LITERATURE festivities, psychological bunny puppetry, sci-fi theatre, paranormal investigations and explosive dance promise out-of-this-world cultural experiences, reckons Charles Hutchinson.
Festival of the month: York Literature Festival, ends April 4
YORK Literature Festival is under way with events spread between St Peter’s School; York St John University; York Explore Library; Theatre@41; The Mount School; The Basement at City Screen; York Museum Gardens; York Medical Society, Stonegate; The Crescent; the Grand Opera House and The Blue Boar, Castlegate.
Among the highlights are today’s (2/3/2024) Folk Horror Day; food writers Nina Mingya Powles and Ella Risbridger on Thursday and Grace Dent on March 30; Nicholas Royle David Boiwe, Enid Blyton and The Sun Machine, March 12; journalist and broadcaster Steve Richards on Turning Points in modern Britain, March 16; Lush founder and lead singer Mike Berenyi, discussing her memoir Fingers Crossed, March 24, and poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay’s morning poems, March 30. For the full programme and bookings, visit yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk.
When Tuesday is on a Saturday: 1812 Youth Theatre in Tuesday, Helmsley Arts Centre, tonight (2/3/2024), 2.30pm, 7.30pm
AN ordinary Tuesday turns really, really weird when the sky over the school playground suddenly rips open in Alison Carr’s funny and playful play Tuesday. Pupils and teachers are sucked up to a parallel universe as a new set of people rain down from above. ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ must come together to work out what is going on and how to return things to how they were.
Carr combines “a little bit of sci-fi and a lot of big themes”: friendship, family, identity, grief, responsibility – and what happens when an unexpected event turns the world upside down. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.
New play of the week: Foxglove Theatre in Rabbit, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight (2/3/2024), 7.30pm
YORK company Foxglove Theatre identified a need for weirder, more experimental theatre in the city, focusing on “psychological exploration through innovative visual storytelling”. Here comes their debut new work, Rabbit, wherein a brave bunny wakes up lost in a murky forest determined to find her way home to Mumma.
Blending puppetry and visual effects, George Green’s performance explores the psychological damage that develops from even the smallest mishandlings of our childhood selves. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Village gig of the week: Miles and The Chain Gang, Ampleforth Village Hall, near Helmsley, tonight (2/3/2024), 7.30pm
YORK band Miles and The Chain Gang return to Ampleforth Village Hall by popular demand after a first outing there last summer. Expect rock’n’roll, acoustic songs, new wave, soul and country, plus Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell and Johnny Cash covers.
Their latest digital single, the country-tinged Raining Cats And Dogs, is sure to feature in the set by Miles Salter, guitar and vocals, Mat Watt, bass, Steve Purton, drums, and Charlie Daykin, keyboards. Tickets: 07549 775971.
Paranormal show of the week: Most Haunted: The Stage Show, Grand Opera House, York, Sunday (3/3/2024), 7.30pm
YVETTE Fielding, “the first lady of the paranormal”, joins Karl Beattie, producer and director of the Most Haunted television series, in the investigative team to take Sunday’s audience on “the darkest, most terrifying journey of your life”, followed by a question-and-answer session.
In a city bursting at the seams with ghost stories and walks, Fielding and Beattie present Most Haunted’s All-Time Top Ten Scares, complete with unseen video footage from haunted castles, manor houses, hospitals and prisons. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Comedy gig of the week: Phil Ellis’s Excellent Comedy Show, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday, 8pm
DO you like comedy? Do you like shows? What are your thoughts on excellence? “If you like all three, then the award-winning Phil Ellis’s Excellent Comedy Show is the excellent comedy show for you,” advises Ellis, who promises an hour of stand-up and fun from “the North West’s most punctual working-class comedian”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Dance show of the week: Diversity in Supernova, Grand Opera House, York, March 7 and 8, 7.45pm; Harrogate Convention Centre, March 9, 3.30pm; Hull Connexin Live, April 7, 2.30pm
2009 Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity return to York on their biggest tour yet to stage Supernova, devised by founder Ashley Banjo. More than 120,000 tickets have sold for more than 90 dates in 40 cities and towns through 2023 and 2024, with both Grand Opera House performances down to the last few tickets.
Diversity will be supporting the Trussell Trust, the anti-poverty charity, inviting audience members to bring food donations to place in collection points. Cash donations in buckets are welcome too. Box office: York, atgtickets.com/york; Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk; Hull, connexinlivehull.com.
Gig announcement of the week: Suzi Quatro, York Barbican, November 15
SUZI Quatro will mark the 60th year of her reign as “the Queen of Rock’n’Roll” by embarking on a five-date autumn tour, taking in York Barbican as the only Yorkshire venue.
Born in Michigan, Quatro flew to England in 1971 to work with songwriting duo Chinn and Chapman, chalking up chart toppers with Can The Can and Devil Gate Drive and further hits with 48 Crash, Daytona Demon, The Wild One, If You Can’t Give Me Love and She’s In Love With You, as well as co-writing Babbies & Bairns with dame Berwick Kaler in his York Theatre Royal panto pomp. Box office: ticketmaster.co.uk/event/360060579D80156E.
In Focus: Two Houses, One Story: York ‘s Forgotten Women at Bar Convent and Fairfax House
TWO Houses, One Story: York’s Forgotten Women, a collaboration between the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre and Fairfax House, opens today, marking International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
Running until April 27, the project explores the long intertwining histories of these illegal Catholic houses with an exhibition at each house that enhances the other.
Two of York’s most iconic historic houses, they share a history of strong Catholic women. One was founded as a secret convent, operating a pioneering school for girls, in Blossom Street; the other was constructed as the winter townhouse of Charles, 9th Viscount Fairfax of Emley, gifted to his daughter, the Hon Anne Fairfax, with its richly decorated interiors and stucco ceilings in a masterpiece of Georgian design and architecture in Castlegate.
Dr Hannah Thomas, the Bar Convent’s special collections manager, says: “The histories of the Bar Convent and Fairfax House are so closely intertwined that a joint exhibition such as this makes perfect sense.
“Not many people are aware of the links between the houses but both Anne and Mary Fairfax attended the school here and Lady Hungate lived here with the sisters for 29 years.
“This exhibition gives us a fantastic opportunity to explore and share this exciting little-known narrative with the public and to work with the incredible team at Fairfax House.”
Sarah Burnage, curator at Fairfax House, says: “We are delighted to be working with our friends at the Bar Convent on this joint venture. The exhibition tells the story of women living in York in the 18th century and offers a fascinating glimpse into the little-known world of Catholicism in York”.
Two Houses: One Story features recently discovered documents, beautiful portraits and intriguing artefacts that give new insight into the day-to-day lives of these exceptional Yorkshire women.
The exhibitions explore how they navigated their faith during an era of persecution and suspicion, and how some were linked to dangerous underground activity that ultimately aided the survival of the Catholic faith in York and beyond.
At the Bar Convent, discover the early years of the Fairfax daughters who attended the school, how and why their grandmother, Lady Hungate, lived at the house for 29 years and the significance and legacy of this alliance.
At Fairfax House, learn more about the limited life choices that woman, like Anne Fairfax, faced in the 18th century. Also discover more about the Catholic networks in the city and how this clandestine community supported each other.
Each exhibition complements the other, and visitors to one house receive a 30 per cent discount on admission to the other with proof of receipt. The Bar Convent is open 10am to 5pm (last entry 4pm), Monday to Saturday; Fairfax House, from 10am to 4pm daily (Fridays: guided tours at 10am, 12pm and 3pm). Tickets: Bar Convent, barconvent.co.uk or 01904 643238; Fairfax House, fairfaxhouse.co.uk or 01904 655543.