Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble lined up for last Your Place Comedy livestream on March 28

Stay Home entertainers: Your Place Comedy double bill Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble

THE final Your Place Comedy virtual double bill for now is confirmed for March 28,  starring Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble live from their living rooms.

“It might be the last one ever, it might not…but there are certainly no more planned at the moment,” says online event founder and organiser Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall arts centre.

“It feels poignant doing the press for next weekend’s Your Place Comedy as Monday marked the first anniversary of the last live show in Selby Town Hall: Wah! frontman Pete Wylie on March 14 2020.

“Who would have thought that a project we started to bridge what everyone assumed would be a small gap in activity would still be the only game in town a whole year on? What a strange place the world has become!”

The collaborative comedy club Your Place Comedy was launched on April 19 last spring with a remote bill of Mark Watson and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont, compered by Tim FitzHigham, who has since hosted each livestreamed show.

Gathered behind the driving force of Chris Jones, ten small, independent venues across the north came together to “provide their audiences with some much-needed laughter during these difficult times”. 

Compere Tim FitzHigham and a pyjama-clad Mark Watson on screen at the first Your Place Comedy livestream last April

“In a nutshell, I was frustrated that the traditional relationship between venue, artist and audience – the venue providing the artist with income and the audience with entertainment – has been eroded for the foreseeable future by Covid-19 and I wanted to find a way to re-create that,” said Chris at the time.

“So, I’ve got ten venues from around Yorkshire and the Humber to chip in a small amount of money to put on a live stream comedy gig this Sunday (April 19).

“Their contributions to Your Place Comedy go towards paying the artists a guaranteed fee at a time when all live income has been taken away, and, in exchange, venues get a show to sell to their own audiences as one of their own, helping maintain those vital relationships with audiences they have nurtured over the years.”

Chris speculated: “If the first one is a success and this looks like a sustainable model, I would hope to do several more through the lockdown period and possibly beyond.”

The first show drew more than 3,500 viewers, Watson very much at home in his pyjamas and Beaumont telling a rather bizarre bedtime story from the homemade pub that her husband, comedian Jon Richardson, has built in their house.

Lucy Beaumont chose her home-built pub as the location for her Your Place Comedy set

“3,500 viewers! That’s considerably more than their combined capacities,” said Chris afterwards. “The show went even better than we had imagined, to say the whole project was put together from scratch in the space of two weeks by three people with no live streaming experience!”

The Your Place Comedy template has since sustained three series of lockdown livestreams from living rooms, kitchens and attics, free to watch on Facebook and YouTube via www.yourplacecomedy.co.uk, but with an option to donate.

The debut fundraiser elicited £3,500 in donations for the participating venues, and all monies raised since then have been distributed evenly among the supporting venues as they navigate their way through challenging financial times.

The first two series in the venue-focused initiative to bring fun to fundraising brought together Selby Town Hall; The Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; Shire Hall, Howden; Otley Courthouse; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.

For the latest series, Howden’s Shire Hall has dropped out because all staff are furloughed – “they’re still very supportive but didn’t want to feel like they were riding on the coattails of everyone else’s work,” says Chris – and newly on board are The Civic, Barnsley, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, and Rural Arts, at The Courthouse, Thirsk.

Justin Moorhouse and Shappi Khorsandi: At the double on September 27 last year

In 2020, the online platform presented Watson and Beaumont (April 19), Simon Brodkin and Maisie Adam (May 10), Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans (June 7), Paul Sinha and Angela Barnes (August 30), Shappi Khorsandi and Justin Moorhouse (September 27) and Robin Ince and Laura Lexx (October 25).

The Stay Home comedy double bills have resumed in 2021 with Josie Long and Ahir Shah on January 24, followed by Hal Cruttenden and Bridlington-born Rosie Jones on February 28.

Now come TV regulars and Taskmaster champions Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble. “I’m pretty excited about this line-up: both stellar performers and both still on the rise,” says Chris. “Hopefully with those names we can get good engagement and, as the young people on social media say, ‘do some numbers’. If this is to be the last show, it’s a great one to go out on.”

Introducing next weekend’s acts, Chris says: “Lou Sanders is one of Britain’s fastest-rising and most original comedy performers. Having won the Comedians’ Choice Award for Best Show at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe – voted for entirely by fellow comics – she has gone on to star in Aisling Bea’s sitcom This Way Up, appear as a guest on QI, Would I Lie To You, The Unbelievable Truth, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Live At The Apollo, and perform on The Late Late Show With James Corden in the USA.

“Best known as a regular panellist on Mock The Week, Ed Gamble’s television credits include the Royal Variety Show, Live At The Apollo, QI and 8 Out Of 10 Cats, while he’s also the co-creator of hugely successful food and comedy podcast Off Menu, alongside James Acaster.

Lou Sanders: “One of Britain’s fastest-rising and most original comedy performers,” says Your Place Comedy organiser Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer

“Both Lou and Ed have been crowned winners of Taskmaster and the two will be competing against one another in a forthcoming Champion of Champions series.”

As ever, the compere will be Tim FitzHigham, writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler, presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge and Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee.

As ever too, the livestream will be free to watch on YouTube and Twitch, with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast, to support both performers and venues.

“All face continued uncertainty as lockdown regulations once again prevent theatres from opening,” says Chris. “The venues involved in Your Place Comedy have now been either closed, or severely restricted in what they can deliver, for over a year.

“I don’t think, back in March 2020, any of us in our wildest dreams would have foreseen that 12 months on, the need to connect with audiences in novel, innovative ways would still be so vital, and that engaging with arts and culture online would have become the norm.

Chairman of the bored? Ed Gamble will look to liven everyone up from his living room on March 28

“It’s been so heartening to see the entire live entertainment industry pulling together though, and a real thrill to be able to collaborate remotely with different venues in a project which may otherwise never have come to pass.”

Roll on next weekend. “Sunday, March 28 will be our final scheduled show, although I hope not the last one ever, and I’m delighted that two acts with such impressive live and broadcast CVs have signed up to take part,” says Chris.

“It’s not often that you get the chance to see performers of their calibre deliver a live set without having to pay a penny, so do make the most of it and join us for another night of stellar laughs.”

For full details on Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the March 28 show, visit www.yourplacecomedy.co.uk.

Fitz the bill: Tim FitzHigham has hosted every Your Place Comedy livestream since last April

More Things To Do in and around York once lockdown loosens grip and at home now. List No. 27, courtesy of The Press, York

Sandwich time: Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Cassie Vallance’s hit show from last summer in Rowntree Park, York, can be streamed from tomorrow

THE return of live entertainment is on the horizon at last, hopefully from May 17, prompting a surge in show confirmations, but in the meantime Stay Home activities remain prominent in Charles Hutchinson’s diary too.

Children’s streamed show of the weeks ahead: Park Bench Theatre’s Teddy Bears’ Picnic, February 26 to March 7

ONE of the hits of last summer’s Park Bench Theatre open-air season at Rowntree Park, York, is to be streamed by producers Engine House Theatre from tomorrow.

Children’s show Teddy Bears’ Picnic was performed by Cassie Vallance under Covid-safe conditions with more than 1,000 adults and youngsters seeing the show at 30-plus performances.

Suitable for everyone aged three and over, the streamed show will be bolstered by a Make Your Own Teddy Bear craft video. Tickets cost £5 at tpetv.com.

Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones: Your Place Comedy double bill at the weekend

Streamed comedy gig of the weekend: Rosie Jones and Hal Cruttenden, Your Place Comedy, Sunday

ROSIE Jones, Bridlington-born comedian, scriptwriter and actor, will join television comedy mainstay Hal Cruttenden in a virtual double bill on Sunday night, streamed from their living rooms into homes via YouTube and Twitch at 8pm.

Co-ordinator Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall, says: ““I know that times are tough for many people, and so we’re committed to keeping these shows completely free, so please do come and join Hal, Rosie and Tim via yourplacecomedy.co.uk for some top entertainment at an unbeatable price, as for now streaming is the only show in town.”

Thunk-It Theatre’s Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham: Setting up youth theatre classes with Pocklington Arts Centre

Youth theatre project launch: Thunk-It Theatre in tandem with Pocklington Arts Centre, from this weekend

YORK company Thunk-It Theatre are partnering with Pocklington Arts Centre to provide youth theatre for the East Riding and beyond.

Weekly drama classes will be available to children aged six to 11 from February 28, initially on Zoom until it is safe to re-open the Market Place venue, when sessions can be held in person.

The all-levels drama sessions for Years 2 to 6 will take place from 10am to 11am every Sunday during term time, run by Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham. To book a place, visit pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Asterisk tweet: Liam Gallagher found a typically eff-usive way on Wednesday to express his delight at the thumbs-up for Leeds Festival in August

Game-changing festival announcement of the year so far:  Leeds Festival, Bramham Park, near Wetherby, to go ahead

LEEDS Festival, Yorkshire’s biggest outdoor musical gathering of the year, is ON. Organiser Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Reepublic, confirmed the decision yesterday (24/2/2021) in the wake of the Government’s Monday statement on the four-step route out of Covid lockdown strictures.

Already confirmed as headliners are Stormzy, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Post Malone, Disclosure, Liam Gallagher and Queens Of The Stone Age in a new initiative for the August 27 to 29 event that sees the long-running festival introducing a second main stage to enable two bill-toppers per day.

Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara: New date for Remembering The Oscars dance show at York Barbican. Picture: Colin Thomas

Dance delay: Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara: Remembering The Oscars, York Barbican, put back to April 2022

STRICTLY Come Dancing regulars Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manraraare moving their Remembering The Oscars show at York Barbican for a second time. The persistent pandemic has enforced a switch to April 7 2022 for the only Yorkshire performance of next year’s tour, after an earlier change from Spring 2020 to March 2021. Tickets are still valid.

In the meantime, Aljaž and Janette will star in a streamed one-hour performance of Remembering The Oscars for a limited three-week season from March 27 to April 17. To book, go to: rememberingtheoscars.com.

Just Steve, A Guitar And You: the tour poster for Seasick Steve’s York Barbican return in the autumn

York gig announcement of the week: Seasick Steve, York Barbican, November 11

CALIFORNIAN country blues singer-songwriter Seasick Steve will return to York Barbican on November 11 on his Just Steve, A Guitar And You Tour.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (26/2/2021) from 9am at yorkbarbican.co.uk for the only Yorkshire gig of the American’s nine-date autumn solo tour in support of his second album of 2020, last November’s Blues In Mono.

“I’m lookin’ forward to coming and playing for y’all,” says Seasick Steve, 69. “Just gonna be me, you and my guitar. A few songs and a few stories, kinda like we just hangin’ out together! Gonna be fun. See ya there.”

Jesse Malin: Pocklington Arts Centre gig in December

East Yorkshire gig announcement of the week: Jesse Malin, Pocklington Arts Centre, December 7

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has secured a new date for New York City singer-songwriter Jesse Malin. He will play on December 7 2021, fully 18 months after he was originally booked to perform there in June 2020 as part of PAC’s 20th anniversary programme.

Malin, 53, released his seventh studio album, Sunset Kids, in 2019, produced by Lucinda Williams, American roots icon, country music queen and 2016 Platform Festival headliner at the Old Station, Pocklington.

Grayson Perry: Channel 4 return, York Barbican show and York Art Gallery exhibition at CoCA

And what about?

THE return of Grayson’s Art Club for a second series on Channel 4 on Fridays after Grayson Perry’s championing of people’s art was such a spirit-lifting boost to home creativity in the early days of Lockdown 1 last spring.

Perry, by the way, is booked into York Barbican for September 6 on his A Show For Normal People tour and his delayed early pottery exhibition, The Pre-Therapy Years, should open at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA), York Art Gallery, on May 28, if Step 3 re-opening comes into effect from May 17, as planned.

Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones double up for Your Place Comedy online on Sunday. Oh, and when will Selby Town Hall re-open? UPDATED 23/02/2021

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Doubling up: Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones link up online from their living rooms for Your Place Comedy on February 28

YORKSHIRE and Humber virtual comedy club Your Place Comedy will play host to its eighth online double bill on Sunday, presenting the remote coupling of Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones.

Co-ordinator Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall, says: “After a triumphant return to phones, tablets, laptops and smart TVs on January 24 with Josie Long and Ahir Shah, this collaborative live-stream project, organised by a collective of 12 small, independent northern venues, will once again transport two of the UK’s best stand-ups from their living rooms to yours…and all for free.”

Television comedy mainstay Hal has guested on Have I Got News For You on four occasions, hosted Live At The Apollo, starred in The Royal Variety Performance and appeared as a regular panellist on Mock The Week, popping up on Celebrity Mastermind and Would I Lie To You? too.

Bridlington-born Rosie, a patron of Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, since last May, is one of the fastest-rising stars on the comedy circuit, making her impact on Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week, The Jonathan Ross Show and 8 Out Of 10 Cats and as a panellist on BBC1’s Question Time.

Placed second at the Leicester Mercury New Comedian of the Year Award in 2018, she also has appeared on The Last Leg, Hypothetical and Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, as well as writing for the second series of Netflix hit Sex Education.

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Rosie Jones: Fast-rising voice of comedy, scriptwriter and actor

Once again, the streamed show will be compered by Tim FitzHigham, writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler and presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge.

Your Place Comedy will be free to watch on YouTube and Twitch at 8pm, with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast. “The money raised will be used to support the performers and the 12 venues involved, all of whom face continued uncertainty as lockdown regulations have once again prevent theatres from opening,” says Chris, manager of Selby Town Hall and arts officer for Selby Town Council.

“We were really thrilled with the response to Your Place Comedy’s return last month. As venues rooted in communities, we’ve all missed those direct connections with our brilliant and loyal audiences while the pandemic has kept theatre doors shut.

“Being able to share laughter and light-hearted moments from some of the acts who would normally appear on our stages, in what always feels like such a warm and intimate way, has been an incredible tonic over the past year and I’m delighted that acts of Hal and Rosie’s calibre have signed up to take part in this latest edition.

“Hal has been among the most prolific comedy performers of recent years, appearing on every panel show and at every comedy festival going, while Rosie looks set to become a superstar of the near future with burgeoning careers as an actor and children’s author now developing alongside her rapidly increasing comedy profile.”

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Hal Cruttenden: Television comedy mainstay, appearing on screen via You Tube and Twitch streaming on Sunday

Joining together to mount Your Place Comedy Season 3 are 2021 additions The Civic, Barnsley, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, and Rural Arts, at The Courthouse, Thirsk, alongside Selby Town Hall; Otley Courthouse; Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; The Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.

Delighted at the response to the third wave of Your Place Comedy in lockdown, Chris says: “We had a brilliant return last month with Ahir Shah and Josie Long. Over 600 devices logged on to watch with nearly £1,000 raised in donations to help pay the performers and support the venues involved.

“The acts were brilliant, and it’s been fascinating to watch how quickly and ingeniously comedians have all adapted to the format of online shows over recent months. For many, it works remarkably well, and I do wonder if some version of online gigging in the comedy world will remain even when all of this is over.”

“I know that times are tough for many people, and so we’re committed to keeping these shows completely free, so please do come and join Hal, Rosie and Tim for some top entertainment at an unbeatable price, as for now streaming is the only show in town.”

Ahead of Boris Johnson’s Monday pronouncement, Chris had said: “Sadly, I don’t hold out much hope. I’ve got autumn tours now moving to 2022 as they anticipate social distancing for the rest of the year. We won’t have anything in Selby Town Hall until autumn at the earliest.”

Now, with a road map for reopening at least in pencil form after the Prime Minister announced a four-step plan for lockdown easement, Chris says: “It certainly provides a chink of light.

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Josie Long and Ahir Shah: the double bill for Your Place Comedy on January 24

“The headline is that – if all goes according to plan – venues will be able to open in a socially distanced manner from May 17, but no level of social distancing is viable for us, and I still think audience confidence will be low at that point, so it’s unlikely we will re-open ahead of June.”

Chris is only “cautiously optimistic” about that possibility at the 150-capacity Selby Town Hall. “It certainly seems as though, at current trajectory, the vaccination programme will be all but complete by the end of that month, but most tour shows before autumn have already rescheduled,” he says.

Chris believes “we need a longer lead-in time for ticket sales and for audience confidence to return”. “I also await the small print on this – what conditions will be attached to a non-socially distanced reopening?” he ponders. “Will we have to implement rapid testing on site, or ask people to come with either proof of a recent negative PCR test or vaccination ‘passport’…or both?”

Looking ahead, Chris says: “My focus remains on delivering a full autumn programme, and Monday’s announcements give me more confidence that this will be possible.

“If, with a favourable wind, we are to open safely, in a practically and financially viable manner, at full capacity, before September, I will be thrilled. For the moment though, I remain cautious about the chances of any activity taking place in the summer.”

For full details on Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the February 28 show, go to: yourplacecomedy.co.uk.

Selby Town Hall: When will it re-open?

Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones double up for Your Place Comedy online on Sunday UPDATED 23/02/2021

Doubling up: Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones link up online from their living rooms for Your Place Comedy on February 28

YORKSHIRE and Humber virtual comedy club Your Place Comedy will play host to its eighth online double bill on Sunday, presenting the remote coupling of Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones.

Co-ordinator Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall, says: “After a triumphant return to phones, tablets, laptops and smart TVs on January 24 with Josie Long and Ahir Shah, this collaborative live-stream project, organised by a collective of 12 small, independent northern venues, will once again transport two of the UK’s best stand-ups from their living rooms to yours…and all for free.”

Television comedy mainstay Hal has guested on Have I Got News For You on four occasions, hosted Live At The Apollo, starred in The Royal Variety Performance and appeared as a regular panellist on Mock The Week, popping up on Celebrity Mastermind and Would I Lie To You? too.

Bridlington-born Rosie, a patron of Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, since last May, is one of the fastest-rising stars on the comedy circuit, making her impact on Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week, The Jonathan Ross Show and 8 Out Of 10 Cats and as a panellist on BBC1’s Question Time.

Placed second at the Leicester Mercury New Comedian of the Year Award in 2018, she also has appeared on The Last Leg, Hypothetical and Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, as well as writing for the second series of Netflix hit Sex Education.

Rosie Jones: Fast-rising voice of comedy, scriptwriter and actor

Once again, the streamed show will be compered by Tim FitzHigham, writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler and presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge.

Your Place Comedy will be free to watch on YouTube and Twitch, with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast. “The money raised will be used to support the performers and the 12 venues involved, all of whom face continued uncertainty as lockdown regulations have once again prevent theatres from opening,” says Chris, manager of Selby Town Hall and arts officer for Selby Town Council.

“We were really thrilled with the response to Your Place Comedy’s return last month. As venues rooted in communities, we’ve all missed those direct connections with our brilliant and loyal audiences while the pandemic has kept theatre doors shut.

“Being able to share laughter and light-hearted moments from some of the acts who would normally appear on our stages, in what always feels like such a warm and intimate way, has been an incredible tonic over the past year and I’m delighted that acts of Hal and Rosie’s calibre have signed up to take part in this latest edition.

“Hal has been among the most prolific comedy performers of recent years, appearing on every panel show and at every comedy festival going, while Rosie looks set to become a superstar of the near future with burgeoning careers as an actor and children’s author now developing alongside her rapidly increasing comedy profile.”

Hal Cruttenden: Television comedy mainstay, appearing on screen via You Tube and Twitch streaming on Sunday

Joining together to mount Your Place Comedy Season 3 are 2021 additions The Civic, Barnsley, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, and Rural Arts, at The Courthouse, Thirsk, alongside Selby Town Hall; Otley Courthouse; Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; The Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.

Delighted at the response to the third wave of Your Place Comedy in lockdown, Chris says: “We had a brilliant return last month with Ahir Shah and Josie Long. Over 600 devices logged on to watch with nearly £1,000 raised in donations to help pay the performers and support the venues involved.

“The acts were brilliant, and it’s been fascinating to watch how quickly and ingeniously comedians have all adapted to the format of online shows over recent months. For many, it works remarkably well, and I do wonder if some version of online gigging in the comedy world will remain even when all of this is over.”

“I know that times are tough for many people, and so we’re committed to keeping these shows completely free, so please do come and join Hal, Rosie and Tim for some top entertainment at an unbeatable price, as for now streaming is the only show in town.”

Ahead of Boris Johnson’s Monday pronouncement, Chris had said: “Sadly, I don’t hold out much hope. I’ve got autumn tours now moving to 2022 as they anticipate social distancing for the rest of the year. We won’t have anything in Selby Town Hall until autumn at the earliest.”

Now, with a road map for reopening at least in pencil form after the Prime Minister announced a four-step plan for lockdown easement, Chris says: “It certainly provides a chink of light.

Josie Long and Ahir Shah: the double bill for Your Place Comedy on January 24

“The headline is that – if all goes according to plan – venues will be able to open in a socially distanced manner from May 17, but no level of social distancing is viable for us, and I still think audience confidence will be low at that point, so it’s unlikely we will re-open ahead of June.”

Chris is only “cautiously optimistic” about that possibility at the 150-capacity Selby Town Hall. “It certainly seems as though, at current trajectory, the vaccination programme will be all but complete by the end of that month, but most tour shows before autumn have already rescheduled.”

Chris believes “we need a longer lead-in time for ticket sales and for audience confidence to return”. “I also await the small print on this – what conditions will be attached to a non-socially distanced reopening?” he ponders. “Will we have to implement rapid testing on site, or ask people to come with either proof of a recent negative PCR test or vaccination ‘passport’…or both?”

Looking ahead, Chris says: “My focus remains on delivering a full autumn programme, and Monday’s announcements give me more confidence that this will be possible.

“If, with a favourable wind, we are to open safely, in a practically and financially viable manner, at full capacity, before September, I will be thrilled. For the moment though, I remain cautious about the chances of any activity taking place in the summer.”

For full details on Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the February 28 show, go to: yourplacecomedy.co.uk.

Selby Town Hall: When will it re-open?

Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones double up for Your Place Comedy online on Feb 28

Doubling up: Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones link up online from their living rooms for Your Place Comedy on February 28

YORKSHIRE and Humber virtual comedy club Your Place Comedy will play host to its eighth online double bill on February 28, presenting the remote coupling of Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones.

Co-ordinator Chris Jones says: “After a triumphant return to phones, tablets, laptops and smart TVs on January 24 with Josie Long and Ahir Shah, this collaborative live-stream project, organised by a collective of 12 small, independent northern venues, will once again transport two of the UK’s best stand-ups from their living rooms to yours…and all for free.”

TV comedy mainstay Hal has guested on Have I Got News For You on four occasions, hosted Live At The Apollo, starred in The Royal Variety Performance and appeared as a regular panellist on Mock The Week, popping up on Celebrity Mastermind and Would I Lie To You? too.

Bridlington-born Rosie, a patron of Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, since last May, is one of the fastest-rising stars on the comedy circuit, making her impact on Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week, The Jonathan Ross Show and 8 Out Of 10 Cats and as a panellist on BBC1’s Question Time.

Rosie Jones: Fast-rising voice of comedy, scriptwriter and actor

Placed second at the Leicester Mercury New Comedian of the Year Award in 2018, she also has appeared on The Last Leg, Hypothetical and Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, as well as writing for the second series of Netflix hit Sex Education.

Once again, next Sunday’s streamed show will be compered by Tim FitzHigham, writer  and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler and presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge.

Your Place Comedy is free to watch on YouTube and Twitch, with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast. “The money raised will be used to support the performers and the 12 venues involved, all of whom face continued uncertainty as lockdown regulations once again prevent theatres from opening,” says Chris, manager of Selby Town Hall and arts officer for Selby Town Council.

“We were really thrilled with the response to Your Place Comedy’s return last month. As venues rooted in communities, we’ve all missed those direct connections with our brilliant and loyal audiences while the pandemic has kept theatre doors shut.

“Being able to share laughter and light-hearted moments from some of the acts who would normally appear on our stages, in what always feels like such a warm and intimate way, has been an incredible tonic over the past year and I’m delighted that acts of Hal and Rosie’s calibre have signed up to take part in this latest edition.

Hal Cruttenden: Television comedy mainstay, now appearing on screen via You Tube and Twitch streaming

“Hal has been among the most prolific comedy performers of recent years, appearing on every panel show and at every comedy festival going, while Rosie looks set to become a superstar of the near future with burgeoning careers as an actor and children’s author now developing alongside her rapidly increasing comedy profile.”

Joining together to mount Your Place Comedy Season 3 are 2021 additions The Civic, Barnsley, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, and Rural Arts, at The Courthouse, Thirsk, alongside Selby Town Hall; Otley Courthouse; Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; The Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.

Delighted at the response to the third wave of Your Place Comedy in lockdown, Chris says:  “We had a brilliant return last month with Ahir Shah and Josie Long. More than 600 devices logged on to watch with nearly £1,000 raised in donations to help pay the performers and support the venues involved.

“The acts were brilliant, and it’s been fascinating to watch how quickly and ingeniously comedians have all adapted to the format of online shows over recent months. For many, it works remarkably well, and I do wonder if some version of online gigging in the comedy world will remain even when all of this is over.”

Looking ahead, but with no road map yet in hand, Chris says: “Sadly we’re back in limbo for the time being with no idea when we’ll be able to open again and to host audiences of any size, so for now streaming is the only show in town.

Josie Long and Ahir Shah: the double bill for Your Place Comedy on January 24

“I know that times are tough for many people right now, and so we’re committed to keeping these shows completely free, so please do come and join Hal, Rosie and Tim for some top entertainment at an unbeatable price!”

Like all of us, arts organisations await Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Coronavirus Lockdown 3 update next Monday 922/2/2021), only too aware that the Prime Minister has been striking a note of caution, at odds with his normally optimistic disposition.

“Sadly I don’t hold out much hope,” says Chris, candidly, as he surveys the Selby Town Hall diary for 2021. “I’ve got autumn tours now moving to 2022 as they anticipate social distancing for the rest of the year. We won’t have anything in the Town Hall until autumn at the earliest.

“There’s less than a month to go now before the first anniversary of our last gig: Pete Wylie on March 14 last year! Next Monday, some guidelines on the long-term plan would be most welcome.”

For full details on Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the February 28 show, go to: yourplacecomedy.co.uk.

Tim FitzHigham: Regular remote host for Your Place Comedy

In the spotlight…Joe Wawrzyniak, chair of Theatre @41 Monkgate, York

“Theatre has always been my passion and I realised that I had an opportunity to lead a team and make a difference to this incredible building and charity,” says Joe Wawrzyniak. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick, Kirkgate Photography

Why did you take on the role of chair for Theatre @41, Joe?

“As we were approaching last year’s annual general meeting, our incumbent chair, Jim Welsman, decided to step down and I agreed to take on the chair as a temporary role. Very quickly it became clear that there was a big job to do with the charity from an operational and developmental point of view.

“Theatre has always been my passion and I realised that I had an opportunity to lead a team and make a difference to this incredible building and charity.”

What does Monkgate mean to you?

“Creativity. Every experience I’ve had with Monkgate has been a creative one, from the very first moment I stepped foot in there with the University of York St John, to all the rehearsals I’ve been part of and then finally as part of the board of trustees. Creativity has been the one constant that remains.” 

York theatre-goers will know you from major roles in myriad productions but do you have any experience of theatre behind the scenes too?

“Surprisingly, I have lots of experience behind the scenes. I’ve stage-managed productions and directed many musicals and plays. My favourite musical was The Phantom Of The Opera, which I staged in 2014 – my favourite show and a great success.

“I’ve also worked professionally at York Theatre Royal and Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, in Halifax, in marketing and administration, so I have lots of experience and knowledge working for charitable organisations.

“Most notably, I worked at the Theatre Royal during their capital renovation project and some of their other major events, such as The Railway Children at the National Railway Museum, The York Mystery Plays in the Museum Gardens and their season in the round – I helped with the production of shows and front of house.

“For a long time, theatre was my whole life, having studied performance theatre at York St John, concentrating on live art and acting/directing.”    

What challenges have you faced since taking on the role of chair?

“The biggest challenge is running the charity with a full-time job too. The charity in itself has a heavy workload which impacts on people’s time. This is why it’s really important that we build our volunteer community so they can be part of the developments and to ensure that the charity is running effectively.” 

Joe Wawrzyniak, as Tick, left, starring alongside Jacob Husband, as Adam, and Alex Weatherhill, as Bernadette, in York Stage Musicals’ 2017 production of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, The Musical at the Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Benedict Tomlinson

How did the board of trustees come together and how is it working?

“With a lot of hard work. Three of us were existing members of the previous board and everyone else was a new recruit.

“Because the profile of Theatre@41 is not as big as we would like, there was a challenge getting people to, firstly, know who we are and, secondly, understand why or how they could make a difference. Through a lot of networking, we have finally found a cohort of people who, day after day, make a difference to this charity.”

Who is serving on the board?

“Myself as chair, looking after all the governance of the charity and leading the board to achieve their short and long-term goals.

“Joanna Hird and Susannah Baines are joint secretaries; Joanna is responsible for administration and Susannah is responsible for our membership, though they do cross over a lot!

“Philip Barton is our treasurer, Jack Hooper is our marketing, branding and communications trustee; Alan Park is responsible for fundraising and business development; Kaeli Wishart is a new addition, responsible for our volunteer strategy, and Emma Godivala, of York Gin, is a trustee too.” 

What has the new board achieved already to fill you with pride?

“When you’re part of a project, it’s really hard to see the developments that you’ve made. So, when we wrote the annual report this year, I was astounded by how much we’ve achieved in such a short time. I’m proud of everything that we do as a board.

“Most of all, I’m proud of the team we have become and how we continue to operate. Achieving something of this magnitude is impossible with just one person. It can’t be done. You have to have an effective and engaged team… which we do.”

York actor David Bradley: One of the six Theatre @41 patrons announced in May

Game Of Thrones star David Bradley, comedian Rosie Jones, actors Karen Henthorn and John McArdle, former chairman Jim Welsman and founder John Cooper’s daughter, Felicity, became patrons in May. What do you hope they will bring to Theatre @41?

“I think the primary purpose of high-profile patrons is about raising our own profile. Part of our five-year strategy is to build the awareness of our charity and building. We face a disadvantage as we’re physically hidden from passers-by and then, secondly, we aren’t at the top of people’s minds when it comes to theatre spaces in York.

“We don’t want to be number one; this isn’t about stealing the audience from other venues, but we do want to be in people’s consideration when they’re thinking about theatre experiences, either as an audience member or as a hirer.

“We’re hoping that having patrons who are not only high profile but actively involved in our theatre will help raise our profile and attract people into our building.”

What do you want to achieve in the next year?

“Most importantly, we hope to re-open successfully and start to build our hires again to ensure the financial stability of the charity. That is our first goal.

“After that, we’re focusing on creating a comprehensive pack of governing policies to ensure that we’re  operationally effective; building a bank of volunteers to help us with the day-to-day running of the charity and venue; building a brand identity to make sure our name lasts long into the future; looking at our artistic offer and raising funds for our roof. These are just a few of the many tasks we have to achieve.”

What would you like the brand identity of Theatre @41 Monkgate to be?

“We want our identity to exhibit creativity. Our tagline is ‘Just Add Imagination’ and our identity should reflect that. However, we also want it to incorporate our history. We shouldn’t forget where we have come from and we have a great story to tell.”

How has the Covid-19 lockdown affected your plans?

“Aside from our theatre being closed, lockdown has, in a strange way, let us to concentrate on a lot of activities that we were struggling to complete when our building was open. So, actually, in one way it has positively affected our plans and given us the breathing space we needed to carry on with building the foundations of this incredible charity.”

The late John Cooper, who converted Trinity Methodist Church Hall into the 41 Monkgate theatre from scratch

What are the practical questions facing Theatre @41 in relation to re-opening?

“I think that the lack of direction from the Government on re-opening is slightly frustrating as it isn’t allowing for any future planning. Though we completely understand these are unprecedented times and I’m sure there is a lot the Government are working through.

“Operationally, there is probably less impact for our building due to the flexibility of seating and the fact it has a natural one-way system we can implement very quickly.

“I think our biggest challenge will be having hirers back in the building. At the moment, as we understand, amateur performance is still not advised to go ahead, which means that for the foreseeable future we will have no income. Like other businesses and charities though, we must have a think about how we adapt to this in the new world.”

Once the Government says “Yes” to indoor performances, is there any viable possibility of re-opening with reduced-capacity social distancing?

“We haven’t done the calculations as yet. However, working on an average audience size, I don’t foresee there being any issue with seating arrangements.”

But is it more practical to stay closed until Theatre @41 can re-open at full capacity?

“Not really. We really need to be open to continue bringing in money to our charity. We don’t receive any regular funding from bodies to help with our operating costs, so being open would help with our cash flow.” 

Given the need to address the upkeep of the building, what makes Theatre @41 worth fighting for?

No other theatre in York offers what we offer. When a hirer enters our building, they’re allowed to take over the whole space and have full creative control, from rehearsal rooms to the black box studio.

Amie Burns Walker’s Daisy Buchanan and Oliver Tilney’s Jay Gatsby on the Theatre @41 stairway in The Guild Of Misrule’s The Great Gatsby in December 2016. Picture: Steven Eric Parker

“Back in 2016 and 2018 we had The Guild Of Misrule bring Alexander Flanagan-Wright’s immersive production of The Great Gatsby to us. They took over the entire building and every room was transformed into a 1920s’ setting so that the audience stepped back in time as soon as they came through the front door.

“We’re also the perfect size for local companies to stage new or daring shows and not take too much of a financial risk. Our space allows companies to produce well-known pieces in new and exciting ways and, finally, we’re exactly what York is lacking: a Fringe venue.

“Possibilities are endless in our building, whereas in other theatres there may be a lot more restriction.” 

What does the board see as the priority with the building’s maintenance?

“The biggest priority is to fix the roof. There are other tasks to undertake but our biggest priority is the roof, for which we have already started fundraising.”

How is the proposal to mark the legacy of 41 Monkgate founder John Cooper progressing?

“We obviously unveiled a plaque a few years ago and had a brown sign erected outside our building for the John Cooper Studio. The next step is to include the memory of John and immortalise him in the fabric of our brand identity and story-telling.”

Amid the uncertainty brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, why is the arts scene so important in York?

“In a city so small it absolutely amazes me that we can house five major theatres and one large concert venue, plus support all of the many different groups that produce in York.

“We are so lucky that we have such a diverse group of arts-makers and they are all, in the majority, successful. From large-scale musicals to Shakespeare and everything in between, you’d be hard pushed to find another place like this outside of London.

“However, there are a few things that aren’t catered for that I would like to experiment with and expand the horizons in York. Watch this space!”

Theatre@41 names rehearsal space in memory of access for all champion Sandra

Once Seen Theatre members at Theatre@41 Monkgate, York

THEATRE @41, Monkgate, York, is honouring the memory of Sandra Gilpin by re-naming its main rehearsal space after the late York philanthropist.

Room One will become The Gilpin Room in an homage to Sandra, whose life was dedicated to supporting and working with adults with learning or physical challenges.

Sandra, who died in April 2019, is remembered with great affection by Once Seen Theatre, a fully accessible theatre company, based at Theatre@41, that evolved from Sandra’s original project, York People First.

Carole and David Metcalf, who now run the company, praised Sandra as an inspirational woman who dedicated her whole career to supporting and working for others.

“We first met Sandra ten years ago and we have seen first hand what a wonderful person she was,” says Carole. “Sandra was passionate about making changes to the social system to make sure everyone was treated equally.

“As a disabled person, I feel it’s imperative to make theatre a place inclusive of people with learning and physical disabilities,” says comedian and Theatre@41 patron Rosie Jones

“All Once Seen members think about her with affection and we’re determined to keep going as a company in her memory. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can get back into the theatre. We look forward to working in The Gilpin Room: a very special place named after a very special woman.”

This will be the third name for this rehearsal and performance space that started life as the Infants Room when the building was used as a Sunday school.

Once Seen is one of three “associate companies” housed at the Monkgate theatre, along with Nik Briggs’s York Stage School and Robert Readman’s Pick Me Up Theatre. They help Theatre@41 to further its charitable objectives in education and accessibility in the arts.

Comedian, actress and scriptwriter Rosie Jones, settling into her new role as a Theatre@41 patron, is a firm believer in the objectives that Sandra heralded. “My main passion in life is to make media, and the arts in general, a place that is both accessible and representative of our brilliantly diverse society,” says the disability in the arts campaigner, who has cerebral palsy.

“As a disabled person, I feel it’s imperative to make theatre a place which is inclusive of people with learning and physical disabilities. Theare@41 does just that.”


Game Of Thrones star David Bradley and comedian Rosie Jones become patrons for Theatre @41’s exciting plans post-Covid

York actor David Bradley: New patron at Theatre @41, Monkgate, York

GAME Of Thrones, Afterlife and Harry Potter actor David Bradley is among a host of new patrons pledging their support to Theatre @41 Monkgate, York.

York-born Bradley, 78, who also starred in Broadchurch and played Jesus Christ in the 1976 York Mystery Plays, is joined by Bridlington-born Rosie Jones, a comedian, actress and scriptwriter, from 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Mock The Week, who has cerebral palsy, and New York playwright/composer Stephen Dolginoff, whose shows Thrill Me: The Leopold And Loeb Story and Monster Makers played in York in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Comedian Rosie Jones: Supporting Theatre @41’s plans for the future

Further names to wade in with their backing are actors Karen Henthorn, from the National Theatre’s War Horse, In The Flesh and The Trouble With Maggie Cole, and John McArdle, from Brookside, Emmerdale and Frantic Assembly’s Things I Know To Be True at York Theatre Royal in November 2017.

The board also welcomes Felicity Cooper, daughter of the theatre’s founder, the late John Cooper, and former chairman Jim Welsman, who worked tirelessly within the York arts scene, first as chairman of York Musical Theatre Company, then as founder and director of the York New Musical Festival, before retiring from the Monkgate theatre’s board last year.

New patron Karen Henthorn. Picture: Neilson Reeves

“Our new patrons have agreed to ensure this intimate venue not only survives but thrives through the challenges of Covid-19 and beyond,” says Joe Wawrzyniak, who succeeded Jim in the chairman’s post last autumn.

“The charity’s board of trustees approached them as part of an exciting development plan for Theatre @41, enlisting a host of patrons to get people talking about this hidden gem as we make ambitious plans for post-lockdown.”

Actor John McArdle: Pledging support to Theatre @41

Theatre @41 opened in 1998, under the inspirational leadership of John Cooper, who transformed the Victiorian building from scratch into a black-box theatre. Now, the venue, with rehearsal rooms and a dance studio to boot, plays host to York Stage Musicals, Pick Me Up Theatre, Once Seen Theatre Company, York Shakespeare Project and Rigmarole Theatre, among others.

Alexander Flanagan Wright’s cult-hit immersive jazz-age production of The Great Gatsby had a swell time there too, staged by The Guild Of Misrule in winter 2016 and 2018.

From New York to York: Playwright and composer Steven Dolginoff backs the way ahead for Theatre @41 from across the Pond

“Theatre @41 gives York an intimate performance space alongside bigger venues such as the York Theatre Royal and Grand Opera House, in much the same way London’s Menier Chocolate Factory and Southwark Playhouse are as vital to the capital’s arts scene as the big West End theatres,” says Joe.

“Looking ahead, we have a great vision for Theatre@41 and we want to shout it from the rafters. What better way to get started than to involve a high-profile group of patrons who are all passionate about the arts? Everyone is keen to get involved: we’re very lucky to have this wonderful new group on board.”

Jim Welsman: former chairman, now patron

Joe adds: “We’re home to Nik Briggs’s York Stage School, which encourages young people to get involved in performance; Robert Readman’s Pick Me Up Theatre, who regularly present new writing and premieres, and Once Seen Theatre Company, who specialise in working with adults with learning and physical disabilities. We can now boast patrons who represent some of the areas of the arts that we work in.

“It’s our mission to keep the vibrant, inclusive spirit of Theatre@41 going, and for this fabulous, versatile venue to continue to grow.  Our new patrons will be there to help us all the way.”