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Posts tagged ‘yorkshire folk’

Celebrating Disruption – Article from the Mystery Plays Programme

First published in the York Mystery Plays 2014 programme…
‘For too long we’ve been too apologetic’ … This was the frame of mind I was in when we started planning our route through the city and the playing stations for the 2014 Mystery Plays.

In my early years as event producer I was often approached to ‘help make things happen’, this request came often from projects facing objections, and in a position of limited resources and with complications that meant i had to carefully balance the needs and aspirations of the project with the potential impact on the location and the (often reluctant) stakeholders involved.

Now that i’m a lot older and a little bit wiser I find myself becoming a little bit more ‘bullish’ about the importance of certain projects balanced against the minor disruptions that they cause – in some cases, like the Mystery Plays, I even feel that perhaps we should be celebrating that ‘disruption’.

York mystery plays come in many formats, they are not ‘owned’ by anybody but by the same measure are owned by everybody.

In 2012 a new large-scale staging of the plays took place in the modern tradition and context in the museum gardens. That concentration of activity and the scale brought visual spectacle and impact, though there was nothing to see beyond the bound of the museum gardens a buzz resonating around the city – something significant was happening. Something that everyone had a stake in.

The medieval tradition of the plays on the wagons being celebrated this year – is a certainly a more ‘distributed’ approach in its planning and preparation and in its final realisation – The effort and the energy put into producing plays happens behind closed doors in schools, the university, church halls, farmers barn and in unusual uncharted corners of the city – wherever people can find space to rehearse their scene and build their set. A ‘community of communities’ bringing forth the plays.

There is no pomp and ceremony in the months in the running-up to the plays, no yellow bikes lining routes or knitted bunting hanging in the trees – but on the day, the tens of thousands of people that engage with the pageantry of the plays as the move from location to location or that sit and watch at the playing stations are seeing something unique – something that not only that makes York distinctive and engaging as a tourist experience, but also speaks of the commitment and enthusiasm of the communities in York – which makes it a compelling place to live and to work.

In the last year we’ve seen the city centre of York in upheaval as major ‘essential works’ were carried out securing gas supplies for the city – Roads were closed, areas cordoned off and peoples work and life inconvenienced, but it passed and life carried on as normal.

It is probably glib to make the comparison and to say that the opportunity to engage in a city wide civic expression of our cultural heritage and our creative distinctiveness is as important as a reliable and safe gas mains supply – but it could be argued that the as York Cycle of Mystery Plays capture peoples hearts and minds, embedded as part of the fabric of the city – the disruption caused by these ‘essential works’ is a small price to pay.


Ben Pugh – 13/07/2014

The Little Festival of Everything

The Little Festival of Everything Returns to North Yorkshire this June.

I was lucky enough to catch the last iteration of this great event as a punter. Well worth supporting if you are in the vicinity:

here is some blurb from their press release:

Last November a small village in North Yorkshire innovated a grand idea that saw the local community, its 17th century pub and local theatre company, The Flanagan Collective, pull together to create a unique and special weekend festival. After a hugely successful launch, the second ‘The Little Festival of Everything’ weekend is back at The Fauconberg Arms, Coxwold from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 June. The pub will again play host to over 50 acts made up of actors, children’s entertainers, storytellers, singers and performers in a jam packed free festival that aims to bring the best entertainment from around the UK to this beautiful North Yorkshire setting.

‘The Little Festival of Everything’ was conceived last year by local theatre company The Flanagan Collective, spearheaded by Alexander Wright, who has enjoyed success in the performing arts as Artistic Director of Belt Up Theatre and is currently Associate Director on The York Mystery Plays with York Theatre Royal. Alexander, 24 and originally from Coxwold was motivated to created a new business model for a unique rural arts festival, where performers could use the experience to try out new work in a country retreat and the audience could participate, watch and enjoy the experience for free. The success of the November weekend in Coxwold has meant that ‘LittleFest’ is now being rolled out to Southill Park, Bracknell in July and at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. The model works because all performers receive expenses that will be covered by sponsorship, but they all agree to come to the festival without an additional fee as they will use the experience as a testing ground for new work, have a lovely weekend in a beautiful setting with like minded peers, and they all genuinely want to be part of this new venture. The residents of Coxwold have again offered up their spare rooms and will host the performers for the weekend. This allows the whole festival to be free for audiences and it is hoped that families, visitors and locals will experience many events across the weekend.

Simon Rheinberg, proprietor of the pub says; “Having an arts festival of this calibre in a village pub is unique. The free entry was a very important objective as it fits in with the general atmosphere of being in a pub. People can spend as long as they want there, eat and drink at anytime throughout the day.’ Alexander believes the festival has a strong line-up of acts which will be performing in and around the premises of The Fauconberg Arms, “We have again gathered the best people from near and far to come and set up shop in the pub. We have returning storytellers, theatre makers, poets, musicians, writers, cabaret artists as well as new performers who heard about last years festival and wanted to get involved.” The festival, which will run over the weekend of the 22nd,23rd and 24th June has been set up to appeal to all ages and interests, Alexander notes; “There are things for the adventurous, for the daring, for the quiet and for the inquisitive.There are things that will surprise you, move you, challenge you and excite you but everything will welcome you with open arms.” Some of the best artists from across the country will be in attendance.

Lots of the companies that attended in November will return including; award winning cabaret artist Damsel Sophie, Pilot Theatre, performance poet Henry Raby, children’s theatre company Tucked In, folk band Holy Moly and the Crackers, local musician Alun Nixon, Hannah Davies and Essex based company Shady Jane. The Festival has also attracted a number of new companies such as renowned London based collective Shunt, York comedy duo Bush and McClusky, comedian Chris Stokes, children’s storytelling company Mud Pie Arts, Easingwold’s Gobbledigook Theatre to name but a few. This Summer festival will make more of the beautiful outdoor space at the pub with a family storytelling area and intimate events in the summer house, plus on the Sunday morning there will be a vintage and craft fair to accompany the family events taking place. Simon Rheinberg underlines the importance of being an anomaly in the industry as many UK public houses struggle to survive the ongoing credit crunch. “We want to build on the success and reputation of last year’s festival and by programming arts events with The Flanagan Collective we will attract new visitors to Coxwold and we look forward to welcoming them alongside our locals for another exciting weekend,” he says. “We see it as a great opportunity to bring artists, residents and visitors together to drink, eat and be entertained.” David Shields Area Director for Welcome to Yorkshire, who supported the Festival in November said: “We are proud to support this brand new festival which will transform the village of Coxwold into a theatrical wonderland for one weekend only! We would urge visitors to come along and support this fantastic festival which will see performers, actors and musicians take over the Fauconberg Arms to put on a series of free events. We are sure it will be a fun-packed weekend for all the family.”

For more information and a full programme listing please visit

Digital Identity in Interesting Spaces

I’m collaborating with Abhay Adhikari to bring his Digital Identity seminars to Yorkshire with a focus on those working in creative industries / culture / arts / heritage / museums etc.

The seminars take place on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd of May at the National Centre for Early Music in York (click the links for more info):

Strategic development for the arts, culture and heritage sectors

Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Suitable for: producers, directors, curators and senior management

Campaigning and visibility for the arts, culture and heritage sectors

Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Suitable for: marketing and communications teams

Finding your audience and collaborators online

Thursday, 3 May 2012
Suitable for: individual practitioners and community led organisations 


Abhay has done a great post on his blog about the project so far in it’s different manifestations:

The Digital Identities in Interesting Spaces project has been running for close to eight months. The first round of commissions and activities are now complete and new ones are about to begin. This is a fairly exciting period as the scope of activities is widening in scale and participation. This post provides a brief snapshot of the work carried out so far. I have also outlined plans for the next quarter.

Read more now…


Hope to see you in York in May?


Omar Puente

If it is not enough that one of the Raghu Dixit: unplugged  tracks is included on the free cover CD – Songlines Magazine have given us another good reason to buy this month with a great little feature on Yorkshire’s own Omar Puente.

The brilliant Cuban jazz violinist has made his home in Bradford and he talks in the article about the great diversity in the region’s music scene. He even gets in a little plug for the Bradford Mela.

You can find the magazine via their website:  Songlines Magazine

And listen to Omar’s latest release on iTunes: From There to Here – Omar Puente


Gala for Geri

A Celebration of the Life and Work of Geraldine Connor featuring the words, dance and music that she loved.

West Yorkshire Playhouse | Saturday March 31st | 7.30pm | Tickets £10


I was privileged to spend some time working with Geraldine Conner in the last few months of her life – her energy and enthusiasm were infectious. I’m lending my hands to support the gala evening celebrating her life and work.

From their press release:

A night to make you smile and make you cry, to make you clap your hands and stamp your feet, but most of all to celebrate the life of Geraldine Connor, a great teacher, composer, performer, director, musicologist and all-round inspiration to us all. There will never be another Geraldine, but this evening is to help keep her memory and her legacy alive.

The Gala will have extracts from Geraldine’s best-known work Carnival Messiah and feature specially devised performances by some of her favourite collaborators. Participants will include classically trained singers Ronald Samm, Simone Sauphanor and Brian Green, actors Ram John Holder, Renee Castle, Nigel Wong and Jojo Kelly, dancers David Hamilton, Ayo Jones and Jonathan Bishop, a piece by South Asian company Kala Sangam, and music across the spectrum, from steel band to gospel.

All money generated on the evening will be used to continue Geraldine’s work.


Tickets available through West Yorkshire Playhouse. Hope you can come along – it should be a fantastic night!


Yumi York & Fish Curry!

As some of you will know i’ve been involved with Yumi York for some time now in various capacities, from working on the festival events to supporting the strategic development of the organisation. Yumi is a great grassroots project celebrating the wide and varied range of people, backgrounds, cultures and stories in York.

Each month they publish a newsletter (you can sign up on the website) – this month’s included a traditional Bangladeshi Fish Curry  by Monwara Yesmin – Which has always been a favourite of mine at our events. So i thought i’d share it here too!

Do have a look at the Yumi website for more details about the project (and more great international recipes) They are also on twitter @YUMIYork.

in Mona’s words:

Fish curry and rice

Preparation time 30 mins

Serves 4-6

4 fillets solid white fish (in York: Pungashi fish, from Freshways on Hull Rd)

2 medium onions

2 medium peeled potatoes

5-6 fresh green chillies (including seeds, according to taste)

4-5 garlic cloves, peeled

3 fresh tomatoes

3 tbs olive/vegetable oil

1tsp each: dried red chilli powder; turmeric powder; dhania(coriander) powder

¼ tsp ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp ground jeera (cumin)

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 cup water



Wash the fish and cut into bite-size pieces

Heat the oil and fry the garlic till golden

Add onions and salt (about 1 tsp according to taste)

Fry for a few seconds

Reduce to low heat and continue cooking 5-7 mins

Cut tomatoes and potatoes into bite size cubes

Add tomatoes, red chilli, turmeric, dhania, green chilli and black pepper to the garlic/ onion mixture

Fry for 5 mins on medium heat

Add fish and potato, stir gently

Add one cup of water and bring gently to the boil

Reduce and cook for 5 mins on low heat without lid

Add ground jeera

Cook for further 10 mins with lid

Add fresh dhania and cook for further 5 mins

Serve with rice or chappati* and salad**


I fried jeera (cumin seed) and finely sliced onion until golden, then added the rice, stirred,

added salt to taste, brought to the boil and simmered for about 10-12 mins.


I used a mixture of salads to accompany: freshly sliced limes, whole green chillies; sliced tomatoes

and onion mixed with mustard oil; and a hot, sour mixed pickle (lime, aubergine etc bought in Bradford)


Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde + Live Musical Accompaniment by Blue Roses in Leeds.

A friend of mine is working at the moment with the Birds Eye View Film Festival They have a couple of great events coming up north in the next month or so.

From the Hyde Park Picture House website:

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde + Live Musical Accompaniment by Blue Roses.

At the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds.

On 9th March – 6.30 PM.

Starring: John Barrymore, Martha Mansfield, Brandon Hurst

Directed by: John S. Robertson

65mins US 1920

Following acclaimed performances at London’s BFI and the Latitude and Green Man Festivals, acclaimed Yorkshire folk act Blue Roses (aka Laura Groves) reprise their haunting live score for this classic work of gothic silent cinema.

Philanthropic scientist Jekyll (Barrymore) has something of a midlife crisis and takes a potion to unleash his darker side – aka Hyde. Barrymore’s extraordinary transformation is achieved through performance alone, with shaken hair and expressive long-fingered hands. This seminal horror silent was adapted by MGM and Paramount prolific star scriptwriter Clara Beranger.

Clara Beranger

Clara Beranger was one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters, scripting 73 titles in 21 years. Having worked with some of Hollywood’s largest studios, she later becsme one of founding faculty members of USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Blue Roses

Blue Roses, aka Laura Groves, is an local musician from Shipley. Signed to XL recordings, Blue Roses’ self-titled debut album was released in 2009 to widespread critical praise for Groves’ rich, haunting vocals and her beautifully layered musical arrangements.

Tickets: £12.50 (full), £11 (concessions), £10 (members)

Originally commissioned by the Birds Eye View Film Festival: celebrating women filmmakers.

They also have Imogen Heap providing soundtrack to the 1928 French surrealist film ‘The Seashell and the Clergyman’ at the Sage in Gateshead.

Both offer a great opportunity to see some fantastic cinema alongside amazing live performances – They should be unforgettable events!