Nationally renowned producing theatre and an
international line-up among the highlights touring rural venues
throughout the country this autumn
Members of the National Rural Touring Forum once again dispel the misconception that the best art and cutting edge live performances can only be seen in the country’s major, cosmopolitan cities as a myriad of artists tour to what may be by some seen as less conventional venues this autumn and winter.
With the standard, variety and quantity of work on offer being extremely high, it has been a challenge for NRTF’s Development Director, Ralph Lister, to select his season highlights: “The quality of productions available on the Rural Touring circuit is truly phenomenal – something that constantly amazes people when they attend for the first time.” Ralph commented, adding: “This season, as ever, there is a staggering array of shows on offer featuring an eclectic mix of styles and genres, choosing a few highlights has been an almost impossible task”.
Included in the line-up leaving the cities behind is a production from the globally renowned West Yorkshire Playhouse, a Norwegian contemporary dance company and a Scottish-Zambian singer.
Beryl – West Yorkshire Playhouse
Joining rural touring for the first time, West Yorkshire Playhouse have taken to the road with their acclaimed production of Maxine Peake’s Beryl. Originally premiered at their Leeds home in 2014, the story follows the life of unsung sporting legend Beryl Burton “the greatest woman on two wheels”. Having received a string of hit reviews from respected national theatre critics, its arrival on the rural touring circuit in the form of a specially reworked, technically simpler version demonstrates clearly the strength of work available as part of these schemes.
James Brining, Artistic Director of West Yorkshire Playhouse is a strong advocate of touring to venues throughout the community: “Being out in the communities is absolutely fundamental to what the Playhouse is about for me. It’s important because I believe we have a responsibility to give as many people as possible the opportunity to experience what we do. But it’s not just about our responsibility to make our work accessible, I also love the atmosphere and environment that this approach generates in the venues we visit.”
Joe Hennessey of Rural Arts North Yorkshire, one the schemes working with the West Yorkshire Playhouse on this project, said: “It is the first time West Yorkshire Playhouse have toured one of their shows rurally, and the opportunity to work with such an established theatre is something we cannot wait to do.”
Behind The Mirror – Panta Rei Danseteater
Having first toured with Artsreach in Dorset in 2011, Norwegian contemporary dance company Panta Rei Danseteater return with Behind The Mirror. Featuring the Oslo-based company’s trademark of stunning choreography coupled with a distinctive soundscape, this take on the classic Alice Through The Looking Glass will be appearing with Take Art in Somerset, Rural Arts Wiltshire and Artsreach in Dorset and across the South West of England this November.
Audiences are ensured of a high paced, colourful dance experience with pulsating performances that are fantastically accessible.
Every Brilliant Thing – Paines Plough / Pentabus
The impressive combination of two champions of new writing, Paines Plough and Pentabus, head to Cheshire with Rural Touring Arts, to Hampshire with Hog the Limelight and to the Highlands with The Touring Network amongst other destinations to present a bold new play about depression and the lengths we will go to for those we love. Each performance will be unique with members of the audiences being directly involved with the show.
Described by Lyn Gardner as “one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression – and possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever seem full stop”, this show, and its themes, will appeal to a wide range of audiences as well as reaching out to local mental health support groups.
The Red Chair – Clod Ensemble
Clod Ensemble made their mark at last year’s NRTF showcase with a stunning extract from this dark, original fairy tale. It is fantastic for rural touring that this surreal ballad is included in this exciting season.
Join acclaimed writer/performer Sarah Cameron as she works with Take Art in Somerset to take you on a journey through a world of extreme compulsion and eye watering complacency, where domestic drudgery happens on an operatic scale and a father’s dereliction of duty reaches epic proportions.
Dracula – Rabbit Theatre
The award-winning Rabbit Theatre and the ‘outrageously versatile’ performer David Mynne, who will be well known for his extensive work with Cornish theatre company, Kneehigh – bring his one-man performance of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of the vampire. This monstrous, disturbing (and completely batty) tale of dark deeds, brought to rural touring by Pound Arts and Rural Arts Wiltshire, will thrill and seduce audiences (though children under 12 are advised not to attend).
The Devil’s Larder – Grid Iron Theatre Company
First produced for Cork 2005 European Capital of Culture, The Devil’s Larder is now coming exclusively to the Highlands with The Touring Network. This critically acclaimed site-specific promenade production based on the novel by Jim Crace examines how food can act as a catalyst for unleashing our fears, desires and taboos.
The full list of excellent performances taking place in rural areas throughout the country is too long to mention but other highlights include: Going Viral (Daniel Bye); A Christmas Carol (Living Spit); Salaam (Sonia Sabri Company); Some People Have Too Many Legs (Jackie Hagan/Contact Theatre); Strictly Balti (Travelling Light); Oddly (Norwich Puppet Theatre); Hands Up For Jonny Wilkinson’s Right Boot (Live Wire Theatre); and Bar Story (Etta Ermini Dance Theatre).