More Things To Do in and around York? Here come Halloween screams and Noises Off. Hutch’s List No. 44, from The Press

Noises Off: Michael Frayn’s on-stage and off-stage comedy on York Theatre Royal’s main stage from Tuesday. Picture: Pamela Raith

HALLOWEEN films and double bills, classic comedy and a time-travelling York legend, a Disney deep freeze and a punk/jazz collision help Charles Hutchinson leave behind October for November frights and delights.  

Play of the week: Noises Off, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

MATTHEW Kelly, Liza Goddard and Simon Shepherd lead the cast in Theatre Royal Bath’s touring revival of Michael Frayn’s riotous Noises Off, directed by Lindsay Posner, who staged Richard III and Romeo And Juliet for York’s first season of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre productions in 2018.

Structured as a play within a play, this cherished 1982 farce follows the on and off-stage antics of a touring theatre company stumbling its way through the fictional farce Nothing On, from shambolic final rehearsals to a disastrous matinee, seen silently from backstage, before the catastrophic final performance. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Nick Naidu and Imogen Wood in Punch Porteous – Lost In Time at All Saints North Street

York legend of the week: Punch Porteous – Lost In Time, All Saints North Street, York, tonight, 7pm.

HAVE you heard or indeed seen the eccentric, evasive York legend Punch Porteous: soldier, philosopher, worker (when absolutely unavoidable), husbandman, connoisseur of ale and now the subject of poet Robert Powell, creative practitioner Ben Pugh and producer John Beecroft’s “multi-media drama experience”?

York Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster directs Powell, Nick Naidu and Imogen Wood in Powell’s story of an ordinary man with an extraordinary predicament, lost in time in York. While the city shape-shifts around him, he is catapulted unpredictably into different eras of its history from c.70 to c.2023. Box office: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/show/punch-porteous-lost-in-time/.

The poster for Navigators Art & Performance’s Punk/Jazz explorations at The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York

Music, poetry and comedy bill of the week: Navigation Art & Performance present Punk Jazz: A Halloween Special, The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York, tonight, 7.30pm

COMPLEMENTING the ongoing Punk/Jazz: Contrasts and Connections exhibition at Micklegate & Fossgate Socials, Navigators Art & Performance bring together energetic York punk band The Bricks;  intense improvisers Teleost; the Neo Borgia Trio, formed for the occasion from a University of York big band; grunge-influenced Mike Ambler and the experimental Things Found And Made.

Taking part too will be firebrand polemical poet Rose Drew and comedians Isobel Wilson and Saeth Wheeler. Box office: https://bit.ly/nav-punkjazz.

The Gildas Quartet: Presenting the String! concerts at the NCEM

Children’s concerts of the week: MishMash presents String!, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, tomorrow, 11.30am and 2pm

THE Gildas Quartet lead tomorrow’s double celebration of the string quartet in informal 40-minute performances featuring a diverse programme from Haydn to Jessie Montgomery, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges to Dvorak, and everything in between.

Staged creatively to bring the audience into the music, these fun concerts are suitable for ages seven to 11 and their families. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Community film event of the week: The Witches (PG), Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tomorrow, 2.30pm

MAKE It York and The Groves Community Centre team up for a Halloween screening of Robert Zemeckis’s visually innovative 2020 film The Witches. Based on Roald Dahl’s novel, it tells the darkly humorous, heartwarming tale of an orphaned boy who goes to live with his loving Grandma in late-1967 in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis, where they have an run-in with the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway). Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Emily Portman & Rob Harbron: Delving into folk traditions to emerge with a fresh sound

Folk concert of the week: Emily Portman & Rob Harbron, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

EMILY Portman, from The Furrow Collective, and Rob Harbron, who performs with Leveret, Fay Hield and Jon Boden, have formed an inspired collaboration to delve into English folk traditions with an intricately woven contemporary sound.

Portman (voice, banjo and piano) and fellow composer Harbron (concertina, guitar and voice) released their debut album, Time Was Away, last November, comprising eight English folk songs and two 20th century poems set to music. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Chris Green accompanying FW Murnau’s Nosferatu

Halloween screaming/screening of the week: Nosferatu: Live Silent Cinema, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

CHRIS Green’s score was commissioned by English Heritage for an outdoor screening of FW Murnau’s 1922 German Expressionist vampire film at Dracula’s spiritual home of Whitby Abbey. Now the composer plays his haunting blend of electronic and acoustic instruments for the first time in York to accompany the first cinematic interpretation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, one that gave birth to the horror movie. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Please Please You’s poster for Steve Gunn’s Rise solo concert

Double bill of the week: Please Please You presents Steve Gunn & Brigid Mae Power, Rise@Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, York, Wednesday, doors 7.30pm

EXPERIMENTAL Brooklyn guitarist and songwriter Steve Gunn’s “forward-thinking” songwriting draws on the blues, folk, ecstatic free jazz and psychedelia, suffused with a raga influence. His website says he is “currently somewhere working on new music”, although York will be the first of 12 solo gigs in Britian, Spain and Poland in November.

Wednesday’s gig will be opened by Irish singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power, whose latest folk-tinged dreampop album, Dream From The Deep Well, arrived in March. Box office: seetickets.com/event/steve-gunn/rise-bluebird/.

Meet York Stage’s young princesses in Disney’s Frozen Jr

Musical of the week: York Stage in Disney’s Frozen Jr, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

IN a story of true love and acceptance between sisters, Disney’s Frozen Jr follows the journey of Princesses Anna and Elsa, based on the 2018 Broadway and West End musical set in the magical land of Arendelle, with all the Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez songs from the animated film.

Producer Nik Briggs directs a cast led by Megan Pickard, Bea Charlton, Matilda Park and Esther de la Pena as the princesses. Malachi Collins plays the Duke of Weselton, Lottie Marshall, Bulda, and Oliver Lawery, King Agnarr. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

In Focus: Say Owt Slam, with special guest Polarbear, The Crescent, tonight, 7.45pm

Spoken word artist and writer Polarbear: Making an apperance at tonight’s Say Owt Slam at The Crescent, York

SAY Owt, York’s loveably gobby gang of performance  poets, take over The Crescent community venue twice a year for a raucous night of spoken word and poetry in the form of a stellar slam.

Fast, frantic and fun, a slam gives each poet three minutes to wow the audience. Regular host Henry Raby enthuses: “We love doing Say Owt on a Saturday night, because it’s a party! A poetry party!

“Although one poet will be crowned a Say Owt Slam Champion, this isn’t a bitter battle. It’s a celebration as poets bring a variety of styles and forms. In the past, we’ve had tender personal reflections, hilarious laugh-out-loud comedy poems and fiery political tirades.”

Special guest at tonight’s Say Owt Slam in York will be Polarbear. “The last time he graced our city, Polarbear (a.k.a Steven Camden) was supporting Scroobius Pip and Kae Tempest,” says Henry. “He’s an internationally acclaimed spoken word artist and award-winning writer from Birmingham, whose poetry drips with gorgeous storytelling.

“He talks about people and places with a unique ear for language: celebrating the tiny human characteristics.”

Since first stepping on stage in 2004, Polarbear has performed his work and led creative projects from Manchester to Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur to California, as well as featuring on BBC Radio1, 3 and 6Music, attracting 155,000 views on YouTube and releasing a live album on Scroobius Pip’s Speech Development record label.

A few surprises might be in store tonight too. Box office: thecrescentyork.com/events/say-owt-slam-featuring-polarbear/ or on the door.

Slam champ Hannah Davies launches debut poetry collection Dolls at York Literature Festival event at The Crescent on Saturday

Hannah Davies: York performance poet, playwright, theatre maker, polymath. Picture: Olivia Brabbs

YORK writer, actress, performance poet, slam champion, theatre maker, workshop leader and university lecturer Hannah Davies will launch her debut poetry collection, Dolls, at York Literature Festival on Saturday night (18/3/2023).

The event will be presented in collaboration with her high-energy York spoken-word compadres Say Owt at The Crescent community event, when Hannah’s readings will be complemented by poetry from team Say Owt, Sylvia Marie and Sally Jenkinson, coming all the way from Brighton, plus live music from Pascallion (Jack Woods) and Hull singer-songwriter Ysabelle Wombwell.

Say Owt artistic director Henry Raby says: “Hannah is Say Owt’s associate artist, running open mic nights and workshops and supporting poets across York. We’re delighted to launch Hannah’s first poetry book. Dolls is a fierce and tender collection about womanhood, motherhood, feminism and survival. Hannah is a spellbinding storyteller and her writing is warm, lyrical and bold.”

Hannah enthuses: “I’m thrilled to be launching my poetry collection as part of York Literature Festival. There are poems in here that I’ve been performing for years, and some that haven’t seen the light of day at all.”

Why is the collection entitled Dolls, Hannah? “Dolls was the first poem I ever performed in a slam: the Say Owt slam,” she says. “That poem talks about how a woman is made up of all the dolls she owned in her childhood.

“Each chapter has a different doll as its title. Baby Doll, Russian Doll, Barbie Doll. It’s a good time for me to take stock, creatively, and having all these pieces in one book feels like the end of an era in a way. I’m in a very different place to when I first dared myself to get on a stage and share my poems seven years ago. Who knows what creative writing adventures await next!”

Grand slam: Hannah Davies, slam champ, with Say Owt cohort Stu Freestone

Hannah has edited her “back catalogue” of poems from poetry evenings and slam nights into themes, rather than compiling “just a scattergun collection”.

“The poems are thematically arranged under each doll title,” she says. “There’s a real split between performance poetry and poetry on the page, and all these poems in the collection were written to be performed, with my background in performing and writing for the theatre.

“Part of the editing process has been about making sure they work on the page, seeing how they unfurl in print,  and I feel they work in both senses now, for performance and for reading in a book.

“Probably the book will be bought mostly at gigs when people have heard me perform, though I hope to shift a few copies online as well.”

Most of the poems were written between 2015 and 2022, complemented by a couple of newer pieces and two more that have not been performed but “felt right to fit in”.

“Because of my health, I’ve not been writing much poetry recently, but it was a good time to compile the book. It can be quite difficult to unify them under themes when you’re cutting your teeth with your first poems, spread over time, whereas later collections can be more tightly focused, when you can concentrate on a specific theme, such as ‘skin’,” she says in a reference to her skin condition, as charted in social media posts over the past year and more.

Oxford illustrator Katie Gabriel Allen’s cover artwork for Hannah Davies’s debut poetry collection, Dolls, featuring Hannah’s pink-haired childhood rag doll Polly Dolly. “I still have her, of course,” says Hannah

“There will always be that pressure for all artists to come up with something new, but it’s something I’ve learned in recent years, being ill, that you will have fallow periods where you have to take care of yourself or life takes over.

“I’ve never been a writer who writes every day but I do have periods of doing that. If you sit doing nothing or you say, ‘right, I’m going to write for six hours now’, it’s not going to happen. But if you sit down and write for ten minutes, maybe something will emerge.”

Why write poems, Hannah? “I like how they are short. That’s what drew me to them, having written plays [for Common Ground Theatre] and maybe being frustrated by how long it takes to write a play, whereas you can write a poem and perform it immediately.”

Being a mother (to Max) feeds into her work too. “Motherhood runs throughout the book. Being a mother, having a mother, not having a mother,” says Hannah, whose mother died in a car crash when she was 12. “It all absolutely informs my work.”

As she looks forward to tomorrow’s launch, Hannah admits: “I’m excited, if a little terrified too, but I’ve always wanted a book with my name on it since I was six.”

Say Owt and York Literature Festival present Hannah Davies: Dolls Book Launch, at The Crescent, York, on March 18. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start. Tickets: £10 in advance at thecrescent.com; £15 on the door.

Hannah Davies joins Say Owt’s Henry Raby and North Yorkshire cross-country runner, coffee barista and poet Olivia Mulligan for a Poetry Evening at The Courthouse, Thirsk, presented by Rural Arts on May 26 at 7.30pm. Box office: ruralarts.org.

Hannah Davies

Hannah Davies: The back story

SAY Owt associate artist Hannah is a spoken-word slam winner at Great Northern Slam (2016) and Axis Slam (2017) and Word War 4 Champion, plus a finalist at BBC EdFringe Slam and the Hammer & Tongue Nationals.

She has performed at poetry nights across the country (Find The Right Words, Sonnet Youth, Tongue Fu, Evidently, Inua Ellams Rap Party, She Grrrowls and Women Of Words).

She is an experienced theatre-maker and facilitator (Royal Court, York Theatre Royal, Trestle Theatre Company, Guild Of Misrule, Company Of Angels, Pilot Theatre and Arcade).

She lectures in playwriting at the University of York in the School of Arts and Creative Technologies.

In York International Women’s Week 2023 , she gave a writing workshop at York Explore Library on March 12.

She runs the young women’s creative collective for Arcade, the Scarborough and Bridlington community producing company, working in Bridlington with women making their own performance projects. Last July they took part in Arcade and the Collaborative Touring Network’s project with Zimbabwean musician, actor and artist John Pfumojena at St John’s Burlington Methodist Church, Bridlington.

More Things To Do in York and beyond when the ice men cometh. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 6 for 2023, from The Press, York

York Ice Trail: Taking the theme of A Journey Through Time in 2023

AS the new Ice Age dawns in the city centre, Charles Hutchinson has advice on winter warmers to discover.

Free event of the week: York Ice Trail, York city centre, today and tomorrow, from 10am

YORK Ice Trail’s theme for 2023 invites city-centre visitors to time-travel to prehistoric ages, walk through history and step into the future for A Journey Through Time.

Organised by Make It York, the free trail features ice sculptures sponsored and conceived by York businesses and designed and made by ice specialists Icebox for a second year. Look out for the National Railway Museum’s interactive sculpture in High Petergate celebrating Flying Scotsman’s centenary, one of 36 sculptures standing to attention in York’s streets this weekend. Icebox will be doing live ice carving  at St Sampson’s Square.

Free trail maps will be available from the Visitor Information Centre on Parliament Street or can be downloaded online at visityork.org/ice.

The poster for Fool(ish)’s improvised comedy show Fooling Around

Hot date of the week: Fool(ish) in Fooling Around, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

JOIN Fool(ish) for Fooling Around, an improvised romantic comedy cum early Valentine’s evening of love, laughter and hand-crafted chaos. Taking audience stories and suggestions, the Chicago-trained York improvisers create a spontaneous series of inspired love-scenes.

From first dates to happy never afters, Fooling Around aims to sweep you off your feet in its off-the-cuff Yorkshire twist on American long-form comedy on the theme of dreams, desires and total disasters. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Platform for song: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s Hello, Dolly! cast members Jamie Benson as Barnaby Tucker, left, Helen Spencer as Dolly Levi and Stuart Sellens as Cornelius Hackl

Musical of the week: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company in Hello, Dolly!, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 8 to 11, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

KATHRYN Lay makes her JRTC directorial debut alongside musical director husband Martin Lay as the Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s in-house fundraising company kicks off the Haxby Road theatre’s spring season with glitz, glamour and a troupe of tap-dancing waiters in the Broadway classic Hello, Dolly!

Featuring Put On Your Sunday Clothes, It Only Takes A Moment and the title number, Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s musical is the JRTC’s most ambitious production to date. NHS psychiatrist Helen Spencer plays Dolly Levi, the strong-willed widow and self-proclaimed match-making meddler, who strives to woo tight-fisted millionaire Horace Vandergelder while spreading joy and confusion among everyone she encounters in 1885 New York. Box office:01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Reflective: Harry Baker will be feeling Unashamed at The Crescent, York

Poet of the week: Say Owt presents Harry Baker: Unashamed, The Crescent, York, Wednesday, doors, 7.30pm

WORLD poetry slam champion, poet and maths graduate Harry Baker likes to write about the “important stuff”. Hope, dinosaurs, German falafel-spoons and such like. 

His work has been shared on TED.com and viewed millions of times worldwide, as well as being translated into 21 languages. Post pandemic lockdowns, he is delighted to be back on stage with his “most heartfelt, playful, unashamedly Harry Bakery” show to date. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Richard Dawson: The past, present and future is here at Selby Town Hall

One for the future: Mediale presents: Richard Dawson, Selby Town Hall, February 11, doors, 8pm; on stage, 8.30pm; no support act

AUDACIOUS Northumbrian psych-folk and exploratory rock singer-songwriter Richard Dawson is welcomed to Selby Town Hall for the opening night of Selby Creates’ winter arts programme.

Dawson will be showcasing his latest album, last November’s The Ruby Cord, a grim, sinister vision of times ahead that journeys into an immersive, solipsistic metaverse 500 years from now to complete a trilogy focused on the medieval past (on Peasant), the present (on 2020) and the sci-fi future. Box office: selbytownhall.co.uk.

Steve Knightley: New one-man show in Pocklington

Solo venture of the week: Steve Knightley, Pocklington Arts Centre, February 11, 8pm

ONE half of folk/roots duo Show Of Hands since 1992, Steve Knightley will be performing material that surfaced over two years of isolation and inactivity in his new one-man show.

Insights, anecdotes and a bunch of new songs will attempt to chronicle and draw a line under an “extra episode in all our lives”, alongside Knightley’s headline-refreshed renditions of Bristol Slaver and You’ll Get By and covers of Forever Young and The Boys Of Summer. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Resol String Quartet: Stepping in for the Fitzwilliam String Quartet tonight

Late replacement of the week: Late Music presents Music On The Edge: The Lapins, today, 1pm; Resol String Quartet, tonight, 7.30pm, both at Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York

AFTER the Fitzwilliam String Quartet unavoidably had to pull out of Late Music’s February evening concert, Fitzwilliam viola player Alan George has found a replacement quartet at very short notice. Step forward the Resol String Quartet, formed at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2018.

“They came up to St Andrews for a masterclass with us – plus a concert in the town a few weeks later – and everyone was very impressed,” says Alan. “We’ve already recommended them for our university series.”

Resol String Quartet’s alternative programme of string quartet music for tonight features works by Haydn, Julian Broughton and Beethoven and Alasdair Morton-Teng’s arrangements of traditional tunes.

Late Music’s February brace of concerts opens with The Lapins ­– Susie  Hodder-Williams, flute, Chris Caldwell, saxophone, and James Boyd, guitar – performing Music On The Edge at lunchtime.

World premieres of David Lancaster’s Au Lapin Agile, Gwilym Simcock’s Suite for Solo Flute and new works by David Power and Hayley Jenkins will be complemented by the British premiere of Athena Corcoran-Tadd’s Confluence (Hope Is A Boat) and Bach and Tippett pieces. Box office: latemusic.org or on the door.

The Lapins: Performing Music On The Edge at Late Music’s afternoon concert today

Relaxing afternoon: Lillian Hetherington, Mille Mazzone and Michael Capecci, Dementia Friendly Tea Concert, St Chad’s Church, Campleshon Road, York, February 16, 2.30pm

UNIVERSITY of York music students Lillian Hetherington, Mille Mazzone and Michael Capecci play violin and piano works by Wieniawski, Schostakovich and Dvorak.

As usual, 45 minutes of music will be followed by tea and homemade cakes in the church hall in a relaxed afternoon gathering ideal for those who may not feel comfortable at a formal classical concert. No charge but donations are welcome for hire costs and Alzheimer’s charities.

Re-enchanted: Josie Long at the double at The Crescent. Picture: Matt Crockett

Longer time in York: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Josie Long: Re-Enchantment extra matinee, The Crescent, York, February 18, 3pm

AFTER her 7.30pm gig sold out – as had her last appearance at The Crescent in Lefty Scum – comedian Josie Long has added a matinee performance of Re-Enchantment. Inspired by London feminist writer Lola Olufemi’s sentiment that “after defeat, re-enchantment is necessary”, Josie’s new stand-up set is infused with humanity, compassion and some brief political rants.

The triple Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee, underdog Fringe hero and delirious new mother returns with a show about the changes wrought by time, passion, moving to Scotland and loving the world under – let’s face it – difficult circumstances.

“Josie is one of our all-time favourite comedians, so we’re very excited to bring her new show to York and add an extra matinee show as well,” says Burning Duck promoter Al Greaves. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

In Focus: York Ice Trail’s 36 sculptures this weekend

  1. A Journey Through Time, Parliament Street – Make It York
  2. Growing The Future, Parliament Street – Dalby Forest
  3. Cash-asaurus T-Rex, Parliament Street – YorkMix Radio
  4. York to London Skyline, Parliament Street – Grand Central
  5. Atey Ate Miles Per Hour, High Ousegate – Ate O’Clock
  6. 121 years of making magic, Spurriergate – Grand Opera House, York
  7. Every Moment Matters, North Street – Park Inn by Radisson 
  8. Where ever I lay my hat…. , Station Rise – The Grand, York
  9. 100 years of LNER, Station Road – LNER
  10. York Quest App: The Roman, Micklegate – York BID
  11. The Enchanted Unicorn, Middletons – The Hole In Wand
  12. Ginny the Dragon, Middletons – York Gin
  13. 20,000 Leagues Under the Ouse, Middletons – City Cruises
  14. The Monstrous Chimera, Middletons – Middletons
  15. York Quest App: The Butcher, Kings Staith – York BID
  16. Coppergate Viking, Coppergate Centre – Coppergate Centre
  17. E.T. Comes Home, Piccadilly – Spark: York
  18. York Quest App: Dick Turpin, Walmgate – York BID
  19. Adventure Is Out There, The Stonebow – Hiscox
  20. York’s Chocolate Story Clock, Kings Square – York’s Chocolate Story
  21. Erupted Volcano, Grape Lane – Lucia Bar
  22. The York Rose Diamond by Kay Bradley, Low Petergate – Bradley’s Jewellers
  23. Minus 200 Degrees Coffee, Low Petergate – 200 Degrees Coffee
  24. York Quest App: Anne Lister, Goodramgate – York BID
  25. Gothic Grotesque, Minster Piazza – York Minster
  26. Celebrating 100 years of Flying Scotsman, High Petergate – National Railway Museum
  27. York Quest App: Guy Fawkes, Gillygate – York BID
  28. The Pearly Cow, Clifton – No .1 Guesthouse
  29. Layers of Time, Exhibition Square, St Leonard’s Place – North York Moors National Park
  30. York Quest App: Wally Herbert, Museum Street – York BID
  31. Ryedale Roman Hoard, Museum Gardens – Yorkshire Museums Trust
  32. Greek Minotaur, Lendal – The Judge’s Lodging
  33. Busloads To Love!, St Helen’s Square – York Park & Ride
  34. The Bettys Express Train, Davygate – Bettys
  35. Fire Breathing Dinosaur, St Sampson’s Square – Cut and Craft
  36. Live Carving by Icebox, St Sampson’s Square – York Ice Trail

Fact File

THE last York Ice Trail took place in March 2022 after a pandemic-enforced one-year hiatus. More than 40 ice sculptures lined the city streets, with 25,000 people participating in the trail.

Post-pandemic, York Ice Trail appealed to more residents than pre-pandemic in 2020, increasing from 23 per cent to 39 per cent.

Highlights

THE grounds of Middletons Hotel will be transformed into a mystical world of mythology, including four ice sculptures and photo opportunities throughout the day. York Gin, City Cruises and The Potions Cauldron will be on site, with crafts, competitions and surprise creatures.

Sister proper The Judges Lodgings features an ice sculpture too. Check out the Thwaites Shire Horses in all their finery.

On the anniversary front, the National Railway Museum celebrates Flying Scotsman’s centenary with an interactive sculpture. The Grand Opera House marks 121 years of making musical magic and LNER highlights its 100-year milestone.

York’s chocolate heritage will be rendered in ice with York’s Chocolate Story’s working Terry’s Clock Tower with a hot chocolate twist.

Learn more about York’s history with York BID’s six sculptures, all inspired by York historical figures that can be found on the York Quest app.

Busloads To Love, by main sponsor York Park & Ride, offers the chance to be the driver and take a selfie. The sculpture, celebrating the importance of the bus in public transport, will be situated on St Helen’s Square.

Travel from York to London with Grand Central’s Skyline sculpture, or be transported into another space and dimension with Hiscox’s adventure-bound sit-on space shuttle. For those wanting to go back to the future, discover Ate O’Clock’s DeLorean-inspired Atey Ate Miles Per Hour sculpture.

Live ice carving across the weekend at St Sampson’s Square will show how Icebox’s sculptors bring the ice trail to life.

Quotes

Sarah Loftus, Make It York managing director, says: “York Ice Trail 2023 will spark imaginations, transporting visitors across time and dimension from sculpture to sculpture. Our ice partners at Icebox have done a phenomenal job at bringing the ideas to life and we can’t wait to see all 36 sculptures line the streets of York.”

Councillor Keith Aspden, City of York Council leader, says: “The York Ice Trail brings imaginative, ‘cool’ and unique sculptures to York’s streets and is much loved by residents and visitors, so it’s excellent to see the event return once again. This year’s theme and creations are paying a fitting tribute to York’s rich history and imagination of our local businesses.”

Greg Pittard, Icebox managing director, says: “It is our privilege to be returning as the sculptors for the second year for York Ice Trail 2023. From mammoths to DeLoreans, the carvers have been working non-stop since late-August to deliver A Journey Through Time. This year’s theme has inspired some incredible designs and we can’t wait to unveil all of this year’s ice creations.”

John Godfrey, of First Bus in York, says: “We would encourage everyone planning to come and enjoy the Ice Trail to think about sustainable travel to get here and consider leaving the car at home or using the Park and Ride network. This helps avoid congestion, which makes travel around York easier, especially with such an event creating a bustling and lively atmosphere.”

For more information, visit https://www.visityork.org/york-ice-trail #YorkIceTrail

Slam champ, maths ace and poet Harry Baker is Unashamed to be back on the road. York and Leeds await next February

Stand up, comedian: Slam champ, poet, maths graduate, comic, writer and TED talker Harry Bakes takes to the water. Back on dry land, he plays York and Leeds next February

WORLD Poetry Slam champion Harry Baker is taking to the road for his second nationwide solo tour with his new show Unashamed, visiting The Crescent in York on February 8 2023.

After his first tour was extended three times by a combination of popular demand and a global pandemic, followed by asell-out Edinburgh Fringe run for his new show, poet, mathematician, stand-up comedian and writer Baker is undertaking a 31-date tour from September 28 to February 16. Further dates include Left Bank, Leeds, on February 9, with tickets on sale at harrybaker.co 

Baker’s bursts of poetry and comedy had been watched by millions online and had allowed him to perform all over the world, until suddenly Covid said No. His knee-jerk reaction was to put out heartfelt poems about missing hugs and to record a German pop music video in his local abandoned playground.

After reviewing loo seats online and writing falafel-based ‘diss’ tracks for radio presenter Chris Evans, he is returning to the stage in his most honest, playful, unashamedly Harry Baker show yet. 

Lift-off: Harry Baker likes to write about “important stuff such as hope”

“At its heart, my work is all about connecting with people, whether it’s making them laugh, making them cry, or making them think ‘Hey, I didn’t think I liked poetry but this is actually pretty good’,” says Harry, who “writes about important stuff such as hope, dinosaurs and German falafel-spoons”.

“While I tried to make the best of performing online during various lockdowns, there’s only so many clap emojis you can take on Instagram live before you realise it’s not quite the same. “I’m thrilled to be back doing what I love – poems – in the places I love with the people I love (your delightful readers, who will come along after reading this).”

Summing up Unashamed, Baker says: “The show is a celebration of playfulness, the power of creativity to keep you going when your whole world falls apart, and how, if we are brave enough to be vulnerable with one another, we can build ourselves back to our best unashamed versions of ourselves.” 

Since Baker became the youngest-ever World Poetry Slam champion in 2012, the past ten years have seen him perform worldwide, from a sold-out Dubai Opera House alongside Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy, to becoming a festival favourite at Glastonbury, Latitude and Bestival.

Sitting on the duck of the bay? Not quite, but give Harry Baker poetic licence

Rising to the top of the British rap battle scene, he has become a regular contributor to BBC Radio 2’s Pause For Thought, while his work has been shared on TED.com, seen by ten million people and translated into more than 20 different languages.

He has toured the UK and featured on The Russell Howard Hour as one half of the comedy-rap-jazz duo Harry and Chris (with songwriter Chris Read) and has appeared on the BAFTA-winning Sky TV show Life And Rhymesalongside Benjamin Zephaniah.

The 2022-2023 tour is accompanied by the release of Baker’s second poetry collection, also called Unashamed. Published by Burning Eye on October 6, it comprises poems from his latest show and the previous I Am 10,000, his celebration of the crossover between mathematics and poetry that toured the UK over three years, culminating in a run at Soho Theatre in March 2022. 

Publisher Clive Birnie says: “We are thrilled to have Harry back with a new book. We are celebrating ten years of publishing this year and having our top-selling author back with a new title is the perfect way to crown ten years in business. We expect this one to outsell Harry’s first book, The Sunshine Kid.” Copies are on sale at gigs, all good bookshops and via harrybaker.co.

Harry Baker’s York gig will be presented by spoken-word musketeers Say Owt; doors open at 7.30pm; box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com or harrybaker.co.

More Things To Do in York and beyond as clocks go back for longer nights and festival shorts. Hutch’s List No. 104, from The Press

Filip Fredrik’s Elements: Showing at Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2022

A FILM festival with international pedigree, poetry clashes, comedy aplenty and Constellations shine out for Charles Hutchinson.

Festival of the week: Aesthetica Short Film Festival, across York, Tuesday to Sunday

AESTHETICA Short Film Festival returns for 300 films in 15 venues over six days in York in its 12th edition. The BAFTA-Qualifying event will have a hybrid format, combining the live festival with a selection of screenings, masterclasses and events on the digital platform until November 30.

New for 2022 will be York Days, a discount scheme with the chance to save 50 per cent on prices on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday programmes. Comedies, dramas, thrillers, animation, family-friendly films and documentaries all feature, complemented by workshops, the Virtual Reality Lab, installations and the festival fringe. Box office: asff.co.uk/tickets.

Malaika Kegode: Guest appearance at Say Owt Slam’s birthday party. Picture: Jon Aitken

Birthday party of the week: Say Owt Slam’s 8th Birthday Special, with Malaika Kegode, The Crescent, York, tonight (29/10/2022), 7.30pm

SAY Owt, York’s loveable gang of performance poets, Stu Freestone, Henry Raby, Hannah Davies and David Jarman, welcome special-guest Bristol poet Malaika Kegode to a high-energy night of words and verse, humour and poet-versus-poet fun.

“It started as a one-off gig! I can’t believe we’re still slamming eight years later,” says artistic director and host Raby. “Whether you’re a veteran or looking for something new, everyone is welcome at a Say Owt Slam, where each poet has a maximum of three minutes to wow randomly selected judges with their poetry.” Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

David O’Doherty: Change of date for York gig

On the move: David O’Doherty: Whoa Is Me, Grand Opera House, York, changing from Monday to February 5 2023, 8pm

HERE he comes again, albeit later than first planned, trotting on stage with all of the misplaced confidence of a waiter with no pad.

“There’ll be lots of talking, some apologising and some songs on a glued-together plastic keyboard from 1986,” promises David O’Doherty, comedian, author, musician, actor and playwright, 1990 East Leinster under-14 triple jump bronze medallist and son of jazz pianist Jim Doherty. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Flo & Joan: Musical comedy duo offer thoughts on topics of the day

Musical comedy of the week: Flo & Joan, Sweet Release, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday, 7.3pm

FLO & Joan, the British musical comedy duo of sisters Nicola and Rosie Dempsey, play York as one of 30 additional dates on their 2022 tour after their return to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Climbing back out of their pits, armed with a piano and percussion, they poke around the  classic topics of the day with their fusion of comedy and song with a dark undertow.

The sisters have penned five numbers for the West End musical Death Drop and have written and performed songs for Horrible Histories (CBBC), Rob Delaney’s Stand Up Central (Comedy Central) and BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Emilio Iannucci: Starring in Nick Payne’s romantic two-hander Constellations at the SJT

Play of the week outside York: Constellations, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, running until November 12

WHEN beekeeper Roland meets scientist Marianne, anything could happen in University of York alumnus Nick Payne’s romantic and revealing exploration of the many possibilities that can result from a single meeting. Reminiscent of Sliding Doors and Kate Atkinson’s novel Life After Life, this two-hander starring Carla Harrison-Hodge and Emilio Iannucci ponders “What if?”.

“Constellations plays with time and space in the most brilliant way,” says director Paul Robinson. “Deeply human, deeply moving, it genuinely tilts the world for you. I challenge anyone not to leave the theatre just a bit more aware of what a fragile and remarkable thing life is.” Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com.

Bring It On: “The thrill of extreme competition”

Backflip of the week: York Stage in Bring It On: The Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; Saturday matinee, 2.30pm

THE York premiere of Bring It On backflips into the JoRo in a youth theatre production directed by Nik Briggs. Inspired by the film of the same name, this story of the challenges and surprising bonds forged through the thrill of extreme competition is packed with vibrant characters, electrifying contemporary songs and explosive choreography.

This Broadway hit is the energy-fuelled work of Tony Award winners Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q) and Tom Kitt (Grease: Live). Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Humour on hand: Harry Hill promises Pedigree Fun on his first tour since 2013

Very silly show of the week: Harry Hill, Pedigree Fun!, Grand Opera House, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

COMEDIAN, writer, actor, artist and former doctor Harry Hill and his big shirt collars take to the stage for an all-singing, all-dancing surrealist spectacular in his long-awaited return to the live arena for the fist time since 2013’s Sausage Time tour.

“I hadn’t realised how much I missed performing live until lockdown stopped me from doing it,” he says. “The good news is I’m planning a very silly show.” Full of pop-culture spoofs, no doubt.

Audiences will meet Harry’s new baby elephant, Sarah, along with regular sidekick Stouffer the Cat. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

John McCusker: Fiddler supreme on 30th anniversary tour

Fiddler on the road: The John McCusker Band 30th Anniversary Tour, National Centre for Early Music, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

SCOTTISH fiddle player John McCusker will be joined by Ian Carr, Sam Kelly, Helen McCabe and Toby Shaer for his concert series in celebration of 30 years as a professional folk musician since cutting his teeth in The Battlefield Band at 17.

To coincide with this landmark, McCusker has released a Best Of album featuring tracks from his solo records and television and film soundtracks, alongside a book of 100 original compositions, John McCusker: The Collection.

“I’m delighted to be able to get this special show on the road and celebrate 30 years as a professional musician,” says McCusker. “I’m looking forward to performing the highlights from my back catalogue and revisiting memories associated with those tracks.

“It’s brilliant that I’ve been able to make music and perform for 30 years and I’ve worked with so many incredible people in that time. I’ve never had a plan; good things have just
happened and, so far, it’s worked out as well as I could possibly have dreamed of. I can’t
wait to play with my friends again.” Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

York Settlement Community Players’ cast for Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike: Mick Liversidge (Vanya), top left, Victoria Delaney (Sonia) and Susannah Baines (Sasha); Andrew Roberts (Spike), bottom left, Sanna Jeppsson (Cassandra) and Livy Potter

York premiere of the week: York Settlement Community Players in Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Thursday, Friday, 7.30pm; Saturday, 2.30pm, 7.30pm

VANYA and his sister Sonia live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up, but when their famous film-star sister, Masha, makes an impromptu visit with her dashing, twenty-something boyfriend, Spike, a chaotic weekend ensues.

Resentment, rivalry and revealing premonitions begin to boil over as the three siblings battle to be heard in Christopher Durang’s comedy, winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best New Play with its blend of Chekhovian ennui, modern-day concerns of celebrity, social networking and the troubling onset of middle age. Jim Paterson directs Settlement Players’ production. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Plastic Mermaids: “Emotional exploration of the many facets of heartbreak”

Time to discover…Plastic Mermaids, The Crescent, York, November 10; Oporto, Leeds, February 2 2023

AFTER playing Glastonbury and Camp Bestival in the summertime, Isle of Wight five-piece Plastic Mermaids are off on an 11-date tour to promote their second album, It’s Not Comfortable To Grow, out now on Sunday Best.

Led by brothers Douglas and Jamie Richards, who approach life like an art project, they face up to their dark side in an emotional exploration of the many facets of heartbreak on such psych-rock and electronica numbers as Girl Boy Girl, Disposable Love, Something Better and Elastic Time. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Pete Bearder speaks truth to power in Homer To Hip Hop lecture for Say Owt and York Literature Festival at The Crescent

Pete Bearder: Speaking the truth to power at The Crescent on June 19

SAY Owt, York’s performance poetry forum, teams up with York Literature Festival to present author and poet Pete “The Temp” Bearder in Homer To Hip Hop at The Crescent, York, on June 19.

Bearder’s 7.30pm performance lecture on a people’s history of spoken word and poetry will be “part gig, part TedTalk, part party” as he speaks truth to power.

Introducing Bearder’s show, Say Owt artistic director Henry Raby says: “As we enter the post-Covid comeback, meet the artistic revivals that have remade the world from the bottom up.

“Find out why wordsmiths have always been vilified, feared and revered, from the ballad singers and Beat poets, to the icons of dub, punk and hip hop. The spoken word has always been the most immediate tool of cultural revival. This show brings a proud history to life and asks what we can do with it next.”

Say Owt artistic director Henry Raby

Former national Poetry Slam champion, spoken word poet, author and comic Bearder brings to life the poetic movements that have shaped history. His work has been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Newsnight and his Homer To Hip Hop show follows the release of his ground-breaking book Stage Invasion: Poetry & The Spoken Word Renaissance.

Support on June 19 comes from Raby, Say Owt’s “token punk poet”, who has appeared at festivals across the UK and on BBC Radio York. “Althea Thall will be bringing her story-telling energy too and, finally, Jonny Crawshaw will be DJing a hip-hop set afterwards,” says Henry.

Tickets cost £10 via www.thecrescentyork.com/events/home-to-hip-hop-a-peoples-history-of-spoken-word/

The poster for Pete “The Temp” Bearder’s Homer To Hip Hop tour show

Taking trouble at At The Mill to build a community for the arts and the people

Daniel Kitson: Testing out new material in six Outside performances at Stillington Mill

SUMMER At The Mill is returning for a second season of creative, culinary and community events in the gardens of Stillington Mill, Stillington, near York.

“After the spectacular, gorgeous, fun, exciting, beautiful and heart-warming time we had throughout our inaugural summer last year – what a ride! – we’re over the moon to present the mixed bag of goodies that is Summer At The Mill 2.0,” says programmer, theatre director, writer and performer Alexander Flanagan-Wright.

“Until September 4, we’ll be hosting a load of wonderful events all about community, art, food and flipping good times. We’ll have a pop-up café and bar, community gatherings, theatre, music, comedy, supper clubs and special events.”

The “Wright stuff” is the work of outdoor theatre co-builder Alex, sister Abbigail Ollive (Saturday café cuisine queen and supper club supremo) and their retired headteacher parents Maggi and Paul Wright, together with partners Megan Drury and Paul Smith. That “stuff” also takes in weddings, events and shepherd’s hut accommodation: truly a village cottage industry, you could say, albeit somewhat larger than a cottage.

A Supper Club gathering at At The Mill

“We just had a blast summer,” says Alex. “It was kind of by accident. It felt very serendipitous or of its moment, saying, ‘here is a way we can gather safely, our local community and the arts community, post-lockdown’.

“So this summer is a chance to see if people still care, and so far the evidence is that they do, with the return of the busy Saturday café, the Crafty Tales show [The Case Of The Missing Bunny] that sold out, our Pizza & Cocktail Night and the Dance Dance Dance Big Bank Holiday Silent Disco.

“Last year felt like a huge rush of adrenaline, and then you think, ‘OK, where do we go forward this year for beautiful experiences together?’. Already this year, we’re meeting new people coming to the events and the café.”

Summing up the essence of At The Mill, Alex says: “We believe a feeling of community is so important when people want to have an evening out. Whereas commercial theatre can feel merely transactional, with us, the means is the art, but the end result is a sense of community, and that feels the right way round.

Alexander Flanagan-Wright: At the heart of At The Mill

“On top of that, eating outside together, drinking outside together, is a lovely thing to do, and we have the space and setting to do that.”

Where once Stillington Mill’s 18th century mill would produce flour, now the At The Mill combines food with food for thought, new recipes at the Supper Club, new works on stage. “We’re very clear with the artists about that. Everyone we’ve asked, we’ve said, ‘we think you’re cool, we like your work, do you want to come and play with us?’,” says Alex.

“What we have in abundance is space and time, imagination and a community. What we don’t have in abundance is cash, but we find most performers end up walking away with cash in their pocket.

“We don’t say to them, bring a particular show. What you get instead is artists testing out new material, so it becomes a genuine relationship with the audience built around nurturing new work. We’re seeking an equal balance between the two communities, where they care about each other, and if we do our part well in bringing them together, then they will meet in a beautiful way, and hopefully that process is more valuable, than, say, a Q&A session in a theatre.”

The Saturday cafe at At The Mill, baked by Abbigail Ollive

Alex continues: “Hopefully too, we’re going to be able to sustain that culture of being able to welcome artists for whatever they want to try out, and of audiences being continually excited about seeing new work at such an early stage, performed by people they wouldn’t expect to be passing through their village.”

A case in point is Edinburgh Fringe favourite Daniel Kitson, the Denby Dale stand-up comedian, who asked to take part in the Theatre At The Mill programme after he was tipped off by storytelling performer Sam Freeman.

“Daniel got in touch to say hello, could he come and do a show? I don’t know what the show is about; I don’t know if Daniel does yet, but that feels a pretty exciting thing to be going on, and testament to our aim for brilliant performers to test out their work to our community,” says Alex.

“I’m also aware that there will be those who don’t know who Daniel Kitson is and would just see him as someone standing up in a garden! But it feels beautiful to know that his shows in May will be his first in two years and it’s great to be part of that work-in-progress experience.”

Chris Stokes: Storytelling comedy in Lockdown Detective at At The Mill on May 26

Clearly, plenty of people know exactly who Daniel Kitson is: his 8pm performances of Outside on May 23 to 25 have sold out already and his June 8 to 10 run looks close to following suit.

What’s in store from Kitson? Here’s the show blurb: “Daniel hasn’t been on stage for over two years. And, to be entirely honest, he’s not really missed it. It is, however, his actual job and everyone’s gone back to work now. So, he’s picked out a comfy pen, bought a new notebook and booked himself a summer’s worth of outdoor shows to find out whether he can still do his job and what, if anything, he has to say to large groups of people he doesn’t know.”

Given his performing hiatus and lack of practice, Kitson predicts the shows are “likely to be relatively rickety affairs”. “But Daniel’s already written the question ‘Do worms feel fear?’ in his new notebook, so we should be okay,” the blurb adds. “Also, if it gets boring – you can just use the time to look at the sky and feel small.”

At The Mill’s role in nurturing new work ties in with Alex’s own creativity as a writer and director, whether directing The Flanagan Collective, heading off to Australia with songwriter/musician/performer/magician Phil Grainger or spending last September to December in New York, making the immersive piece Tammany Hall for the Soho Playhouse.

Gary Stewart: Hosting regular Folk Club nights at At The Mill

“We meet loads of brilliant people when touring our work, and it’s great that they want to come here to test new pieces,” he says. “We’re delighted that people will hone shows here just before the Edinburgh Fringe kicks off, or will do shows here that aren’t going to Edinburgh but fit that vibe.”

Picking out upcoming highlights, singer-songwriterTom Figgins follows up last summer’s gig – his first in four years – with a return tomorrow; Chris Stokes’s storytelling comedy show, Lockdown Detective, is booked in for May 26, and Scottish musician Gary Stewart, now resident in nearby Easingwold, will host his regular Folk Club night on May 27, June 24 and July 8.

“For his first night, it’ll be just Gary and his guitar, performing Paul Simon songs solo rather than with his Graceland band. It’s lovely for us that a local musician, who’s internationally renowned, came here and said, ‘I want to play here every month and bring acts here regularly’,” says Alex.

At The Mill’s ERII Platinum Jubilee celebrations will take in Jubilee Jubilee, A Very Jubilant Cabaret, on June 3 and A Right Royal Knees Up, with live music and pizza, on June 5.

Maddie Morris: 2019 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner, playing a Music At The Mill gig for the first time

Leeds folk duo Maddie Morris & Lilian Grace will make their At The Mill debut on June 12, performing together as Death And The Daughter and playing solo works too. Their 2022 project, The Sticky Monsters, is influenced by the artwork of Swedish artist John Kenn and their compositions deal with childhood, poverty and more general reflections on culture and the idea of fear.

“I saw Maddie, the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner, at The Courthouse, Rural Arts’ home in Thirsk, and she’s an absolute folk musician, studying folk music at Leeds University and looking at contemporary politics through the lens of the folk tradition,” says Alex.

Gemma Curry’s York company Hoglets Theatre will perform the children’s show The Sleep Pirates on June 19 (10am to 1pm); York spoken-word collective Say Owt will host a poetry-writing workshop on June 25 (5pm), followed by an evening showcase (7.30pm); Heady Conduct Theatre will combine physical storytelling with live music to tell the Greek myth of Tiresias on July 10, and Paperback Theatre will stage their charming account of roguish Toad’s misadventures, The Wind In The Willows, on July 30 at 2.30pm and 7pm.

Alex himself has a couple of contributions to the season: Monster, a work-in-progress new story, on June 16 and 17, and The Gods The Gods The Gods, the Wright and Grainger show whose Australian premiere tour was curtailed by the pandemic, now making its British debut on July 23, 24, 27 and 28 at 8.45pm.

Gemma Curry in Hoglets Theatre’s The Sleep Pirates

“In its full iteration, it’s a big, heavy show, but this will be a lighter version before we take it to the Edinburgh Fringe,” says Alex of the final work in Wright & Grainger’s trilogy of myths, after Orpheus and Eurydice, both sell-outs at last summer’s At The Mill season.

The Gods The Gods The Gods, with its four stories and 14 compositions, corals big beats, soaring melodies and heart-stopping spoken words as it “calls us to the crossroads where mythology meets real life”.

“The Gods are gathering and you’re invited,” says Alex. “We’re excited about testing it out here, to wrangle up the story, to see that all the text and music works, and then add lights for Edinburgh, where we’ll be doing it in the Assembly’s 200-seat spiegeltent.”

The Mill’s summer programme will continue to add new events, with full details, including tickets, at athemill.org. Shows start at 7.30pm unless stated otherwise.

The Flanagan Collective’s Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Gobbledigook Theatre’s Phil Grainger staging Orpheus and Eurydice at At The Mill’s socially-distanced summer season in 2021. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Heady Conduct view the world differently to rejuvenate Greek myths of blind prophet Tiresias in At The Mill show at Stillington

Simon Rodda in Heady Conduct Theatre’s Tiresias

HEADY Conduct Theatre conclude the short tour of Tiresias, their storytelling show of rejuvenated Greek myths and legends, in July 10’s At The Mill performance at Stillington, near York.

“Tiresias is the 600-year-old blind prophet who pops up in a lot of Greek myths but hasn’t a story of their own,” says co-artistic director Beck Rogers. “We were fascinated by them; a blind prophet, who walks with royalty and rejects, contends with some of the heavyweights of the ancient Greek world and lives as both a man and woman.

“At the heart of our play we ask the audience, ‘if you could choose to know your future, would you want to?’.” 

Last performed pre-pandemic on the other side of the world in New Zealand, the show is told by one actor, co-artistic director Simon Rodda, and one musician, Rachel Barnes, who have played Brighton, Penzance, Suffolk and St Albans before their tour finale in North Yorkshire.

Rodda plays Tiresias, the blind prophet given the gift to predict Zeus’s future. In 600 years of life, Tiresias has incredible encounters with royalty, rejects, heroes, murderers and a snake-wrangling baby, as well as becoming the first person to be transformed from a man into a woman.

Barnes accompanies his performance with singing and a live score played on guitar and cello in Heady Conduct’s intoxicating theatre piece about the extraordinary ability of humans to face adversity, often with mischief, humour and acts of rebellion.

Rodda says: “I can’t wait to perform these ancient stories in this beautiful, hand-crafted hidden gem of a theatre venue. The stories surrounding Tiresias’s life offer a unique and unrivalled perspective.

“Beck and I are neurodiverse and are advocates for those who view the world differently. To enhance the storytelling experience for the audience, we use language, live music, physical movement and sensory atmospheres to tell Tiresias’s tale.”

Tickets are on sale at: atthemill.org/summer-at-the-mill-calendar/tiresias/10-07-22

The Howl & The Hum, Bull and Huge to play Make It York’s new YorkLife festival weekend in Parliament Street in April

The Howl & The Hum: York Life headliners on April 3

YORK’S new spring festival weekend will showcase the city’s musicians, performers, comedians and more besides on April 2 and 3.

Organised by Make It York, YorkLife will see more than 30 performers and organisations head to Parliament Street for a free open event from 11am to 9pm each day with no need to book tickets in advance.

The Saturday headliners will be Big Donaghy’s long-running York party band Huge; the Sunday bill will climax with The Howl & The Hum in their biggest home-city performance since gracing York Minster on May 25 2021.

Both bands will play the main YorkLife stage as part of a programme curated by York’s Music Venue Network, presenting such York acts as Bull, Kitty VR, Flatcap Carnival and Hyde Family Jam.

An array of interactive sessions will be held by York organisations, taking in theatre workshops, instrumental workshops, face painting, comedy and dance performances, plus fire performers and circus acts.

The main stage on Parliament Street will have an open viewing area with a 500 capacity, while a covered stretch tent will hold a York Gin bar and seating area for 90 people with a one-in, one-out policy.

YorkLife is supported by City of York Council’s ARG (Additional Restrictions Grant) funding, which aims to boost businesses impacted by Covid-19. The April 2 and 3 programme has been curated with York residents in mind and to support the city’s recovery from Covid.

Big Ian Donaghy: Fronting Huge on the YorkLIfe main stage on April 2

Councillor Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities, says: “Our cultural sector is the lifeblood of our communities. There is so much talent in York, from musicians to comedians and poets to performers, which makes our city so vibrant and unique.

“YorkLife is an excellent way to celebrate our home-grown musicians and performers, particularly after what has been a challenging few years for us all. I would encourage residents to join the festival and enjoy the best of York’s own talent.”

Sarah Loftus, Make It York’s managing director, says: “YorkLife is a celebration of York talent and culture, from our street musicians to our community groups. We want to really celebrate the sense of community in York and we’re encouraging residents to join the party and see some of the hottest talent York has to offer.”

Chris Sherrington, from the York Music Venue Network, says: “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to showcase some of York’s amazingly talented artists who have developed their careers across the city of York’s many great grassroots music venues.

“As part of YorkLife weekend, we’re looking forward to celebrating the return of live music to the city and enjoying the wonderful variety of music for one and all. This event has been a true cooperative effort of York’s event industry and creatives and we look forward to working on future events.”

To find out more about YorkLife, head to visityork.org/yorklife. The full line-up will be announced later this month. 

Bull: Home-city gig for York’s first band to sign to a major label since Shed Seven

Confirmed acts and workshops

Musicians

The Howl & The Hum; Huge; Bull; Kitty VR; Flatcap Carnival; Hyde Family Jam;  Floral Pattern; Bargestra and Wounded Bear.

Workshops:

Mud Pie Arts: Cloud Tales interactive storytelling;

Thunk It Theatre: Build Our City theatre workshop; 

Gemma Wood: York Skyline art;

Fantastic Faces:  Face painting; 

York Mix Radio:  Quiz; 

York Dance Space:  Dance performance;

Burning Duck Comedy Club: Comedy night; 

Henry Raby, from Say Owt: Spoken poetry; 

Matt Barfoot: Drumming workshop; 

Christian Topman: Ukulele workshop; 

Polly Bennet: Little Vikings PQA York performing arts workshop; 

Innovation Entertainment: Circus workshops. 

Nicolette Hobson and Gemma Drury of Mud Pie Arts: Hosting Cloud Tales interactive storytelling workshops at YorkLife

Say Owt’s spoken-word squad return from lockdown lull with Bad Betty Press guests and York poets at Fulford Arms tonight

York punk poet Crow Rudd: On the Say Owt bill tonight

SAY Owt, York’s rowdy but loveable spoken-word and poetry gang, are bringing Bad Betty Press up north tonight for a 7.30pm bill of open-mic spots and featured wordsmiths at the Fulford Arms.

“Bad Betty Press are an independent publisher boasting some of the finest poets in the UK, and for this show we have open-mic spaces for poets local to York and surrounding towns and villages or people who have never performed with us before,” says Say Owt artistic director Henry Raby.

Those who filled in the form https://forms.gle/GGdBsB3CTEiS1bw56 were being informed by today if they had been selected at random.

The cover artwork for Crow Rudd’s debut collection

Tonight’s “super selection of super spoken worders” at the first Say Owt live event since December 2020 comprises York punk poet Crow Rudd and Bad Betty Poetry guests Kirsten Luckins and Tanatsei Gambura.

Crow Rudd (they/them) is a disabled nonbinary queer published poet and slam champion whose work focuses on mental health, grief, politics and the power of cuddles. Creator of Sad Poets Doorstep Club, founder of the UK Trans & Nonbinary Poets Network and reigning Stanza Slam champion, their debut collection ‘i am a thing of rough edges’ is out, published by Whisky & Beards.

Kirsten Luckins: Poet, performer and spoken-word theatre-maker

Kirsten Luckins, a poet, performer and spoken word theatre-maker from the north-east coast, puts the emphasis on compassion and playfulness in her multi-artform, collaborative creative practice.

She has toured two award-nominated spoken-word shows and is a director, dramaturg and creative producer. She is artistic director of the Tees Women Poets collective and co-founder of the Celebrating Change digital storytelling project, where she teaches creative memoir writing.

Tanatsei Gambura: Zimbabwean poet, intermedia artist and cultural practitioner

Zimbabwean poet, intermedia artist and cultural practitioner Tanatsei Gambura was the runner-up in the inaugural Amsterdam Open Book Prize for the manuscript Things I Have Forgotten Before, published this year by Bad Betty Press.

Drawing from personal experience, her work explores the themes of black womanhood in the context of post-colonial immigration, global geopolitics and cultural identity. She is an alumnus of the British Council residency, These Images Are Stories, and her work has been recognised by United Nations Women and the Goethe Institut.

Say Owt’s always high-energy shows are supported by funding from Arts Council England. “Tonight’s event will feature a set of banging poems, full of wit and humour to warm your soul this October. Best of all, admission is free,” says Henry, who will co-host the show at the Fulford Arms, Fulford Road, with Stu Freestone.

Say Owt co-hosts Henry Raby, left, and Stu Freestone

Say Owt to spark up their winter spoken words at The Crescent in December return

Owt and about again: Say Owt artistic director Henry Raby, left, and co-founder and cheese trader Stu Freestone spark up the spoken word anew on December 11

SAY Owt, York’s loveable gang of performance poets, are back in live action for the first time since the summer for a night of socially distanced spoken word at The Crescent on December 11.

In start-stop-restart-stop again 2020, these loquacious hosts of high-energy bursts of words and verse have hosted live-streams in lockdowns, most recently Lovely Lockdown Lyricism last Friday, and pop-up poetry on York Theatre Royal’s patio in August.

Stepping up to the mic on December 11 will be Say Owt’s A-team of Henry Raby, Hannah Davies, Stu Freestone and Dave Jarman, joined by special guest poets Katie Greenbrown and Ruth Awolola. In a nutshell, here comes a slam-winning sextet of soulful poets with modern, relevant and upbeat verse.

Hannah Davies: Slam champ and word weaver

“The night will feature a set of banging poems, full of wit and humour to warm your soul this December,” says artistic director Henry. “Expect some brand-new pieces, improv poetry and a few silly surprises hiding up our spoken-word sleeves!

“Last Friday’s online gig was good: it’s just nice to keep connecting with our audience. Now Say Owt and The Crescent want to give you a night of energy and warmth after a tough year.”

The Crescent, in The Crescent, off Blossom Street, York, will have a Covid-secure, socially distanced seated capacity of 60. “The performers and the venue are following all regulations and guidelines to keep the audience as safe as possible,” says Henry.

Tickets for this 7pm gig cost £10, available in batches of one to four at: http://thecrescentyork.com/events/s-d-show-say-owt/

Special guest: Katie Greenbrown