Commissioned by Rural Arts as part of Keepsake, cultural experiences you can treasure
“We were better on paper…”
When Alison arrives at Irene’s cottage she doesn’t expect her friend’s daughter, Lucy, to be firmly in residence.
Lucy is suspicious – why did her mother never mention she had a pen pal for over forty years? Forced to share the house, both women discover they have very different memories of Irene. Did they really know her at all?
Pen Pals is a celebration of friendship and the art of letter writing across the generations.
Pen Pals is 30 minutes long and is streaming exclusively from Monday 17th– Sunday 30thMay 2021.
“At a time when we’ve been truly isolated as a society, I wanted to write about connection, friendship and it’s far-reaching power to heal” says writer Tom Wentworth “Pen Pals is a love letter to friendship.” Tom Wentworth is a writer for theatre and television, whose recent credits including BBC Four and BBC America, with upcoming projects with National Theatre Wales and BBC One.
“We’re so excited to share Tom’s work with audiences across North Yorkshire and beyond. He has a unique perspective, a beautiful style and knows how to punch you in the gut with story”, says Max May, Director and CEO of Rural Arts. “I hope listeners love the piece – and are perhaps inspired to write letters of their own. They’re an underrated way of sending something simple but special.”
For a raw and powerful dance film about the importance of space and time off for mental health, about looking after yourself in isolation, and releasing frustration,Burnout will see students from Unlimited Dance Company in Barnstaple perform together on Woolacombe Beach on Sunday 6th June. The Devon dancers have rehearsed with the London dance company during lockdown, learning Joshua Nash’s choreography over Zoom, and will perform it together with Joshua for the first time when it is filmed. Reflecting the journey of young people during the pandemic, the film will be a chance to let it all out through the physicality of krumping, and to reconnect with friends and loved ones. They will be joined by professional dancers recording their parts in London, juxtaposing the urban city and the rural North Devon coast. The film has been commissioned by Beaford and Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI); earlier this month, RTDI and The Place co-commission In A Nutshell by Lost Dog was nominated for Best Short Dance Film at the National Dance Awards.
The final film will be released to the public on 7th July on social media.
Joshua Nash is a freelance hip hop theatre artist whose movement language is focusing on Hip Hop, Krump and House. He is reputable as a core member of Botis Seva’s company Far From The Norm, with performance credits including Channel 4 Random Acts, BBC Performance Live with Studio Wayne McGregor and Sadler’s Wells 20th anniversary triple bill Reckonings. He was due to perform a rural tour with RTDI in 2020,
North Devon professional freelance film maker Gemma Pons Alsina, a keen dancer herself, has already filmed and edited five adult community dance routines during the Covid-19 lockdown year on location within the North Devon Biosphere – including Braunton Burrows, Ilfracombe Harbour and Barnstaple. The first ballet piece, performed by dancers of mixed abilities, received over 100,000 views globally. Gemma is Spanish-born and based in Croyde, North Devon
Joshua Nash said, “This has been such an exciting project to work on over the past few months. It’s been incredible working with the young people at Unlimited dance over Zoom to choreograph a film which has been born directly out of the pandemic. Krump is an artform which is still quite new within the hip-hop dance world, so having the opportunity to share it with young people who live in Devon and might not have done anything like this before has been special. The film will be a real celebration of people coming back together, difference and how we can all start to look ahead after a difficult year.”
Beaford is England’s longest-established rural arts initiative, supporting rural creative development and providing access to high quality arts experiences across rural north Devon for more than 55 years. We are innovators in rural community engagement, cultural education, and artistic leadership, always looking to seek out entertaining and extraordinary ways to explore our land, lives and future beaford.org
The RTDI is a partnership between the National Rural Touring Forum, The Place, China Plate and Take Art.
In 2015 The National Rural Touring Forum joined forces with The Place, China Plate and Take Art to launch a brand-new initiative designed to assist in the making and touring of contemporary accessible dance to rural areas. The project was set up to address the paucity of dance performance happening in rural areas in smaller community venues. The project has been made possible by a grant from Arts Council England’s Lottery funded Strategic Touring Programme. Due to RTDI successes in November 2017 the project was given a further £417k to develop the project until July 2021. Over 160 performances have taken place to date along with numerous workshops and training opportunities for artists.
The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is a partnership project led by The National Rural Touring Forum with The Place, China Plate and Take Art. The project is funded by Arts Council England through its Strategic Touring Fund.
James McDermott, Norfolk born playwright, poet and associate artist at both Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Arts Centre, has collaborated with national project Inn Crowd to create a new performance poetry film that follows the experiences of a gay teenager coming of age during the nineties and noughties.
Manatomy will premiere for free online on Saturday 22nd May, and is a witty exploration of identity, politics, pop culture and place, and questions how lad culture shapes boys as they grow into men. Poems featured in Manatomy are taken from James McDermott’s poetry collection of the same name published by Burning Eye Books. The premiere will include a live Q&A with James, but the film will still be available to view free for two weeks after the premiere.
Speaking about the project, James said:
“I hope that the poems in the ‘Manatomy’ film entertain audiences and help them to better understand and reassess how they perceive queer experiences for young adults in rural East Anglian communities. I look forward to performing these poems in person when I tour ‘Manatomy’ to pubs across the county with Inn Crowd later this year”.
James has been one of Norfolk’s hugely successful home-grown writers over the last few years. As well as being a widely acclaimed poet and playwright, he also has ideas in development with various television production companies, and regularly teaches writing workshops at University of East Anglia and Norwich Theatre Royal.
This film is part of Inn Crowd’s ‘After Hours’ project, a new series of electrifying digital spoken-word pieces bringing new writing into people’s homes for free. Prior to the pandemic, Inn Crowd usually operates by bringing professional, high-quality live-literature inspired pieces to rural pubs. Arts organisations Creative Arts East and National Centre for Writing work with national partners Applause Rural Touring deliver the project countrywide.
As well as James McDermott’s Manatomy, Radio 4 regular John Osborne will premiere his new show Supermarket Love Stories in June, and Byron Vincent’s Instagramming The Apocalypse aired online last month with great success.To catch the premiere of Manatomy on 22nd May at 8pm, or watch it at any time for two weeks after that date, visit www.inncrowd.org.uk.
Rural Arts is proud to announce the streaming of a brand-new audio play exploring isolation within LGBTQ+ communities.
‘Ask for Sophie’ by Kerrie Marsh is a new commission from Rural Arts’ project Keepsake, which connects communities and reduces isolation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
This unique play is accessed via telephone line at any time, night or day. A character – the chatty and eponymous Sophie – answers the call. You, the audience member, play the role of a silent caller to an LGBT+ support line for people in rural areas. You’re in good hands with Sophie who guides you, shares her experiences and lets you know that you’re not alone. Sophie’s always there – all you have to do is call.
Ask for Sophie is available from Monday 3rd – Sunday 16th May, 24 hours per day, by calling 01845 980 758.
If it’s a bit chilly to join in outside, bring the cosy and vibrant atmosphere of the pub to life with the After Hours season of digital live-literature films.
INN CROWD has developed innovative ways to support artists in the past year including its recent collaboration with Pub is The Hub, Winter Warmers – a series of poems to celebrate our nations much loved pubs. COVID-19 restrictions have limited the scope to get live events into Pubs so these digital films will bring events direct into people’s homes. INN CROWD have worked with three artists to produce a season of live-literature films showcasing three electrifying pieces of new work.
All the work is free to access for two weeks from the launch date or audiences can join the online live premiere and watch the piece followed by a unique interactive experience with the artist. This will offer the chance to ask questions, hear talks on the themes of the film or after our first premiere attend a DJ set with Byron Vincent.
“At a time when people are missing the intimacy of late nights with friends, After Hours is a series of stories intended to evoke a late-night sharing or exchange. “ DawnBadland, Director, Applause Rural Touring
Bryon Vincent’s Instagramming the Apocalypse is a new film developed from his stage show. Performer Byron Vincent brings the force of his wit and wisdom to shine a spotlight on the post-satire age. Byron explores what it’s like to have an anxiety disorder during a global pandemic. It’s a glib, and postmodern take on the world in which cynicism is cool, modern life is rubbish and sincerity is for suckers. Byron’s will also host a live event including a pre-show introduction, followed by a screening of the film, post show interview and will close with a DJ set.
Manatomy, written and read by James McDermott, is a wry witty performance poetry film following the experiences of a camp gay boy through adolescence into manhood, as he comes of age in Norfolk in the nineties and noughties. The film explores how identity is shaped by parents, place, politics and pop culture and questions how lad culture shapes boys as they grow into men. Poems featured in Manatomy are taken from James McDermott’s poetry collection of the same name published by Burning Eye Books.
John Osborne’s Supermarket Love Stories is about supermarkets and the people who use them. It introduces us to the people on the tills, staff with untucked shirts sitting on their kick stools stacking shelves and the unrequited love of the cleaning staff. It is a poetry storytelling feast where everyone has a story to tell.
“We have had the great pleasure of working with Byron on the early development stages of this piece, including a residency at a rural pub near Diss. This digital version of the show really elevates the messages, but also highlights Byron’s wit, creativity and authentic connection with the themes – it is a really unique and brilliant show and we feel incredibly proud to be able to share it.” Karen Jeremiah, Deputy Director Creative Arts East
More information on the selected artists, or to book head to the INN CROWD website www.inncrowd.org.uk
Notes to editors
Byron Vincent’s – Instagramming the Apocalypse
Date: 24/04/202, 20:00
Run Time: Event runtime 3 hours (film is 1 hour 10 minutes)
Age Suitability: 18+ (adult content and strong language)
Byron Vincent is a writer, performer, broadcaster and activist. He also has a diagnosis of PTSD and bipolar disorder. As a spoken word artist at music and literary festivals, he was picked as one of BBC poetry season’s new talent choices. In more recent years he has turned to theatre, working as writer, director and performer for the RSC, BAC and other notable acronyms. Now he’s turning to film as a chance to reach even more people than before. Byron is a passionate social activist with lived experience of issues around poverty and mental health. Byron has written and presented for BBC Radio 4 on the social problems arising out of poverty, ghetto-isation and mental ill-health.
James McDermott’s –Manatomy
Date: 22/05/2020, 20:00(tbc)
Run Time: 1 hour (Film running time 20 minutes, Post-show talk/ Q&A 40 minutes)
Age Suitability: 18+ (adult content and strong language)
James McDermott is a writer based in East Anglia represented by Independent Talent. He is an Associate Artist at Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Arts Centre. James writing credits include ‘Time and Tide’ at Park Theatre and was nominated for two Off West End Theatre Awards (Offies) including one for Best New Play. James is writing new plays for HighTide, Eastern Angles, Norwich Playhouse, Norwich Theatre Royal, New Wolsey Ipswich, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, Revoluton Arts, UEA, Mercury Theatre, Sheringham Little Theatre and Relish Theatre Company. James is currently developing TV projects with Big Talk, Ranga Bee and Shiny Button and is one of the writers on the EastEnders Writer Shadow Scheme 2021.
As a poet, James is published widely in poetry journals and magazines and his debut poetry collection ‘Manatomy’ is published by Burning Eye Books. James was shortlisted for Outspoken’s Prize for Poetry 2020 in the Performance Category and long listed for The Winchester Poetry Prize 2020 judged by Andrew McMillan. James teaches creative writing online and in theatres, schools and universities across the country. He is also a private scriptwriting and poetry writing tutor.
John Osborne’s – Supermarket Love Stories
Date: 26/06/2020, 20:00 (tbc)
Run Time: TBC
Age Suitability: 14+ (contains some grown-up themes)
John Osborne is a Radio 4 regular and creator of cult show John Peel’s Shed. John Osbourne writes poetry, books, scripts and stories for Radio 4. He co-created the Sky One sitcom After Hours.
Notes to Editors
INN CROWD offers pub landlords spoken word, poetry and storytelling performances that have been created specifically for pub audiences and to the unique atmosphere and setting of a pub. Performances are highly subsidised requiring no special sets or space. The work is suitable for pubs, cafes, restaurants and breweries across the UK.
INN CROWD Pubs+ is a national arts project by Arts Council England. The first phase of the project ran from 2016-2019 as INN CROWD.
The arts organisations delivering INN CROWD are Applause Rural Touring and Creative Arts East (specialists in arts in rural areas), National Centre for Writing (literature specialists) and Pub is the Hub (Industry Advisors). Inn Crowd Pubs+ has 6 touring partners to deliver the project nationally Carn to Cove, Take Art, Arts Alive, Artsreach, Spot On Lancashire, Live and Local
These two pieces are part of an event coinciding with the Spring Equinox on Saturday 20 March 2021, coordinated by the West Midlands Culture Response Unit to mark one year since the country went into the first lockdown.
The event will be made up of 3-5 minute audio artworks, including spoken word, podcasts, music and singing – from artists and organisations across the region. The pieces focus on nature, spring, outdoors, reflection, restarting and growth; as the cultural sector looks ahead to returning to live events, re-opening venues and welcoming back audiences.To enjoy the event, audiences should search for the hashtag #SpringsCalling across social media.
Pentabus Artistic Director, Elle While said: ‘I am delighted we have commissioned these extraordinary artists to contribute their spellbinding work to Spring’s Calling. I urge you to put your headphones on or watch the waves of their voices to transport you; your heart will swell, your smile will spread as we look forward to brighter days.’
The audio releases will be available on Pentabus’ website as well as social media from 10am on Saturday 20 March 2021.
Rural Touring has not stopped despite the Pandemic
Rural touring sector continues to be creative during 12 months of lockdown
As the anniversary of the first lockdown passes, and rural audiences remain to be forced to stay at home, artists, rural touring schemes and volunteer promoters have found ways to continue to entertain communities, outside of shows in their usual venues in village halls, pubs, libraries, and community centres. In the face of COVID-19 Pandemic, the rural touring sector used their close community connections and in-depth knowledge of the needs of their audiences and artists to pivot quickly and innovatively. They commissioned and delivered professional work, not just for the digital space, but they have found ways to reach those not able to get online.
This includes commissioned radio concerts, theatre on the back of lorries, commissioned video shorts, reimagined theatre online, artists partnered with community groups, hyper-local outdoor performance for micro audiences, building a symphony of the countryside, digital diaries, plays by phone, dramas by postcard, shared and posted equipment, the creation and distribution of wellbeing packs, drive-in events and so much more. Rural touring across the country has never been more innovative or creative.
Rural Touring Schemes and promoters have been quietly producing programmes with an aim to not shout about it as attracting large audiences to shows was not the desired intention. It has all been personally delivered for individual villages so they could maintain COVID Safe social distancing. Some shows were put on for 30 minutes on one village green then moved to do the same in the neighbouring community. The work has been for small and specific audiences to ensure the residences maintain access to high-quality cultural provision and all the community health and wellbeing benefits that go along with that.
Symphony of the Countryside, a short film collaboration, led by Rural touring Scheme Carn to Cove in Cornwall. It involved rural promoters and audiences across England, professional musicians, poets, plus amateur and professionally shot images of the British Countryside capturing the summer of lockdown. Arts Alive in Shropshire and Herefordshire launched Arts Alive on Wheels, touring small scale shows outdoors on the back of a lorry. Highlights across the north of England commissioned a series of special concerts, Highlights at Home, which aimed to cut through the digital divide, premiered on BBC local radio. Cheshire Rural Touring Arts supported Stute Theatre to develop a new piece of telephone theatre called ‘You Don’t Know Me But…’ which was a 1-1 live 20 min piece of theatre down the phone incorporating a soundscape and music as well as a live performer. Take Art in Somerset has developed a new network called Totally Local, incorporating 14 outdoor performances in 6 villages.
“Artsreach (RT scheme in Dorset) has felt like a ‘big hug’ during the pandemic,” says a Promoter on the south coast.
Spot On in Lancashire commissioned a season of video shorts. Black Country Touring hosted Zoom Café, an interactive show about the history of coffee and tea. Lockbusters, a series of film packs with a selection of themed DVDs, books and journals created by Live and Local across the Midlands was shared within rural and hard to reach communities. Online performances from the Rural Touring Dance Initiative have taken place, sharing contemporary dance commissioned specifically for rural audiences.
Dommy B, who produced a film with Spot On in Lancashire, says “Being occupied with something creative and kind, has been awesome and very helpful on a personal level to my mental health”.
As well as generating top-quality entertainment for audiences, rural touring schemes have also fought hard to continue to find ways to pay artists and freelancers. National Rural Touring Forum, the umbrella organisation for the UK’s rural touring sector, diverted some of its Arts Council of England funding to help artists, schemes and promoters with extra support, advocacy and communications. It produced one of the biggest and most ambitious digital conferences in the performing arts sector throughout October 2020. Holly Lombardo, NRTF Director, says
“I cannot express how proud I am to be part of an organisation that supports such a resilient, caring, and innovative sector. I am blown away by the response our members have had in continuing to bring work to communities.”
The Internationally acclaimed SONIA SABRI COMPANY, a dynamic dance and music company, announce details of the first ever online version of its highly popularLOK VIRSA Festival for 2021.
LOK VIRSA, fast becoming one of the leading Festivals of its kind in the UK, was firstpremiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London attended by 8000 participants.
The festival, now in its 7th year, celebrates some of the rarely experienced traditional and folkloric art of music, crafts and dance rooted in the lands of the Indian subcontinent.
LOK VIRSA which means ‘heritage of the people’, has toured the country annually and would normally take place live in a venue across one day. However, adapting the festival online during lockdown has meant SONIA SABRI COMPANY can transform the festival to a virtual world-class stage of workshops and performances over 7 days.
Sonia Sabri Artistic Director, dancer-choreographer, said: “This year, LOK VIRSA: GOOD VIBRATIONS truly is an International Festival. As well as artists from the UK, we are delighted to welcome artists from Iran, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh. Each will come together across the week to bring colour, energy and high-class performances and events into our homes at what continues to be a challenging time for everyone.”
The FREE events will provide adults and children from diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to experience an array of arts and crafts workshops and participatory activities including Rangoli (using coloured rice, lentils, and flower petals to create eye-catching designs on the floor) Henna Painting, Block Printing and Weaving from award-winning artist Nilupa Yasmin. Indian folk dance with Kinga Malec.
The Festival’s dance offer features Festival Founder Sonia Sabri performs her own form of Kathak dance, Shadhona Dance Company (Bengali folk-dance performance); Folk Dance of Bangladesh workshop by Arthy Ahmed; Indian folk dance with Kinga Malec, Silk scarf dance workshop of Afghanistan led by a member of the Sonia Sabri Company and Afghani folk dance performance by Kathakaars.
Chris Sudworth, Birmingham Hippodrome Director of Artistic Programme added: “Birmingham is the biggest dance city outside of London, and at Birmingham Hippodrome we support several Associate companies, led by some of the best choreographers in the region, to reach new audiences with new work – Sonia Sabri is definitely one of those.
We have worked with Sonia since 2018, supporting her to create and tour her new family production ‘Same Same…But Different’ nationally, and to host a fantastic Lok Virsa Festival at the Hippodrome in 2019. We’re delighted to support Sonia to adapt the Festival for online audiences, offering workshops and performances, and to look ahead to further collaborations for the future.”
Further highlights of the LOK VIRSA: GOOD VIBRATIONS include music from Bahram Jamali (Iran), Kamal Sabri (India) and Shafi Mondal (Bangladesh) plus Rafique Khan (Rajasthani folk music performance) and Shyam Nepali (Folk Nepali music performance).
LOK VIRSA: GOOD VIBRATIONS is supported by Birmingham Hippodrome and runs from Monday 15th – Sunday 21st February. The Festival will open with a dance workshop on the Birmingham Hippodrome Facebook page.
Further artists will be announced over the coming weeks.
Events will be broadcast across Sonia Sabri Company’s social media platforms. All workshops and performance details will be available via Facebook. Events may be subject to change.
Twitter: @SoniaSabriCo Facebook: Sonia Sabri Company Instagram: SoniaSabriCo
To Celebrate 100 years Together: Village Hall Week 2021, Pentabus are re-releasing two live recordings – Here I Belong by Matt Hartley & Crossings by Deirdre Kinahan, a co-production with New Perspectives.
Here I Belong directed by Elizabeth Freestone celebrates village life, companionship and community while highlighting the challenges faced by people in rural areas. Over six decades from 1953 to 2016 Elsie’s life, relationships and the right to grow old in her own home will be played out on stage.
‘Intimate, affecting and quietly radical village hall theatre’
Elsie is played by Beatrice Curnew, and she is joined by Nathalie Barclay who will multi role four different characters.
Crossings directed by Sophie Motley is an evening of live music, waltzing and unexpected connections, as two actors dance you through a century exploring how we’ve returned, resettled and adapted. It was commissioned for the centenary of the end of World War I.
The cast features: Victoria Brazier who plays Margaret and Mirjana and Will O’Connell who plays Grace and Sean.
Pentabus Artistic Director, Sophie Motley, said:‘Village Halls are the lifeblood of Pentabus, and we can’t be in them at the moment. But, they’ve been around since the last pandemic. To celebrate, we’re sharing two brilliant plays which are elegies, celebrating village halls from 1919 through to today. It’s the closest we can get to actually being in one. Filmed live at Lustleigh Village Hall in Devon, and Ombersley Village Hall in Worcestershire, we wish we could go back to those evenings. Instead, we’ll look forward to the day we can return.’
The rural releases will be available from Mon 25 January till midnight on Sun 31 January 2021 via Pentabus.co.uk
To view the shows as they’re released:
Pentabus.co.uk | Youtube: PentabusTheatre
All Press Enquiries: Catrin John | Email: email@example.com
This short form is designed to help you asses whether or not your show is Rural Touring ready. We take you through the very basic needs of rural touring and give you a list of things to consider. We also point you to other helpful resources and pages along the way. Please note this form is NOT a way of submitting your show to be considered for touring but should be used as a tool to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to approach schemes.