Category Archives: Theatre

A Little Slice of Light Night

The annual Light Night returned to Leeds last Friday, featuring late-night openings of galleries, museums, theatres, shopping centres and unusual spaces. Starting just as it went dark at 6pm, the race was on to experience as much of the five hours of jam-packed culture as possible.

Continue reading A Little Slice of Light Night

Recon Festival: the lowdown

This October sees Recon Festival return for another series of intriguing and inspiring musical and artistic performances across Leeds and Bradford.

The diverse line-up features performances from Warp Records electronica pioneers Plaid and Clark, Leeds locals Hookworms, legendary US street musician The Space Lady, and lots more.

Continue reading Recon Festival: the lowdown

Culture Vulture: Green-themed cream tea at Headingley’s Bowery!

Originally published on Thurs 4 August 2011 at

Nestled by the side of a busy crossroads, it could be easy to miss The Bowery, a wonderfully unusual café in north Headingley.  One of Leeds’ hidden cultural treasures, it’s home to a fascinating little art gallery – climb the stairs and you’ll find an ever-changing range of exhibitions by local artists. If you feel like you want to get involved with making art, there are regular workshops covering everything from photography to floristry, too.

Downstairs, alongside the coffee and cake, you’ll find a boutique nestled with ceramics, textiles, jewellery and other artwork on sale from local designers and exciting emerging artists.  And if that wasn’t enough, they sell some of the finest coffee in the land, recently making it into The Times’ top 10 coffee shops in the UK.

It might be worth checking it out on Sunday 21 August, when it’ll be taken over for an afternoon quiz with a difference. Leeds University student Kristina Diprose is hosting a cream tea fundraiser for her work with the UK Youth Climate Coalition, a national non-profit organisation working to bring young people together for positive action on climate change.  This November, Kristina will be one of ten young people from the UK attending UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, taking the concerns of British youth to international decision-makers.

She says of her chance to attend the South Africa negotiations: “This is an amazing opportunity and I’m so excited to be involved. Young people need to make sure that negotiators and world leaders know we care about these talks.  The decisions made in South Africa will affect our generation for decades to come”.

It’s a quiz, sure, but for five pounds, this includes a tea or coffee, homemade scones with jam and cream, a charity donation and the chance to win a pair of theatre tickets to a performance of your choice – worth up to £60 – kindly donated by the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  It could well be better than a pint in a dingy bar!

It all starts at 3.30pm on Sunday 21 August. There’s only 30 places available, which must be booked in advance from The Bowery.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Call 0113 2242284 to book your place, or check out the Facebook page for the event for more details.

Interview with David Wickenden of 4 Poofs and a Piano

Originally published on Thurs 14 April 2011 at

How did you meet?
We’ve been together getting on for 11 years now. Three of us met singing in a choir. About a year later David Roper joined us on piano. I used to work at the Groucho Club in Soho and our first gig was there. There was a producer in the audience, looking for ideas for the Jonathan Ross show, which was still in concept form at the time. They saw us, contacted us and asked us to go and try out, and we were pretty much involved with the show from day one!

What are the main musical influences on the band?
It’s a comedy influence more than anything else – visual, larger-than-life influences. Having said that, I’d say that Stephen’s main influence is Agnetha from ABBA; Ian’s is probably Dusty Springfield; David’s is Helen Shaprio; and mine would be Les Dawson!

You’re one of the singers in the band – do you play anything?
I do play – but not very well! I play the piano a little bit, I do one comedy number in the show – it’s quite simple.

Tell us about your new show.
Smoke and Mirrorballs is a show in two parts. The first half is a compilation of the best of our previous shows from over the years. The second half is essentially our Edinburgh show from 2009. It’s really high energy, really full-on good fun. We’ve been getting great responses from audiences – we were in Andover several nights ago and we had a really good night, people were really up for it. We love to interact with the audience and get them involved in the show: there’s lots of singing, lots of comedy songs, dancing and chatting with the audience. It’s all really good fun!

Have you played in Barnsley before?
No we haven’t, but we were in Sheffield a couple of weeks ago at The Crucible and we had a great night there. One of the guys in the band, Ian, is a Yorkshireman – he’s from Sheffield so we always get a really lovely welcome by all his family when we play there.

Where’s the best place you’ve visited in Yorkshire?
The North Yorkshire Moors are beautiful, and we love visiting Leeds – we always have a great night out when we’re there, we love the big gay scene in the city.

Do you have any rock and roll stories from your time on the road?
Apart from Stephen the Australian farting in the van, that’s about as rock and roll as it gets, we’re all tired with the long late night drives!

The Half: Photographs of Actors by Simon Annand

Originally published on Thurs 31 March 2011 at

The Half‘ – a stage term given to the 30 minutes before the curtain goes up at the theatre. It’s got a special name because it’s a special moment, when actors begin to shed their own personality and take on the life of their stage characters.

It’s a moment that’s been encapsulated in a series of photographs by Simon Annand, soon to be on display at Scarborough Art Gallery and the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Capturing faces from stage and screen over the past 25 years, there’s glimpses of young unknowns from the 1980s – now household names – including Anthony Hopkins, Colin Firth and Daniel Day Lewis.

Annand’s unprecedented access offers a rare glimpse not only into a personal moment in an actor’s preparations, but also serves as a documentation of theatre history. Each actor is caught in the midst of their routines and rituals, preparing to transform into a new personality for the stage.

The Half is being held – appropriately – in two halves. The largest part of the exhibition is on display at Scarborough Art Gallery, consisting of black and white shots, moving into colour photography at the Stephen Joseph Theatre Gallery.

Simon Annand will visit Scarborough Art Gallery to discuss his work on Friday 20 May, from 12.30 – 1.30pm.

Hull Truck Food Festival Fundraiser

Originally published on Tues 15 March 2011 at

If you’ve ever wanted cookery classes from one of the ‘100 Sexiest Men in the World’ (and a Michelin-starred, 5AA Rosette-winning, Frenchman, too), then join celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli at Hull Truck Theatre for some scrumptious food – and help raise money for the theatre at the same time.

Hull Truck’s second annual Food Festival comes round on Sunday 27 March, with cookery demonstrations and stalls from local food producers. It’s all in the aim of generating some cash for the theatre, and exploring a range of exciting produce from around the region.

There’ll be tasting sessions too – try a bit of local cheese, or a range of different chocolates – before moving onto beer tasting and cocktail classes. Experts will be on hand to discuss the history and culture behind the food, as well as offering cookery tips and guidance.

For those with kids, there’s a ‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’ storytelling session, facepainting sessions and drama workshops. Take time out from browsing the food stalls to sample some of Hull Truck’s own cuisine, with a special menu prepared by the Head Chef, James Allcock. Plus, pick up a brochure, and you’ll get 10% off your food next time you visit.

It’s certain to be a sell-out – so if you’re a food fan, book your ticket now!

Full details can be found on Hull Truck’s website at

My writing portfolio: an update

Since November 2010 I’ve written reviews, previews and events listings on the cultural website  Here’s a portfolio of my work so far.

For the latest, I’d recommend that you subscribe to my site via RSS using something like Google Reader – it’s dead easy.  Watch this video for tips on how to do it.

You can find this page in the writing section of my site, too – take a browse!

David Hare

David Hare Season: Via Dolorosa

David Hare

Originally published on Tuesday 8th Feburary 2011 at

Sir David Hare, one of Britain’s finest playwrights, will be appearing in person to read Via Dolorosa, an account of his trip to Israel and Palestine in 1997. The play explores the landscapes, ideologies and emotions of the region, based on his meetings with 33 people he met during his travels.

The Olivier-winning playwright will be appearing in person as part of the David Hare Season at Sheffield Theatres. A major retrospective, the season will include three of his finest plays: Racing Demon, Plenty and The Breath of Life. Each of these plays will be performed at Sheffield Theatres simultaneously, something unusual for a living playwright.

Via Dolorosa, Latin for ‘the way, full of sorrows’, was Hare’s solo acting debut when he first performed it in 1998. He subsequently received the Drama Desk Award for his outstanding performance, and went on to produce the work for television.

Hare’s work often deals with interesting social matters: he first came to prominence with his 1970 breakthrough play, Slag, a study of teachers and radical feminism. His 1978 play Plenty dealt with post-war disillusion, and Racing Demon touched on gay ordination in the 90s Church of England. Via Dolorosa continues in this tradition, exploring both sides of the conflict, and those who seek religious justification for their extremist actions.

You’ll be able to read reviews from all three David Hare Season plays on over the next few weeks.


Originally published on 2nd February 2011 at

A ‘Pinteresque’ production is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, one ‘typically characterized by implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses’.

As the ambience of Harold Pinter’s works can be distilled into such a brief passage, this says a lot about the influence of the man and his work on the world of theatre. He had a career spanning 50 years, working right up to his death in 2008. During his lifetime, he wrote 29 original stage plays, 27 screenplays and many more works for TV, radio and other literature.

In acknowledgement of Pinter’s influence, York Theatre Royal has commissioned five short plays from local writers. Each has been careful to capture the essence of Pinter’s work, yet also allow their own dramatic style to break through.

The plays will be performed alongside some of Pinter’s short works, including Victoria Station, based on the relationship between a minicab driver and controller, Night, a one-act study on marriage, and the fiercely political One for the Road.

Producing the shows is Old Bomb Theatre, a York-based company renowned for provocative, earthy drama. Their previous productions include Simon Stephen’s On The Shore of the Wide World and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, a hugely influential figure on the work of Harold Pinter.

You can follow all the latest developments on York Theatre Royal’s blog.