After many months of closure, Highlights Rural Touring Scheme is hoping to breathe life back into rural village halls and community venues across Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland with some high quality arts performances this summer.
From theatre, dance, live music and cabaret performances to family shows and creative workshops, Highlights are eager to bring some of the UK’s best touring companies and artists back into rural community spaces with their 2021 Spring programme.
“Last year we had to cancel far too many performances, so it was with an air of optimism over adversity that we programmed this season into early Summer,” says Kate Lynch, Director at Highlights.
“We are delighted by the government announcement that from 17 May we can bring great arts performances back to our rural venues. Things will look different. Audiences will be smaller; venues might feel less intimate. But there will be a warm welcome and our artists will perform with the same heart and passion as always.”
Highlights work with an army of volunteer promoters in over 65 community venues and village halls across the North of England to bring high quality performances to small rural communities.
This season sees 54 events in 32 community venues across the three counties. Among the theatre highlights are two performances featuring forgotten women in history. Singer songwriter Louise Jordan explores the myth of the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ in her show Florence. SOLD tells the remarkable story of Mary Prince, who escaped 40 years of slavery to become a beacon of the British Abolitionist movement. This award-wining show combines traditional African Griot storytelling fused with drumming, dance and song in an exceptional piece of theatre.
British social history continues with an energetic one-man adaptation of Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist. This fantastic Magic Lantern show features audience participation, storytelling, songs and funny one-liners to amuse and inform the whole family.
PMac Productions’ Old Herbaceous explores rural society but that of a bygone era told through the eyes of a retired head gardener of a country house. Fans of Downton Abbey and Gardeners World will enjoy this charming tale of love and loss with gardening tips.
Identity and food combine in a multicultural feast for the senses. In Love and Spice, the Balbir Singh Dance Company fuse Kathak and contemporary dance, music and a homemade curry cooked by a chef during the performance.
Dance continues with The Hotel Experience from Lila Dance where nothing is quite as it seems behind the ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs.
There’s a plethora of live music on offer from an evocative toe-tapping tribute to French music courtesy of Fifi la Mer and beautiful original music from BBC 2 Folk Awards winner Rowan Rheingans in her new show Dispatches on the Red Dress.
Seasoned folk musician and musical narrator of the West End’s War Horse, Saul Rose joins the tour for a rare solo show whilst Flats & Sharps head to Cumbria with their fusion of foot-stomping Appalachian tunes with a unique Cornish folk twist.
This year, for the first time, Highlights are bringing some of the region’s most talented artists and designer makers to community venues for some truly participatory workshops.
With artforms as diverse as origami, leather tooling and lino printing on offer, it is hoped the workshops will not only be a chance to learn or develop skills but also an opportunity to get together with friends, meet new people and enjoy a relaxed and creative day.
Should performances or workshops need to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, ticket holders will be refunded in full. For booking information and details about the full Highlights Rural Touring Scheme Spring programme visit www.highlightsnorth.co.uk