On the evening of Friday 17 May I was walking through town to the theatre, when I was struck by how the Kings Road resembled a scene from The Pied Piper. Hordes of young people (and the odd parent) were making their way to the Convention Centre… to see The Vamps. The night was quite emotional for some, by all accounts. As I reached Oxford Street it was no different, as slightly older hordes of people were flocking to the theatre for a night with The UK Foo Fighters. The former was programmed, and the later organised, by our Associate Director Phil Lowe.
The Foo Fighters were tremendous and all in aide of Harrogate Theatre and the Cardiac Care Ward. Brilliant effort by Phil and the whole Theatre team who can be pleased with themselves for bringing so many people into the town centre on a Friday night, creating a fantastic atmosphere and a boost for the local economy. Also, thank you to Graham Chalmers who did some sterling press coverage and introduced on the night. It all goes to demonstrate the value of the performing arts, as we see the identity of the town centre change before our very eyes, they really can be the bedrock for positive development.
Last week was the magnificent Northern Broadsides with Much Ado About Nothing and what a joy it was. The first time I encountered Broadsides was back in 1999. I went to see a Production of King Lear at their quite unique Viaduct Theatre in Halifax. Rutter had taken over as Lear due to the death of the great Brian Glover. I had studied the play twenty years earlier for ‘A’ Level, and to be honest hadn’t really got a clue why. That night brought it all back, but this time, the meaning of every single word was crystal clear. It put my relationship with my own parents into total perspective. Conrad Nelson, the director of Much Ado, was playing Edgar in that production, which has to be one of the most thankless roles in the English drama, however, it was a beautiful performance and spoke directly to me as my own father had passed away not long before. Barrie recently retired as artistic director of Broadsides, it will be interesting to see what direction the company take post-Rutter.
Staying with set texts, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping my son with his revision over the past few weeks and having a jaunt through the GCSE English Literature syllabus, 40 years on from the last time. It really hasn’t changed, but there are some great texts to be studied. This work stays with you for the rest of your life and certainly did for me so potently that night in Halifax.
It’s a gruelling schedule for these young people, some with up to 30 exams! Also, thanks to someone who I shall not mention, very few subjects have assessed coursework these days, it’s all examinations again and no books allowed. A change I don’t particularly welcome or think is necessary for English Literature. Good luck to anyone who is sitting any exam over the next month.
Before I look to what’s coming up, a quick mention for Proto-type Theatre and A Machine They’re Secretly Building that was on in the studio last week. Brilliant performances, very witty and a thought-provoking script.
Coming up on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 May, if you are still looking for something to do at the end of half term, is Puss in Boots presented by the magnificent Northern Ballet.