Monday, 22 February 2021

REVIEW: Concept album recording of new Musical: Soviet Zion.

This weekend I was privileged to be able to listen to the as yet unreleased concept album of a new British Musical written by Giles Howe (with additional music by Katy Lipson), with book by both Giles Howe and Roberto Trippini.

Titled, 'Soviet Zion', the musical charts the story of two fictional families who travel to the south eastern edge of Siberia in 1939, in order to try and make a new life in the newly formed Autonomous Jewish State (designated thus by the Soviets in 1928) which was heralded as a new and Soviet Jerusalem. In fact, The Jewish Autonomous Region still exists to this day - although I had never heard about it and had to do some quick internet research - and despite the huge decline in Jewish inhabitants (currently less than 1%), still remains the only area under Jewish jurisdiction outside of Israel. 

The area (Oblast in Russian), was little less than a wasteland, with harsh and unforgiving weather conditions (probably why the Soviets were so magnanimous in the first place...?), but for thousands of displaced Jews looking for safety and sanctuary after the First World War and the build-up to the Second, it must have felt like a prayer answered. Yes, the challenges and realities of this promised utopia were far from what was imagined, but many families did stay and make their lives there. This musical follows the trials of two such families, who not only have to cope with a new land and all that that encompasses, but they must also deal with the Soviet government, their 'spies' and 'informers', and the Soviet ways of dealing with 'problems'; something the Musical very sensibly doesn't shy away from.

On my intital listen to the 2-hour + album, I felt that it was a very personal and intimate piece of writing coming from the heart; and yet, despite much of the musical's bombast, it didn't really reach out and open itself to me in the same way as my first lisening to, say, 'Les Miserables'. Perhaps I was missing something, and so I indulged myself with a second listening.

As a concept, I like this musical and idea very much, although I have to say that in its present state, I fear it will attract only a niche audience. My rationale for this is as follows:

First, the Musical is very Jewish. Well, yes, of course it is, I hear you say... and what about 'Fiddler On The Roof', or Schwartz's "follow-up" to this, 'Rags'?  Well, that is exactly my point. 'Fiddler' is so well known and beloved, that anyone else writing a Jewish musical will always have to have it to be compared with. And 'Fiddler' has the most wonderful, toe-tapping melodies, a great klezmer feel, and although undeniably Jewish, it also is extremely Western too; and therefore accessible.

With 'Soviet Zion', the accessibility of the show is its main downfall. As much as I like many of the songs, there aren't that many truly memorable melodies which can be hummed on your way out of the theatre, or which could be used as a leit-motif throughout. The two songs which for me had the biggest emotional impact and had the most potential were (I don't know the titles) "This Is What You Do To Me" (?) and the full chorus anthem which follows it.

Second, the musical is too Jewish in places. The denouement has two long solo songs - one a soprano solo, which is followed immediately by a tenor solo - both of which are completely incomprehensible since they are sung in what I imagine is Yiddish. The enigmatic and always optimistic caustic Jewish humour has been kept throughout, which is a nice touch, and many of the Jewish traditions and ways of life are mentioned and explained (mostly), which keeps the whole centred, even opting to use accents and dialect for the separate characters. However I do wonder if even this isn't a little too much in order for the musical to survive commercially.

My third reason is the music itself. For me it simply cannot decide what genre or style it wants to be. Sometimes I hear Grand Opera, other times it sounds like Stravinsky or Shostakovich, whilst at various other times throughout I hear music reminiscent of Marc Blitzstein, Sondheim, and even Richard Rodgers, all wrapped in a klezmer blanket.

'Soviet Zion' is an epic - in every sense of the word. The concept album (whose cast includes Kate Radmilovic, David Francis, Kimberley Blake, Sam Young, Michaela Stern, and Joseph Claus) is a most interesting listen, but not wholly satisfying; however, I do firmly believe that this project would work better on a stage in a theatre (or even better still as a film), and would be most interested in seeing the fulfilment of this endeavour. 

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 21/2/21

Friday, 19 February 2021

NEWS: Salford's Lowry Theatre to host a radio play premiere...starring YOU!

The Lowry to host radio play premiere…starring YOU!


The Lowry in Salford will host the premiere of a new radio play on its #LoveLowry online platform this Thursday – with the star of the show as yet unknown.

Unknown because the figure taking centre stage is in fact an audience member who – in line with national lockdown guidelines – won’t even leave their home.

The play is called An Absurdist Archive of Isolation: a full body workout radio play and was created by Manchester-based choreographers and performing artists, Bridget Fiske and Joseph Lau, in partnership with The Hague-based contemporary composers, musicians & performance makers Stephanie Pan and Stelios Manousakis.

Combining movement, electronic music & contemporary storytelling, the play creates a new imagining of the audience member’s home.

Matthew Eames, senior programmer/producer at The Lowry said: “It is a play in two forms. You can listen to it on the radio or read the visual score and follow a series of instructions that transform and reveal spaces and objects in the audience member’s home in new ways. It is very much designed to put the audience member at the centre of the action.”

The play premieres as part of #LoveLowry on Thursday, 18 February and runs until Sunday, 7 March 2021.

#LoveLowry is The Lowry’s online platform – a virtual theatre, gallery and studio space presenting a series of performances, artworks, exhibitions, tours, workshops, comment and blogs, curated by the centre’s creative team and special guest curators.


For more information and to book tickets, click here.

An Absurdist Archive of Isolation: a full body workout radio play was created with the support of The Lowry and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and Stroom Den Haag. It was also supported by The Lowry Centre for Advanced Training in Dance and Upasana Arts.

REVIEW: Valentine's Sketch Show - Northern Comedy Theatre, online.

Love conquers all, even a pandemic. Northern Comedy Theatre’s love of the Arts is evident in their dedication to writing and producing new plays throughout 2020 and 2021. Nothing can stop them; the company’s commitment is inspiring. They explore all variations of this healthily infectious thing called love, which is probably the best thing to spread around at the moment. What does platonic and romantic love look like almost 12 months on since the UK first went into lockdown? This was Northern Comedy Theatre’s barmy and feel-good theatrical answer to that question.

David Spicer had edited the script effectively to provide us with a variety of sketches, all directed by Shaun Chambers. This form of theatre was a smart choice because Zoom audiences are more likely to have a shorter attention span. It also gave the ensemble of actors an opportunity to display their versatility through embodying multiple characters. The majority of storylines were broken up into several scenes, jumping from one to another and back again, like a soap opera or the intertwined plotlines of “Love Actually”.

To set the tone and context for the rest of the show, the script opened with the latest address from the Prime Minister on Valentine’s Day arrangements explaining that restrictions such as wearing face masks and social distancing were still compulsory. The company were very much on the nose (pun intended) with their standpoint on how the UK Government has handled the pandemic. Elbow bumping had become the new kissing, it was joked.

Hilarious sketch highlights from tonight’s show included: “The UK’s Most Eligible Singles” featuring a computer maintenance engineer looking to be turned on (not off). Next, a radio DJ had to start his life again from ‘scratch’ after the news his wife cheated on him with a caller on the show’s phone line. Then, a dancer thought to herself: “What’s the pointe?” (another pun), when a Zoom date with her partner was made up of a multitude of misunderstandings.

The main characteristic of this Zoom production, compared with the company’s other plays, was the fact that this was pre-recorded and not live. Theatre is about people watching other people in a live space you could argue, be it physical or virtual. I have to say I missed that element of live performance tonight and the spontaneity which comes with it. I suppose, this way, the company didn’t experience the lag of Zoom as much, and the whole thing could switch from one location to the next with quick changes of costume. However, I still noticed that absence of live performance and the connection with the audience it brings – even over Zoom. Anyway, I can see why they decided to do it for this ever-changing sketch show. I hope to see one of their shows live in person one day. Great work, once again.

Reviewer - Sam Lowe
on - 16/2/21

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

NEWS: New work for the ‘lockdown age’: UK-wide, £30k commission call-out by The Lowry, Salford.

New work for the ‘lockdown age’: UK-wide, £30k commission call-out by The Lowry


The Lowry in Salford has announced a UK-wide commission call-out for new work designed for the ‘lockdown age’.

Entitled Live Now, the new commissioning scheme will offer three £10,000 grants to mid-career artists to create work for The Lowry’s online platform #LoveLowry.

The grants have been made possible further to The Lowry’s Culture Recovery Fund grant by Arts Council England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

The scheme aims to provide space for artists to reimagine their practice for a digital stage – and to explore how best performers can connect to their audience when they are physically removed from the space.

Claire Symonds, senior producer for artist development at The Lowry, said: “This investment in new digital work will, we hope, support artists to pivot into making work designed with the digital platform in mind. It also represents a new strand to our artistic programme and we’re really excited to see what ideas are put forward.

“We’re looking for individual artists, companies or collectives with an established practice and track record for creating high quality work. They should have the capacity, infrastructure and experience to deliver on the ambitions of their proposal and be willing to share their learning with other artists as part of our Artist Development Programme.”

For more information about the scheme, click here.

Expressions of interest should be sent to The Lowry by 5pm on Friday 26 February. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to meet with The Lowry’s creative team over Zoom on Tuesday 23 March.

#LoveLowry is The Lowry’s online platform – a virtual theatre, gallery and studio space that presents a series of performances, artworks, exhibitions, tours, workshops, comment and blogs, curated by the centre’s creative team and special guest curators.

Monday, 15 February 2021

NEWS: Cast announced for Mark Ravenhill's 'Angela'

The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company and Pitlochry Festival Theatre in association with Naked Productions and BBC Radio 3


Cast Announced for Mark Ravenhill’s Angela
26 – 28 March 2021


·         Angela, the first autobiographical play by leading dramatist Mark Ravenhill, will be the first of eight new plays delivered on  Sound Stage : a brand-new audio-digital platform from The Lyceum, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Naked Productions.


·         Written during lockdown specifically as a radio drama, the play centres on his mother, Angela, aged 84 and suffering with dementia, looking back across her life

·         Angela stars Pam Ferris, Matti Houghton, Toby Jones, Jackson Laing, and Joseph Millson


·         The cast is completed by Nadia Albina, Dermot Daly, Raj Ghatak, Olivier Huband, Alexandra Mathie, and Kirsty Stuart, and directed by Sony Award-winning Polly Thomas for Naked Productions

·         Sound Stage is a new audio-digital platform offering audiences the chance to have an ‘at home theatre experience’ designed by theatre makers and leading audio digital technologists.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Pitlochry Festival Theatre, in association with  Naked Productions and BBC Radio 3  are delighted to announce the cast for Sound Stage’s first production; Angela, a brand-new autobiographical play by Mark Ravenhill airing 26 – 28 March.


Angela centres on the playwright’s mother, at the age of 84 and suffering with dementia, as she looks back across her life. Intercutting between Angela in her old age, her memories and mind failing her, and in her youth; growing up, moving away from her roots as the world of drama welcomed her. The Play depicts her struggle with depression and the challenges of her own aspirations, and becoming a mother, poignantly set against Mark’s experience of beginning to learn ballet, his lifelong passion, in his fifties.


Performed by an exceptional cast, Angela stars Pam Ferris (Matilda, The Darling Buds of May, Rosemary and Thyme, Call The Midwife, Little Dorrit) and Matti Houghton (Call the Midwife, Manhunt, Law & Order, Luther) as Angela; BAFTA winner Toby Jones (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Hunger Games trilogy, Marvellous, Detectorists) as Ted; and Jackson Laing (The Boy in the Dress, Matilda; The Royal Shakespeare Company) and Joseph Millson (Angel Has Fallen, Dragonheart Vengeance, The Last Kingdom, Grantchester, Betrayal, Bath Theatre Royal; Mary Poppins, Cameron Mackintosh/Disney) as Mark.


The cast is completed by Nadia Albina (Emilia, Shakespeare’s Globe; The Madness of King George III, Nottingham Playhouse; Macbeth, National Theatre, Schreber, Radio 3/Naked Productions), Dermot Daly (Accidental Therapists, Naked Productions and BBC; Faith, Hope and Glory: Faith and Trevor, The Beatboxer, BBC Radio 4; ), Raj Ghatak (Christopher Robin, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, Everybody’s Talking about Jamie, Sheffield Crucible; The Kite Runner, UK Productions; Life of Pi, Sheffield Crucible and Simon Friend Productions, An Invitation to Indian Cooking, Radio 4/Naked Productions), Olivier Huband (Barefoot in the Park, The Lyceum and Pitlochry Festival Theatre; MI:6, A Discovery of Witches, I Hate Suzie, Adventures with the Painted People, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Radio 3/Naked Productions), Alexandra Mathie (Cockpit, The Lyceum; Macbeth, Manchester Royal Exchange; Amadeus, National Theatre; All I Want is One Night, Hope Street Mill, Wild Duck, Radio 3/BBC Radio Drama), and Kirsty Stuart (The Duchess [Of Malfi], The Lyceum; Faith Healer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre; Gut, National Theatre of Scotland & Traverse; Oresteia: This Restless House, Citizens Theatre & National Theatre of Scotland, Adventures with the Painted People, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Radio 3/Naked Productions), and will be directed by Naked Productions’ Polly Thomas (Relativity, BBC Radio 4; Lorenzaccio, BBC Radio 3; Amy Dorrit, Graeae and BBC Radio 4; One Story, Manchester International Festival).


Exquisitely observed and painfully honest, Angela is an emotive exploration of working-class motherhood in the 1960s, told by one of Britain’s best loved dramatists as we have never heard him before.


Playwright Mark Ravenhill said: “With the death of my mum in 2019, I was drawn for the first time to write an autobiographical play. I was particularly interested to explore the way culture high and low had impacted on Mum's life and our lives as a family. The play is constructed around a series of encounters with children's literature, classical ballet, amateur theatre, and popular song - encounters that shaped my mum's sense of self and her relationship with me. Both my parents are from working class backgrounds which gives a specific turn to their relationship to culture and to me. As I thought about a form that could move swiftly in time and location and between inner thought and outer action, I realised that this was best written as a radio play. I feel it's the most 'radio' of the radio plays that I've written…”


Sound Stage is a new audio digital theatre which will premiere eight new audio plays in its first season. The Sound Stage plays are:


Angela by Mark Ravenhill – 26 March to 28 March 2021
Tennis Elbow by John Byrne – 30 April to 2 May 2021
Hindu Times by Jamini Jethwa – 28 May to 30 May 2021
The Mother Land by Lynda Radley – 25 June to 27 June 2021
Black Diamonds and the Blue Brazil by Gary McNair – 23 July to 25 July 2021
Sophia by Francis Poet – 27 August to 29 August 2021
TBC by Timberlake Wertenbaker – 24 September to 26 September 2021
TBC by Roy Williams – 29 October to 31 October 2021


Every Sound Stage performance will be accompanied by a post-show event, hosted on Sound Stage, inviting audiences to engage further with these exciting new plays

Tickets for Angela, along with the remaining seven Sound Stage productions, go on sale on Sunday 14 February, and can be purchased through The Lyceum and Pitlochry Festival Theatre websites priced from £10 per play across the season.

NEWS: Manchester's Hope Mill Theatre announces rescheduled Turn On Fest.


• Hope Mill Theatre announces rescheduled dates for Turn On Fest 2021, the annual LGBTQIA+ festival in partnership with Superbia, Manchester Pride’s year round programme of arts and culture. Due to the ongoing restrictions Hope Mill Theatre has decided to take the festival completely online, running from 17th to 28th March 2021.

• Headlining the festival will be an evening in conversation with Hope Mill Theatre patron Russell T Davies hosted by Julie Hesmondhalgh.

• Ru Paul’s drag star Divina De Campo will be joined by special guests in An Hour with Divina De Campo for two performances, directed by Kirk Jameson.

• Superbia, Hope Mill Theatre’s partnering organisation, will also host two key events within the festival.

• Manchester based company, Green Carnation Theatre will also be screening four short monologue films called Queer All About It, an evening of film, discussion and conversation.

• An Evening with Ryan Jamaal Swain will see the star of smash hit television series Pose discuss his career as a dancer and writer in an online discussion.

• Hope Mill Theatre has also offered development grants worth £1,000 as well as mentoring to four Manchester based queer theatre makers.

• The festival is now on sale and streamed events can be booked by visiting: There will be an option to purchase a festival pass to access all events throughout the festival.

Speaking about the rescheduled Turn On Fest dates, Hope Mill Theatre Artistic Director Joseph Houston said:

“We started 2021 having to postpone Turn On Fest, which was deeply saddening for our venue and artists involved. However, along with the support of the companies, artists, partners and venue team we have managed to not only reschedule the festival but also create a fully online festival for our audiences. In these difficult times it’s important to continue to share stories, create opportunities and engage with audiences, but also in a safe and secure way, which means that at this time we don’t feel it is possible to plan for any live performances during the festival but we are thrilled we are still able to share the amazing line up with everyone.”

Headlining Turn On Fest 2021 will be an evening in conversation with Hope Mill Theatre patron Russell T Davies at 8pm on Saturday 20th March 2021. The evening will be hosted by actress Julie Hesmondhalgh and will look at Davies’ incredible career writing for film and television, including the ground-breaking Queer As Folk, most recent Years and Years starring Russel Tovey and his newest Channel 4 drama, It’s A Sin.

Hope Mill Theatre is delighted to be hosting An Evening with Ryan Jamaal Swain, which will see the star of smash hit television series Pose discuss his career as a dancer and writer in an online discussion on Friday 26th March.

Another festival highlight will be An Hour with Divina De Campo where Ru Paul’s drag star Divina De Campo will be joined by special guests for two performances on Saturday 27th March 2021, directed by Kirk Jameson.

Superbia, the venue’s partnering organisation, will also host two key events within the festival:

Fat Roland: Seven Inch: Set in the last record shop still standing, Manchester comic Fat Roland re-examines his life through not-so-teenage kicks, surrounded by forgettable (and unforgettable) pop music. Originally a five-star, one-idiot commission for The Lowry, this special adaption for the Edinburgh Fringe is making its Manchester premiere.

Make A Scene: Quizabella Rossellini: Make A Scene is Manchester's big queer film club renowned for their hysterical and loving tributes to camp and LGBT+ cinema and TV. In a Make A Scene first, hostesses Gary James Williams and Grace Oni Smith bring a brand-new show to Turn On Fest - a new comedy game show that takes you on a romp through camp itself! Quizabella Rossellini (named after the iconic star of beloved gay fave Death Becomes Her) celebrates your film, TV and internet knowledge from Wizard of Oz to Chanel the Parrot via Nighty Night through a series of increasingly chaotic and ridiculous rounds.

Manchester based company, Green Carnation Theatre will also be screening four monologue plays made into films - Queer All About It, a celebration of diverse queer stories and new perspectives by four emerging LGBTQIA+ writer exploring: 30+ years of HIV, LGBTQ+ families, LGBTQ+ immigration, and faith & sexuality. These will be available online on Friday 19th March 2021.

Further programming includes We Kiss In a Shadow, a gay cabaret with Tony and Olivier nominated composer/lyricist/ orchestrator Jason Carr.

Hope Mill Theatre has also offered DEVELOPMENT GRANTS worth £1,000 as well as mentoring to four

Manchester based queer theatre makers Maz Hedgehog, Suriya Aisha, Finley Letchford-Dobs and Emma Hinds. These four local LGBTQIA+ individuals will showcase and develop their work whilst receiving marketing support, mentorship and rehearsal space:

Let Me Count the Ways by Maz Hedgehog

Maz Hedgehog uses poetry and monologue to examine intimacy, boundaries, the ways we love and the ways we can heal.

Dead Certain by Suriya Aisha

How much weight will your love allow? A white lie? Uncertainty? Overt deceit? They’ve the queer relationship many only dream and read about. What happens when their perfect planned life is put to the test in ways unimaginable? ‘Dead Certain’ a new short play by Suriya Aisha.

Voyage by Finley Letchford-Dobbs

In Voyage, Finley Letchford-Dobbs regains control of his journey as a trans person through dramatized contemporary dance, music and video, a bold reclamation of power in a world that desperately tries to silence him.

PURE by Emma Hinds

PURE is an exploration of sexuality and gender in the Christian church, amplifying the true stories of real women from inside these communities. Written by Emma Hinds, directed by Katie Mitchell.

The venue will also be hosting online queer socials and panel discussions throughout the festival and information on these will be shared on their social media.

Social Media: @turnonfestmcr

NEWS: Journey into the immersive, virtual reality world of 'Petrichor' - The Coliseum Theatre, Oldham.

Journey into the immersive, virtual reality world of PETRICHOR

NEWS: Chronic Insanity brings you Hairy Hands FM!

Chronic Insanity in partnership with South West Creative Technology Network presents:

Hairy Hands FM

The legend of Dartmoor is brought to life in a new online interactive, immersive experience as part of the BBC New Creatives scheme 

Created by Joe Strickland and Hannah Parsons 


LAUNCH DATE: Friday 26th March

Available via itch.ioBBC Taster, and BBC Arts

@CITheatre | #HairyHandsFM |

Bringing the legendary Hairy Hands of Dartmoor to the smartphone in your hands, Chronic Insanity’s new audio adventure guides audiences on a treacherous journey, full of terrifying tales and fantastical folklore. Since first sighted in the 1920s, mysterious ‘Hairy Hands’ have been blamed by motorists for numerous road accidents in Devon with drivers claiming a pair of hands has seized control of the steering wheel. Requiring just a smartphone and a pair of headphones, Chronic Insanity’s Hairy Hands FM brings these spooky sightings to life through intricate, unnerving binaural sound design with only a radio host for guidance to help defeat the mythical monster.

Hairy Hands FM will feature as part of BBC Arts’ talent development scheme New Creatives, encouraging artists aged 16-30 to push creative boundaries and reflect their experiences of living in Britain today. Nottingham-based company Chronic Insanity’s latest production follows in the footsteps of their twelve shows in twelve months project, which included ‘pick and mix’ digital theatre production 52 Souls. Led by Nat Henderson and Joe Strickland, Chronic Insanity also use sustainable theatre making practices, record all performances in multiple digital formats, create new opportunities for other creatives to get their work on, and document the whole process for others to learn from.

Artistic Director Joe Strickland said, I’m a theatre maker motivated by telling stories in ways that people aren’t familiar with, often with interactivity, often with digital technology. I’m also a big horror fan and love how, as a genre, it preys on collective and cultural fears. I think a lot of people are currently afraid of sudden unexpected chaos or things they don’t understand having immeasurably huge effects on their lives, and this is a fear horror can address really well, especially with an interactive horror experience in one’s own home. People like the safe space horror provides for confronting and exploring difficult topics, and, though this experience will be scary, this will provide a positive outcome - helping people realise they can control their fears, not be ruled by them.


Hannah Parsons is a sound designer, producer and recordist from Southampton specialising in binaural, spatial audio technology. Hannah designs sound-led yet accessible pieces, working with emerging writers to realise their visions in new, immersive ways. This is supported by years of experience as a theatre technician and stage manager.

Joe Strickland combines experience as a theatre maker, magician, psychologist, and creative technologist to make original audiences experiences for traditional, found, and digital spaces.

Running Time: TBC (approx. 20 mins) | Suitable for ages 16+

Company information

Written and Directed by Joe Strickland             Produced and Sound Designed by Hannah Parsons

UX Design by Chronic Insanity


Sarah - Abbi Davey

Temp - Charlie Basley

Trevor - Alex Stedman

Mystery Voice - Phillip Garcia


Listings information


Available via, BBC Taster and BBC Arts (from 26th March):

NEWS: Manchester Camerata team up with new streaming platform Virtual Circle for online concert on 26th February.




As live performance restrictions remain in place at the start of 2021, Manchester Camerata is as determined as ever to reach out to and remain connected to its audiences, bringing its world class music to a national and global platform. With this in mind, “Britain's most adventurous orchestra” (The Times) is thrilled to announce its first ever concert for brand new streaming platform Virtual Circle recently launched by HarrisonParrott - one of the world’s leading arts management companies.


Conducted by the internationally renowned Pekka Kuusisto, this brand new concert by Manchester Camerata- All Time Is Eternally Present - packs a real punch with an eclectic and exciting programme – its first of many planned for 2021. The full programme features rising star Saxophonist and BBC Radio 3 broadcaster, Jess Gillam performing Michael Nyman’s Where the Bee Dances; and the new and very powerful style of composition from BBC Last Night of the Proms composer - Daniel Kidane - whose brand new piece commissioned by Manchester Camerata Be Still creates a sense of inner stillness and calm - something that is arguably much needed right now. Completing the programme are the gentle tones of Dobrinka Tabakova’s Dawn and the never ending expanse of Copland’s Appalachian Spring. It will premiere on Virtual Circle on February 26 and tickets for the online event are on sale from today:


This live recording - which took place in private at the Stoller Hall on Saturday January 9th in line with current government guidelines - will also broadcast in full on BBC Radio 3 on January 19th at 7.30pm. Additional Manchester Camerata recordings captured at the Stoller Hall will also be streamed on Virtual Circle at a later date.


Manchester Camerata CEO Bob Riley comments: “It would have been so joyous had we been able to capture our first concert of the year for Harrison Parrott with a live audience but as it stands, to be able to work alongside the astonishing talents of Jess Gillam and Pekka Kuusisto and feature brand new work by the very brilliant Daniel Kidane, is something we are hugely proud of. We cannot wait to be able to share our brand new series of streamed concerts and we are also extremely excited that part of our very first one will receive its premiere on BBC Radio 3. We very much miss being able to reach out to and perform for our live audiences, and we are therefore committed and determined to keep seeking and curating these broadcasting opportunities where we are able to share our work far and wide and subsequently support our musicians and collaborators as much as possible during these challenging times.”


All Time Is Eternally Present streams on February 26th via HarrisonParrott’s Virtual Circle.

Tickets are £10 per household and can be purchased here:

NEWS: Tobacco Factory Theatres announce online Spring programme.


Tobacco Factory Theatres is delighted to announce online shows, Get Involved activities and opportunities for artists coming up this February and March 2021.

Though our theatres and spaces remain closed, our desire to connect is stronger than ever. Our theatre started as an experiment, and we continue to believe in experimentation. That’s why we’re exploring new ways for audiences, young people and artists to make connections with theatre online, even when we can’t be physically together. David Dewhurst, Executive Director, Tobacco Factory Theatres


From Fri 19 – Sun 21 February, Tobacco Factory Theatres will be co-presenting with Circomedia, Best of BE at HOME FESTIVAL, BE FESTIVAL's online offering in place of their usual live festival. Artists from Spain, Belgium and the UK will bring two thrilling online shows into your homes – Recall explores memories and Shan Shui offers the freedom of the sights and sounds of nature. Priority booking for Members of Tobacco Factory Theatres is open now and the shows go on general sale on Tue 09 February at 10am.

On Sat 27 February, tickets are still available for comedian Laura Lexx’s Knee Jerk, which is being skillfully transferred online to share with audiences through Zoom.


Tobacco Factory Theatres’s Get Involved programme is back this March!

There will be weekly online Young Theatre Makers sessions for ages 7-10, 11-13 and 14-19. Sessions will be fun, engaging and most importantly, a place of connection for young people. YTM goes on general sale on Mon 08 February at 10am.

Plus, for adults, the brilliantly successful Factory Singers choir will be rehearsing together online for seven weeks and newcomers are welcome. Through singing the Factory Singers promote a sense of wellbeing and belonging to the community. Their ethos is to sing with joy, passion, groove and style, whilst making a beautiful sound. No singing experience or audition necessary.


And last but not least, the final announcement from Tobacco Factory Theatres (for now!) is the launch of its Pay What You Choose Masterclass Programme for South West-based artists, led online by a range of inspiring practitioners.

Mike Tweddle, Artistic Director, Tobacco Factory Theatres said: Our theatre owes so much to freelance and independent artists, who have created almost everything we’ve presented over the last 20 years. These talented and professional colleagues have been confronted with huge challenges through Covid-19, whilst, on the whole, receiving far less support than venues. Whilst we continue to work on our long-term survival, we aim to support local artists in new and varied ways, starting with this Masterclass Programme.

The first three sessions will be led by actor Katy Stephens, theatre maker, producer and performer Josie Dale-Jones and dancer and choreographer Läila Diallo.

Masterclasses are all available on a Pay What You Choose basis, recognising that everyone is in different financial circumstances. Whatever participants feel able to spend, session leaders will be fully paid for their work. Sessions are first available to book for Tobacco Factory Theatres Artist Members (free to join), from now until Sun 07 February, when they will go on general sale.

This is just the beginning – Tobacco Factory Theatres looks forward to sharing further news and activities in the weeks to come.

For more information please contact:

Becky Cresswell and Hilary Coleman, Tobacco Factory Theatres &

NEWS: By The Waters Of Liverpool announces plans to continue its live theatre tour starting in September.








The acclaimed stage production of Helen Forrester’s, By The Waters Of Liverpool was cut short last March after just three venues into a seventeen venue tour; but now producers have announced the continuation of their UK tour in Autumn 2021.


Writer and Co-producer Rob Fennah said: “When we launched By The Waters Of Liverpool last year the response was so overwhelming we were determined not to let the pandemic get the better of us. We have a mantra when things get tough, ‘don’t give up – don’t give in!’


“By The Waters is not only returning to the stage in September, it is going to be bigger, bolder and more glorious than ever.”


Co-producer Bill Elms added: “With the vaccine roll-out going so well, we can now see the light at the end of a dark tunnel for the theatre industry and we just hope people will feel safe enough to come back in their droves; embracing theatre and live performance more than ever before.”


The stellar cast featured star names from stage and screen, including Sian Reeves, Mark Moraghan, Parry Glasspool, Lucy Dixon, Eric Potts, Lynn Francis, Danny O’Brien, Roy Carruthers, and Chloe McDonald.


By The Waters Of Liverpool opened on Tuesday 3 March 2020 at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton – just a few miles from the author’s birthplace in Hoylake. It was there a blue plaque was unveiled by actors Sian Reeves and Mark Moraghan to coincide with the opening of the tour which received a raft of 4-5-star reviews.


After an enforced 18 month break due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the tour will now continue to run from September 2021, opening in Lytham, then visiting towns and cities across the UK, including Lancaster, Darlington, St Helens, Warrington, Bolton, Stockport, Crewe, Halifax, Coventry, Winchester, Rhyl, Hayes, Chesterfield, Malvern, Southport and Wirral.


By The Waters Of Liverpool is a stunning period drama produced by the team that brought the smash hit Twopence To Cross The Mersey to the stage, produced by Pulse Records Limited in association with Bill Elms, written by Rob Fennah and directed by Gareth Tudor Price.


By The Waters Of Liverpool is set in the 1930s after Helen’s father went bankrupt during the Depression. Her family were forced to leave behind the nannies, servants and comfortable middle-class life in the South West of England. The Forrester’s chose Liverpool to rebuild their shattered lives, but they were in for a terrible shock. Taken out of school to look after her young siblings, Helen is treated as an unpaid slave. So begins a bitter fight with her parents for the right to go out to work and make her own way in life. But by 1939 and with Britain on the verge of war, Helen now aged 20, has still never been kissed by a man. But things start looking up for her when she meets a tall strong seaman and falls in love.


Helen Forrester’s best-selling volumes of autobiography include Twopence To Cross The Mersey, Liverpool Miss, By The Waters Of Liverpool, and Lime Street At Two.


The new production of By The Waters Of Liverpool also features sizeable chunks from Helen Forrester’s Liverpool Miss and Lime Street At Two plus flashbacks to Twopence To Cross The Mersey.


Adapted by Rob Fennah   ·   Directed by Gareth Tudor Price

Produced by Pulse Records Limited in association with Bill Elms

Fully endorsed by the Helen Forrester Estate




Twitter:           @bythewatersofl1








Thursday 9 – Saturday 11 September 2021

West Beach, Lytham St Annes, FY8 5QQ


Box Office:      01253 294221



Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 September 2021

St Leonardgate, Lancaster, LA1 1NL


Box Office:      01524 64695



Wednesday 15 – Thursday 16 September 2021

Parkgate, Darlington, DL1 1RR


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Monday 20 – Wednesday 22 September 2021

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Thursday 23 – Friday 24 September 2021

Palmyra Square, Warrington, WA1 1BL


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Monday 27 - Tuesday 28 September 2021

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Wednesday 29 – Thursday 30 September 2021

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Friday 1 – Saturday 2 October 2021

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Monday 11 – Tuesday 12 October 2021

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Wednesday 13 – Thursday 14 October 2021

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Friday 15 – Saturday 16 October 2021

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Monday 18 – Thursday 21 October 2021

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Monday 25 – Tuesday 26 October 2021

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Monday 1 – Wednesday 3 November 2021

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Friday 5 – Saturday 7 November 2021

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Tuesday 9 – Friday 12 November 2021

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