More Things To Do in York and beyond in the virtual and real world. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 18 for 2023, from The Press, York

Flying Scotsman VR: The virtual reality experience at the National Railway Museum to mark the steam locomotive’s 100th birthday

AS Flying Scotsman meets virtual reality, Charles Hutchinson goes full speed ahead to keep you on the right track for entertainment by rail, on land or indoors.

New attraction of the week: Flying Scotsman VR, National Railway Museum, York

THE new virtual reality experience at the NRM celebrates Flying Scotsman in the iconic steam locomotive’s centenary year, taking visitors on a journey back in time and around the world, bringing the golden age of rail travel to life.

Commissioned by the Science Museum Group and developed in collaboration with Figment Productions and Sarner International, the experience uses free-roaming VR headsets to provide a multi-sensory experience that includes an understanding of how steam locomotion works from inside the boiler. Admission to the NRM is free but a charge does apply for Flying Scotman VR. Booking is advised at railwaymuseum.org.uk.

Steve Cassidy: Back among friends at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

York stalwart of the week: Steve Cassidy Band, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

THE Steve Cassidy Band and friends perform a selection of rock, country music and ballads, combining something old with something new.

York singer, guitarist and songwriter – and former headmaster – Steve recorded in the 1960s with York-born composer John Barry and pioneering producer Joe Meek. Tomorrow night he is joined by his band members and guests at his favourite theatre. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Midge Ure: Synths in synch in Band Electronica concert of two Ultravox albums in full

Retro gig of the week:  Midge Ure & Band Electronica, The Voice And Visions Tour, Grand Opera House, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

ON 2019’s The 1980 Tour, Midge Ure & Band Electronica revisited Ultravox’s Vienna album and Visage’s debut LP. Now, on his twice-rearranged follow-up tour, Voice And Visions, Ure marks the 40th anniversary of Ultravox’s synth-driven, experimental Rage In Eden and Quartet albums. Box office: atgtickets.com.york.

Space exploration: A spaceman lands in York in Lincoln Ligthfoot’s playfully surreal art at the Grand Opera House

Art talk of the week: Lincoln Lightfoot, Grand Opera House, York, Thursday, 6pm

YORK Open Studios 2023 artist Lincoln Lightfoot presents a 90-minute Grand Opera House Creative Learning artist talk and workshop to complement his ongoing exhibition in the Cumberland Street theatre’s box office.

In his retro art, Lincoln explores surrealist concepts reminiscent of the absurdist poster art that captured  the Fifties and Sixties’ B-movie fixation with comical science-fiction disasters, but now played out on the 21st century streets and landmark buildings of York. Tickets:  atgtickets.com/york.

Gary Meikle: Expressing his loathing of stupid questions in 2.5 comedy show at York Barbican

Likely to cause a stir: Gary Meikle, 2.5, York Barbican, Friday, 8pm

SCOTTISH comedian Gary Meikle returns to York Barbican with his third live show, or 2.5 as he calls it. Top professionals and industry people may have advised him not to be so crude or edgy, but “as a kid growing up in the care system, I was told that I’d be either dead or in jail by the time I was 30, so I tend not to listen to others and do things my way,” he says.

In a “continued celebration of me being me” in defiance of cancel culture, Meikle discusses equality between the sexes, medication side effects, his loathing of stupid questions  and “how our ancestors were idiots”. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Guy Masterson: One actor, 69 roles in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood at Theatre@41

Tour de force of the week: Guy Masterson, Under Milk Wood, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Friday, 7.30pm

CELEBRATING the 70th anniversary of Under Milk Wood, Olivier Award winner Guy Masterson portrays one day in the life of Llareggub, a fictional town by the sea somewhere in Wales, as he assiduously conjures up all 69 of Dylan Thomas’s ebullient inhabitants in a feat of memory and physical virtuosity.

Complemented by Matt Clifford’s soundscape, Under Milk Wood is bawdy and beautiful, sad and sensual and, through the music of language, leaves indelible, unforgettable images of humanity. Masterson, Richard Burton’s nephew by the way, has clocked up more than  2,000 performances, from Swansea to the West End, Trinidad to New Zealand, over 30 years. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Jessica Steel: Showcasing debut album Higher Frequencies at The Crescent

Made of Steel: Jessica Steel, The Crescent, York, May 7, 7.30pm

YORK powerhouse singer Jessica Steel performs her October 2022 debut album, Higher Frequencies, in full for the first time.

A fixture at Big Ian Donaghy’s A Night To Remember charity concerts at York Barbican, hairdressing salon boss Jessica made the album with songwriter-producer Andy Firth, late of the Britpop band The Dandys. “There’s an interesting contrast between uplifting music and sad lyrics throughout the album, as well as a recurring theme of finding hope through adversity,” she says. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Lloyd Cole: First York gig in 23 years

Commotion incoming: Lloyd Cole, York Barbican, October 17

LLOYD Cole will team up with former Commotions compadres Blair Cowan and Neil Clark at York Barbican for the only Yorkshire gig of his 17-date autumn tour to showcase his 12th solo album, On Pain, set for release on June 23.

On his first York appearance since a solo show at Fibbers in May 2000, Cole will play two sets, the first acoustic, the second, electric with the band. Box office: lloydcole.com/live or yorkbarbican.co.uk.

In Focus: Tim Crouch, Truth’s A Dog Must To Kennel, York International Shakespeare Festival, York St John University Creative Centre, tonight, 8pm

Tim Crouch: King Lear and a virtual reality head set combine in Truth’s A Dog Must To Kennel at York International Shakespeare Festival. Picture: Stuart Armitt

TIM Crouch’s 2022 Edinburgh Fringe First winner plays the York International Shakespeare Festival after visiting New York and playing a London season.

Taking on the character of The Fool, Shakespeare’s King Lear meets stand-up comedy meets the metaverse as Crouch dons a virtual reality headset to explore Lear in a post-pandemic world and interrogate theatrical form and the essence of live performance.

“It’s reductive to say I have a favourite Shakespeare play: King Lear. They’re all great but I have a relationship with this play that goes a little deeper,” says the Bognor Regis-born experimental theatre maker, actor, playwright and director, whose work rejects theatrical convention, especially realism, and invites audiences to participate in each performance’s creation.

“I played Lear at university [Bristol] at a King Lear Symposium at Ferrara in northern Italy, at the age of 20, which is a little young! I then directed a 90-minute production for the Royal Shakespeare Company ten years ago.”

The play contains everything, he contends. “Complex relationships. Love. Madness. Families.  Obscene wealth and the hypocrisy of wealth. Towards the end, Lear becomes a socialist champion. He has this moment of enlightenment, realising that everything on top of that is superfluous,” says Tim.

“This egotistical figure has his power removed, his ego removed, discovering compassion in the truest sense.”

Tim then refracted King Lear through the Covid shroud of the past three years. “I also saw Lear in Trump and in some degree in Boris Johnson, seeing the world governed by egomaniacs, of which Lear is an example,” he says.

“Or like Succession [the television series about a wealthy family at war], where Brian Cox plays this grotesque maniacal figure. It’s Rupert Murdoch really!”

Tim views King Lear through the eyes of The Fool. “He doesn’t have a name; he’s slightly mysterious, he’s depressed and he leaves before the end of the play, before anyone has been killed,” he notes.

“He just disappears, and I’m fascinated by people leaving, just getting up and going, so I dramatise his moment of departure in this show.”

“What would a contemporary Shakespearean Fool be? I think it would be Stewart Lee,” says Tim Crouch

Tim exposes King Lear through a modern lens. “I don’t know what’s gone wrong with the world. Maybe it was always this way, but there are these deep schisms that are dividing the world. Men like Trump,” he says. “Playing this show in New York was extraordinary! Over here, there is civil war in Brexit, just as there is civil war in Lear’s family.”

Experiencing theatre only digitally during the pandemic has had an impact on his show too. “As a theatre maker, my passion for live theatre was exacerbated by lockdown when you could only watch theatre online,” says Tim.

“’Live theatre’ is tautological because, to me, theatre is only live, whereas in the pandemic, we had an image of theatre that was only on a screen, so that prompted me to put on a virtual reality headset at times in this play.”

What happens then? “The conceit of this piece is that I take The Fool back to the point of his departure, and now he will witness his exit, the blinding of Gloucester and what I think is the most powerful scene in theatre ever: the Dover cliffs scene where the blinded Gloucester’s imagination is brought into play through his son’s act of imagination, saving his father,” says Tim.

“Theatre is an adult form of imagination, taking us to a different place and learning from that journey, but keeping us safe while doing that. Shakespeare’s lines are very precise; they are an invitation to see what I see through language, to then narrate The Fool’s return through this middle-aged bald guy [Tim is 59] in a headset, that people will experience through their ears.”

Stand-up comedy features in Tim’s performance too. “That’s partly a nod to The Fool, wondering wondering ‘what would a contemporary Fool be’? I think it would be Stewart Lee, a comedian who doesn’t have an agent and does no social media,” he says.

“I don’t claim to be a stand-up but use the form to say things about the experience of being together in a room. When we’re in the same place at the same time, just look at how brilliant and transformative we can be through using our mind, our body, our imagination.

“But theatre is increasingly becoming the preserve of the wealthy, though the imagination dematerialises that, not succumbing to any socio-economic structure. Children have the greatest imagination, but sadly that then gets replaced with wanting to be TV stars and wanting to make money.”

Assessing the “international” in the York International Shakespeare Festival, Tim says: “The thing that I’m endlessly inspired by is that Shakespeare does and yet doesn’t exist in his plays when there’s now a thirst for autobiographical and biographical plays, which limits them.

“Whereas there’s a quality to his work and to the work of many playwrights of that time who didn’t nail their colours to one mast and can be interpreted by each age, nationality and culture. There’s an objectivity to these plays that requires whoever does a production to find themselves in them – which should be the case with every play, I think.”

Box office: yorkshakes.co.uk.

REVIEW: York International Shakespeare Festival, York Shakespeare Project in Richard III, Friargate Theatre, York ***

Harry Summers’ Richard, Duke of Gloucester addressing the House of Commons benches in York Shakespeare Project’s Richard III. Pictures: John Saunders

ROUND Two of York Shakespeare Project begins with the knockout punch of “the York play”, Richard III. Here come 37 Shakespeare plays in 25 years, plus works by his contemporaries, in the sequel to “the most ambitious project ever mounted on the York amateur theatre circuit”.

Can the second cycle of the First Folio plus one surpass such ambitions, fulfilled after 20 years with The Tempest tour last autumn? Surely there would be no point starting to re-climb this artistic Everest otherwise.

Certainly, Dr Daniel Roy Connelly, former diplomat, actor, writer, academic, podcaster and director home and abroad, is in a fighting mood to match Shakespeare’s Richard in his YSP debut after moving to York.

Frank Brogan: Appearing in York Shakespeare Project’s two Richard III productions 21 years apart

“The opportunity to re-boot YSP’s cycle of the canon was very attractive to me,” he said in his CharlesHutchPress interview this week. “I’m someone who always wants to go either first or last, to set the bar high or to leave everyone with something to go home with.”

As befits the True & Fair Party (“We all deserve better”) prospective parliamentary candidate for York Outer at the next General Election, Connelly has placed Richard’s winter of discontent in our “frenetic, calculating and brutal 21st century Westminster with its endless Machiavellian bloodletting and daily treacheries”.

This is rather more the world of Malcolm Tucker’s The Thick Of It than Jim Hacker’s Yes, Prime Minister, Connelly being in mischief-making mood with his use of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg memes and a photo montage of political fashion statements (Churchill, jogger BoJo and Hague’s baseball cap faux pas) on a video screen kept in regular use from its opening shot of the House of Commons benches and cry of “Order, order”.

Clive Lyons, drink in hand, and a dismissive-looking Nell Frampton in the Westminster wars of York Shakespeare Project’s Richard III

Putin, Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping pop up on there too, as do PlantageNews headlines and social-media posts from media manipulators Richard, Duke Of Gloucester (Harry Summers) and the Duke of Buckingham (Rosy Rowley), updating on Richard’s progress to the throne and beyond.

Paranoia is everywhere, laptops constantly being tapped behind twitching drapes to each side of Richard Hampton, Jeremey Muldowney and Sarah Strong’s set design but always in view of the audience, in a merry-go-round of briefing and counter-briefing from the chairs’ ever-changing occupants.

Summers’ Richard, with his rock’n’roll quiff, oversized Harry Hill shirt collars and flamboyant cane, has a vaudevillian air, even a hint of Blockhead Ian Dury. For Shakespeare’s character assassination too, he has a stump of a left arm, a leg calliper and a facial scar, and like Ian McKellen’s film portrayal, he is pretty nifty with his only hand.

Grim prospects: Miranda Mufema’s Lady Anne and Frankie Hayes’s Duchess of York

Summers’ Richard is less the wintry malcontent, more the ever-quotable narcissist who relishes the rough and tumble of politics with a Johnsonsian thick skin and lack of moral compass. He is darkness with the shrug-of-the-shoulders nonchalance of Cabaret’s Emcee and a love of breaking down theatre’s fourth wall for choice asides, almost too likeable in the manner of a camp panto villain. 

Around him, amid the pinstripe suited superficial civility, spin furtive turns by Rowley’s Buckingham and Clive Lyons’s Lord Hastings and Frank Brogan’s fevered performance as a Yorkshire-voiced King Edward IV in a considerable casting upgrade from his Second Murderer/Messenger spear-carrying in John White’s Richard III in YSP’s 2002 debut!

Frankie Hayes (Sir William Catesby/Duchess of York), Jack Downey (an amusingly heartless Sir Richard Ratcliffe), Miranda Mufema (Lady Anne) and YSP’s new Nick Jones (a commanding Earl of Richmond) make their mark too. For stage presence, look no further than Thomas Jennings’s crop-haired hitman, relishing every cull with a glint in his eye and the click of his mobile phone camera.

Eli Cunniff’s costume designs, red and white buttonhole roses et al, together with Connelly’s spot-on soundbite selection of blues, jazz and more, underscore the noir vib, as the cultural references keep a’coming.

If looks could kill: Thomas Jennings’s brazen hitman

Cue a drunken chamber the morning after Richard’s coronation (a la lockdown “parties” at Number 10); Richard calling out to Alexa for answers as much as his kingdom for a horse in his hour of need, and Richard and Richmond sporting stab vests in white and red in the style of Banksy’s Union Flag design for Stormzy at Glastonbury.

Connelly conducts parliamentary business briskly, no prevaricating here, before the first-night pace and focus slips at the battlefield finale until Jones’s Richmond steers the reins in the home straight in more classical Bard style.

Throughout, Friargate Theatre’s compact, close-up stage feels crammed to the gills, especially with the shadowy figures in the wings, adding a noose of claustrophobia to Richard’s tyranny in Connelly’s state-of-the-nation’s rotten politics report. As promised, he does indeed “leave everyone with something to go home with”.

York Shakespeare Project in Richard III, Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York, 7.30pm tonight; 2.30pm and 7.30pm tomorrowBox office: ticketsource.co.uk/ridinglights.

Daniel Connelly launches new York Shakespeare Project era with Richard III in warring 21st century House of Commons

Harry Summers’s smiling assassin Richard III with Rosy Rowley’s Duke of Buckingham in rehearsal for York Shakespeare Project’s Richard III. Picture: John Saunders

THE first production of York Shakespeare Project’s second cycle of Shakespeare plays opens on Wednesday, directed by York newcomer Dr Daniel Roy Connelly.

As when YSP began its 20-year mission to present all the Bard’s works with John White’s Elizabethan production of Richard III at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in 2002, so “the York play” will be the opening act of a 25-year new project, this time at Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York as part of the York International Shakespeare Festival.

Dr Connelly, newly moved to the city, is at the helm, having acted and directed in places as diverse as Rome, the United States, the Edinburgh Festival and Shanghai, where his 2009 production of David Henry Hwang’s M Butterfly was forced to close by the Chinese secret police.

This is but one highlight from the diverse career of the former British diplomat (or “Foreign Office office boy” as he calls himself on his podcast). Step forward: theatre director. Actor. Poet. Author. Professor. Teacher. Prospective parliamentary candidate. That all adds up to a polymath.

Now, leading off YSP’s new era of staging Shakespeare’s First Folio and plays by his contemporaries, Dr Connelly is taking on “Shakespeare’s astonishing depiction of Richard III as both physically and mentally deformed, and, as a result, inherently evil”.

His modern-day makeover is set in a frenetic, calculating and brutal 21st century Westminster with its endless Machiavellian bloodletting and daily treacheries. In his contemporary vision, Richard and Buckingham excel as social-media manipulators within a world of warring political parties. “In the shadowy corridors of power, everyone is culpable,” he says.

While on the subject of politics, Dr Connelly will be the prospective parliamentary candidate for the True & Fair Party for York Outer at the next General Election.

To catch a flavour of his philosophy on life, head to The Anarchist Monastery, the podcast he co-presents with Hugh Bernays, the York artist and craftsman who believes “it is better to work under-cover”, although he does surface to do a weekly show.

Here Dr Connelly discusses Richard III, the play, the rotten reputation and relationship with York, York Shakespeare Project, York International Shakespeare Festival, diplomacy, 21st century politics and podcasting with CharlesHutchPress.

“The best remedy would be for the pro-Richard camp to write the play they believe Richard deserves,” says Dr Daniel Roy Connelly in the face of York’s antipathy to Shakespeare’s play

What brought you to York after such an itinerant career, Daniel?

“My son moved here from Rome four years ago. I miss him enormously and it was time to pack up and follow him substantively. And what a beautiful city to find myself in…”

Why did Shakespeare give Richard such a sour portrait when York and the Richard III Society view him much more favourably and therefore feel antipathy towards the Bard’s characterisation? 

“Thirty years after Richard’s death, Sir Thomas More, the Tudor statesman and Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, described Richard as ‘malicious, wrathfull, envious, and from afore his birth, ever frowarde’.  He was also ‘close and secrete, a deepe dissimuler’. Hardly a glowing reference.

“Elizabeth I – the last of the Tudors – was the granddaughter of Henry VII, who vanquished Richard at Bosworth Field. Politically, Richard’s characterisation had for long been warped and Shakespeare wrote in line with the various 16th-century mythologies.

“His portrait of Richard III may not serve the interests of history, but then that’s hardly the concern of a master storyteller on the stage. So, while I have some sympathy for the Ricardians and the people of York over Shakespeare’s unsubtle appropriation of Richard’s character, drama loves conflict and the best dramatists, put simply, make stuff up to enable it.

“The best remedy, then, would be for the pro-Richard camp to write the play they believe Richard deserves.”

As a former diplomat yourself, how do you think Shakespeare’s Richard III would have fared in the diplomatic services. Would his skill set be suitable or unsuitable?

“It’s said that a diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip. As such, and in the service of government, diplomacy is a career that upholds dissimulation.

“In Shakespeare’s Richard we see a master of guile, no more so than when he speaks of clothing his naked villainy in order to ‘seem a saint, when most I play the devil’. ‘Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,’ he says in the immediately prior play Henry VI, Part 3. With that kind of skill set, he’d be an absolute high-flyer in the Diplomatic Service.”

Dr Daniel Roy Connelly, right, rehearsing Richard III with his York Shakespeare Project cast. Picture John Saunders

What attracted you to working with York Shakespeare Project, as the outset of the 25-year phase two?

“The opportunity to re-boot YSP’s cycle of the canon was very attractive to me. I’m someone who always wants to go either first or last, to set the bar high or to leave everyone with something to go home with.

“YSP have been very supportive of my attempts to bring a contemporary Richard to the stage – I have a stellar cast and crew – and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a partnership that has worked very well. I have nothing but enthusiasm for YSP’s commitment to producing Shakespeare’s remarkable output.”

Discuss how Laurence Olivier and Ian McKellen’s screen portraits – 40 years apart – of Richard as “a petty, narcissistic and vengeful psychopath” have prompted you to stage a modern-day Richard III in the House of Commons to highlight parallels with the politics and politicians of today.

“If the above clutch of adjectives sounds familiar, we need look no further than contemporary British politics, which is why I have decided to set my version in our parliament.

“Telling Shakespeare’s Richard through what is comfortably the most corrupt institution in the country, the play – and I hope my interpretation of it – explores the cut and thrust of power’s crucible, with laws ignored and lies sown.

“I believe that a parliamentary production of Richard III is not only long overdue, it’s also bang on time. Prepare, then, for British politics as played out, murderously, on the floor of the house.”

This production forms part of the York International Shakespeare Festival, and you have experienced an international career as a diplomat and theatre director. What makes Shakespeare’s work so universal?

“I’ve seen Shakespeare performed across the globe in many cultures and languages. I’ve also taught his work in America, Europe and Asia. Actors and students well know there’s never been a storyteller like him.

“Shakespeare takes our humanity, creates recognisable conflict in recognisable people, which often – in tragedy at least – leads to dire consequences. He also shows us what love is and what love isn’t, hate too, and what loss means and how joy and comedy can elevate our lives. In doing so, he expands our understanding of what makes us human and offers us ready advice as to how we can survive such a troubling condition.

Miranda Mufema’s Lady Anne in rehearsal for Richard III. Picture: John Saunders

“In 2012, Shakespeare’s Globe in London produced 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 languages, including Maori, Swahili, Pashto and Mandarin. A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals 140 Shakespeare festivals in the United States alone. It’s hard to argue against that kind of reach and durability. He’s doing something right for sure.”

What are the tenets of the True and Fair Party, for whom you are the prospective parliamentary candidate for York Outer?

“There’s no point in continuing to drink from the well if the water is poisoned. Essentially, Gina Miller’s True & Fair Party came into being to clean up the UK’s polluted politics and to propel national governance into the 21st century, with more accountability, openness, and a focus on a kinder, more empathic way of doing business.

“The party also has a broad swath of unique and compelling manifesto commitments, such as introducing legally binding contracts for MPs, switching to the proportional representation the country is crying out for, or banning the sale of alcohol on the parliamentary estate.

“But first and foremost, the party is committed to disinfecting our country’s political slurries and to showing the electorate that not all politicians are in it for themselves; that there is desire and energy for meaningful change.

“These are the tenets that drew me to True & Fair, and so I’d like to show the voters of York Outer that a better, more compassionate and caring way is possible.”

Find out more at: https://www.trueandfairparty.uk/daniel-roy-connelly

What topics do you discuss with Hugh Bernays in a typical episode of your made-in-York weekly podcast The Anarchist Monastery?

“Hugh and I have just started our podcasting journey in a place we call The Anarchist Monastery, where we have a weekly discussion of our lives here in York – both of us as outsiders, one long-standing and one newbie.

“We also chat about my many global travels, our mental health and our lives as lovers of history, theatre and literature. All in all, it’s an interrogation of wayfaring. We’re learning all the time about what’s needed to make a successful podcast and we’re having a blast doing it.”

York Shakespeare Project in Richard III, Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York, Wednesday to Saturday, April 26 to 29, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: Box office: ticketsource.co.uk/ridinglights.

Introducing: The Anarchist Monastery podcast

Dr Daniel Roy Connelly: “Ascertaining who we are and how we got here” in his podcast with Hugh Bernays

THE Anarchist Monastery is not so much a building, more a state of mind, one shared by craftsman and resident Hugh Bernays and Dr Daniel Roy Connelly, a visitor, teacher, theatre director and author.

From the 2000-year-old-city of York, Hugh and Daniel interrogate each another to try to ascertain who we are and how we got here, probing little known histories of this beautiful city in search of where ‘here’ really is.

“If you’re the kind of person who values the use of the imagination and likes to take the road less travelled in coming to an understanding of the world, The Anarchist Monastery is the podcast for you. Don’t be late – join the siblinghood,” they say.

Available on all major podcast platforms. Head to: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-anarchist-monastery/id1680351791

More Things To Do in York and beyond, strictly in the name of entertainment. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 17, from The Press

Boundary breakers: Kevin Clifton’s Scott Hastings and Faye Brookes’s Fran in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical, on tour at Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Pamela Raith

SHAKESPEARE all shook up, a trio of musicals, a singular Magic Number, orchestral Potter and Tolkien and rocking Goths put Charles Hutchinson’s week ahead in good shape.

Dance show of the week: Strictly Ballroom The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

STRICTLY Come Dancing champ Kevin Clifton is joined by Dancing On ice runner-up and Coronation Street soap star Faye Brookes in Baz Luhrmann’s Australian romantic comedy musical.

Directed by Strictly’s Aussie-born judge Craig Revel Horwood, it follows rebellious ballroom dancer Scott Hastings (Clifton) as he falls out with the Australian Federation and finds himself dancing with Fran (Brookes), a beginner with no moves at all. Inspired by one another, this unlikely pairing gathers the courage to defy both convention and families. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

From Ukraine, with love: Kyiv National Academic Molodyy Theatre, from Ukraine, will perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream at York International Shakespeare Festival on April 28. Picture: Oleksii Tovpyha

Festival of the week and beyond: York International Shakespeare Festival, various venues, running until May 1

THIS festival’s fifth edition combines more than 40 live events with others online, taking in international, national and York-made performances, talks, workshops, exhibitions and discussions.

Look out for the Kyiv National Academic Molodyy Theatre, from Ukraine, performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream (April 28); Flabbergast Theatre’s The Tragedy Of Macbeth (April 26); artists from Poland, Croatia and Romania and Tim Crouch’s exploration of King Lear in a post-pandemic world, virtual-reality head set et al, in Truth’s A Dog Must To Kennel (April 29). For the full programme and tickets, go to: yorkshakes.co.uk.

Virtual reality meets King Lear: Tim Crouch in Truth’s A Dog Must To Kennel at the York International Shakespeare Festival. Picture: Stuart Armitt

Soundtracks of the week: The Music Of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit and The Rings Of Power In Concert, York Barbican, Monday, 4pm; The Magical Music Of Harry Potter Live In Concert, Monday, 8pm

THIS brace of concerts has been rearranged from April 6 to 24, both featuring a symphonic orchestra, choir, star soloists and an original actor. The first, a two-hour matinee celebrating the music inspired by the work of J R R Tolkien, spans the threatening sounds of Mordor, the shrill attack of the black riders and the beautiful lyrical melodies of the elves. 

The second showcases the Harry Potter film soundtracks by John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper and Alexandre Desplat, complemented by music from the Harry Potter And The Cursed Child stage show. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Crowning gory: Harry Summers’ Richard, seated, becomes king in a York Shakespeare Project rehearsal for Richard III. Picture: John Saunders

“Petty, narcissistic and vengeful psychopath” of the week: York Shakespeare Project in Richard III, Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

PHASE Two of York Shakespeare Project, projected to run for 25 years, is launched with former British diplomat Daniel Roy Connolly’s modern-day account of “the York play”, Richard III, set amid the frenetic, calculating and brutal politicking of the House of Commons.

“Telling Shakespeare through what is comfortably the most corrupt institution in the country, the play explores the cut and thrust of power’s crucible, with laws ignored and lies sown,” he says. Harry Summers leads the cast. Box office: ticketsource.co.uk/ridinglights.

Romeo Stodart: Solo night at the Fulford Arms for the Magic Numbers singer

Low-key gig of the week: An Evening With Romeo Of The Magic Numbers, Fulford Arms, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

O ROMEO, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo Stodart on Sunday night? The lead vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter of indie rockers The Magic Numbers will be in lonesome mode at the Fulford Arms. Expect Magic Numbers gems and equally magic numbers from 2011 solo album The Moon And You. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.

Steve Tearle: Director, Narrator and Mystery Man in NE’s Into The Woods

Bewitching show of the week: NE in Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

STEPHEN Sondheim’s darkly witty musical is a grown-up twist on the classic fairytales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack And The Beanstalk, here narrated by NE director Steve Tearle.

After the curse of a once-beautiful witch (Pascha Turnbull) leaves a baker (Chris Hagyard) and his wife (Perri-Ann Barley) childless, they venture into the woods to find the ingredients needed to reverse the spell.  Encounters with all manner of fairytale favourites ensue, each on a quest to fulfil a wish. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Mayflies writer-composer Gus Gowland, seated with cast members Emma Thornett, left, Rumi Sutton and Nuno Queimado

Musical premiere of the week: Gus Gowland’s Mayflies, York Theatre Royal, April 28 to May 13, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

THREE into two will go when York Theatre Royal stages the world premiere of resident artist Gus Gowland’s musical Mayflies, wherein he explores how people present different versions of themselves in relationships and how it can then all come crashing down.

Three actors, Nuno Queimado (May), Rumi Sutton (May/Fly) and Emma Thornett (Fly), will alternate the roles, with each pairing offering a different perspective on the relationships within this contemporary love story, traced by Gowland from first flourish on a dating app to the last goodbye in person. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Cold Cave: Headlining the Friday bill at the Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival in Whitby

Goth gathering of the week: Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival Spring Gathering 2023, Whitby Pavilion, Whitby, April 28 and 29

BACK in black in the home of Dracula, Whitby’s premier gothic music and alternative arts festival returns with headline appearances by Cold Cave (April 28) and New Model Army (April 29) and a Friday club night into the early hours by Leeds living legends Carpe Noctum.

The Friday bill features a rare performance from American goth rock special guests Christian Death, alongside sets by The Rose Of Avalanche and Siberia. Saturday features special guests Lebanon Hanover, Ist Ist and The Nosferatu. Box office: ticketweb.uk.

York International Shakespeare Festival welcomes Ukrainian A Midsummer Night’s Dream among 40 live events in 11 days

From Ukraine, with love: Kyiv National Academic Molodyy Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Picture: Oleksii Tovpyha

THE fifth edition of the York International Shakespeare Festival will begin tomorrow after tonight’s opening show, a Right Here Right Now Shakespeare Special comedy improv night at the home of Riding Lights Theatre, was scuppered by unforeseen circumstances.  

Running until May 1, the 11-day programme comprises more than 40 live events, and others online, featuring international, national and York-made performances, talks, workshops, exhibitions and discussions.

Look out too for tomorrow’s Shakespeare Sonnet Marathon in the York Theatre Royal garden (weather permitting!) from 11am; storytelling in libraries and schools, and the launch of a book celebrating the festival’s community placemaking project in lockdown, York Loves Shakespeare (Friargate Theatre, Sunday, 5pm)

Flabbergast Theatre’s The Tragedy Of Macbeth. Picture: Michael Lynch

“We are delighted that the Kyiv National Academic Molodyy Theatre have accepted our invitation to showcase their dynamic and uplifting production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (York St John University Creative Arts Centre Auditorium, April 28, 8pm)” says festival director Philip Parr.

“The Ukrainian company will also offer workshops for students and the community and will talk about the current nature of theatre in Ukraine. We are thrilled to have this company in York to not only present the quality of their work but also to demonstrate the significant cultural connection that is created through international festivals.”

Selected by the European Shakespeare Festival network from an international call-out, festival highlight Flabbergast Theatre’s visceral and lucid The Tragedy Of Macbeth (York St John University Creative Centre Auditorium, April 26, 8pm) has garnered responses such as comedian Stewart Lee’s recommendation: “Everything you want – stuff being banged, terrifying puppets, polyphonic singing, mess, mud, noise, wine, party hats, and an amazingly talented international cast”.

York actress Judith Ireland promoting York Loves Shakespeare, the York International Shakespeare Festival’s lockdown community project. Picture: John Saunders

The Stage critic Susan Elkin meanwhile enthused:  “The term ‘physical theatre’ doesn’t actually do it justice. It’s an understatement.”

Bognor Regis-born experimental theatre maker, actor, writer and director Tim Crouch presents his Fringe First-winning Truth’s A Dog Must To Kennel (York St John University Creative Centre Auditorium and Atrium, April 29, 8pm)  fresh from seasons in Edinburgh New York and London. In this daring modern piece of storytelling and stand-up, he explores King Lear in a post-pandemic world as a virtual reality headset meets Shakespeare as Crouch ponders the essence of live performance.

Artists from Poland, Croatia and Romania join the festival for a series of staged play readings of European texts inspired or influenced by Shakespeare or by writers roughly contemporary to him. All are in new English translations, each receiving first performances, and all three will be heard in the UK for the first time in any language.

Tim Crouch in his virtual reality head set for Truth’s A Dog Must To Kennel. Picture: Stuart Armitt

On the York front, York Shakespeare Project begins its second cycle with Dr Daniel Roy Connelly’s modern-day staging of Richard III, set in the House of Commons, at Friargate Theatre from April 26 to 29 and Elizabeth Elsworth’s innovative theatrical interpretation of Shakespeare’s long poem, here retitled Lucrece, at Friargate Theatre on Sunday and Monday.

“For 11 days, York will become the city of Shakespeare, but perhaps not the Shakespeare you might expect,” says Philip, artistic director of Parrabbola and chair of the European Shakespeare Festivals Network.

The full festival programme and ticket details can be found at www.yorkshakes.co.uk.

York International Shakespeare Festival: the back story

Philip Parr: Director of York International Shakespeare Festival

THE festival was established in 2014 and presented its first programme in 2015 with the aim of bringing exciting and innovative international productions to Great Britain and to showcase work from York and the North.

The festival is programmed and managed by Parrabbola, an arts organisation with many years’ experience in community arts and festivals.

Running every two years, the festival began as a partnership with Parrabbola, York Theatre Royal and the University of York, but has now broadened its reach to take in such York organisations as the National Centre for Early Music, Riding Lights Theatre Company, York Shakespeare Project, York Explore and Bronzehead, embedding the festival firmly in the city.

From 2023, YISF is working closely with York St John University in a new partnership designed to create a new opportunity for staff and students to produce this festival annually.

York Shakespeare Project to stage Richard III and Lucrece at York International Shakespeare Festival on 25-year mission

Harry Summers: Facing a winter of discontent as Richard, Duke of Gloucester in York Shakespeare Project’s Richard III

AS in 2002, York Shakespeare Project launches a mission to perform all of Shakespeare’s plays with Richard III, staged at Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York, from April 26 to 29.

The first cycle concluded with a tour of The Tempest last September, and now YSP has initiated a bold endeavour to combine Shakespeare’s works with the best of his contemporaries over the next 25 years.

Esteemed York thespian John White directed YSP’s debut production of Richard III in Elizabethan garb at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre from October 30 to November 2 2002.

In contrast, Daniel Roy Connelly’s 2023 incarnation of “the York play”, part of the York International Shakespeare Festival, is rooted firmly in the 21st century. His production is set in a frenetic, calculating and brutal Westminster, with endless Machiavellian bloodletting and daily treacheries.

Connelly espouses that the England of Richard III could hardly be closer to today’s political minefield. “Telling Shakespeare through what is comfortably the most corrupt institution in the county, the play explores the cut and thrust of power’s crucible, with laws ignored and lies sown,” he contends.

“I believe that a parliamentary telling of Richard III is not only long overdue, it’s also bang on time. Prepare then for British politics as played out, murderously, on the floor of the House of Commons.”

Daniel Roy Connolly: Former diplomat directing York Shakespeare Project for the first time in Richard III

Audiences may find Connelly’s contemporary vision remarkably familiar. Richard and Buckingham excel as social media manipulators within a world of warring political parties. In the shadowy corridors of power, everyone is culpable.

Richard’s watchword? “My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, and every tongue brings in a several tale, and every tale condemns me for a villain”.

Making his YSP bow, Connelly is a former British diplomat, theatre director, actor, author and academic. He has acted in and directed theatre in the United States, the UK, Italy and China, where his 2009 production of David Henry Hwang’s M Butterfly was forced to close by the Chinese secret police.

In his cast will be: Harry Summers as Richard, Duke of Gloucester/Richard III; Rosy Rowley, Duke of Buckingham; Miranda Mufema, Lady Anne;  Emily Hansen, Queen Margaret; Andrea Mitchell, Queen Elizabeth; Frankie Hayes, Duchess of York/Sir William Catesby, and Matt Simpson, Duke of Clarence.

So too will be: Jack Downey, Sir Richard Ratcliffe; Clive Lyons, Lord Hastings; Michael Peirce, Young York/Lord Grey/Murderer; Nell Frampton, Prince Edward/Rivers; Frank Brogan, King Edward IV/Stanley; Thomas Jennings, Sir James Tyrell; Nick Jones, Earl of Richmond; James Tyler, Archbishop, and Anna Kedge, Marquis of Dorset.

Tickets for the 7.30pm evening performances and 2.30pm Saturday matinee are on sale at ticketsource.co.uk/ridinglights and on 01904 655317.

Elizabeth Elsworth’s regal, calculating Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, opposite Jim Paterson’s Mark Antony in York Shakespeare Project’s Antony And Cleopatra in 2019. Now she is directing YSP’s semi-staged version of Lucrece in her directorial debut

YORK Shakespeare Project will mark Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23 with three performances of Lucrece, a semi-staged version of his early narrative poem The Rape Of Lucrece, at Friargate Theatre, York.

Its original production was set to play at the Mansion House in April 2020 as a culminating feature of then YSP chair Councillor Janet Looker’s year as Lord Mayor, until the pandemic lockdown enforced its postponement.

Now it will be presented under Elizabeth Elsworth’s direction in performances at 2.30pm and 6pm on Sunday and 6pm on Monday as part of the York International Shakespeare Festival.

By the time of the poem’s publication in 1594, Shakespeare already had written the three parts of Henry VI, Two Gentlemen Of Verona and Richard III. When an outbreak of the plague caused a Tudor lockdown that closed London’s theatres, Shakespeare turned to poetry, exploring the theme of misplaced desire in Venus And Adonis and again in Lucrece, as it was entitled on the original frontispiece.

Extremely successful in his lifetime, these poems established Shakespeare as a poet but are rarely heard today. Just as his plays are celebrated for giving extraordinary life to their characters and stories, so he charts the inner worlds and challenges of the characters in The Rape Of Lucrece.

Emma Scott in the title role for York Shakespeare Project’s semi-staged version of Lucrece

In doing so, he gives voice to the unspeakable, his writing taking his audience to the heart of the matter. A voice is heard and actions will have consequences. In verse both gripping and heartfelt, he depicts an action resonating beyond Lucrece herself as she faces life-changing questions. How do you speak to power? To whom do you complain?

Lucrece speaks to the “MeToo” generation about situations and decisions that touch lives so deeply in a rare opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s writing at it most poignant and immediate.

Making her directorial debut, Elizabeth Elsworth has been a familiar face in many YSP productions, notably playing Katherine in Henry VIII in 2017 and Cleopatra in Antony And Cleopatra in 2019.

Emma Scott, who played Macbeth in Leo Doulton’s 2021 production of “the Scottish play”, takes the title role of Lucrece, alongside Stuart Lindsay as Tarquin; Diana Wyatt, Maid/Narrator; Judith Ireland, Player Queen/Narrator; Catherine Edge, Brutus/Narrator; Paul French, Lucretius/Narrator;  Jay Wadhawan, Collatine and a female chorus of Sally Mitcham, Sonia De Lorenzo and Lydia McCudden.

Box office: ticketsource.co.uk/ridinglights or 01904 655317.

Don’t be confused! Jacob Ward is the real deal as he directs Settlement Players in Stoppard’s confusing play The Real Thing

Jacob Ward directing a rehearsal for York Settlement Community Players’ production of The Real Thing. All pictures: Ben Lindley

YORK Settlement Community Players return to York Theatre Royal’s Studio this Eastertide with Tom Stoppard’s typically smart and unsettling comedy drama The Real Thing.

Premiered in 1982 by the Pocklington School alumnus, this beguiling play of surprises and erudite wit follows Henry – possibly the sharpest playwright of his generation – who is married to actress Charlotte. Into the story Stoppard weaves a second couple, Max and wife Annie.

Henry, meanwhile,  has written a play about a couple, who happen to be called Max and Charlotte – just to muddy the water – whose marriage is on the brink of collapse.

Soon they will discover that sometimes life imitates art in Stoppard’s world of actors and writers, wherein his exploration of love and infidelity is designed to make audiences question: “What is the real thing?”

Alan Park’s Henry and Alice May Melton’s Annie rehearsing a scene from The Real Thing

Directing the Settlement Players for the first time, professional actor Jacob Ward says: “I’m very excited for an audience to interact with our modern-day version of this play. Its subject seems simple but, as we see through the eyes of various characters, we realise its complexity, and enjoy having our views on love and relationships broadened.

“The writing is nothing short of genius – it really is. Even after 20-plus times of reading, I’m still finding impossible connections and meaning. It’s a joy to direct and will be a thrill to watch: hilarious, heart-warming and thought-provoking all in one. We have a brilliant cast of actors to take you on the journey and a truly dedicated production team to bring the play to life.”

Ward’s cast will be led by Alan Park, chair of Theatre@41, Monkgate, as Henry and Alice May Melton, a stand-out in York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust’s December 2022 production of A Nativity of York, playing Annie.

Victoria Delaney quickly follows up her turn as Kath in York Actors Collective’s debut production of Joe Orton’s farce Entertaining Mr Sloane with her role as Charlotte. Mike Hickman will be Max, Rebecca Harrison, Billy, and Hannah Waring, Debbie. Settlement chair – and Ward’s partner to boot – Livy Potter has taken over the part of Brodie at short notice, only weeks after starring in Gary Owen’s one-woman drama Iphigenia In Splott.

Seeing the funny side: Victoria Delaney’s Charlotte in The Real Thing

“I’d been in The Real Inspector Hound in 2006, directed by Laura Attridge, the opera director, who now lives in York, by the way,” says Jacob, recalling his first experience of performing in a Stoppard play in his Newcastle University days where he also co-directed new writing pieces and did likewise on scratch nights for Northern Stage and Alphabetti Theatre.  

“I went to see The Real Thing with my dad, when I was at university. I was at a loose end that day and it just happened to be on at the Old Vic. We both really enjoyed it, but I remember having no idea of what happened in the play as it’s designed in every way to confuse the audience!

“So, when Settlement put out a call to direct this season’s production, I thought, ‘here’s an opportunity to do the play that confused the hell out of me, to see if I could make any more sense of it for the audience!”

Reading the script, Jacob realised “it’s not meant to be anything but confusing”.  “Stoppard says it’s like a magic trick,” he says. “As a director, I’m thinking, ‘well, why has he made it so difficult?’, but that’s the point. You have all these characters reading something different into the same situation, mainly relating to their relationships.”

Stepping in: Livy Potter is taking over the role of Brodie in The Real Thing

How has Jacob responded to the intricacies and layers of Stoppard’s script? “His writing has a uniqueness because so few writers are so good that every single stage direction, every piece of grammar, really matters.

“They’ve all been thought out so well that you know when you’ve hit the right note, as it’s intricately designed to perfection, so that ultimately it only works one way in my head – which is always a brilliant Stoppard way.

“Working with the cast, we have to keep playing with it, delving into it, to make sense of it, until suddenly it takes on a greater meaning when all the pieces fit together. Everyone in the cast has enjoyed doing the play because you get these Aha! Moments.”

What is real in The Real Thing, Jacob? “There are many real things that he’s talking about, in general and specific terms: love, relationships and sex as part of love,” he says.

Alan Park’s Henry and Hannah Waring’s Debbie in the rehearsal room

“He’s also looking at how people put on facades; what’s real and what’s a front; what’s real writing, what isn’t; what’s real art, what isn’t.

“Then ‘class’ feeds into it too, how someone who’s not been educated to a certain level can live a full life but not articulate it, whereas someone else can articulate but may not know as much about life as they think they do.

“We don’t get answers with Stoppard, but lots of viewpoints to go away and discuss. I love how this play has a reason to exist and that reason is to talk about it afterwards.”

York Settlement Community Players in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, York Theatre Royal, April 5,  6 and 11 to 15, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm April 15 matinee. No performances from April 7 to 10.  Post-show Q&A session on April 12. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

What is Jacob Ward directing next?

Director and actor Jacob Ward

JACOB Ward is directing a script-in-hand reading of Old Stan, aka A Fool Fooled, by Marin Držić , “the Croatian Shakespeare”, at the York International Shakespeare Festival next month.

The performance of the 1551 comedy’s first ever translation into English will take place in the Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building, Humanities Research Centre, University of York on April 27 at 6pm, preceded by an introduction to the work of the greatest Slavic Renaissance playwright at 5pm.

In Old Stan, an old peasant is fooled by tales of false fairies whose magic supposedly restores youth. Držić’s delicious, sparkly play, written entirely in verse, was commissioned for a wedding feast of a Ragusan nobleman, and he joked that nobody could marry without him in Dubrovnik, his home city.

Translated for the first time in 471 years by Filip Krenus – again entirely in verse – the comedy follows Stan’s misadventures that we might associate with Bottom or even Falstaff in riotous proof of Držić’s uncanny kinship with Shakespeare.

Držić devotees will be travelling over from Dubrovnik to attend the performance. Box office: yorkshakes.co.uk.

Did you know?

JACOB Ward played the god Tyr in York Theatre Royal’s community production of Maureen Lennon’s The Coppergate Woman last August.

In York Shakespeare Project’s final production of its first full cycle of Shakespeare plays, he took the role of suitor Ferdinand in The Tempest on tour last September.

Jacob Ward’s Ferdinand and Effie Warboys’ Miranda in York Shakespeare Project’s The Tempest. Picture: John Saunders

Copyright of The Press, York

York Shakespeare Project launches phase two with January auditions for Richard III UPDATED 4/1/2022

York Shakespeare Project in The Tempest in Autumn 2022. A new chapter will open in springtime

DR Daniel Roy Connelly is to direct the first production of York Shakespeare Project’s second cycle of Shakespeare plays.

As was the case when YSP began its 20-year mission to present all the Bard’s works with the October-November 2002 production of Richard III at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, so Richard of York’s winter of discontent will be the opening play once more, this time at Friargate Theatre from April 26 to 29.

Dr Connelly, a newcomer to York, will be at the helm, having directed in places as diverse as Shanghai, Rome, America and the Edinburgh Festival.  

This former British diplomat, theatre director, actor, poet and professor will hold auditions at Southlands Methodist Church, in Bishopthorpe Road, on January 10 and 11, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm, and January 14, 2pm to 5pm.

Those interested are asked to fill out the form below to secure an audition slot: https://forms.gle/T4F7Q7aHJCFAqnWe8

Dr Daniel Roy Connelly: Director of York Shakespeare Project’s 2023 production of Richard III

“If you want to audition, but these dates don’t suit, please indicate on the form and we will see what we can do,” advises YSP’s Facebook notice.

Richard III will be one of two YSP productions at the 2023 York International Shakespeare Festival. Auditions for a semi-staged version of Shakespeare’s narrative poem The Rape Of Lucrece, directed by Liz Elsworth, will take place in late-January.

This autumn, YSP completed its goal of performing all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays with its 35th production and first tour: Philip Parr’s production of The Tempest, whose travels concluded at York Theatre Royal on October 1.

YSP begins a new chapter in 2023 with a 25-year project to stage not only those plays again, but also the best works by his contemporaries.

“This expanded remit allows both for a new generation-spanning mission to perform the whole canon of Shakespeare’s works, alongside a wider vision of celebrating and sharing Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre with new audiences,” says YSP.

More Things To Do in York and beyond despite the rise of the “Delta” blues. List No. 35, courtesy of The Press, York

In suspense: Ockham’s Razor go aerial for This Time at York Theatre Royal

FROM circus at York Theatre Royal, to Moby Dock on a Hull dry dock, Benedetti in Pickering to Riding Lights on film, Charles Hutchinson enjoys his ever busier perch to spot what’s happening.

Circus in town: Ockham’s Razor in This Time, The Love Season, York Theatre Royal, June 8 and 9, 8pm

CIRCUS theatre company Ockham’s Razor’s This Time is a show about time, age and the stories we tell ourselves, presented by a cast ranging in age from 13 to 60.

Circus and aerial skills, autobiographical storytelling and original equipment combine in a visual theatre piece that looks at love, support and struggle in families, alongside perceptions of strength and ability: how we are strong in different ways at different times in our lives.

Nicola Benedetti: Live and In Person for Ryedale Festival. Watch out for Martin Dreyer’s review for CharlesHutchPress

Festival residency of the summer: Nicola Benedetti: Live and In Person, Ryedale Festival 40th Anniversary Launch Concert, Pickering Parish Church, tomorrow (4/6/2021), 4pm and 8pm

TOMORROW, in-person music making returns to Ryedale Festival at Pickering Parish Church, when Scottish-Italian violinist Nicola Benedetti opens her 2021 festival residency by launching the Live and In Person series.

She will join her regular chamber music partners, cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk, to perform one of Beethoven’s wittiest and most loveable works and an inspired piano trio by Brahms.

May Tether: Last seen in York as Jill in York Stage’s pantomime , Jack And The Beanstalk; now the Goole actor will appear as Lily in John Godber Company’s Moby Dick on Hull dry dock. Picture: Ant Robling

Outdoor play of the month: Moby Dick, John Godber Company, Stage@The Dock, next to The Deep, Hull, until June 12

JOHN Godber and Nick Lane’s radical reworking of Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby Dick, is being staged in Hull’s dry dock amphitheatre by an East Yorkshire cast of eight from the John Godber Company

Adhering to Covid-safe rules, and with a playing time of 70 minutes and no interval, this fast-paced physical production transports socially distanced audiences to the deck of Captain Ahab’s ship the Pequod in his catastrophic battle with the monster white whale, Moby Dick.

Godber’s production references Hull’s global importance as a port, its former prowess as a whaling centre and contemporary conservation issues of conservation.

Riding Lights’ poster for the York International Shakespeare Festival stream of the York’s company’s theatre-on-film performance of Pericles

“Film” of the week: Riding Lights Theatre Company in Pericles, York International Shakespeare Festival, online, tomorrow (4/6/2021) to Sunday

YORK company Riding Lights present their sparkling, streamlined, 80-minute theatre-on-film performance of a lesser-known but still gripping  Shakespeare work, Pericles, The Prince Of Tyre, online.

In a “perilous voyage through the storms of life”, brave adventurer Pericles sets off to win the girl on everyone’s lips. Uncovering a sinister truth, he plunges into a rolling surge of events that leaves him broken, gasping for life.

Topical themes of abuse of power, desperate crossings of the Mediterranean and sex trafficking ensure this extraordinary saga sails uncomfortably close to home. For tickets, go to ridinglights.org/pericles.

Roger Taylor: New solo album, “surprise” solo tour, for Queen drummer. Picture: Lola Leng Taylor

York gig announcement of the week: Roger Taylor, Outsider Tour, York Barbican, October 5.

QUEEN legend Roget Taylor will play York Barbican as the only Yorkshire show of his “modest” 14-date Outsider tour this autumn.

In a “surprise announcement”, rock drummer Taylor, 71, confirmed he would be on the road from October 2 to 22. “This is my modest tour,” he says. “I just want it to be lots of fun, very good musically, and I want everybody to enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to it. Will I be playing Queen songs too? Absolutely!”

Outsider, his first solo album since 2013’s Fun On Earth, will be released on October 1 on Universal, dedicated to “all the outsiders, those who feel left on the sidelines”.

Put back in the Summer Of ’22: Bryan Adams moves his Scarborough Open Air Theatre and Harewood House concerts to July 2022

On the move: Changes afoot at Scarborough Open Air Theatre for 2021 and 2022

CANADIAN rocker Bryan Adams is moving his entire ten-date UK outdoor tour from 2021 to the summer of ’22, now playing Scarborough Open Air Theatre on July 1 and Harewood House, near Leeds, on July 10. Tickets remain valid for the new shows.

In further OAT changes, Kaiser Chiefs have moved to August 8; Keane, August 21; Olly Murs, August 27; UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro, August 28; Snow Patrol, September 10, and Duran Duran, September 17.  Westlife stick with August 17; Nile Rodgers & Chic with August 20.

For next summer’s line-up, Ru Paul’s Drag Race: Werq The World has changed to May 29 2022; Crowded House, June 11; Lionel Richie, July 2, and Lewis Capaldi, July 7.

Quiet Beech Wood, mixed media, by Janine Baldwin at Blue Tree Gallery, York

Exhibition of the week: Summer Eclectic, Blue Tree Gallery, Bootham, York, until July 3

SUMMER Eclectic marks the reopening of Blue Tree Gallery after a run of online shows.

“It’s good to see York open again for all to visit and enjoy, as we help to keep York culturally alive, safe and well,” say Gordon and Maria Giarchi and their gallery team. “We’ll be open to the public with this show and it’s available online too.”

On view are original paintings by Yorkshire artists Janine Baldwin, Colin Cook, Deborah Grice and Karen Turner.

Director Emilie Knight: Holding auditions for York Shakespeare Project’s Sonnets At The Bar. Here she is pictured playing Covid Nurse in 2020’s Sit-Down Sonnets at Holy Trinity churchyard, Gillygate, York

Auditions of the week: York Shakespeare Project’s Sonnets At The Bar, Bar Convent, York, Friday and Saturday

YORK Shakespeare Project has a not-so-secret new location for its latest sonnet adventures, the secret garden of the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, in Blossom Street, York, for Sonnets At the Bar 2021 from July 30 to August 7.

Open-to-all auditions will be held at the Bar Convent tomorrow (4/6/2021) from 5pm and on Saturday from 10am. Those wanting to arrange an audition time should contact director Emilie Knight at emknight65@aol.com, putting ‘Sonnets’ in the heading and indicating a preference of day and time day and time.

“I will provide details of everything you need to prepare when confirming your audition time,” says Emilie, who performed in last year’s Sit-down Sonnets.

York International Shakespeare Festival is ON and you can play your part, but make it snappy! Here’s how…

Masked ball, pandemic style, in Romeo & Juliet: Not exactly kissing by the book in The HandleBards’ irreverent production at York Theatre Royal

TODAY is William Shakespeare’s 457th birthday: the perfect time to reveal what will be happening with this year’s York International Shakespeare Festival in May and how you can play your part.

“Covid, Brexit and all the issues around travel and funding mean that this won’t be the usual ‘YorkShakes’ experience,” says festival organiser Philip Parr, artistic director of Parrabbola.

“Festivals and theatre are facing tricky times, but all is not lost. Undaunted, we’re going ahead and have an exciting programme for you. Our festival may be little, but from May 25 to June 6, we’re fiercely determined to bring some international Shakespeare to York and to share work being made in the city.” 

The festival promises films of exciting international productions; the announcement of a new ongoing collaboration programme with colleagues in Taiwan, and “even some live Shakespeare”, courtesy of cycle-everywhere company The HandleBards’ irreverent Romeo & Juliet at a socially distanced York Theatre Royal on May 25 and 26.

Created by three actors cooped up together during lockdown, fuelled by cabin fever and a determination to forget the tears and the tragedy, the result is “an unhinged and bonkers, laugh-out-loud version of Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers” that also will form part of the Theatre Royal’s Love Season.

“The festival climax will be a new, online filmed production of a fast-paced, pared-back Pericles by York company Riding Lights, and we’re also going to launch the world’s first ever – we think! – collection of all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, each recorded in a different language or dialect,” says Philip.

“And we want you to be part of the festival too in the form of York Loves Shakespeare, a photographic project for people who live, work or play in York, and who love Shakespeare.”  

Here’s how to be involved: “We want you to propose your favourite line from a Shakespeare play and then we’re going to choose one line from every play (so either 37, 38 or a few more plays),” says Philip.

“If you and your line are selected, we’ll photograph you with that line at a location in York that is relevant, iconic and perhaps personally specific. The results will be presented on Instagram and other social media during the festival and then collected on a webpage – and might perhaps go further!

“It’s a simple commitment and can be done legally and safely under current pandemic rules. You’ll need to go to your venue, but it will be only you and the photographer working together. John Saunders, who is well-known around York, has agreed to take our photographs and we’re grateful to him for being a vital part of the team.”

To take part in this celebration of Shakespeare and York, just email Philip Parr at info@yorkshakes.co.uk and propose your play and your line. “The deadline is May 1, so not much thinking time – t’were well it were done quickly!” both he and Shakespeare advise.

“Once we’ve made our choices, we’ll be back in touch to discuss the how and where and when. We need you! Come and join in,” adds Philip.