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  • Village Halls Week: 22nd - 28th January

    A celebration of rural communities

    National Charity Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and their 38 member organisations are running a week long campaign to celebrate England’s 10,000 Village Halls.

    Village Halls are an integral part of rural communities but are often overlooked. Think back over the years; birthday parties, christenings, weddings and funerals. Key moments in our lives – all treading the boards of our Village Halls.

    This year we think about how Village Halls provide a space for communities to come together, something ever more pertinent with the rising number of people affected by loneliness.

    Rural communities in particular are seeing diminishing services and social areas, such as the closing of pubs and shops. When these community spaces disappear, it becomes harder to connect, meet new people and have that much needed interaction.

    ACRE believe Village Halls play a huge part in tackling these issues, for example providing community shops and pop up pubs where there are none, as well as social groups for older and younger people alike.

    From the 22 January to the 28 January 2019, every county will see a series of events to bring people together and celebrate these crucial rural spaces. The campaign is supported by Defra with an appearance in the week from Lord Gardiner of Kimble.

    Events include performances from Ian McMillan, renowned poet and broadcaster and children’s author and illustrator Steve Antony.

    In addition, the NRTF has commissioned stand-up poet Kate Fox to write and perform a piece celebrating village halls.

    For a full list of events visit the ACRE Website.


    Issued 09 January 2019


    #Villagehallsweek (22-28 Jan) is an initiative started by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England).

    The ACRE Network is formed of ACRE and its members – 38 rural community councils based at county level across England. Many or the RCCs date back 90s years; ACRE was formed in 1987 and is the national voice for the country’s largest rural network, formed of 52,000 grassroots organisations in 11,000 rural communities.

    The Launch Event will be at Little Thetford Village Hall in Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire ACRE will celebrate the history of Village Halls with appearances from Deputy Lieutenant Mrs Jane Lewin-Smith and the City of Ely Town Crier Mrs Avril Hayter-Smith.

    Community Action Suffolk will welcome the support of Defra, with Lord Gardiner of Kimble Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity in attendance.

    Community Action Northumberland welcomes Ian McMillan renowned poet, writer and radio presenter. Ian supported Village Halls Week 2018 by writing ‘A Teapot as big as The Moon’, a poem especially about Village Halls.

    GRCC (Community Action in Gloucestershire) host children’s author and illustrator Steve Antony. Steve will be doing a reading of his new book ‘Amazing’ published January 2019.

    Stand-up poet Kate Fox has been commissioned by the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) to write and perform a poem. The NRTF are the membership organisation for rural touring schemes, working to bring professional performance art to rural audiences. Kate has recently made two comedy series for BBC Radio 4 called ‘The Price of Happiness’ and her comedy shows have toured from the Edinburgh Fringe to the Southbank Centre.

    For a full list of events visit the ACRE Website.

  • A Seasonal Sharing of ‘Crossings’

    By Deirdre Kinahan
    14-16 December

    Watch the Crossings Live Capture via: and

    The powerful and subversive drama Crossings will be broadcast online and available to audiences from 14-16 December to mark the first collaborative tour produced by leading touring theatre companies Pentabus Theatre and New Perspectives.

    Kinahan’s play, which explores the unexpected stories of war past and present, has captivated audiences on its premiere 25 date rural tour across 12 counties (Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Herefordshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire). The online broadcast is designed to celebrate the rural tour, offering even more audiences the chance to get a taste of the intimacy of a village hall performance by broadcasting a performance of Crossings filmed in Lustleigh Village Hall in Devon. The show will be broadcast complete with captions.

    Written by award-winning Dublin-based playwright Deirdre Kinahan (Spinning, These Halcyon Days, Bogboy), Crossings marked the first joint commission from these West and East Midlands based rural companies.

    The cast features: Victoria Brazier whose recent works include The Secret Garden (York Theatre Royal and Theatre by the Lake) Hard Times (Northern Broadsides) and Three Mothers (Waterloo East) and Will O’Connell whose recent theatre includes Class (Traverse Theatre, Galway Arts Festival, Abbey Theatre, Dublin Theatre Festival), Swansong (Kilkenny Arts Festival) and Luck Just Kissed You Hello (HotForTheatre/GIAF/Dublin Theatre Festival). Victoria will play Margaret and Mirjana, and Will plays Grace and Sean. Artistic Director of Pentabus Theatre Company Sophie Motley said: ‘We try to live stream or live capture all of our plays directly from village halls to your computers. It gives you the real sense of the pure joy felt watching rural theatre in a village hall. Deirdre Kinahan’s play is a beautiful, intimate piece of theatre, and we’re thrilled that audiences will be able to watch it again or for the first time from the wonderful Lustleigh Village Hall in Devon!’


    Sally Anne Tye, New Perspectives’ Executive Director added: ‘As rural touring champions, making the production available to see online presents an opportunity for audiences who have enjoyed a live performance to view it again and share their experience more widely with friends and family and to offer new audiences the chance to experience a village hall performance wherever they live.’

    The live capture will be available from 4pm on Fri 14 December till midnight on Sun 16 December 2018 via or

    Running Time 75 minutes | Recommended for ages 12 +

    Creative Team
    Writer Deirdre Kinahan
    Director Sophie Motley
    Set and Lighting Designer Sarah Jane Shiels
    Sound Designer Helen Skiera
    Costume and Props Carl Davies
    Movement Director Kitty Winter
    Voice and Accent Coach Emma Stevens-Johnson
    Associate Sound Designer Joe Dines

    Notes for Editors

    About Pentabus

    Pentabus is the nation’s rural theatre company. We are the only professional theatre company in the UK whose vision is singularly rural. We tour new plays about the contemporary rural world to new audiences in village halls, fields, festivals and theatres, telling stories with local relevance and national impact. We believe that every person living in an isolated rural community has a right to exceptional theatre. We are based on a farm in Shropshire, and to date all of our work has been made here. It then tours village halls and theatres locally and nationally. Over four and a half decades we’ve produced 170 new plays, reached over 550,000 audience members, won a prestigious South Bank Show award for our show about racism, a Fringe First for our play about climate change and were the first to live stream from a village hall. We have hosted a writer in residence since 2014 and they have gone on to be commissioned by the Royal Court, Birmingham Rep, Royal Welsh College and the Bush.

    We are a champion for rural young people aged 16 to 25 and we’ll be launching Pentabus Young Company in Spring 2019, a new initiative offering workshops, masterclasses, work experience and mentorships, as well as the opportunity to join our Young Writers’ Group, which has been running for five years. Previous participants of the Young Writers’ Group have had their work presented at Ludlow Fringe, Latitude Festival and Hereford Courtyard. It is a springboard into further study and the arts industry, with over 50% of our Young Writers going on to be published and professional writers.

    About New Perspectives

    New Perspectives is a national touring theatre company based in the East Midlands’ Through an annual programme of original adaptations, rare revivals and new writing, we aim to bring a diverse range of live theatre and performance that is vital, affordable and accessible into the heart of wide-ranging communities, as well as to regional, national and international venues. We believe in:

    • Creating a diverse brand of live theatre that is nationally and internationally recognised as challenging, original and unafraid to take bold creative risks
    • Empowering artists and theatre makers across the region with knowledge, skills and increasing networks through the development of small-scale and rural touring theatre
    • Engaging regional audiences by widening access to high quality live performance regardless of age, social class, ethnicity, gender, disability or geographic location.

    Our work tours nationally and internationally, from small rural village halls to 700 seat theatres. Our mixed economy touring models enable us to tour and programme live performances in the heart of communities, affording opportunities for those with little or no access to other cultural outlets the opportunities to see high quality performances right on their doorstep. Removing barriers of location, age, culture or socio-economic status fuels our ambition to bring audiences into close contact with the highest quality new work.

    We maintain the highest levels of artistry and production values in all our work, and deliver a programme of wide cultural significance and are therefore able to advance the arts through regular critical analysis of the work we create. Our productions are testament to the fact that rural theatre is as relevant, challenging and dynamic as theatre made for any other environment.

    • Twitter: @pentabustheatre | @NPtheatre #Crossings
    • Facebook: PentabusTheatre | @NewPerspectivesTheatreCompany
    • Youtube: | newperspectivesTV
    • Instagram: Pentabustheatrecompany | @nptheatre
    • Further Information can be found at and
  • South Downs National Park Authority/Inn Crowd – Writer/Performer in Residence Opportunity

    Applause Rural Touring (ART) and South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) are pleased to announce a new partnership to commission a spoken word inspired show that explores and records residents relationship, thoughts and feelings of the South Downs National Park and will tour across the region in 2019 as part of the Inn Crowd project.

    Inn Crowd supports rural pubs to host spoken word-inspired live performances, working with some of the UK’s top artists and performers to provide pubs in rural areas with professional, high-quality, fantastic live entertainment and reinforces the pub as a central, vibrant part of community life. Further information about Inn Crowd can be found here

    We are looking for an individual or collective that has the necessary skills and experience to deliver both creative and artistic excellence along with strong project management. The project will run from January – August 2019 and will include the following:

    • Research: Identify pubs and local community groups/schools to participate and contribute to the project and to host the new show.
    • Residency : develop innovative and creative ways to gather material focused on the South Downs and people’s relationship with it, using local community networks and host pubs.
    • Commission: from the material gathered develop one or more pieces for performance in host pubs.
    • Performance: deliver 7 shows in host pubs across the region.

    It is anticipated that this is a collaborative project and that the Lead writer/performer is likely to  engage other creative practitioners to support the delivery of this work.

    Research and Project Management (10 days minimum) – in collaboration with SDNPA and ART to research appropriate host pubs in the lead areas and liaise with pubs and participating groups to arrange workshops and visits. It is essential that a diverse range of pubs are sourced and in particular we want to target small rural villages, and isolated and relatively deprived rural areas.

    Residency (21 days - 3 days per location x 7) - Deliver opportunities for creative engagement with local communities to explore and record residents relationship, thoughts and feelings of the SDNP. Activities to include (but not limited to) workshops/interactions with primarily community groups, and schools as part of residency days or activities in host pubs. Content of workshops and visits will be focussed on gathering material specific to the South Downs National Park, people’s relation with the landscape, buildings, work and home environment.

    Commission - Using the information and observations recorded as part of the residency, create one or more pieces for performance at Host pubs. The resulting work for performance must reflect the thoughts, feelings and responses by local residents about the SDNP as well as those of the WIR.

    Touring – perform a minimum of 7 shows across the region

    Time Scale (indicative):
    November/December 2018: interviews and appointment of WIR.
    December – February 2018: research period to scope and identify pubs/communities and opportunities for engagement.
    March – May 2019: residencies and engagement opportunities.
    June - July : writer develops new work/s
    August/September :touring of new work in community venues/pubs

    Research and Project Administration Fee: £2,000 (minimum of 10 days)
    Total Residency Fee for lead artist and visiting artists or performers: £6300 (minimum of 21 days)
    Commission fee for development of spoken word inspired show - £4000
    Touring fees @ £450 inclusive per show – (minimum of 7)


    To apply please send a CV, to include links to samples of your written work and any live performances plus accompanying letter of no more than one side of A4 highlighting your relevant experience and what you would bring to the project to Sally Lampitt
    Deadline for applications: 9am Monday 24 November
    Interviews 3-5 December (please confirm that you are available for interview)

  • Highlights Featured in latest Big Issue North

    Rural Touring scheme Highlights are featred in the latest Big Issue North which is available to dowload from the collum on the right or you can read the article online here.