Four Wheel Drive to explore legacy of York saint Margaret Clitherow in experimental interactive trial afternoon at Guildhall

Four Wheel Drive working on The Trial Of Margaret Clitherow in development

YORK theatre company Four Wheel Drive will host a new immersive, interactive theatre experience, focusing on Catholic saint Margaret Clitherow, on Saturday in the Guildhall York council chambers.

From 12 noon to 4pm, audiences can explore the “vibrant heritage and creative innovation within York” in a programme of afternoon activities run by artistic director Anna Gallon and her co-creators of “bespoke off-road theatrical experiences”.

These will include a first look at Four Wheel Drive’s new play in development, an historical presentation from author Tony Morgan and a study of how heritage storytelling can be presented for modern audiences.

Immerse: Heritage: Afternoon of heritage, immersive and interactive storytelling events on February 17

12 noon: Doors open for audiences to explore the council chambers.

12.15pm to 1.15pm: The Trial Of Margaret Clitherow

SCRIPT-in-hand performance of extracts from The Trial Of Margaret Clitherow, a new immersive experience in development by Four Wheel Drive that relates the story of Catholic saint Margaret Clitherow in York.

That story? In 1586, Margaret refuses to comply. In a scramble to regain control, the council decides to coerce her to a public fight, threatening her family, faith and pride.

The play invites the audience to engage in Margaret’s trial, wrestling with moral dilemmas and making choices in pursuit of justice.

Ultimately, audience members must decide whether they will abstain from cooperating with a corrupt system out of protest or try to mitigate any further damage the case might inflict on the community of York.

The Guildhall council chambers in St Martin’s Courtyard, Walmgate, York

1.15pm to 2pm: The Life and Death of Margaret Clitherow in Tudor York

AUTHOR and historian Tony Morgan uncovers the extraordinary story of Margaret Clitherow within the history of Tudor York, one that takes in family, politics, religion and tragedy.

During her life, Margaret underwent an extraordinary transformation from being an ordinary woman who lived in Tudor York to a notorious rebel who took on the state, the Church and the assizes court.

University of Leeds associate professor Morgan writes non-fiction history books and novels, including a biography and novel covering the life and death of Margaret Clitherow, and gives regular history talks to groups.

2.30pm to 3.15pm: Reviving Heritage: Making Heritage Storytelling Relevant

YORK theatre-maker and Four Wheel Drive artistic director Anna Gallon reveals the company’s process of bringing heritage storytelling to modern audiences as specialists in creating new works for non-traditional theatrical spaces.

Discover how historical narratives can serve as a powerful lens for examining contemporary issues, fostering a deeper understanding of the choices that shape our world. “Nothing is more powerful than bringing history to life to challenge our choices today,” says Anna.

3.15pm to 4pm: Interactive and Immersive Storytelling

INNOVATIVE storytellers who work with immersive and interactive forms will discuss what these words mean and how they can affect the way we tell stories, along with York innovation in this field.

The four sessions can be booked and attended separately or enjoyed as a whole afternoon. There will be chances to ask questions and offer feedback to inform the development process.

Tickets are free and can be booked at:

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on The 24, York Guildhall, March 1

Robert Hollingsworth: Conductor of The 24. Picture: Frances Marshall

YOU would not normally expect a choral concert to consist only of eight Mass sections, four each from the 16th and the 21st  centuries.

That thought must have occurred to Robert Hollingworth, conductor of The 24, which is now the University of York’s chamber choir (although with eight more singers than its title suggests).

So he added – on the pretext that this was both St David’s Day and the first official day of spring – six seasonal poems along with extracts of birdsong. Not perhaps what paying customers had hoped to hear, but certainly original.

Equally controversial was the setting of Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli, in what was termed an arrangement by Francesco Soriano, a former pupil of the great man and a one-time choirboy at San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome (St John’s Lateran) under his direction.

Soriano’s declared intention is to convert Palestrina’s four-voice setting into a double-choir, eight-voice polychoral one. But at times he departs so far from Palestrina’s original that what he produces is better described as a paraphrase. We would be better off leaving Palestrina’s name out of it altogether.

The 24 tackled it judiciously, if without much variation in tone or dynamics. When upper voices were heard alone during Palestrina’s Benedictus, it was both a welcome relief and beautifully done. The preceding Credo had enjoyed a strong finish, but there was no sign of a piano at the Crucifixion. The most homogeneous tone came in a smooth Agnus Dei.

The Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara completed his Missa A Cappella five years before his death in 2016 aged 87. It derives a certain mysticism from its regular use of a halo of sound around its main melodies, which otherwise appear without much accompaniment.

There was a new urgency in the choir here, which peaked in the rapid chanting at the end of the Credo. The ‘halo’ effect was at its best against the solo in the Sanctus; the otherwise calmer Benedictus closed with an unexpected crescendo.

There was even a glimpse of timelessness in the Agnus Dei, where the layering of the voices was at its clearest. Doubts remained however about how much weight the composer had given to the actual texts, as opposed to merely producing a spiritual aura.

The 24 is obviously a highly competent ensemble. But one could have wished for repertory that had stretched it more and provided contrast with the two masses. The poems were intelligently read but would have benefited from amplification. The birdsong remained, I fear, peripheral. But it was good to be back in a refurbished Guildhall.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Adele Karmazyn’s imaginarium of creatures, objects and other lives ventures into Hidden Spaces in City Screen café exhibition

Out Of Sight, digital photomontage, by Adele Karmazyn, from her City Screen Picturehouse exhibition in York

INSPIRED by October’s York Unlocked event, York Open Studios regular Adele Karmazyn is opening doors to Hidden Spaces in her new exhibition.

Embracing the opportunity to visit the city’s historic hidden places, she took photographs on the way, and now those photos form the backdrop for her new body of digital photomontages on show in the City Screen Picturehouse café, in Coney Street, York, until January 14 2023.

Each piece in Hidden Spaces evolves into an individual story when Adele brings in her 19th century characters, taken from old cabinet photographs, and combines these with other photographs of objects, landscapes and creatures.  

By merging multiple layers and concentrating on light and depth, she creates “realistic, believable scenarios, which at the same time could never possibly be”.

Adele Karmazyn at work in her Holgate garden studio

Here CharlesHutchPress asks questions to send Adele into her flights of fantasy…or maybe ghost stories of lives that could have been.

What drew you to the City Screen café as a location for an exhibition? Is this the first time that you have exhibited there?

“I love the City Screen building with the river backdrop. I’ve exhibited once before upstairs but never in the café.  It’s a wonderful spot for my work, being full of stories and imagination, just like the films on show there.”

Which hidden places in York did you visit during the York Unlocked weekend in October? 

“York Unlocked was a great opportunity for me to take lots of photographs to use in my work.  I ran around the city like a headless chicken! I was particularly impressed with the Masonic Hall and the York Guildhall, which I‘d never been to before. I’m sure these spaces will feature not only in this collection but again in future collections.”

Cat And Canaries, by Adele Karmazyn

How did the buildings spark your imagination for Hidden Spaces?

“I was already planning to create a collection centred around the old (Grays Court) and present Treasurer’s House, which I’d visited and photographed already. So when I heard about this event, I decided ‘Hidden Spaces’ could be any historic building in York.”

How did you settle on that title?

“Well, when I choose a title, I spend a moment looking at the images as they are ‘in progress’.  They all look like secretive places, hidden away from the crowds.  This is the feeling I got also when these doors opened, and I got to see behind these (often) closed doors.”

Why do creatures as well as humans feature so prominently in your work?

“I think there’s a creature of some sort in every image, be it a bird, a butterfly or a beetle. I feel it brings more life to the image and creates a connection between the character and nature.  I also love it when you don’t always see everything on first glance, and hiding some creature makes the images more interesting and surprising.”

The 19th century photograph of a father and daughter, adapted by Adele in Cat And Canaries

How long does it take to create each multi-layered work?

“Some pieces flow really nicely and I can complete it in a few weeks, but some can have a rough ride, where I get stuck and nothing makes sense or I don’t have the right character. 

“I may have ‘something’ but there’s a missing piece and these can sit in my folders for months. My images are a tornado of imagination and chance. It’s a really fun and also sometimes frustrating process, but when that magic happens and the ideas and images come together, it’s really exciting and why I love working this way.”

Further explore your assertion that each piece features a “realistic, believable scenario, which at the same time could never possibly be”…

Digital collage artists can create so many scenarios, from totally surreal and roughly pieced-together images to the subtle changes of a realistic photograph.” 

All Of A Flutter, by Adele Karmazyn

“What I’m trying to achieve is an image that looks almost painted, as opposed to ‘photographic’, and by mixing water where there would never be, or a cloud in a room, or wild animals inside a Victorian skirt, so your eyes see this is actually happening in the image but the brain knows this could not actually happen.  I believe it’s called ‘Magic Realism’.”

Are they images of ghosts coming alive or of lives that could have been?

“I like to think of it as giving them another life, full of adventure and stories untold. Of course there is a ghost-like quality to the images but nothing too dark.”

Is it lazy to label them as “surrealist”?

“A couple of my pieces I would say are bordering on surreal, but mostly they are dreamlike images, theatrical, imaginative and curious.”

Two Girls, 19th century photograph, whose image re-emerges in Adele Karmazyn’s All Of A Flutter

Are there hidden meanings to these Hidden Spaces?

“If the viewer finds a meaning, then that is what it is. I like to leave the interpretation up to each individual. I do like to work with a theme, and some have meaning to me that may mean something entirely different to someone else.”

Who would be your influences? Magritte? Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam? Maybe even Glen Baxter?

“I do love the work of Magritte. I follow many modern-day artists who inspire me, such as Daria Pertilli, Maggie Taylor and Christian Schloe.”

“My images are a tornado of imagination and chance,” says Adele. Witness Into The Lights, above

There seems to be a balance between humour and something more troubling: the images are frozen in time past awaiting release in the viewer’s imagination that could take both the incumbents and the viewer anywhere. See above: Those Canada Geese in flight….how did they get in there? Where are they going? Why are they in there? Will they get out?  So many possibilities! Like in Tracy Chevalier’s novel, inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s Dutch Golden Age oil painting Girl With A Pearl EarringDiscuss…

“Wouldn’t it be amazing if a whole story was written from an image.  This is what I love about the process of image making.  I start with nothing, then I find a character, then a space, then things get thrown in and taken out and a story evolves and changes.

“My best-selling image is ‘Survival’, a picture of a young girl sailing in an upturned umbrella with a bird and a nest on her head.  Part of the success of this image I think is the girl herself. 

“She speaks volumes just to look at her. She is strong-willed and she will survive! This could easily be a still from a film and the rest of the story is up to the viewer to imagine.”

“The young girl is strong-willed and she will survive,” says Adele of Survival, the York digital photomontage artist’s best-selling work

What’s coming up for you in 2023? 

“Next year begins with York Open Studios [April 15, 16, 22 and 23],  hopefully followed by Saltaire Open Houses arts trail [May 27 to 29] (although this hasn’t been confirmed yet).

“I’m bringing in oil paintings and working on creating curiosity boxes too, as something new to accompany my digital images. 

“I’ve also written a children’s book, which I’m now illustrating, so it’s all go in my Holgate garden studio. The book is called ‘The Life Of A Bee, It’s Not For Me’ and it’s a rhyming story for ages three to five, I would say. It’s all about a bee called Clive, who saves the world with the help of the swallows…I don’t want to give any more away! 

“It’s very exciting as I may have a contract…once I send off the illustrations, which is my project for in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.”

The exhibition poster for Adele Karmazyn’s Hidden Spaces in the City Screen café