All posts by thewinchesterguide

Win Guide to April

Happiness is a place called Winchester, according to the Royal Mail UK Happiness Index. The survey carried out in early 2019 measured happiness according to eight factors: well-being, life expectancy, earnings, inequality, carbon emissions, crime, deprivation and access to health services. So with our happiness top spot confirmed, let’s find out what’s going on to keep us smiling this month…

Tickets have sold out for Martin Kemp who will be presenting 80’s gold at the Guildhall on Friday 5 April. If you missed out, fear not because the Magic of Motown returns for its third year on 12 April at 7.30pm. Listen to 36 classics amid glittering costume changes, dazzling dance moves and superb musicianship. For details and to book tickets, visit the website here.

Whilst we are on the subject of glitzy costumes, the fashionistas of Winchester will be delighted to hear that Winchester Fashion week takes place this month, 29 April – 4 May. Details will be announced on their website soon so keep an eye out for them here.

The Theatre Royal Winchester have an exciting programme of cultural treats. Rambert 2 will be performing on 2nd April at 7.30pm. Rambert is world famous as Britain’s original dance company. Rambert2 takes the company’s reputation for bold moves with technical virtuosity, and introduces a new generation. Check out the trailer below and visit the website for more details.

David Baddeil’s ANiMALCOLM looks great on 11 & 12 April. Described as a vibrant, energetic and gloriously funny musical from the award-winning Story Pocket Theatre, ANiMALCOLM combines physical theatre, puppetry and the company’s outstanding storytelling style to bring David Baddiel’s magical and wonderfully comic story to the stage. There’s also a Young Theatre Royal workshop opportunity attached to the touring production. Young people aged 7 – 11 years are being invited to the theatre on 10 April to develop animal characters, working as an ensemble and then present a piece on stage. The workshop costs £50 and includes a ticket to see ANiMALCOLM. For full details, visit the theatre website here.

The Winchester Science Centre will be exploring the Science of Sweets this Easter holiday. Tickets are free when you pay for general admission. Described as an epic live science show featuring a sugar flame thrower and exploding fat, the sugary fun takes place daily at 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm between 5 – 23 April. For more details, visit the website here.

For some egg-citing Easter holiday fun, head over to the Westgate Museum for an Easter trail, 10am – 4pm over the school holidays, 6 – 20 April. The City Mill will also be hosting its annual trail, in partnership with Cadbury, 6 – 18 April. Winchester Cathedral is offering a free Easter trail for children aged 4 – 11 years. Chawton House will also be hosting an easter egg hunt and other appropriately themed activities.

Last but not least, don’t forget to visit Sparsholt College for their annual Easter Bunny Event. This year, Superbunny is visiting the village, 19 – 20 April. Meet real rabbits, dress up as your favourite superhero or villain and enjoy games and craft activities. There will also be a trail on offer too with a chocolate prize. For more details, visit the website here.

We’ll be bringing you more updates on Twitter @Win_Guide throughout the month. Have an eggcellent time, one and all!

Stories of Love and Human Frailty

Local writer Ron Owen has donated copies of his new book, Stories of Love and Human Frailty, to Theatre Royal Winchester. They are available from the Box Office for a suggested donation of £5 – 10 and all proceeds go to Live Theatre Winchester Trust – the charity that runs Hat Fair and Theatre Royal Winchester. Ron hopes it will inspire readers to reflect upon what makes humans tick.

Stories of Love and Human Frailty – by the writer who has lived in Winchester with his wife, Colleen, for 40 years – is a collection of short stories about love of all kinds – paternal, lustful, forbidden; and human frailty – a failure to keep promises, keep passion under control, put duty before indulgence.

Ron’s characters are based on people he has met, like the young teenage girl he confronted on holiday in Rome, after she stole his wallet. They find themselves in situations he has either experienced or developed for them, in places he has been to, including America and Italy.

His favourite story in the book is about a rich restauranteur that pays for a local painter’s daughter to continue her studies. He enjoyed writing about Malaga, in Spain, which he visited around two decades ago.

Ron, who started writing around the same time he moved to Winchester, has produced poems and a short play about two British and German soldiers who bond during half-time of the 1914 Christmas Day truce football match.

Ron said: “All the stories in the book have a bit of me in them and were triggered by people or situations in my life. When you’ve been around as long as I have, you don’t have to invent.

“I hope it provides a compelling read for people whose main interest is human nature and what makes us tick.”

Copies of Stories of Love and Human Frailty are available from Theatre Royal Winchester’s Box Office.

Tavern Talks Strike Back!

Last autumn, the University of Winchester’s Faculty of Arts teamed up with Winchester’s St James Tavern to launch Tavern Talks, a new series of public conversations aimed at bringing people together to engage in lively discussions about the arts, culture and contemporary discourse.

“We’ve been so pleased by the response to these events,” said the University’s Dean of Arts, Professor Alec Charles. “People don’t just come along to listen – they really participate.”

The first three events in the series have featured playwright Professor Peter Billingham discussing the relationship between democracy and civil disobedience, novelist Dr Vanessa Harbour talking about writing historical fiction, and playwright Professor Tim Prentki on the performative nature of human existence.

The organisers have now announced the new programme of Tavern Talks for early 2019.

On 14 February 2019, Professor Alec Charles will be leading a discussion on the nature of romantic love.

“It’s inevitable, isn’t it, given the date?” says Alec. “If you love love, loathe love, miss love, or just really feel the need to challenge the notion of love on a range of key philosophical points, then please join us for an evening of wit, banter, argument and romance at the St James Tavern on St Valentine’s night. Singles, couples and members of any kinds on non-traditional ménage are all welcome and embraced. (But not literally.)”

Alec is a journalist and author of numerous articles and books, including Interactivity, Out of Time, Political Animals and Underwords. (Alec is also scheduled to deliver a free public lecture at the University of Winchester on 26 March – on the subject of the significance we may find in insignificance.)

On 21 March, Professor Christopher Mulvey will be talking about the English language in Hampshire. Chris is the Managing Editor of Winchester University Press and a trustee at the English Project, as well as co-author of A History of the English Language in 100 Places, and the author of (among other titles) Anglo-American Landscapes and Transatlantic Manners.

“When the Romans withdrew from Britain, Germanic tribes began streaming across the North Sea, and they brought with them a language we now call English,” says Chris. “The Saxons created the Kingdom of Wessex, and its first shire was Hampshire. The English of this kingdom was called West Saxon – today we call it West Country English. It was the language of King Alfred, and since Alfred’s time, Hampshire’s West Saxon has become a rural dialect. Had Winchester remained the capital of England, the Queen would be speaking Tess Durbeyfield’s English!”

On 25 April, Dr Daniel Varndell will argue the case for why manners still matter, and will chart the use and abuse of etiquette in contemporary discourse. Dan is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Winchester and author of Hollywood Remakes, Deleuze and the Grandfather Paradox.

Dan says: “As a noted toastmaster once pointed out, etiquette is knowing how to yawn with your mouth closed. In an era increasingly dogged by a lack of regard for those with whom we disagree, this Tavern Talk tackles tact and tactlessness in the times of Brexit, #MeToo and Donald Trump.”

These Thursday evening events take place each month in the upstairs room of the St James Tavern at the bottom of Romsey Road. They feature short informal talks followed by lively discussions.

The evenings start with drinks from 5.30, with the talks kicking off at about 6.00pm. Participants usually stick around for chat and a drink downstairs in the pub after the discussion finishes at about 7.00.

There’s no charge for entry and everyone is welcome, space permitting.

Booking isn’t required but, if you’d like to reserve a seat, or if you’d like more information, then please contact: inga.bryden@winchester.ac.uk  

Donald Hutera talks to Yolande Yorke-Edgell

Donald Hutera talks to Yolande Yorke-Edgell about her company’s anniversary production, TWENTY in a special feature for the Winchester Guide.

Yorke Dance Project’s ambitious mixed bill TWENTY marks this enterprising company’s 20th anniversary. The UK tour opened in Bournemouth at the end of January, and includes one night at Theatre Royal Winchester (Feb 12) plus later dates in Leeds, Frome, Banbury, Salisbury and Swindon before culminating in several evenings at the Royal Opera House’s Clore Studio Upstairs in mid-May.

I interviewed dancer, choreographer and company artistic director Yolande Yorke-Edgell about the programme, about dance and about herself as an artist and art-maker, and here are her replies – long, but rich in detail.

Donald: First, a philosophical/practical musing. What’s kept you going as the head of a company for two decades, Yolande, and how do you measure success?

Yolande: What’s kept me going for so long is that I’m passionate about the work we present. The opportunity to reconstruct work by choreographers who’ve been (and still are) pivotal in how dance has evolved, both in the UK and the USA, has been a great honour. For me it’s vital that these works are seen. Ballet companies present both historical and new work but that’s less prominent in contemporary dance, and personally I love performing these works. I’m also driven by the dancers in the company. I want to give them the chance to perform works that are challenging and develop them as artists. They’re just as important as the work itself.

Measuring success is difficult. The obvious would be that we started (in the UK) performing in small venues such as the Acorn Theatre in Penzance, and our aim was to work towards venues such as Hall for Cornwall, Truro or the Norwich Playhouse – the sort of venues Richard Alston Dance Company performs at. But success can’t be measured by the trajectory of the scale of venues, and that’s because the way dance is being presented now is harder than ever. Still, I couldn’t have reached higher than being presented by the Royal Opera House twenty years after the company’s first performance at the Occidental College Theatre in Los Angeles.

Ultimately my measure of success is two-fold. The fact that we’re still touring an eight-strong company in work that only major companies around the world present, and with the level of dancers such as Jonathan Goddard, Dane Hurst, Freya Jeffs and Oxana Panchenko – that’s a great measure of success! My other measure is of the trust bestowed upon us to present work by Robert Cohan and Kenneth MacMillan. And just to work alongside and collaborate with Robert Cohan, which was my goal as a young student…

Donald: Tell me about Kenneth MacMillan’s Playground and how it’s been to revive a master’s 40 year-old work. 

Yolande: It’s been a fascinating process and very different from reconstructing Sea of Troubles, which he created for the company Dance Advance and which we previously revived. With only a very fuzzy black and white film and the Benesh Notation to guide us, we’ve been piecing Playground together with the help of notator Jane Elliott and two of the work’s original dancers, Susie Crow and Stephen Wicks. Aside from the principal characters there is a corps of twelve which we’ve put together by inviting dancers from Rambert School and Central School of Ballet to take part. On Sundays we all pile into a studio with both casts of lead dancers. That’s roughly 22 dancers, two coaches, a notator and myself. It’s all quite frantic, but a great experience. All of the dancers have a role to play, and so it’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn and develop character roles as well as being in a working environment with our incredible dancers.

Deborah and Charlotte MacMillan [Kenneth’s wife and daughter] have been providing some wonderful insights too. And, as with any master artist, to unpick and examine the work has been incredible. All of this focus enriches the process of reconstructing a very complicated ballet.

Donald: Why do you think Playground has been pretty much forgotten till now, and what factors prompted you to undertake bringing it back to the stage?

Yolande: From what I’ve gathered, and from my own take on this, I would say it was ahead of its time. Too abstract, perhaps, and not a traditional narrative with movement people were uncomfortable seeing. If you look at where people were with personal issues in the late 1970s… They didn’t discuss their problems openly. No one would admit to seeing a therapist back then, so maybe people were uncomfortable with seeing characters that they couldn’t – or didn’t want to – relate to, or even be exposed to. I think Playground is particularly relevant now. It was of interest to me because its theme is bullying, which is a huge problem for children at the moment especially on social media. So this work provides not only an opportunity for audiences to see an intriguing and multi-layered ballet, but it’s allowed us to devise a specific educational programme with a child therapist and movement director that we can  take to schools and do what we can to help stop bullying amongst children. 

Donald:What happens in Playground, in a nutshell, and is it being danced en pointe? And what discoveries have been made in remounting it?

Yolande: My initial discussion with Deborah and Charlotte MacMillan was about whether or not this ballet was possible to do without being en pointe, and we felt it was. Further discussions led to us agreeing that only the lead female role should be en pointe, to give the full effect of the character and the physicality of the movement, which is key to MacMillan’s partner work. There are only two other featured female roles, and their movement would not lose its authenticity by not being en pointe.

One of the most interesting discoveries, which is also an important feature of all MacMillan’s ballets, is what’s going on around the lead characters. There’s so much happening between all the other sixteen dancers that is vital to telling the story. This is what’s made it quite a challenge to reconstruct. Charlotte MacMillan is re-imagining both the set and costumes, and there have been lengthy discussions about certain design aspects and what might be most relevant now. Do we keep the visual impact of a straitjacket, or bring it up to date with whatever would be used today? We’re still working these sorts of questions out as we go along. We have to adapt the set to work in smaller spaces too. It will be very much like the original, just scaled down. 

Donald: Who’s dancing the role of the intruder, and who the lead young woman originally played by Marion Tait?

Yolande: We have two casts for the intruder and the young woman. Company dancer Jordi Calpe Serrats and guest artist Jonathan Goddard, and Oxana Panchenko, from Michael Clark’s company, along with Romany Pajdak, first soloist with the Royal Ballet, will share these roles.

Donald: Let’s move on to another master choreographer and company mainstay, Bob Cohan. What’s the mood and tone, the look and sound, of his new work Communion?

Yolande: As a small company we have in the past reconstructed smaller works of Cohan‘s. For this anniversary programme I wanted to offer a commission for a larger group, especially as he’d made such great large-scale pieces for London Contemporary Dance Theatre. Knowing we had working with us Jonathan Goddard and Dane Hurst, who particularly inspire him, he started to create a work for nine dancers. In 1973 he’d made a work called Mass with dancers who walked in a line and voiced overtones [essentially singing two notes simultaneously] as they moved. This was a starting point for Mass and now Communion. I think this new dance reflects where he is in life now, at the age of 93, and from the feedback we’ve had from people who’ve seen the rehearsals it’s a very powerful and moving. Aside from the sounds of overtone singing, the rest of the music is by contemporary composer Nils Frahm.

Donald: Can you say just a little something about the solo to be danced by Laurel Dalley Smith at Covent Garden?  It’s not being seen elsewhere on the tour, right? 

Yolande: That’s right, it’s only at the Royal Opera House. Laurel joined the company in 2014 and was chosen by Cohan to dance in Lingua Franca which he created for us and which was performed as part of his 90th Birthday celebrations in spring 2015. Laurel was so inspired by Cohan that she decided to attend the Martha Graham Summer School, and from there she auditioned and has been a dancer with the Martha Graham Company since 2015. Laurel will be on a short break from the Graham company in May, and to celebrate our anniversary they’ve have given permission for her to guest with us for the ROH performances. A new section of Communion will be created featuring Laurel, and it’ll be rehearsed a few weeks before the May performances. 

Donald: Your new work Imprint has been made in homage to three inspiring people. Can you say something about each of them, as well as giving some idea of what this work is like in terms of its structure and the sensory impact of its look, sound and other textures?

Yolande: The journey the company has taken, from its beginnings in Los Angeles through to where it is now, has been greatly influenced by my experience with three choreographers: how they work in the studio, how they make work and how it feels to dance in their work. I spoke at length to Robert Cohan about the idea of making a new work that reflected what I’d learned from each, and how that has impacted me as an artist. He suggested that I go into the studio and remember how it felt to dance their work, and be in their presence, and just let the movement come through me without thinking about it. It was the most freeing experience I’ve had as a choreographer – just allowing that physical history to come through, and making movement with what my body remembered from. I’ve never made work as quickly as I’ve done with this process, and it’s been interesting to see what has come out.

There are two sections dedicated to each choreographer – Richard Alston, Bella Lewitzky and Cohan – and the music I’m using includes Bach and Heiner Goebbels. My fear after looking at the work is that the audience might think I’m trying to make something in the style of each choreographer, but that’s not it at all. It’s simply the imprint of their work on me that they will see. What I’ve taken from each choreographer is the musicality and playfulness of Alston, the depth and sensation of movement of Cohan and the clarity, strength and shape of Lewitzky.

Donald: I came across this quote on Wikipedia:

“Great control of every motion and placement,” she says, “is a kind of self-care. It’s self-love in the best sense. I make a contract with the dancers (not literally, of course) to keep them alive and well and progressive – doing my level best to see that they’re not injured.” One must bear in mind, she says, that “dancing is not normal, that only a strong, knowledgeable body can protect against damage.” Bella Lewitzky, from an interview with Donna PerlmutterDance Magazine (January 1997)

Any reaction to it? And how normal is dance to you?

Yolande: This is very ‘Bella’! Thank you for sharing it. I was at my strongest as a dancer when I danced with Bella. She knew exactly how the body worked best and developed her technique to protect us and ensure she had strong, powerful dancers.

For me dance is, as Bella so rightly pointed out, self-care. It’s where I feel most comfortable. It is who I am, and  what I know best. As a child it became my voice and was a safe place for me to express myself. This might go back to what drives me to lead a dance company. As far as asking how normal it is, for me it’s not exactly normal, but once you allow it to exist within you, it’s your normal.

Donald: I don’t know the work of Sophia Stoller at all. Can you say something about it and her, generally, and, specifically, about the dance she’s made called Between and Within

Yolande: After forming the Cohan Collective with Robert Cohan here in the UK – a residency for choreographers and composers to collaborate whilst being mentored – I piloted theCollective in Los Angeles in partnership with Pennington Dance Group. We worked with three composers and three choreographers from Los Angeles, and Sophia Stoller was one of the latter. She created a duet during the residency that was very powerful, and I thought it would be great to develop that further and so commissioned this work for our anniversary programme. This ties in to the ethos of the company presenting work by dance-makers from both the UK and America whilst being supportive of emerging artists. We also invited her collaborator Justin Scheid to compose the music. What I find really interesting is that her style is very different from what we are currently seeing here in the UK.

Donald: Okay, a final question: Why do we need to see dance, and your company dancing, now?

Yolande: When this question comes up my mind always goes to a scenario that happened when the war in Iraq was breaking in 2003 and I was opening a show in Los Angeles. I had three nights at the Miles Memorial Theatre in Santa Monica. The opening night was when the war broke out. The second night a reviewer from the LA Times came along – one of about ten people in the audience that night as everyone was in shock about what was happening in the world. We spoke, and she said she was very moved by the performance and would do all she could to try and get the review in Saturday morning’s paper so that others would come and see the show. The headline was “Real Emotion from Yorke Dance Project” and her opening paragraph included the line, “It was possible to forget the woes of Thursday night when Yorke Dance Project brought beauty, grace and real emotion to a sparse but appreciative audience.” She did it, and we had a sold-out evening. So I don’t think it’s a case of seeing dance and the company now. There is just something very special about live theatre. You get to be in the same space, and feel the same energy (particularly in small theatres), and be taken out of your head and into another world. It’s like a meditation. You stop thinking and just experience something, whether you end up liking it or not!

View the trailer here:

Tickets available for the Theatre Royal Winchester

https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/yorke-dance-project/

EXTRA ‘INSIDER’ FEATURES!

Jonathan Goddard

The multiple award-winner Jonathan Goddard is one of the UK’s best contemporary dancers. Although he’s performed in Winchester a number of times, he won’t be available for Yorke Dance Project’s date at the Theatre Royal. Still, he was good enough to reply to an email query asking him about the work the company is offering and his part in it.

Jonathan: I’ve been involved with Yorke Dance Project since 2014, and it’s great to be able to contribute and celebrate its staying power. I’m in two of the works.

Playground by Kenneth Macmillan was originally staged in 1979 and created for what was then Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet. It’s a narrative work which takes the Orpheus and Eurydice myth as its starting point, and I’ve learnt the role of ‘The Intruder.’ It’s been exciting to revive this ballet. I think Macmillan had been undertaking psychoanalysis around the period it was made, so there are some meaty themes to get into – family, and the balance of sanity and fantasy. I’m very much enjoying dancing with guest artists Oxana Panchenko and Romany Pajdak, and to develop the work’s central partnership with them. Playground hasn’t been revived or performed since it was made, so it is really a process of excavation. It’s a rarity, and with a great cast, so it’s definitely worth coming to watch!

The other work I’m in is a new choreography from Bob Cohan. Communion, created last year, feels very special. Bob has made a really beautiful solo for me which finishes the work. I first danced for him in a revival of his piece Eclipse for his 80th birthday celebrations in 2005. It’s really good to be back together, and there’s a sense of achievement, poignancy and fun to be working together fourteen years later.

Our UK tour will finish with shows at the Royal Opera House in London, where we’ll be adding a duet with dancer Laurel Dalley-Smith. Laurel began dancing with Yorke Dance Project,where we met and partnered each other, and then went off to join the Martha Graham Company and has been doing fantastically well there in New York City. It’ll be great to dance together again and see how Bob responds and creates with someone who is now working with the company where he has so much history and was a star dancer.

Susie Crow

Susie Crow was in the original cast of Kenneth MacMillan’s Playground. Here, as one of the coaches for Yorke Dance Project’s current revival of the ballet, she offers valuable inside knowledge about that first staging.

Susie: Playground was originally created for performance at the Edinburgh Festival, where it was apparently well-received; certainly friends of ours who came were impressed. MacMillan choreographed it after leaving the directorship of the Royal Ballet and making such exploratory and dark works as My Brother, My Sisters. But after subsequent performances at Sadler’s Wells, and I think some on tour, it wasn’t done again.  

Was Playground perhaps deemed to be too gritty and uncompromising for further touring? It might’ve been thought a risk when Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet was rebuilding itself and its following. It’s just a shame that it didn’t get a chance to establish itself in the repertoire.  

More recently, following the anniversary season of MacMillan work in 2017, there’s been renewed interest in reviving lesser-known, earlier works of his. That, and the recent success of Yorke Dance Project and its revival of his Sea of Troubles, probably influenced the decision to revive this ballet. It’s a work that includes rather naturalistic movement to create an environment within which the principle characters act out troubling relationships. The Yorke Dance dancers have really impressed me in their ability to present the more expressionist side of MacMillan’s work.  Given today’s social concerns about bullying, exclusion and mental health issues, Playground also feels remarkably topical and prescient.  It could be really powerful this time around.

I don’t want to disclose what happens in Playground. I think all the audience needs to know before seeing it will be in the title, and in the specified names of a few characters. Yorke Dance Project is a small contemporary company of less than ten dancers, and this was effectively a work for a much larger ballet company with a cast of eighteen and a full orchestral score originally performed live. So some adjustment has been necessary, a process which can concentrate the focus on what is important. It’s been really exciting to see the work coming back to life, and in its painstaking reconstruction to appreciate afresh MacMillan’s ability to create character and situation through balletic movement, and acting through dancing.  It also opens up questions about performative skills – how to be on the stage for a long time as a member of an ensemble and sustain the work’s claustrophobic atmosphere, often with minimal or simple means, and deciding where the focus is.

 A recorded version has been made of the original score by Gordon Crosse which is richly colourful and atmospheric, but also quite challenging for the dancers to co-ordinate to its combination of more and less rhythmic passages.

This time the work will be performed in smaller, more intimate venues. Inevitably the set, while keeping the character and signification of the original, needs to be more flexible, lightweight and tourable. The costumes likewise will maintain a spirit of dressing up, but perhaps give a slightly more timeless look.  It’s very special to have Kenneth’s daughter Charlotte re-designing a ballet made when she was a small child herself.

It’s been a brilliant learning experience for all of us!

Win guide to the Theatre royal in february

It may be a short and wintry month, but there’s lots of Theatre on offer in Winchester. Here’s our Win Guide to the Theatre Royal in February:

We recommend booking for the revival of the late Andrea Dunbar’s Rita, Sue and Bob Too, 28 February – 2nd March. Originally premiered at the Royal Court in 1982, Dunbar was born on the Butterworth Estate in Bradford and penned her first play when she was just fifteen in green biro on the torn out pages of her school exercise book. The play made its way to the Royal Court Theatre in London and Dunbar’s talent was discovered. By 1987, Rita, Sue and Bob Too was adapted for film, directed by Alan Clarke. Dunbar died in 1990, but her wicked humour and startling insight lives on. Rita, Sue and Bob too tells the story of two teenage girls in the eighties groomed by an older man Bob. Briefly cancelled for its London performances in the wake of the #MeToo campaign and anxiety about the new context in which it would be received, the production was reinstated within two days following widespread support from critics, artists and fans of Dunbar’s work and thanks to an artistic director who listened and changed her mind. You can hear more about this on BBC Radio 4 Front Row. This revival has toured across the UK to critical acclaim and was produced by Out of Joint, Bolton Octagon and the Royal Court. It’s one to watch, think about and talk about in the bar afterwards. For more details, visit the website here.

Robin Hood and the Revolting Peasants will be rampaging at the Theatre Royal, 7 – 8 February, presented by Oddsocks. Join Robin, Little John, Maid Marion and of course Friar Tuck as they take on some of their hardest challenges to date: A conniving king, a sinister sheriff and a downtrodden village of peasants whose ‘get up and go’ has got up and gone. Tickets are available to book here.

If you’re celebrating the end of dry January, why not head along to The Thinking Drinkers on 9 February. It’s a unique ‘Alcohol based comedy’ (The Sunday Times). Enjoy five free drinks as the award-winning experts take you from the symposiums of Ancient Greece to the classic British boozer via Wild West saloons, Victorian gin palaces and the secret Speakeasy. Tickets and details available here. Strictly 18yrs and over for this one.

Tenors Un Limited present their 15 Year Anniversary Tour, 10 February. Dubbed the Rat Pack of Opera, Scott Ciscon, Jem Sharples and Paul Martin have assembled a fabulous mix of songs ranging from opera, pop and crooner classics, old favourites and self-penned songs. Tickets available here.

Yorke Dance Project celebrates 20 years of performing dance by past masters and emerging artists from the UK and USA on 12 February. This celebratory programme includes works by world renowned choreographers Sir Kenneth MacMillan and Robert Cohan alongside emerging Los Angeles choreographer Sophia Stoller and Yolande Yorke-Edgell. One not to miss. Tickets available here.

Winchester from the Crypt on 13 February features some of the best emerging talent from the Creative Writing department at University of Winchester, who have written an evening of horror stories to ‘chill your blood, rattle your bones and yank your chains’, performed by tomorrow’s stars of the future from the Performing Arts department. Tickets are only a fiver, so book while you can here. This one is 18 years plus too so not for those who are easily spooked.

14 – 16 February, Blackeyed Theatre in association with New Theatre Royal Portsmouth and South Hill Park Arts Centre present Sherlock Holmes – The Sign of Four. Crammed full of adventure, romance, comedy and of course one or two rather brilliant deductions, The Sign of Four is Arthur Conan Doyle’s epic second Sherlock Holmes tale, a breath-taking yarn brought to life in this spectacular new stage adaptation. Tickets available here.

RUBY TURNER is in town on 17 February! For many years Ruby Turner has been regarded as having one of the greatest voices the UK has ever produced. . Her career to date has been sensational with major tours, film, TV and theatre appearances.A very prolific songwriter, many of Ruby’s songs have been covered by artists such as Lulu, Yazz and Maxi Priest, while her vocal prowess has been employed to good effect by Bryan Ferry, Mick Jagger, Steve Winwood and Jools Holland. Book here.

Fasten your seat belts, set your ray guns to stun and get ready for a cosmic adventure of meteoric proportions as award-winning ENCORE Youth Theatre present Return to the Forbidden Planet by Bob Carlton. 21 – 23 February, tickets available here. Bursting with red hot rock & roll hits, including Great Balls of Fire, Good Vibrations, Teenager in Love and The Young Ones.

Towards the end of the month, enjoy the Chinese New Year Extravaganza! Touring across the country to celebrate the biggest festive event on the Chinese calendar, Chinese New Year Extravaganza features a team of performers showcasing amazing Chinese performing arts. From the cheerful spirit of the auspicious Lion Dance, to the awe-inspiring contortion, the show is a colourful display of Chinese cultural tradition. Tickets available here.

Tavern Talks January 2019

On Thursday evening (24 January) Professor Tim Prentki will be speaking in the latest in the University of Winchester monthly series of Tavern Talks – held upstairs at the St James Tavern at the bottom of the Romsey Road.

Tavern Talks feature short informal talks followed by lively discussion. The evening starts with drinks from 5.30, with the talk itself kicking off at about 6.00pm. Tavern Talkers usually stick around for another drink (or two) downstairs after the discussion finishes at around 7.00.

Entry is free, participation encouraged. All are welcome. No booking required.

Tim will argue that, insofar as we process and perform reality in the same ways in which theatre operates, we might all be said to be ‘acting on the world stage’ – and will argue that, when our opportunities to develop as social performers and audiences are thwarted, we lose empathy and resort to tribal identities at odds with our cerebral wiring.

Tim is a playwright and the world’s first Professor of Theatre for Development, as well as being the author of numerous books on such subjects as Applied Theatre and Popular Theatre in Political Culture.

Forthcoming Tavern Talks:

Win Guide to December

That’s right Wintonians, the countdown to Christmas in Winchester is upon us. Let’s face it, our city is pretty good at embracing this season. Here’s our Win Guide to December…

Firstly, have you booked your ticket to panto at the Theatre Royal Winchester? This year’s festive treat is Beauty and the Beast. Oh yes it is. Audiences have been saying great things in response to the opening previews on Twitter and it’s going to be a corker. There are relaxed performances in the schedule and the show is recommended for anyone aged 3+. Booking details, times and prices can all be found online here.  

Young Theatre fans may also enjoy a visit to Santa’s Christmas Party at the Theatre Royal Winchester on Monday 17 December. It’s an interactive family show for children aged 2 – 7 years with a chance to meet Santa at the North Pole and receive a gift! For details, times and ticket prices, visit the website here.

And here’s a trailer:

The Chesil Theatre is hosting A Fun, Funky, Christmassy Musical Entertainment Evening, led by Marcus and Pete Whitfield. Tickets are just £3, and it will be a fantastic social event to celebrate the festive season at the Chesil Theatre. Get ready for some funky festive frolicking fun.

The Waynflete Singers present A Christmas Fanfare at Winchester Cathedral, 8 December at 7.30pm. The programme includes Handel’s Coronation Anthems, interspersed with Gabrieli’s thrilling brass Canzonas, and Heinrich Schutz’s mighty setting for double choir of Psalm 100, Jauchzet dem Herrn. John Rutter’s setting of the Gloria provides a brilliant and joyous opener for the second half, which concludes with a selection of Christmas carols for choir and audience. Tickets and prices are available online here.

Christmas in Winchester wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to the Cathedral Christmas markets and a bit of ice skating. There are over 100 wooden chalets this year, open from 10.30am until 6.30pm Sunday  –  Wednesday and 10.30am – 8pm Thursday to Saturday so there are plenty of opportunities to do some Christmas shopping over a glass of mulled wine or a hot chocolate. For the Cathedral Christmas and Carol service times, visit the website here.

Don’t forget to stroll to Kingsgate Village for Kingsgate Books & Prints, Cornflowers Gift Shop, P&G Wells Booksellers or Kingsgate Wine and Provisions. And there are many more hidden boutiques or purveyors of luxury items so get some walking boots and knitwear on.  Chococo is a must for edible gifts, and we urge you to stop off for a hot chocolate whilst there. If you want pure vintage, climb up the hill to Stardust Years for authentic ladies fashion and accessories.

The University of Winchester Carol Service takes place 11 – 12 December 2018, 6.15pm & 12.15pm.  Traditional carols and seasonal refreshments, as well as the contributions of students, staff, governors and, of course, the University Chancellor Alan Titchmarsh, all combine to make these events a suitably rich conclusion to the University’s calendar. The Service will be held at the University Chapel, King Alfred Campus, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road.

Winchester City Museum will be hosting a Christmas Family Make and Take craft event on 22 December, 10.30am – 1pm. There is no need to book and the event is free but places and resources will be limited.

It’s worth a visit to the Brooks Centre this year to enjoy some Christmas at the Brooks activities. Christmas Wonderland is open between 3 – 8 December. Watch festive films inside an Igloo or visit Father Christmas himself on 8 December. You can decorate a cupcake in Mrs Claus’ Kitchen on 15 December and, on 22 December there will be a chance for some Christmas Face Painting. For details, visit the website here.

If you feel like watching a good old Christmas movie on a big screen, the Everyman Christmas season will hit the spot. There will be a feast of Christmas feel good films on offer throughout December from the Sing-a-long Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Love Actually, Home Alone or the unmissable It’s a Wonderful Life. For times, dates and prices, visit the cinema website here.

The Railway Inn is throwing a Christmas party on 22 December from 8.30pm. Expect Christmas hats, mince pies, DJs, funk ,disco, friends, hip-hop, bass and anything else that gets a party going. To book tickets, visit the website here.

We’ll be bringing you more seasonal tips on Twitter @Win_Guide. Wrap up warm one and all and enjoy!

Heritage Focus: The Theatre Royal at 40

The Theatre Royal at 40 – An Undergraduate explores the historic impact of a community.

We met Sam Jenkins at the celebration of 40 years since the Theatre Royal was saved. Threatened with demolition in the 1970s an action group was formed comprising of six dedicated Winchester residents who wanted to save the building for use as a permanent theatre which Winchester lacked at that time. A charitable trust was formed and subsequently purchased the building in 1977. Theatre Royal Winchester was then opened the following year on 1 November 1978 by the esteemed actor/playwright Robert Morley. Sam has been researching the theatre as part of his studies at the University of Winchester and has kindly agreed to share his experiences and findings with us.

I am Sam Jenkins, a second year history student at the University of Winchester. As part of my degree I am currently undertaking a module called ‘Exploring Past Localities’, where I am exploring a local tenement in the Winchester area, tracing the tenement’s origins as far back as possible, right up to its use in the present day. This will culminate in a presentation of my findings in December. As a keen fan of cinema and theatre-going, I quickly chose the Theatre Royal as my tenement to explore. To fully equip me for the task, I received training to use resources from the Hampshire Record Office, where much historic documentation can be found on the Theatre Royal and the tenement of land it occupies.

One of the key aspects of this module is to consider the importance of ‘history-from-below’, an idea that has emerged in historiographical thought since the 1960s. This is the concept that historical writing should consider the role of ordinary individuals, and the impact of the civic community, rather than just focusing on how history was shaped by those in power at the very top of society. The sense of a rooted community spirit was very evident when I visited the Theatre for its 40th Anniversary celebrations on the 1st November.

Richard Steel, Phil Yates, Lady Jennie Bland, Janet Richardson, David Harding and Richard Chisnell.

It gave me a wonderful opportunity to meet first-hand some of the key people involved with saving the Theatre from being demolished in the 1970s. The guests I met included surviving members of the original ‘gang’ who came together to fight against the building’s planned demolition order, some of the volunteers who helped operate the Theatre when it first re-opened, as well as other members of the Winchester community and their family members who are connected to the Theatre’s history.

As an undergraduate I am expected to thoroughly explore the evidence when completing my assignments – historians are quite rightly expected to justify their “facts” or interpretations through multiple sources. While these sources can take many forms, they are often found in the form of a monograph (book) or journal article. To be able to actually see the theatre as it stands today and directly meet people involved with its development is a real honour, and the greatest joy is that it brings the research I am producing to life, quite literally. It reminds me that the role of the historian is not just to tell stories for storytelling’s sake – history is about real people, and ensuring that the collective efforts and achievements of real people are properly commemorated and appreciated for future generations.

The Theatre Royal would not be standing today had it not been for the generosity, commitment and determination of the Winchester community. This will be reflected strongly when I come to deliver my presentation.

Sam Jenkins

Twitter: @changemakersam

Find out more about the history of the Theatre Royal Winchester here.

The Digital Divide

The University of Winchester presents an inaugural lecture by Marcus Leaning, Professor of Digital Media Education on Thursday 29 November at 6pm (6.30pm start).

The public event is free to attend and all are welcome. Plus there will be wine, soft drinks and nibbles.

In 2001 Kofi Annan, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, announced a redoubling of the UN’s effort to bridge the ‘digital divide’.

The digital divide refers to the differences in people’s opportunities to access and use digital media and has been understood to be a barrier to development that stops individuals and countries from achieving their potential. Since Kofi Annan’s announcement, billions has been spent on seeking to address the digital divide. This lecture looks at these efforts, the nature of the problem itself and whether we are actually any closer to solving the digital divide.

Marcus Leaning is Professor of Digital Media Education and teaches on the Media and Communication degree. He is a National Teaching Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. He is the author or editor of seven books and has written numerous articles, book chapters and magazine articles on various aspects of digital media education and related topics. He has lectured and given papers in 25 countries and has been a visiting researcher and visiting professor at Hokkaido University, Japan; the University of Limerick in the Republic of Ireland and the University of Costa Rica.

Booking is required in advance:  book here

Date: Thursday 29 November
Time: 6pm for 6.30pm start
Location: The Stripe, King Alfred Quarter, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 4NR

Win Guide to November

Remember, remember, it’s time for a Win Guide to November. From fireworks to film festivals, here’s our guide to some sizzling events in the city this month:

It’s the 60th Charity Winchester Bonfire & Fireworks on Saturday 3rd November. Starting at 6pm on The Broadway by King Alfred’s Statue, the torchlight procession makes its way through the historical streets of Winchester to the fields behind River Park. At 7.15pm, the Bonfire will be lit, and at 7.45pm you can enjoy the legendary Fireworks Spectacular. Visit the website here for more details or to book tickets.

The Winchester Film Festival takes place from 3 – 10 November. Enjoy feature film premieres and award-winning short films selected from over 50 countries, at venues across the city of Winchester. For a full programme of films including dramas, thrillers, documentaries and animations, visit the 2018 programme here.  To find out more about the Winchester Film Festival or to book tickets, visit the website here.

You Are Here! closes at the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium on Saturday 4 November. Join the hosts of Wow Tours on an out-of-this-world immersive adventure as they attempt to put everything in its place – in our Solar System, the Universe and beyond! It’s a 30-minute show designed for children and their families. Be inspired to look up at the night sky and it could be the start of a lifelong adventure. For more details, visit the website here. And here’s a trailer:

On 7 November, there’s a special screening of War Horse in the Nave of Winchester Cathedral. Tickets are £10 (£7 for under 16s) available from the Cathedral Box Office 01962 857275.

The annual Christmas Light switch on, takes place on 15 November! Celebrate the start of the festive period and join Heart Radio’s Rich Clarke, who will be hosting an evening of live entertainment and fun, with the city’s wonderful Christmas lights being switched on by local Winchester heroes nominated by members of the public. The festivities start at 4pm and will end by 7pm (lights switched on at 6pm).

And whilst we are in the festive mood, the Cathedral Christmas markets and ice rink will open on 16 November. The official opening includes professional ice skating displays and music from the Cathedral Choristers along with the blessing of the tree. Following the Opening Ceremony, you will be free to explore the Christmas Market until 8pm.

Don’t forget to get booking for the Panto at the Theatre Royal which opens 1 December and runs until 6 January. This year, it’s Beauty and the Beast. Can Fairy Fifi bring Belle and the Beast together in time or will the evil Malevolent win the day? There’s only one way to find out. Visit the website here for times and tickets.

Speaking of the Theatre Royal, it’s a bumper month following on from the 40th anniversary celebrations since it was saved from demolition and re-opened as a performance venue. The one and only Nicholas Parsons will be starring in Just A Laugh A Minute on Saturday 3 November at 7.30pm. Book online here. The Winchester Musicals and Opera Society will be presenting Singing In The Rain from 7 – 10 November at 7.30pm.  Tickets are available here.

The Armistice Centenary Recalled takes place on 11 November at 7.30pm featuring Michael Pennington, Pamela Miles and John Miller. Exactly a hundred years after the Armistice marking the end of the First World War, this dramatic recital draws on the contemporary writings in poetry and prose to recreate the moods and passions of those involved at the time. For more details, or to book tickets, visit the website here.

Also commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War I, Scamp Theatre’s award-winning production of Private Peaceful is full of vivid detail and dramatic narrative, superbly brought to life by Andy Daniel. For tickets, visit the website here.

BBC TV wildlife presenter and cameraman Gordon Buchanan will be sharing insight into his incredible experiences with some of the world’s most fearsome and majestic animals on 12 November. Book here. 

If you missed our feature on the fantastic Welsh National Opera workshop for young people aged 10 – 18 years, you can read it here. The workshop takes place on 17 – 19 November. And, the Welsh National Opera cordially invites you to the World Premiere of the rip-roaring, uproarious musical comedy Rhondda Rips It Up!  The production takes you on an unforgettable journey through the life and adventures of that unsung heroine of the Welsh Suffrage movement, Margaret Haig Thomas, the Viscountess Rhondda. Tickets are available to book online here.

Fans of comedy will be delighted to hear that Stewart Francis, star of Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo and Crackerjack embarks on a brand-new show, Into the Punset on 21 November at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available here.

The Chesil Theatre will be presenting Honour by Joanna Murray-Smith, directed by Heather Bradford, 17 – 24 November. Honour is a provocative drama that challenges our notion of honour, our sense of decency and our belief that love will prevail. The Singer by Nick Joseph will also be hosted 28 November – 1 December. After the sell-out success of ‘The Railway Plays’ in 2017, award-winning writer-director Nick Joseph presents another foray into the absurd and the unpredictable with the story of a man, so cut-off from society that his name has become a musical note (so cannot be written). For more details and to book tickets, visit the website here.

On Thursday 22 November, Dr Vanessa Harbour will be talking about the issues writers face when ‘Writing History as Fiction’ as part of the University of Winchester Tavern Talks. Dr Harbour is a writer whose recent novel Flight was published by Firefly Press in August and was described by the New Statesman as “an adventure mixing horses and Nazis” which balances its “gripping plot” with “real-life inspiration”. She will suggest that, as a writer, she aims to create narratives that engage the imagination using voices that are unlikely to have left any written records behind them, as she tells the stories of the invisible characters of history.

Finally, The Kings Chamber Orchestra are on a journey exploring time and space on the road to Christmas, 24 November at 3pm at The Middle Brook Centre in Middle Brook Street. Under 3’s go free and tickets are £5! What did the shepherds actually see? Why? How? When? What has that got to do with the note “C”? What is the most dazzling music of all?All these questions and more will be considered through a musical journey with fun for all the family in our day time teddy concerts, presented with wit and spontaneity by cellist Gerard Le Feuvre. Bring a Teddy! Tickets are available here.

It’s going to be quite a month in Winchester. We’ll be bringing you more updates on Twitter @Win_Guide. Enjoy one and all!