300 Yorkshire schoolchildren take part in Make Music Day in York today, courtesy of the Richard Shephard Music Foundation

Schoolchildren taking part in the 2023 Make Music Day in the Chapter House at York Minster. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

THREE hundred primary schoolchildren from Yorkshire and the North East are taking part in Make Music Day in York today.

This special celebration of all things musical is run by the Richard Shephard Music Foundation, the charity set up as a memorial to the late York composer and Minster School headmaster Dr Richard Shephard.

Since its creation, 5,000 children have been receiving weekly music lesson within their schools, subsidised by the foundation, and today’s event will give some of them even more opportunities to express themselves musically by spending the day singing, playing instruments and composing music in the Chapter House of York Minster and the Creative Centre at York St John University.

Make Music Day 2023 in the Creative Centre at York St John University. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

Cathy Grant, from the foundation, says: “The day is all about celebrating children’s natural musical talent, supporting their wellbeing, and raising children’s musical aspirations.

“What drives us forward is the ambition that every child should have music in their lives. It shouldn’t be for the privileged few. I’ve been lucky over the past two years to witness the transformational experience of music for young people.

“Working alongside our partners, we’re seeking to remove the geographical and financial barriers to a high-quality music education so that every child can experience the great many educational, health and well-being benefits it can bring.”

Schoolchildren enjoying the 2023 Make Music Day in York. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

Cathy continues: “I can get absolutely lost in the swathes of research that seek to prove the benefits of music education, particularly from an early age. Researchers are even working on proving the ‘psychoneuroimmunological’ benefits – essentially evidencing how music is not only good for our minds, but also the long-term health of our bodies. And what’s not to like about schools being full of music and singing?”

As well as an inspiring day for young people, the event will give supporters a glimpse of what the foundation has done since 2021. “We’ve got ambitious plans,” says Cathy. “We aim, over the next three years, to allow over 10,000 young people to receive a high-quality music lesson each week and to have the opportunity to join a choir, to come along to a music holiday club or take up an instrument.

“The day’s activities will include plenty of singing, a folk workshop, an introduction to the Gamelan – a set of huge traditional percussion instruments – and the chance to play the ‘Bamboo Tamboo’, an instrument that can be used to play vibrant Caribbean grooves. We hope it will not only inspire the children but also the teachers accompanying them.”

A session at the 2023 Make Music Day in York. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

The schools taking part today are: Easterside Academy, Middlesbrough; St George’s RC Primary School, Scarborough; St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Pickering; Abingdon Primary School, Middlesbrough; Badger Hill Primary Academy, York; Clifton Green Primary School, York; St Francis of Assisi Primary School, Stockton; Ainderby Steeple CofE Primary School and Middleham CofE Aided School.

Make Music Day: the back story

MAKE Music Day is the largest single-day music festival in Great Britain, encouraging musicians, producers, promoters and music lovers to collaborate and organise in-person and online performances in and for their communities.

Since beginning as Fête de la Musique in France in 1982, Make Music Day has grown into a global phenomenon that takes place annually in 125 countries, always on June 21. Solo performers, groups and music creators of all types are invited to take part, regardless of age, ability or musical genre.

To more information, go to: makemusicday.co.uk.

Giving instruction at the 2023 Make Music Day in York. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

More Things To Do in York and beyond when Monet…that’s what you want. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 20, from The Press, York

Florally attired York Art Gallery senior curator Dr Beatrice Bertram stands by Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, on loan from the National Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

NATURE in full bloom, hothoused Shakespeare, blossoming student creativity and teenage blues put the colour in Charles Hutchinson’s cheeks for warmer days ahead.

Exhibition of the summer: National Treasures: Monet In York: The Water-Lily Pond, York Art Gallery, in bloom until September 8

FRENCH Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s 1899 work, The Water-Lily Pond, forms the York centrepiece and trigger point for the National Gallery’s bicentenary celebrations in tandem with York Art Gallery. 

On show are key loans from regional and national institutions alongside York Art Gallery collection works and a large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Una Sinfonia. Monet’s canvas is explored in the context of 19th-century French open-air painting, pictures by his early mentors and the Japanese prints that transformed his practice and beloved gardens in Giverny. Tickets: yorkartgallery.org.uk.

Stewart Dylan-Campbell’s Rob, left, and Aiden Kane’s Marc in Qweerdog Theatre’s Jump, playing Rise@Bluebird Bakery tomorrow

Relationship drama of the week: Qweerdog Theatre in Jump, at Rise@Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, tomorrow (12/5/2024), 8.30pm; doors 7.30pm

DEVELOPED through Manchester company Qweerdog’s LGBTQ+ writing project, Nick Maynard’s dark comedy takes an unusual look at contemporary gay life, exploring the possibility of relationships and how they are not always the way we imagine.

Directed by West End director Scott Le Crass, Jump depicts the lives, love lives and past lives of two lost souls drawn to a canal one night. As the weary, embittered Rob (Stewart Dylan-Campbell) contemplates the lure of the water, a handsome young man, the “chopsy” Marc (Aiden Kane), engages him in conversation. So begins a strange and fractious relationship that might just prove beneficial to them both. Box office: bluebirdbakery.co.uk/rise.

Paloma Faith: “Celebrating taking responsibility for your own happiness” at York Barbican tomorrow

Recommended but sold out already: Paloma Faith, York Barbican, tomorrow, 8pm; Katherine Priddy, The Crescent, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

STOKE Newington soul tour de force Paloma Faith showcases her sixth studio album, February’s deeply personal The Glorification Of Sadness, her “celebration of finding your way back after leaving a long-term relationship, being empowered even in your failures and taking responsibility for your own happiness”.

Birmingham folk singer and guitarist Katherine Priddy will be promoting second album The Pendulum Swing, released on Cooking Vinyl in February.  For the first time, her 14-date May tour finds her performing in a trio, joined by Harry Fausing Smith (strings) and support act George Boomsma (electric guitar).

Hollie McNish: Performing at the TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Kat Gollock

Festival of the week: TakeOver – In The Limelight, York Theatre Royal, May 13 to 18

IN this annual collaboration between York Theatre Royal and York St John University, third-year drama students are put in charge of the theatre and programming its events for a week, with support and mentoring from professionals. 

Among those events will be writer Hollie McNish, reading from her latest book, Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love (Thursday, 7.30pm), dance troupe Verve: Triple Bill (next Saturday, 7.30pm) and multiple shows by York St John students. For the full programme, head to: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/be-part-of-it/children-and-young-people/takeover/. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Gray O’Brien’s Juror 10, left, and Michael Greco’s Juror 7 in the 70th anniversary production of Twelve Angry Men. Picture: Jack Merriman

Jury service: Twelve Angry Men, Grand Opera House, York, May 13 to 18, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

IN its 70th anniversary touring production, Reginald Rose’s knife-edge courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men resonates with today’s audiences with its intricately crafted study of human nature. Within the confines of the jury deliberating room, 12 men hold the fate of a young delinquent, accused of killing his father, in their hands. 

What looks an open-and-shut case soon becomes a dilemma, wherein Rose examines the art of persuasion as the jurors are forced to examine their own self-image, personalities, experiences and prejudices. Tristan Gemmill, Michael Greco, Jason Merrells, Gray O’Brien and Gary Webster feature in Christopher Haydon’s cast. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Steven Arran: Directing Shakespeare’s Speakeasy’s debut play in a day in York at Theatre@41, Monkgate

York debut of the week: Shakespeare’s Speakeasy, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

SHAKESPEARE’S Speakeasy is heading from Newcastle to York for the first time, making its Theatre@41 debut under the directorship of Steven Arran. “It’s Shakespeare, but it’s secret,” he says. “Can a group of strangers successfully stage a Shakespearean play in a day? Shakespeare’s Speakeasy is the place for you to find out.”

After learning lines over the past four weeks, the cast featuring the likes of Claire Morley, Esther Irving and Ian Giles meets for the first time on Thursday morning to rehearse an irreverent, entertaining take on one of Bill’s best-known plays, culminating in a public performance. Which one? “Like all good Speakeasys, that’s a secret,” says Arran. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Toby Lee: Blues prodigy heads to the Fulford Arms next Saturday

Blues gig of the week: Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, May 18, 7.30pm

BLUES rock prodigy Toby Lee, the 19-year-old Oxfordshire guitarist and singer, will be playing 100 showshome and abroad this year, 40 of them his own headline gigs, 60 as a special guest of boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holand and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

The 2023 Young Blues Musician of the Year learned his trade playing Zack Mooneyham in the first West End production of School Of Rock and has since shared stages with his hero Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton and Slash. First up, Fulford Arms next Saturday, then come Jools engagements at York Barbican on December 1 and Leeds First Direct Arena on December 20. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/toby-lee-the-fulford-arms-tickets/13366163.

Her name is Del Rio: And she lives for stand-up comedy as drag queen Bianca feels Dead Inside on York-bound world tour

Gig announcement of the week: Bianca Del Rio, Dead Inside, York Barbican, September 18

COMEDY drag queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Bianca Del Rio heads to York on her 11-date stand-up tour. Up for irreverent discussion will be politics, pop culture, political correctness, current events, cancel culture and everyday life, as observed through the eyes of a “clown in the gown”, who will be “coming out of my crypt and hitting the road again to remind everyone that I’m still dead inside”. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Who’s performing in York St John University’s TakeOver – In The Limelight festival at York Theatre Royal, May 13 to 18?

Verve: Presenting a dance triple bill at TakeOver – In The Limelight

THE 12th TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal is in the hands of York St John University for the fourth year, taking the theme of In The Limelight from May 13 to 18.

In this annual town-and-gown collaboration, third-year drama students are put in charge of the theatre and programming its events for a week, with support and mentoring from professionals. 

“TakeOver is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience running and taking part in a theatre festival that is entirely unique,” says Ruby, a student on the producing team. “We’re able to learn so many new skills and create something that we can really be proud of.” said Ruby, a student on the producing team. 

Among the highlights will be the May 16 performance of Scottish author and poet Hollie McNish, reading from her latest book Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love, wherein she addresses questions of friendships, flags and newborns as she shines her poetic lens on “all those things we have been taught to hate, and which we might learn to love again”. Joining her on the 7.30pm bill will be fellow poet Micheal Pedersen, reading from his books The Cat Prince and Boy Friends.  

To “see where dance is right now, and where it might go next”, the Verve: Triple Billat 7.30pm on May 18 presents a bold programme featuring new commissions by artistic directorMatteo Marfoglia and choreographer Joy Alpuerto Ritter,alongside a reworking of People Used To Die by the international collective(LA)HORDE. 

Verve is the postgraduate company of Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. Each year, the company commissions choreographers from all over the world to create an artistically distinct, physically daring and engaging programme of dance work. 

Hollie McNish: Reading from her book Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love on May 16

Festival Programme

May 13

Opening ceremony; free snacks and drinks available for all guests.

7.30pm, Upper Foyer, This is York Pecha Kucha, Volume 30: Bearing Fruit, in collaboration with York Creatives. Rapid-fire talks from more than seven speakers on a range of topics created to leave you feeling entertained, educated and inspired. 

May 14

Full day of shows and activities, starting with two York St John companies.

11am, Studio: Bounce Back: Interactive children’s theatre experience introducing the audience to the world of fairytale.

12 noon, Studio: Final Girls: Multi-media performance set in a forest where a group of unlikely people try to survive, the best they can, against an unknown entity.

Followed by dance trail that will take the audience around the city of York before returning to the theatre.  

6pm, Studio: Peachy & Me:  Performer Beverly Bishop invites family audiences into a world of storytelling, music, magic and comedy, as she appears as both herself and her clown alter-ego to overcome the complexities of the modern world.

7.30pm, main house: Out Of Character Theatre Company in Afterlife.In this York-made piece, strangers find themselves in a waiting room between life and death where they must go through their past lives to choose their forever.  

The TakeOver – In The Limelight logo for the 2024 festival

May 15

11am, main house: Misery Loves will be sharing their production of The Women Of Whitechapel, a newly devised musical that re-tells the stories of Jack the Ripper’s victims with the focus on finding out who these women really were.

12 noon, main house: Blushed’s show Our Fault, Never Their Fault follows two characters as they experience the journey of becoming a woman, highlighting the good, bad and little embarrassing parts that go alongside growing up.  

7.30pm, main house: Pinch Punch Improvisation use audience suggestions to help their four characters unmask the murderer before they are all killed in the improv whodunit Locomotive For Murder

May 16

11am, Studio: York St John company Glass Broom perform their post-apocalyptic show End,where five people are trapped in a house together. Tensions runs high as the characters are forced to find a way to survive with each other.

12 noon, main house: Fellow York St John company Tradesman present Life Of The Party,where agroup of collaborators explores essential themes through the lens of absurdist theatre, aiming to question the themes of the human condition. 

6pm, Studio: York company Pop Yer Clogs Theatre perform Alice In Wonderland Abridged, Lewis Carroll’s timeless tale ofAlice encountering many weird and wonderful characters in subterranean land where every time is tea time and nothing is ever as it seems.

7.30pm, main house: Hollie McNish reads from her book Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love. 

May 17

11am and 1pm, main house: Two dance routines created by York St John student Izzy Cryer. The first, Unholy,tells a story of cheating and betrayal, performed ina commercial style; the second, the lyrical Survivor, focuses on survival and standing together as one.

12 noon, Studio: York St John company M.A.D. say “fate, you can’t escape it”, asking how will it leave us? Alone or somehow forced together? Let’s find out what fate will throw at us this time in The Red Thread (a show suitable for age 18 plus

Alexander Flanagan Wright, left, and Phil Grainger: Performing Helios in the closing show on May 18

7.30pm, main house: A talk by Colin Sutton, a police officer for 30 years, who served as the head of a Metropolitan Police murder squad for the last nine of them. His show, The Real Manhunter, gives a guide to his career, how policing has changed, what it feels like to chase a serial killer and how he made the step from policing to storytelling. 

May 18Alexander

At 7.30pm, on the main house stage, Verve: Triple Bill of modern dance routines.

At 7.45pm, in the Studio, Alexander Flangan Wright and Phil Grainger present the third in their trilogy of Greek dramas in words and music, Helios.

Opportunities to be involved throughout the week:  

May 13, 2pm: Heels workshop, focusing on a style of dance that inspires confidence and is aimed at any level of experience. 5pm: Year 10 students from Joseph Rowntree School present a show based on social media and lockdown.

Throughout the week, tours include an afternoon tea experience. An open mic event takes place on May 14 at 4pm; a fashion show will be held on May 16 at 1pm; adult cocktail classes on May 17 at 2pm; a dance workshop for five to ten-year-olds, based on The Lion King, on May 18 at 2pm.

For the full programme, head to: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/be-part-of-it/children-and-young-people/takeover/. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Pop Yer Clogs Theatre, York’s new repertory theatre company, go Wilde in debut show The Importance Of Being Earnest

Introducing Pop Yer Clogs Theatre company co-founders, lined up for debut production The Importance Of Being Earnest. Poster art by: Ian Cotterill

POP Yer Clogs Theatre, a new repertory company of York professional actors, will stage Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest from tomorrow to Saturday at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York.

Oscar Wilde’s comedy of mistaken identity, high society and a mislaid handbag forms their inaugural production after forming in March 2023.

“The name  ‘Pop Yer Clogs’ was chosen as we wanted something ‘Yorkshire’ and humorous that hinted at our origins as a company,” says company co-founder Andrea Mitchell. “We all met in an immersive scare attraction [York Dungeon].” 

Staging a faithful adaptation of Wilde’s waspish comedy of manners, Pop Yer Clogs will adorn the production with specially recorded music by Matt Robair and Nick Trott, handmade 1890s’ costumes by cast member Lydia McCudden and lighting and sound by Niamh Cooper and Ethan Canet-Baldwin.

Andrea Mitchell, as Lady Augusta Bracknell, left, Harry Murdoch, as Jack Worthing, and Lydia McCudden, as Gwendolen Fairfax, in rehearsal for The Importance Of Being Earnest

The company was founded last year to bring productions of classic dramas to the York stage for an accessible price of £10 per ticket. First up is The Importance Of Being Earnest, Wilde’s 1895 satire that pokes fun at the absurdity of Victorian upper-class society, armed with an arsenal of his most famous one-liners…and that immortal exclamation, “A handbag?”

Jack Worthing (played by Harry Murdoch) and Algernon Moncrieff (Rob Cotterill) are two friends from very different worlds: country and town. Jack is a carefree young man who invents a fictitious brother named Ernest, adopting this persona to escape his country home and live a double life in London.

Jack falls in love with Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax (Lydia McCudden). When he discovers that Gwendolen could only marry a man named Ernest, Jack plans to kill off his fictional brother and assume the name for himself.

Pop Yer Clogs Theatre’s cast for The Imprtance Of Being Earnest

Meanwhile, Algernon learns of Jack’s excessively pretty niece, Cecily Cardew (Erin Keogh), who has fallen for Jack’s imaginary brother. He hatches a scheme of his own to pretend to be the fictitious Ernest in order to win Cecily’s heart.

As the two men become entangled in each other’s elaborate lies, their deceptions unravel in a whirlwind of rushed proposals, disapproving relatives and mistaken identity, but soon they learn the vital importance of being earnest.

Further roles go to Andrea Mitchell as Lady Augusta Bracknell, Lucy Crawford as Miss Prism, Jack Higgott as the Reverend Canon Chasuble and director Christopher Leslie as the two butlers, Lane and Merriman.

Company co-founder Leslie studied performance practice at Leeds University Centre and has taken part in many productions throughout Yorkshire. Cotterill, Keogh and Mitchell are among those who work in the character acting team at York Dungeon.

Rob Cotterill’s Algernon Moncrieff, left, and Harry Murdoch’s Jack Worthing rehearsing a scene for Pop Yer Clogs Theatre’s The Importance Of Being Earnest

Leslie says: “Earnest is a play everyone has heard of but has not necessarily seen. It is such a delightfully witty and farcical play, and it will be a treat to put it on this week. We have a superb and stellar cast on our hands and everyone has been working extremely hard.”

Harry Murdoch, who plays Jack Worthing, adds: “Not a single rehearsal goes by where we don’t find ourselves in fits of giggles. Every character has their own moment to show off all their absurd eccentricities, and the part of Jack offers so much for me to play with.

“Throughout the play he goes from experiencing the highest intensity and anxiety to moments of the deepest despair and vulnerability. The perfect range of emotions for a comedic lead!”

Theatre@41 trustee Jim Paterson says: “As Wilde himself said, ‘the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it’. We heartily encourage the people of York to take that advice and yield to the temptation to see The Importance Of Being Earnest. We love welcoming new companies to our studio and can’t wait to see Pop Yer Clogs take on this brilliant comedy.”

Pop Yer Clogs Theatre director Christopher Leslie, second from right, working with his cast in rehearsals for The Importance Of Being Earnest

In addition to staging Earnest, Pop Yer Clogs are rehearsing for an abridged performance of Alice In Wonderland at York Theatre Royal Studio on May 16 at 6pm as part of the Theatre Royal’s TakeOver festival, run in tandem with York St John University. The company will return to Theatre@41 with a full-length production of Alice In Wonderland in November.

Pop Yer Clogs Theatre in The Importance Of Being Earnest, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, May 1 to 4, 7.30pm. Running time: Two hours, including interval. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk or at https://tinyurl.com/3c4rvbbe. Tickets for Alice In Wonderland: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

TakeOver festival: the back story

ANNUAL collaboration between York Theatre Royal and York St John University, wherein students control the theatre’s event programme and commission performances from professional companies such as Pop Yer Clogs Theatre. The 2024 festival will run from May 13 to 18.

More Things To Do in York and beyond the paranormal before 2:22 in the morning. Hutch’s List No. 18, from The Press

Vera Chok and Jay McGuiness in a scene from 2:22 – A Ghost Story, haunting the Grand Opera House, York, from Tuesday

JUST a normal week? No, paranormal, more like, as a ghost story pumps up the spooks. Fear not, a Led Zeppelin legend, country-town teen days, a hope-filled musical and dances of love, loss and legacy are Charles Hutchinson’s picks too.  

New ghost to haunt “Europe’s most haunted city”: 2:22 – A Ghost Story, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm fright-nightly; 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday; 3.30pm, Friday

JENNY believes her new London home is haunted, hearing a disturbance every night at the same time, but husband Sam isn’t having any of it. They argue with their first dinner guests, old friend Lauren and new partner Ben.

Belief and scepticism clash, but something feels strange and frightening, and that something is drawing closer, so they decide to stay up… until 2:22 in the morning… and then they’ll know in The Battersea Poltergeist podcaster Danny Robins’s paranormal thriller, wherein secrets emerge and ghosts may, or may not, appear. Fiona Wade, George Rainsford and Vera Chok join The Wanted singer Jay McGuiness in Matthew Dunster & Isabel Marr’s cast. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Robert Plant’s Saving Grace: Playing Harrogate Royal Hall on Tuesday

Gig of the week outside York: Robert Plant’s Saving Grace, Harrogate Royal Hall, Tuesday, 8pm

ERSTWHILE Led Zeppelin singer and lyricist Robert Plant, now 75, leads the folk, Americana and blues co-operative Saving Grace, featuring Suzi Dian (vocals), Oli Jefferson (percussion), Tony Kelsey (mandolin, baritone, acoustic guitar, and Matt Worley (banjo, acoustic/baritone guitars, cuatro), on their 15-date Never Ending Spring itinerary. South Carolina singer-songwriter Taylor McCall supports. Box office: 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Country matters: Henry Madd’s Henry and Marc Benga’s Jake in Land Of Lost Content at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

Touring play of the week: Henry Madd’s Land Of Lost Content, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

NIC Connaughton, the Pleasance’s head of theatre, directs Land Of Lost Content, Henry Madd’s autobiographical insight into friendship, adolescence, forgiveness and life not going to plan in an empowering coming-of-age story about the trials of growing up in a small country town and its ongoing effects on two estranged mates.

Henry (Madd) and Jake (Marc Benga) were bored friends who grew up in Ludlow, where friendships were forged in failed adventures, bad habits and damp raves as they stumbled through teenage days looking for something to do. Then Henry moved away. Now he is back, needing to face up to the memories and the people he left behind. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Come From Away: Award-winning musical of hope, humanity and unity on tour at Leeds Grand Theatre

Musical of the week: Come From Away, Leeds Grand Theatre, Tuesday to May 11, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Thursday and Saturday matinees

IRENE Sankoff and David Hein’s four-time Olivier Award-winning musical tells the remarkable true story of 6,579 air passengers from around the world being grounded in Canada in the wake of 9/11. Whereupon the small Newfoundland community of Gander invites these ‘come from aways’ into their lives with open hearts.

As spirited locals and global passengers come together to forge friendships, we meet first female American Airlines captain, the quick-thinking town mayor, the mother of a New York firefighter and the eager local news reporter in a celebration of hope, humanity and unity. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or leedsheritagetheatres.com.

Claire Morley: Directing York Shakespeare Project in Sunday’s rehearsed reading of John Fletcher’s The Tamer Tamed. Picture: S R Taylor Photography

Battle of the sexes, round two: York Shakespeare Project in The Tamer Tamed, Creative Arts Centre Auditorium, York St John University, tomorrow (28/4/2024), 5pm

YORK Shakespeare Project complements this week’s run of Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew at Theatre@41, Monkgate, with a rehearsed reading of John Fletcher’s Jacobean riposte to the Bard’s most controversial comedy, directed by Claire Morley.

In Fletcher’s sequel, the widowed Petruchio has a new wife and a new challenge as he discovers that he is not the only one who can do the taming. Fletcher borrows characters from Shakespeare and Ben Jonson and a key plot device from Ancient Greek dramatist Aristophanes’s Lysistrata for his exploration of marriage and relationships. Box office: parrabbola.co.uk or yorkshakes.co.uk.

The poster for Alexander O’Neal’s farewell tour, Time To Say Goodbye, bound for York Barbican on May 3

Farewell tour of the Week: Alexander O’Neal, Time To Say Goodbye, York Barbican, May 3, 7.30pm

AFTER nearly five decades, Mississippi soul singer Alexander O’Neal is hitting the road one final time at 70 on his Time to Say Goodbye: Farewell World Tour, accompanied by his nine-piece band.

O’Neal will be undertaking a journey through his career with the aid of never-before-seen-photos, testimonies and tributes, all set to the tune of such hits as Criticize, Fake and If You Were Here Tonight. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk

Phoenix Dance Theatre in Dane Hurst’s Requiem, part of the Belonging: Loss. Legacy. Love programme at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Drew Forsyth

Dance show of the week: Phoenix Dance Theatre in Belonging: Loss. Legacy. Love, York Theatre Royal, May 3, 7.30pm; May 4, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

YORK Theatre Royal is the final venue on Leeds company Phoenix Dance Theatre’s first British tour since 2022 with a visceral triple bill of works by international dance makers Dane Hurst, Miguel Altunaga and Phoenix artistic director Marcus Jarrell Willis.

Belonging: Loss. Legacy. Love opens with South African choreographer and former Phoenix artistic director Hurst’s reimagining of Mozart’s Requiem in response to pandemic-induced grief. Two world premieres follow: Afro-Cuban choreographer Altunaga’s first Phoenix commission, the daring Cloudburst, and Texas-born Jarrell Willis’s Terms Of Agreement. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

The Cult: Marking 40th anniversary with the 8424 tour this autumn. Picture: Jackie Middleton

Gig announcement of the week: The Cult, The 8424 Tour, York Barbican, October 29

SINGER Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy mark the 40th anniversary of The Cult, the Bradford band noted for their pioneering mix of post-punk, hard rock and melodramatic experimentalism, by heading out on The 8424 Tour.

Once dubbed “shamanic Goths”, Astbury and Duffy will perform songs from The Cult’s 11-album discography, from 1984’s Dreamtime to 2022’s Under The Midnight Sun, in a set sure to feature She Sells Sanctuary, Rain, Love Removal Machine, Wild Flower and Lil’ Devil. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Let the battle of the sexes resume as York Shakespeare Project gives rehearsed reading of Fletcher’s The Tamer Tamed

York Shakespeare Project’s poster for Sunday’s rehearsed reading of John Fletcher’s The Tamer Tamed

YORK Shakespeare Project is complementing this week’s run of Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew with a one-off performance of John Fletcher’s sequel, The Tamer Tamed, at the Creative Arts Centre Auditorium, York St John University, on Sunday at 5pm.

Fletcher’s rarely staged Jacobean riposte to William Shakespeare’s most controversial “problem play” will be presented in a rehearsed reading on the closing day of the 2024 York International Shakespeare Festival.

YSP chair Tony Froud explains: “We are very happy to borrow an idea from Gregory Doran, who staged both plays in tandem, using the same cast, in his productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2003. Fletcher’s play is a deliberate and very entertaining response to Shakespeare’s original.”

Director Claire Morley in rehearsals. Picture: S R Taylor Photography

Written in 1611, 20 years after Shakespeare’s battle of the sexes, The Tamer Tamed (or The Woman’s Prize) gives an insight into changing attitudes to women and marriage in the Jacobean period.

YSP’s rehearsed reading is being directed by Claire Morley, assistant director to Maggie Smales on The Taming Of The Shrew, whose run at Theatre@41, Monkgate, ends tomorrow night. Many of the same cast will undertake Sunday’s reading, joined by familiar YSP faces Andrew Isherwood, Effie Warboys and Sally Mitcham.

“We’re enormously grateful to members of our very talented cast for committing to perform a second play, but the actors couldn’t resist the challenge of exploring Fletcher’s fascinating take on Shakespeare,” says Claire. “Luckily they don’t have to learn any more lines, as this will be a script-in-hand reading.”

Claire Morley, front row, second from right , in the role of Henry V in York Shakespeare Project’s Heny V in 2015

Claire is no stranger to York Shakespeare Project, having appeared in several of its productions, most notably playing the title role in Maggie Smales’s all-female Henry V in 2015. “It’s a joy to be working with Maggie again and we’re very lucky to have such a fabulous cast,” she adds.

In Fletcher’s sequel, the widowed Petruchio has a new wife and a new challenge as he discovers that he is not the only one who can do the taming. Fletcher borrows characters from Shakespeare and Ben Jonson and a key plot device from Ancient Greek dramatist Aristophanes’s Lysistrata. “The result is a richly entertaining exploration of marriage and relationships in another battle of the sexes,” says Tony.

The cast comprises: Rosy Rowley as Maria; Effie Warboys, Livia; Kirsty Farrow, Bianca; Andrew Isherwood, Petruchio; Mark Simmonds, Petronius; Mark Payton, Gremio and Peter; Sam Jackson, Rowland; Nick Patrick Jones, Hortensio; Sally Mitcham, Tranio, and Stuart Green, Grumio.

Tickets are on sale at parrabbola.co.uk or yorkshakes.co.uk.

York International Shakespeare Festival is under way for 11 days of shows, talks, workshops, exhibition and scratch night

Footsbarn Theatre in Twelfth Night: Making their first British apperance in 15 years at the 2024 York International Shakespeare Festival

FOOTSBARN Theatre will premiere their new production of Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy Twelfth Night in a triumphant return to British soil after 15 years at the York International Shakespeare Festival.

April 27’s evening performance and April 28’s matinee will be followed by a UK and European tour throughout the summer, taking in the Craiova International Shakespeare Festival in Romania next month and Verona International Shakespeare Festival, Italy, in August.

Directed by Sadie Jammett, this will be the first full-scale Shakespeare show to be performed by the iconic travelling theatre company in Great Britain since A Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 15 years ago.

Footsbarn began life in Cornwall in 1971 when a group of young performers started rehearsing in the barn of Trewen, a farmhouse near the village of Trewidland. Born out of a dream to create a form of theatre that would be “popular, generous and accessible to all”, the company is noted for performing in its circus big top across the globe. 

In more than 50 years – the last 25 based in Maillet, France – Footsbarn have put their name to most of Shakespeare plays, but this will be their first staging of Twelfth Night. Now, perhaps more than any other time, this play comes into its own by exploring the themes of gender identity that younger generations are bravely bringing to the world’s attention.

Artistic director Sadie Jemmett says: “It was important to choose a production that would continue the great legacy and style of the company while also appealing to a new generation of theatregoers, and I believe that Twelfth Night does just that.”

Established in 2014 to “showcase York adaptations of Shakespeare’s works alongside international  interpretations and to make global Shakespeare accessible to UK audiences from York and beyond”, this month’s event will be the festival’s sixth staging and the first since it became an annual event.

Residents and visitors to York from today until April 28 will find the city filled with powerful, moving shows, lectures by internationally recognised academics, exhibitions and workshops presented by Shakespeare enthusiasts from all over the world.

The festival is in the first year of a three-year sponsorship by York St John University, resulting in the theatre in the new Creative Centre becoming the principal location.

Other partners include York Theatre Royal, York Explore Library, York Shakespeare Project, the Grand Opera House, York, Theatre @41, Monkgate, Riding Lights Theatre Company, Rise @ Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, and many volunteers.

Two world premieres will bookend the festival. Opening the event today will be the European Shakespeare Festivals Network’s ShakeSphere Award Winner 2024, Hamlet: Double Bill from Italy, featuring Hamlet & The Grave Diggers and Hamlet & The Players, selected from 76 proposals. Footsbarn’s visit will be the closing act.

Another recommendation is American actress Debra Ann Byrd’s powerhouse solo show Becoming Othello, chiming with the festival theme of Shakespearean identity, in a Wednesday evening performance and Thursday matinee for schools.

“If we’re talking about an international festival of Shakespeare, we’re talking about Shakespeare morphing with other cultures and then taking shape in their own work,” says festival director Philip Parr.

“Becoming Othello is about a black woman’s journey into theatre – and Debra Ann has had as rough a journey as you could imagine, in New York, where she was told ‘you can’t go to drama school; black women don’t go, and certainly not from Harlem. If you do go, you play maids and servants and certainly not Shakespeare leads’.

“Yet 20 years ago she founded the Harlem Shakespeare Festival. So Becoming Othello is her story, and it’s a brilliant piece of theatre that she worked on at the Shakespeare Institute, with Shakespeare specialists both here and in the United States. The show is really grounded in the nature of Shakespeare.”

In her week-long stay in York, Byrd will be mentor of honour at a Shakespeare Scratch Night at the Grand Opera House and will host workshops in schools too.

Further highlights will include first readings of English translations of Shakespeare inspired plays from Bulgaria and Turkey, and a first-time visit by two Ukrainian actors and a director to work for a week with Philip Parr, leading to two performances tomorrow (20/4/2024).

Literature fans can look forward to a variety of talks and lectures delivered throughout the festival by Shakespearean academics from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, while York Explore will play host to an exhibition of 300 years of representations of Othello.

York youngsters and families will have free or low-cost opportunities to become involved with the festival “to enjoy a bit of Shakespeare”.

Philip says: “This will be the only time this year you will be able to see international theatre in our city. In our fast-changing world, the plays of Shakespeare provide a shared body of work, which explores essential values, and which is capable of infinite reinvention.

“They create a space in which we can exchange ideas, explore our differences, and find our common ground. We’re excited to be creating such a space in York.”

Tickets and full programme details are available at yorkshakes.co.uk/programme-2024.

REVIEW: Next Door But One in She Was Walking Home, York Theatre Royal Studio ****

Fiona Baistow’s Millie in Next Door But One’s She Was Walking Home

YORK community arts collective Next Door But One’s autumn tour has visited schools, colleges and the Theatre Royal already.

Next comes the university leg: a sold-out 7.45pm performance tomorrow at the University of York, followed by a 7.30pm finale at York St John University on October 25. Fewer than 20 tickets remain on sale at nextdoorbutone.co.uk. Hurry, hurry, book now.

Rachel Price’s testimonial theatre work was first presented as a walking audio tour around York city centre in 2021, then on tour last year, when suggestions that it should visit schools and colleges prompted this autumn’s itinerary.

This season’s performances follow the publication of the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s report, revealing that more than half a million offences against women and girls were recorded in England and Wales between October 1 2021 and March 31 2022 and that violence against women and girls accounts for at least 15.8 per cent of all recorded crime.

Anna Johnston’s Cate

Next Door But One’s website carries the strapline Where Every Story Matters. In this instance, 33 stories from women of different ages living, working and studying in York.  “Stories of fear, harassment, suspicion, disappointment, anger, but above all hope…to make sure the right voices are still being heard,” as NDB1’s tour flyer puts it.

From those countless journeys and real-life testimonies, Price has created a series of four monologues, told with the minimum of theatrical tools. Stark lighting; a couple chairs and a white box that can be folded in different way to serve as a seat, a table, a lectern. Sound effects too. That’s all that’s needed. Less is more.

The focus is on the words, always theatre’s greatest asset, and in turn on how they are delivered by Kate Veysey’s cast of Fiona Baistow, Anna Johnston, Mandy Newby and Ceridwen Smith, deputising for one night at York Theatre Royal Studio for Emma Liversidge-Smith, who will return for the university performances.

Mandy Newby’s Jackie

In the wake of statistics highlighting that one in two women feels unsafe walking alone after dark in a quiet street near their home or in a busy public place, She Was Walking Home asks How Do We Keep Women Safe? Note the emphasis on “We”. All of us.

The post-show question-and-answer session revealed that one school had been averse to hosting the play for fear of boys feeling picked on. That school changed its mind and the show’s impact was such that the next lesson was immediately scrapped and replaced with discussions on the issues raised.

At one performance, some boys had laughed initially, even stamped their feet to mimic the footsteps of an approaching man, but that response was born out of a feeling of awkwardness, one that changed as the performance progressed and they realised the need to wise up to women’s experiences and how boys, as much as men, need to be “part of the change” that NDB1 is urging.

Baistow’s Millie is a girl, finishing a work shift, who misses her bus home and decides to risk walking down “Rape Lane”, the quickest route. Why does she do it, you ask? Put yourself in her shoes and ask again. By her harrowing journey’s end, it takes an act of kindness to help her out. What stops such acts being commonplace?

Ceridwen Smith: Stepping in to play lawyer Joanne for one performance only at York Theatre Royal Studio

Jonhnston’s Cate is a student on a night out, quick to leave after an unwanted chat-up, only to be followed by a creep who’s been doing that for a while. The police stop her, to tell her she is being followed. You might well be asking why didn’t they stop him instead? Everyone was asking that afterwards. As ever, the implication is that she is the one to blame. How she dresses. Her manner. Not the men, the pest and the predator. When will that change?  

Mandy Newby’s Jackie is older, a mother, who finds herself being picked on and molested by a group of young lads on bicycles. She can’t face telling her daughter, such is her feeling of humiliation.

Urged by a friend, who subsequently sits beside her in the interview room, she goes to the police station; they give her the standard leaflets. Here’s where the work of the Kyra Women’s Project, the York charity that helps women to make positive change in their lives, is so important.

Smith’s Joanne is a lawyer, giving a talk on her experience of being sexually assaulted by two men working in tandem. Her recovery has been gradual, but now she has “joined the conversation”, encouraging women to seek the services of the likes of IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services).

Emma Liversidge-Smith: Resuming her role as lawyer Joanne at the University of York tomorrow and York St John University on October 25

Four shocking cautionary tales, told verbatim from York’s streets as theatre verité; not so much acting as matter of facting. What followed was the best reason for a Q&A: the instant need to be “part of the conversation”, men and women alike.

To quote the flyer once more: “The conversation continues. And the loudest voices call for self-defence classes, rape alarms, trackers and a dress code. The conversation needs to change. The voices of women need to be at the centre, but the responsibility and accountability lies elsewhere.”

That makes She Was Walking Home as important for men to experience as women sharing stories and seeking advice and support. Crossing the road at night, to avoid following a woman, would be a step in the right direction for a start.

Next Door But One’s poster for She Was Walking Home: Countless journeys, 33 real testimonies, 4 women, 1 call to action

How safe are women on the streets of York, ask Next Door But One in Rachel Price’s touring play She Was Walking Home

Anna Johnston as Cate in Next Door But One’s She Was Walking Home. Picture: James Drury

WHEN York community arts collective Next Door But One first took She Was Walking Home on tour in 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had just released data on safety in different public settings.

One in two women felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a quiet street near their home or in a busy public place, and two out of three women aged 16 to 34 had experienced one form of harassment in the previous 12 months.

Now, as NDB1 take their revived testimonial-based performance to schools, colleges and universities throughout York and North Yorkshire, as well as to York Theatre Royal Studio tonight (5/10/2023), the need for more conversations around women’s safety and the role we all play in it has been strengthened by a report from the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

It reveals that more than half a million offences against women and girls were recorded in England and Wales between October 1 2021 and March 31 2022 and that violence against women and girls accounts for at least 15.8 per cent of all recorded crime.

Director Kate Veysey in rehearsal for Next Door But One’s She Was Walking Home. Picture: James Drury

First produced as an audio walk around York city centre in 2021, She Was Walking Home is a series of monologues created by writer Rachel Price from the testimonies of women living, working and studying in York. 

“This project was initially called into action by the female creatives and participants we work with, who were all having more and more conversations around their own safety after a number of attacks and murders reported in the media,” says director Kate Veysey.

“With each stage of development, it has been the community that has guided us: the audio walk was created from 33 testimonies of local women; the 2022 tour was produced through feedback from listeners who wished to bring their friends, colleagues and social groups to engage in the conversation.

“The resounding message from that audience was the want from parents for their children to see this, for teachers wanting their schools to witness, and young women wanting their male peers to come with them. So that’s what we are doing.”

Emma Liversidge-Smith’s Joanne in She Was Walking Home. Picture: James Drury

People think of York as a safe place to be, says NDB1 creative engagement manager El Stannage, “but as a woman I can tell you it isn’t”. “We collected documentary information both written and conversational, keeping that door open for information for about a month, and it came streaming in,” she says.

“We had plenty to work with, then collected our own thoughts and commissioned Rachel to put those stories together as one tapestry, telling stories of women at different stages of life, their different experiences, whether harassment or abuse, focusing on the impact it’s had on their their lives, the ripples it’s had.

“For the latest tour, we’ve stayed with the original piece of theatre but kept abreast with what’s been happening, and we’ve kept in touch too with IDAS [Independent Domestic Abuse Services] and the Kyra Women’s Project, the York charity that helps women to make positive change in their lives.”

This autumn’s performances in schools, colleges and universities will not only inform students of the lived experience of women in their own communities, but also empower them to make the change now and see the benefits in their own futures; understanding the impact of their actions, ways in which they could intervene, question their own thinking or those of their peers.

Mandy Newby’s Jackie. Picture: James Drury

El says: “We’re really excited to be working with schools [age 14 upwards], colleges and universities this time, after the feedback we got from last year’s public performances that we needed to do that.

“The young people we get to work with in our participation programmes are bright, forward thinking and actively seeking ways to play a part in the growing world around them, so for us it just makes sense to bring this conversation to them, as they are the next generation to make change.

“But also, real change can only happen when the full community listen up and play their part too. That’s why we’re hosting public performances in the evenings at the same schools, colleges and universities, so that parents, carers, siblings, friends, teachers and other local residents can join in the same vital conversation.”

Through the autumn tour of this all-female production, performed by a cast of Fiona Baistow, Anna Johnson, Emma Liversidge-Smith and Mandy Newby, the mission will be to amplify the voices of York women, while also prompting conversations around where responsibility and accountability lies for their safety.

Fiona Baistow’s Millie in a scene from She Was Walking Home. Picture: James Drury

“Since the original walk, listened to by almost 800 people, there have been further attacks and murders of women, and still the rhetoric seems to be skewed towards rape alarms, trackers, self-defence classes and dress codes being the solution,” says NDB1 artistic director Matthew Harper-Hardcastle. “We needed to continue and challenge this conversation. The invitation is to come and watch but also to think.”

One audience feedback quote on NDB1’s website is particularly illuminating. “I like to think I’m aware of these issues and as a man have been ultra-conscious that just being on the same street can heighten anxiety,” it reads.

“This performance made me cry, but it’s such an important way to foster change, I left feeling that if more men could see and engage with it, we might just be able to smash that ‘block of granite’.”

Next Door But One’s She Was Walking Home is on tour until October 27 with student performances complemented by public performances at York High School, Malton School, York College, Scarborough TEC, York Theatre Royal Studio tonight at 7.45pm, University of York, October 20 at 7.45pm and York St John University, October 25 at 7.30pm. Box office details: www.nextdoorbutone.co.uk

York St John students showcase theatre’s future in TakeOver Festival at York Theatre Royal. Who’s taking part this week?

The York St John University students who are running TakeOver Festival 2023 at York Theatre Royal this week

THE TakeOver Festival 2023 rules the roost at York Theatre Royal in a week-long theatre festival run by final-year York St John University students as they take their first leap into the entertainment industry.

The Theatre Royal is partnering with York St John to give students the opportunity to perform their own work on the main stage, as well as learn about key roles in the theatre.  

Taking over the Theatre Royal all this week until Saturday, the students have booked York theatre companies Next Door But One, Out Of Character, Fladam and Hallmark Theatre to perform too, plus Pink Milk from London.

As part of their third-year assessment, 32 students have formed eight of their own theatre companies to showcase their talents: Compos Mentis, MOOT, Reconnect, Cordless, Chaos, Bridge Theatre, For Us By Us and Twisted Tales.

TakeOver enables third-year performance students to work as producers, production managers and front of house, in addition to marketing the festival on their social media platforms. The festival also works with the wider community, making theatre with children from York High School and sharing the joy of theatre with families.  

This year’s event takes the theme of In Living Colour: Listen, Inspire, Act. “We aim to get people talking about what’s important, shedding colourful light on to meaningful issues,” says TakeOver 2023 producer Megan Price. “The festival will bring to light new possibilities and provide a platform that celebrates each other. TakeOver allows people to have a voice and share their creativity on a bigger platform.”

Cordless in rehearsal for 4th Round on May 26

David Richmond, senior performance lecturer at York St John University, says: “TakeOver is a fantastic opportunity for students to make that important first step to being professional theatre makers.

“It gives the Theatre Royal an opportunity to see what the next key developments in theatre will be – as this generation really is going to be doing things differently. For the audiences, it will give them an insight into the future of theatre, and on their own doorstep.”

Zoe Colven-Davies, from York Theatre Royal, adds: “It’s been wonderful to work with third-year performance students, to see them bring to York Theatre Royal stage their own work as well as the work of creators in York.”

Megan, 21, from Blackhall, County Durham, is studying on the acting course at York St John, where courses also run in Drama & Theatre, Drama & Dance and Drama, Education and Community.

“None of my family is creative,” she says. “But I got into amateur dramatics with Blackhall Drama Group, doing a pantomime every January and a summer showcase from the shows every June/July.

“I mainly perform, but after going away to university and having two years out from the shows, they’ve asked me for a wider input, now that I’m back,” she says.

Megan Price: Producer of TakeOver Festival 2023

Megan was selected by a combination of York Theatre Royal staff and York St John lecturers after pitching for the post of producer. Roles in production management, communications, outreach and front of house have been designated too.

“It’s a major part of the degree, with the course advertising that in your third year you will work with and perform at York Theatre Royal and will be assessed on running a festival and being involved in it too,” she says.

“For TakeOver 2023, we created the first draft of the festival programme, working with communications and production management to agree on certain things. Front of house need to know what will be going into the theatre; communications need to know what shows they will be promoting. The closer to the opening, the more collaborative it becomes.”

Why did Megan put herself forward for the top post? “I wanted to be the producer because it’s not something I’ve had much experience of doing, whereas with other roles, I have done that,” she says.

“I wanted to do something that would challenge me and provide me with new skills, in terms of financial budgeting and scheduling.

“The artistic vision comes into it too, but the theme of In Living Colour had already been chosen before I took up my post. Each group of performers from York St John had to pitch a theme for the festival, and the Theatre Royal then chose the theme on the basis of what fitted in best with previous years.”

Megan Price and her fellow Chaos cast members meeting again to rehearse the Macbeth response piece Female Rage

Megan and her fellow programmers wanted to create a festival that would be accessible to theatre companies in the north, giving them the chance to perform at the Theatre Royal, while “bringing to light themes that are hidden in the world”.

Plays range from Pink Milk, the one London company heading north, presenting Naughty’s frank account of growing up queer outside of a big city to Hallmark Theatre’s An Open Mind, a comedy drama about two autistic children trying to navigate the ups and downs of school and the education system.

Megan will not only be producing the festival but performing in it too in Chaos’s production of Female Rage on May 27 at 1pm in the York Theare Royal main house. “We can’t have an ordinary Shakespeare at TakeOver!” she says. “We’re basing our play around Macbeth, taking themes from Shakespeare’s play and expressing how they affect us as women in society,” she says.

“Presenting our play in a post-dramatic style, we’re looking at women that are so often overlooked. We feature not only Lady Macbeth, but also Lady Macduff and The Witches and Hecate, who we’ve made the central focus of our piece.”

In a nutshell, Female Rage shines a light on witches and womanly wisdom while intertwining Shakespearian themes with stories only women can tell. “We don’t play the characters but use them to channel our rage, with Hecate guiding the performance,” says Megan.

Summing up her involvement in TakeOver 2023, she says: “Not just performing but now doing the other side as well allows me to apply for jobs in the creative industry, like an assistant producer’s job at a film festival here in York,” she says.

“It’s been really helpful to have all that professional experience on hand, but at the same time York St John and York Theatre Royal have let us take the event into our own hands.”

For the full programme and tickets, head to yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

TakeOver Festival 2023: the programme 

York musical comedy duo Fladam, alias Flo Poskitt and Adam Sowter: Presenting Green Fingers at TakeOver Festival 2023 on May 27 in the York Theatre Royal Studio

The Storyteller by Charlotte Tunks  

May 22, 11am, York Theatre Royal upper foyer.  

The Storyteller speaks the story of the eve of St Agnes. An adaptation of one of John Keats’s best poems.  

The Wall by Josh Davies  

May 22, 2pm; May 23, 11am, York Theatre Royal foyer.  

Thirty to 45-minute musical performance, including renditions of songs from Pink Floyd’s album The Wall.  

Operation Hummingbird by Next Door But One  

May 23 and 24, 12 noon and 7pm, York Theatre Royal main house.  

Teenager Jimmy deals with his mum’s terminal illness diagnosis by diving into computer games. Through this virtual reality, he meets his future self and asks: will everything turn out OK? 

Poignant, funny and uplifting, this two-hander by award-winning York company Next Door But One returns after a sell-out debut tour in 2021. Based on director Matt Harper-Hardcastle’s memoir, Operation Hummingbir dexplores grief, loss and the power of noticing just how far you have come.  

Crafting Hope – Box Making Workshop  

May 23, 1pm, York Theatre Royal foyer. 

Do you ever feel like the world has spun into a wormhole of chaos, conflict and civil unrest? This workshop provides the opportunity to relax, retreat and join the quest of breathing hope back into humanity through the art of box-making. A brighter future starts with you, your words and your actions. 

City Dance Trail  

May 23, 2pm, starting at York St John University’s Creative Centre and journeying through the city.  

Join the Dance Trail and experience the city in an entirely new way. Theatre and dance students from York St John University and guest performers from Mind The Gap share a series of site-specific dance performances across the city centre.

Follow the trail through York and watch original dance pieces that explore the promise of the unknown and the potential revelation of new-found realties in familiar and unfamiliar places. Watch out for an unexpected flash mob moment – or better still, join in! 

Stepping Stones To Success – Workshop by Next Door But One  

May23, 3pm,  York Theatre Royal main house. 

Are you an emerging theatre practitioner? Thinking of ways to further your career, develop a business idea or kickstart a new project? Work alongside Next Door But One’s artistic director Matt Harper-Hardcastle as he goes through the lessons he has learned from founding and running a York theatre company for ten years. Participants will walk away with a plan to put their ideas into action.  

Stories BetweenThe Lines by Reconnect  

May 23, 4.30pm, York Theatre Royal Studio. 

Stories Between The Lines is a TIE (theatre in education) performance that highlights the lives of four characters as they navigate the complexities of family life and teenage years. Through the lens of drama, the show explores the issues of concern for the characters and the possibilities for self-care, support, and intervention.  

Reconnect discusses the characters’ concerns, then looks at the possibility of self-care, support and intervention.  Suitable for 11+.  

Dancing In Living Colour by York St John Dance Society  

May 24, 1pm, York Theatre Royal upper foyer.

The university dance society offers both competitive and casual memberships to students. Its competition team has been placed first, second and third across various competitions this season. Team members have put together a showcase to celebrate the festival theme. “Come and enjoy Dancing In Living Colour,” they say. 

Finding Your Voice As A Playwright – Workshop by Next Door But One  

May 24, 3pm, York Theatre Royal main house. 

DO you have a play in your head but are not sure how to put it on paper? This workshop will go through several techniques to help you breathe new colour into your creative idea. Tools to help overcome writer’s block, structure your story and understand what you want to say and how you want to say it. 

Compos Mentis: Exploring men’s mental health in Business Unfinished

Business Unfinished by Compos Mentis  

May 25, 2pm, York Theatre Royal main house. 

Compos Mentis explore men’s mental health through post-traumatic theatre in a cabaret that discusses their understanding of the issue along with the stereotypes of a working men’s club. Contains strong language and sexual references; suitable for age 12+.  

The Modern Maidens by Twisted Tales  

May 25, 3.30pm , York Theatre Royal main house. 

Twisted Tales interweave women’s issues with classic fairy tales to look at themes of jealousy, revenge, innocence and betrayal, with a passion for going against social norms and showing that women can be however they want to be. Suitable for age 16+.  

Shattered by Out Of Character  

May 25, 7pm, York Theatre Royal Studio. 

Written by Paul Birch, performed by York company Out Of Character, directed by Kate Veysey and Jane Allanach.

The world has broken. Its colours have drained away. A community is splintered and all seems lost. But in the cracks, and amid the broken pieces, something strange is happening. Something that disturbs, unsettles and surprises.

Welcome to Shattered, a mysterious show where, in the midst of a sinister and impossible fog, things are about to become clear. Suitable for all ages.  

Express Your Colours Within – Movement Workshop for Adults  

May 26, 11am, York Theatre Royal Studio. 

This movement-based workshop invites participants to engage in ways of moving that normally they would not do. Scarves, ribbons and coloured materials will help to create visually appealing work in a workshop run by performing arts and dance students. 

4th Round by Cordless Theatre  

May 26, 2pm, York Theatre Royal main house. 

Cordless Theatre present a collection of playful vignettes inspired by the work of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. Suitable for all ages.  

Inside Outside by Bridge Theatre  

May 26, 2.45pm, York Theatre Royal Studio. 

How do we understand loss? Bridge Theatre show their experience of loss through movement and verbatim text. Suitable for age 12+.  

I Wanna Hold Your Hand by MOOT  

May 26, 3.30pm, York Theatre Royal main house.  

A fun and physical devised piece that explores the challenges of connecting to others. Suitable for all ages.  

Open Mic Nights  

May 26 and 27, 6pm, York Theatre Royal foyer. 

Naughty by Pink Milk  

May 26, 7.45pm, York Theatre Royal Studio. 

Days after Andrew ends his seven-year relationship with college sweetheart Jake, he is messaged out of the blue by a former “friend”. This unwelcome advance triggers an emotional spiral as Andrew recounts his unstable first steps into the world of gay sex and queer identity, under the increasingly imposing guidance of Kevin, a teacher at his drama academy.

Naughty provides a frank account of growing up queer outside of a big city. The piece was written to examine the common lack of safe mentorship for LGBTQ+ youth and the over-sexualisation of queer relationships. First performed at Camden Fringe in 2021, Naughty toured in 2022. Suitable for age 11+.  

Female Rage by Chaos  

May 27, 1pm, York Theatre Royal main house. 

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Chaos wants to take a closer look at the women that are so often overlooked. Female Rage shines a light on witches and womanly wisdom as they intertwine Shakespearian themes with stories only women can tell. Suitable for age 12+.

Green Fingers by Fladam  

May 27, 3pm, York Theatre Royal Studio 

York musical comedy duo Fladam – Flo Poskitt and Adam Sowter – are back with a deliciously Roald Dahl-style family treat. Did you ever hear the tale of Green Fingers? A boy born with hands that turn all he touches a shocking shade of green! But is he really as wicked as people say? All will be revealed in this work-in-progress performance, where audience feedback will be welcomed and encouraged afterwards. Suitable for all ages.  

36DDD by For Us By Us  

May 27, 3.30pm, York Theatre Royal main house.  

Inspired by playwright Tim Firth’s Neville’s Island, For Us By Us head out on a girls’ trip gone wrong. After surrendering their phones in a time-locked box, they must surrender themselves to the bitter wilderness as they navigate their fears and secrets. 

Containing strong language and sexual references, this comedy-thriller will see the characters bond under extreme circumstances. Suitable for ages 16+.  

An Open Mind by Hallmark Theatre 

May 27, 7.30pm, York Theatre Royal Studio.  

A new comedy drama from Hallmark Theatre about two autistic children trying to navigate the ups and downs of school and the education system. Suitable for 15+  

Listen, Inspire, Act – Zentangle Workshop  

Available all week, York Theatre Royal foyer. 

The Zentangle art form allows creativity and mindfulness through a series of repetitive patterns that are drawn into a starting point of a scribble to produce a unique artwork. This workshop encourages conversation in the community. This activity focuses the mind and is useful in relieving stress and allowing unpressured conversations to happen while in the act of doing. 

David Lomond, back, and James Lewis-Knight in Next Door But One’s Operation Hummingbird: four performances at York Theatre Royal