More Things To Do in and around York, on a bench and at home, courtesy of The Press, York. List No. 11

One man and his bench: Director Matt Aston in place for the Park Bench Theatre summer season at Rowntree Park, York. Picture: Livy Potter

OUTDOOR theatre is taking to a park bench and a mill garden. Museums and galleries, and even car boots sales, are re-opening.

Spanish holidays may be off the Brexiteer Prime Minister’s list of To Do’s in August, but York is stretching its limbs, dusting off the cobwebs, and saying welcome back.

Maybe Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester’s Mayor, should test-drive his eyesight by paying a visit to “a part of the north that looks most like the south,” he says. Really, Andy?

As we all turn into masketeers, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these recommendations for days out and days in.

Cassie Vallance: Performing Teddy Bears’ Picnic in Rowntree Park’s Friends Garden

Outdoor theatre number one: Engine House Theatre’s Park Bench Theatre, Friends Garden, Rowntree Park, York, August 12 to September 5

HERE come Samuel Beckett’s rarely performed monologue, First Love, artistic director Matt Aston’s brand new play, Every Time A Bell Rings, and something for all the family inspired by a classic song, Teddy Bears’ Picnic, all staged on and around a park bench in a Covid-secure outdoor theatre season in York.

Each production will be presented in carefully laid out and spacious gardens, allowing audiences to keep socially distanced from each other. Chris Hannon will perform the Beckett piece; Lisa Howard, the play premiere; Aston’s co-creator, Cassie Vallance, the new children’s show.

Headphones or earphones will be required to hear the dialogue, sound effects and music in performances. All audience members will be given a receiver on entry; takeaway headphones cost £1 when booking a ticket online. Bring blankets or chairs.

Alexander Flanagan-Wright, left, and Phil Grainger swap sunnier climes on the other side of the world for Stillington Mill for their At The Mill shows

Outdoor theatre number two: The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre, “Six Days of Work”, Stillington Mill, near York, August 2 to 7, 7pm

“WE’RE doing some Orpheus, some Eurydice, and one night of New Stuff We Haven’t Done Before,” say Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger, introducing their raft of At The Mill two-handers.

Performances will take place in Alex’s back garden at Stillington Mill to a maximum, socially distanced, audience of 30 per show.

The new work, on August 5, will be a reading of Alex’s This Story Is For You and a fresh set of songs by Clive (Phil’s name for his solo music, Clive being his middle name and his father’s name). Orpheus and Eurydice will be all Greek to you, but in a good way.

Train coming: National Railway Museum to re-open next week

York galleries, museums and attractions leaving Lockdown hibernation

THE York Dungeon has re-opened already; York Art Gallery and Castle Museum will do so from Saturday.

Back on track next will be the National Railway Museum, in Leeman Road, going full steam ahead from August 4.

“To manage visitor numbers, we are introducing free, timed and guided routes around the museum to ensure you have a relaxed visit and can maintain social distancing,” says the NRM. To book, go to: railwaymuseum.org.uk/visit.

Senior operations assistant Charlotte Mundey prepares for the re-opening of the Rotunda Museum. Picture:
Tony Bartholomew

Museum re-opening of the week ahead outside York: Rotunda Museum, Scarborough, from August 8

SCARBOROUGH’S Rotunda Museum will re-open with a new booking system that gives small groups exclusive access.

Visiting slots will be every half hour across the day, allowing groups – or social bubbles – of up to six people at a time to explore the museum without having to follow prescriptive routes.

In the Ancient Seas Gallery, visitors will come face to face with prehistoric creatures that once roamed this coastline. In the Rotunda Gallery are displays of fossils, taxidermy, fine art and ceramics. 

Crash, from a new wave of seascape works by Carolyn Coles, at Village Gallery, York

New exhibition of the week: Carolyn Coles, “Oh I Do Like To Be Besides The…”, Village Gallery, York, from August 4 to September 19

YORK seascape artist Carolyn Coles, once of The Press graphics department, should have been exhibiting at York Open Studios in April and the Staithes Festival of Art and Heritage in September. Enter Covid, exit Carolyn’s two big showcases of 2020.

Enter Simon Main at Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, who says: “We saw Carolyn’s work at her first York Open Studios show back in 2019 and were so taken with her seascapes – many inspired by and maybe giving a different perspective of the Yorkshire coastline – that we started talking about a show.

“So, we’re delighted we have finally made it and are really looking forward to hanging Carolyn’s beautiful work. And who doesn’t love Filey?”

Joker: Closing film at Daisy Duke’s Drive-in Cinema at Knavesmire, York, this weekend

Open-air film experience of the week: Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema, Knavesmire, York, Friday to Sunday

LATER than first trailed, Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema will park up on Knavesmire for screenings of Grease, Rocketman, Toy Story, Mamma Mia!, 28 Days Later, Pulp Fiction, Shrek 2 and A Star Is Born.

Sunday’s closing film will be Joker. Tickets are selling fast so, no joke, prompt booking is recommended 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.

Colin Moncrieff in Badapple Theatre’s 2014 production of The Daily Bread, a performance he now reprises for a podcast

Home entertainment of the week: Badapple Theatre’s The Daily Bread 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 Jez Lowe’s songs.

Go to badappletheatreonyourdesktop.podbean.com to discover whether the baker’s cheery façade hides a dark secret.

Fishwife, Emma Stothard’s new scuplture, takes up residence by the harbour swing bridge in Whitby

And what about…

The rockumentary Rockfield: The Studio On The Farm on BBC iPlayer. New albums by Rufus Wainwright, Courtney Marie Andrews, Seasick Steve and The Psychedelic Furs, their first in 29 years. Emma Stothard’s new Whitby sculpture, Fishwife, Selling Cod, Mackerel and Crab, by the harbour swing bridge. A walk at Wheldrake Ings, followed by Sicilian flatbreads and piadini at the re-opened Caffé Valeria in Wheldrake. York Racecourse Saturday car boot sale, re-launching from August 8.

Rotunda Museum to re-open with chance to go around in your own exclusive bubble

Senior operations assistant Charlotte Mundey prepares the Rotunda Museum for re-opening. All pictures: Tony Bartholomew

SCARBOROUGH’S Rotunda Museum re-opens next week with a new booking system that gives small groups exclusive access.

From August 8, the Grade II-listed circular building in Esplanade Gardens will be open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm.

Visiting slots will be every half hour across the day, allowing groups – or social bubbles – of up to six people at a time to explore the museum without having to follow prescriptive routes.

Senior operations assistant Charlotte Mundey in the Ancient Seas Gallery at the Rotunda Museum

Dating from 1829, the Rotunda specialises in geology and local history and is one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the world.

In the Ancient Seas Gallery, visitors will come face to face with prehistoric creatures that used to roam this coastline. In the Rotunda Gallery are displays of fossils, taxidermy, fine art and ceramics that tell the history of the museum. The shop will be open too.

Looking ahead, the Scarborough Museums Trust team is hard at work on a new display of Mesolithic objects from Star Carr, the important archaeological site in the Vale of Pickering, that will open in mid-September.

Senior operations assistant Charlotte Mundey on the circular stairwell at the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough

Gristhorpe Man, Britain’s best-preserved Early Bronze Age skeleton, is still in controlled storage after a leak in the roof threatened his safety and will be returned at a later date.

Staff have been trained in post-lockdown safety procedures and the Rotunda has been awarded VisitEngland’s We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying its adherence to government and public health guidance.

Andrew Clay, the trust’s chief executive, says: “We’re delighted that we now have all three of our beautiful venues open to the public once again [Scarborough Art Gallery, Woodend and the Rotunda] – we can’t wait to welcome people back into the Rotunda. As always, our top priority is the safety of both our visitors and our staff.”

“We can’t wait to welcome people back into the Rotunda,” says Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust

Please note, the Rotunda Museum has a lift to all floors and is fully wheelchair-accessible throughout, including an accessible loo. Support dogs are welcome. Induction loops are available. The museum is breastfeeding-friendly and staff are trained to be Dementia Friends.

Slots for the Rotunda can be booked online at scarboroughmuseumstrust.com, by phone on 01723 353665 or via email sent to rotunda@smtrust.uk.com.

From August 1, the £3 annual pass system will be re-introduced, giving unlimited entry to the Rotunda Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery for a year. Woodend is always free.

Opening hours for Scarborough Art Gallery are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays; Woodend, 9am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 10am to 4pm, Saturdays and Sundays.

Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend exhibitions to re-open from this weekend

John Bedder, senior operations assistant with Scarborough Museums Trust, prepares for the re-opening of Scarborough Art Gallery. All pictures: Tony Bartholomew

TWO of Scarborough Museums Trust’s three venues will re-open on Saturday.

Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend have been closed to the public since the Covid-19 lockdown started in late-March, as has the Rotunda Museum, whose re-opening will be delayed to “allow more time to work out how to do that safely”.

SMT chief executive Andrew Clay says: “Our dedicated staff have all been working very hard to ensure that venues are safe and in line with government guidelines on social distancing and cleanliness. The safety of all our staff and visitors is our top priority.”

John Bedder, Scarborough Museums Trust’s senior operations assistant, sits behind a protective screen at Scarborough art Gallery

Safety measures introduced for this weekend’s re-opening will be five-fold:

* Protective screens around the reception desks;

* Hand sanitiser on entry to the buildings and on the top floor of Scarborough Art Gallery;

* Disposable hand towels in the loos;

*  PPE (gloves, masks and aprons) for staff when cleaning the venues, plus extra cleaning protocols;

* Staff monitoring at a safe distance to ensure that visitors are following the distancing guidelines.

Andrew Clay: Chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust

Clay says: “The number of visitors within the two spaces will be monitored to ensure that there is enough room for them to move around in a safe and enjoyable manner. Clear wayfinding and arrows will direct them, and staff will be on hand to provide further support and information.

“The internal layout of our third venue, the historic Rotunda Museum, presents certain challenges with regard to social distancing, so we’re delaying opening that for the time being to allow us more time to work out how to do that safely.”

The exhibitions sent into abeyance under lockdown strictures have been extended. At Scarborough Art Gallery, visitors can see The Printmakers Council 1992-2019 and the William Smith map until September 6, alongside the permanent display of fine art from the Scarborough Borough Collection.

John Bedder, senior operations assistant with Scarborough Museums Trust, stands by one of the new hand sanitiser stations at Scarborough Art Gallery

At Woodend, vintage travel and tourism posters will be on show in A Day At The Seaside until September 27.

Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery – usually £3, which buys an annual pass – will be free throughout July; admission to Woodend will remain free.

Opening hours will be unchanged: Scarborough Art Gallery, 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays; Woodend, 9am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays; 10am to 4pm, Saturdays and Sundays.

Why are strange messages appearing in lockdown at Scarborough museums? You can provide the answers. Here’s how…

Whispers From The Museum: The online mystery for children that can be solved from May 12

ADVENTUROUS youngsters can help to solve a new online mystery, Whispers From The Museum, set at Scarborough Art Gallery and Rotunda Museum, from May 12.

The gallery and distinctive circular museum are closed under the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Nevertheless, strange messages have been appearing inside, but who or what is making them and what are they trying to tell us?

For six weeks from next Tuesday, young people – and their grown-ups – can uncover stories about assorted Scarborough Museums Trust objects by completing online missions and challenges from their own home. 

Created by Scarborough artist Kirsty Harris, Whispers From The Museum will feature a fictional young girl called George whose older brother, Sam, works at the gallery and museum.

Kirsty Harris: Artist, designer, maker and now woman of mystery

“George can’t visit Sam: like everyone else, she’s staying home,” says Kirsty. “But Sam still sends her videos and photos of what he’s been up to. Recently some very strange things have been appearing overnight in the museum.

“To find out what’s been going on, participants are invited to take part in exciting weekly missions. They can open the missions on their screen or print them if they prefer.”

Each mission will include simple creative projects, such as art or writing, and when finished can be shared on social media. To access each new mission, those taking part will need to answer a simple question or solve a puzzle.

Kirsty says: “Objects and paintings are sitting quietly within the walls of the museum. With no visitors to look at them and think about why they’re so special, their meaning may begin to fade. But they’re still there, full of stories and meaning and purpose. They can reach out to us, asking us to keep their stories alive.

The Tree Of Lost Things: An earlier project by Kirsty Harris

“In a few short weeks, the world we know has become unrecognisable in so many ways. Hundreds of thousands of children are facing months of staying at home, with little real-life contact with the outside world and the inspiration it brings. It’s a lonely prospect, and one that may leave many wondering about their place in the world.”

Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron, says: “We’re so pleased to be working with artist Kirsty Harris, who has created a brilliant story using our buildings and collections as inspiration.

“This adventure will help children to reach out to and connect with the world beyond their front doors, into a world full of amazing objects and stories that will be waiting for them to explore physically again in the hopefully not-too-distant future.

“To take part, families will need to be able to access the internet, so it’s probably best if an adult helps! Families will be encouraged to keep the things they make until the end of the project.”

Kirsty Harris’s Shhh, Did You Hear That? at Sutton House, near York. Copyright: National Trust

Whispers From The Museum is aimed primarily at children aged seven to 11, although younger and older children will enjoy the challenges too. Free to take part in, the first mission launches on Tuesday, May 12 at scarboroughmuseumstrust.com.

Mystery adventure creator Kirsty Harris is an artist, designer and maker who specialises in installation and performative works. “I make immersive worlds and experiences in found environments, landscapes and theatres,” she says. “I make work for babies aged six months and all the ages that come after.” 

Kirsty has led design-based community projects for The Old Vic, the National Theatre, the National Trust, the V&A, Kensington Palace and Manchester Jewish Museum. 

Kirsty Harris’s Almost Always Muddy, presented by Likely Story Theatre. Picture: Rachel Otterway

She has collaborated with or been commissioned by Wildworks, Punchdrunk, The Young Vic, Coney, Likely Story Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre, Southbank Centre, The Discover Centre, London Symphony Orchestra, National Theatre Wales and the National Trust.

Whispers From The Museum is the first of a series of new digital commissions from Scarborough Museums Trust as part of its response to the Coronavirus crisis. The trust has asked Lucy Carruthers, Estabrak, Wanja Kimani, Jane Poulton, Jade Montserrat and Feral Practiceas well as Kirsty Harris, to create digital artworks for release online across assorted social media platforms over the next four months.

These are the platforms:

Website: scarboroughmuseumstrust.com

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8-gck0CM7gVFcsZHMAIcDw

Twitter: @SMTrust

Instagram: @scarboroughmuseums

Facebook: @scarboroughmuseums