel Higgs; Peter Wookie; Matthew Clare; Chris Gibson; Helen Singhateh, Jessa & Mick Liversidge. Returning to the ranks will be professional York actor Samuel Edward-Cook, alias Sam Coulson in his YMTC days.
Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema, Knavesmire, York, tomorrow to Sunday
STATIC cinemas remain in the dark, but drive-in cinemas with social distancing rules in place have been given the Government green light.
North Easterners Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema are revving up for four screenings a day. Take your pick from the very familiar Mamma Mia!, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Frozen 2, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Greatest Showman, A Star Is Born, 28 Days Later, Pulp Fiction and Joker. Tickets can be booked at dukescinema.epizy.com.
Interaction between staff and customers will be kept to a minimum, with cars parked two metres apart and those attending expected to remain within their vehicles for the duration of the screenings on LED screens with the sound transmitted to car radios.
The Silly Squad, Explore York Libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge 2020, July 10 to September 18
GIVEN that Explore York’s libraries “aren’t open fully yet”, The Silly Squad Challenge is going virtual this summer, enabling children to take part online. There will be activities to do too, all on the same theme of fun, laughter and silliness.
The Silly Squad is a team of animal friends that loves to go on adventures and get stuck into all manner of funny books. This year, the Challenge features extra special characters designed by the author and illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson.
The Silly Squad website provides an immersive and safe environment for children to achieve their reading goals. Head to Explore’s website and join through the Summer Reading Challenge button.
Keep seeking out the good news
NO Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad at York Theatre Royal from July 14, and Everybody’s no longer Talking About Jamie at Leeds Grand Theatre that week too. Even the Downing Street daily briefings are off after all the unintended humour of 24 episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour.
However, all’s Weller that’s Paul Weller as the Modfather’s autumn 2020 gig at York Barbican is moved to June 29 2021. In the meantime, his new album, On Sunset, is out tomorrow.
Drag diva Velma Celli, the creation of York actor Ian Stroughair, has announced another online outing, The Velma Celli Show, Kitchen, on July 11 at 8pm.
And what about…?
BBC One revisiting Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues, each one even starker in their isolation in these dislocated times of solitary confinement, shielding, loneliness and finding other people irritating. The Leeds playwright, now 86, has added two ones to his 1988 collection. “Quite bleak,” he says.
New albums by Neil Young (“new” but unearthed 1970s’ recordings); Jessie Ware, Nadine Shah and Haim.
Scarborough Art Gallery unlocking its doors from this weekend. A walk on York’s city walls with its new temporary one-way system in place for social distancing from Saturday….and then drop down for a drink at Grays Court Hotel’s new walled garden bar, in the shadow of York Minster.
Or a walk along Pocklington Canal, but watch out for the two swans, guarding their nine cygnets by the water’s edge.
YORK Barbican has a fistful of new shows going on sale on Friday: Modfather Paul Weller, comedians Jason Manford, Joel Dommett and Daniel Sloss and the dance extravaganza Here Come The Boys.
Weller, 61, has sold out his May tour
and will go back out on the road for 19 British and Irish dates in October and
November, playing York on November 3.
Weller will play an acoustic set for
the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on March 25 as a
special guest of The Stereophonics and his new album, On Sunset, will be released
on June 12 on Polydor, his new label.
He performed previously at York Barbican in March 2015 and August 2018 and his last North Yorkshire gig was at Dalby Forest, near Pickering, last June.
His autumn travels also will take in further
Yorkshire dates at Hull Bonus Arena on November 2 and Bradford St George’s Hall
on November 17.
Jason Manford, who reached the final of ITV’s The Masked Singer this winter, will return to York Barbican in almost a year’s time, on February 17 2021, with his new stand-up show, Like Me.
Expect “observational comedy mixed with comic gold” from the Salford comedian, presenter and actor who chalked up three Barbican performances of his Muddle Class show in October 2018 and March 2019.
Rockhampton comedian, actor and
presenter Joel Dommett, host of The Masked Singer, will play York on December 11,
delivering a new show after this 2016 I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here runner-up
brought his Live 2018 tour to the Barbican in February that year.
Scottish comic Daniel Sloss will follow up his X show – taken to 40 countries, including Russia – with his new solo outing, Hubris, booked in for his Barbican bow on October 3.
Strictly Come Dancing’s Aljaž Škorjanec sold out his last appearance at York Barbican and will return on June 24, joined in the Here Come The Boys line-up by former Strictly favourite Pasha Kovalev, West End ballet star Sam Salter and NBC World Of Dance champion and Broadway star Michael Dameski, from Australia.
Ballroom, Latin, commercial, contemporary, ballet, acro and tap all will feature in a show where the Boys will perform alongside dancers, gymnasts, tap dancers and more.
Tickets can be booked from 10am on Friday (February 28) at 10am on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from Barbican box office.