Category Archives: Feature

Win Guide to June

There’s lots going on in our fair city this month, from festivals to theatre costume sales and of course our beloved Hat Fair. To find out more, here’s our Win Guide to June.

Head on down to the Chesil Theatre for some folk music on 1 June, performed by the Itchen Folk band. The Compton & Shawford based group will play music from the British Isles and the US. While we’re at the Chesil Theatre, don’t miss their costume sale on 9 June. There will be a range of items on offer from various periods reflecting the range of repertoire that has been dressed over the years. Prices range from just 50p to £50 so get ready to rummage.

The Theatre Royal has an exciting programme on offer this month. Events include Germaine Greer, 3 June and her talk on the inevitability of ecofeminism.  Robert Habermann will be Mad about Movies on 7 June in his history of Hollywood musicals. The show climaxes with a marvellous medley of 20 Oscar winning songs. Shappi Khorsandi will be portraying Emma Hamilton in Mistress and Misfit, 8 June. Dance-wise, you can book to see the sizzling Flamenco Express on 9 June or Ballet Central on 12 June, featuring work by world renowned choreographers.  Families can enjoy the Integr8 Dance school showcase, 15 – 17 June.  Le Navet Bete & Exeter Northcott Theatre bring us Dracula: The Bloody Truth on 13 – 14 June. Kids will be interested in Tall Stories The Snail & The Whale, 10 – 11 June.

Blue Apple Theatre will be filling us in on some history with Winchester! The First 100,000,000 Years, 21 – 23 June. Where did those first settlers on the banks of the Itchen get a decent cup of coffee and did Jane Austen ever get caught up on the one-way system? And finally, don’t miss Reflections of Johnny Cash, Karen Carpenter, Judy Garland & Eva Cassidy, 24 June.

Winchester Cathedral has a packed June full of events to enjoy. Here’s a list of what’s on:

Stone Festival 2018 Friday 15 – Sunday 17 June 2018,

10.00am – 4.00pm Daily. Free Entry – All Welcome

Jane Austen: Tour and Tea Saturday 2 June,10.00am
Tickets: £12.50 Includes hot drink and a slice of cake

Garden Tour  Saturday 2 June, 10.00am Tickets: £6.50

Spiritual Tours with Rev’d Katie Lawrence
Monday 4 June & Wednesday 6 June, 7.00pm – 9.00pm Tickets: £5

Lunchtime Recital – Mikhail Lezdkan (Cello)
Tuesday 5 June, 1.00pm Free to attend

Modern Art Tour and Tea Saturday 9 June, 10.00am
Tickets: £12.50 includes hot drinks and a slice of cake

Britten’s War Requiem Saturday 9 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £20- £35

Film Night: Stations of the Cross (2014)
Tuesday 12 June, 7.00pm Tickets: £5

Lunchtime Recital: Paul Turner (Piano) & Enigma 14.
Tuesday 12 June, 1.00pm Free to attend

Shipping Festival Service
Thursday 14 June, 7.30pm

Tour: Magnificence Revealed
Saturday 16 June, 10.00am
Tickets: £12.50 includes hot drinks and a slice of cake

Lunchtime Recital: Winchester College Music Scholars
Tuesday 19 June, 1.00pm
Free to attend.

Yanomamo – Featuring Winchester Cathedral Junior and Youth Choir
Saturday 23 June, 7.30pm Tickets: £15 & £20

Professor Alister McGrath – On the Trinity
Tuesday 26 June, 7.00pm
Tickets: £5

Lunchtime Recital – Wells Cathedral School Specialist Music Department
Tuesday 26 June, 1.00pm Free to attend

First World War – In my end is my beginning: Tour and Cream Tea
Friday 29 June, 2.00pm
£12.50 includes a cream tea

For the wordsmiths among us, it’s the Winchester Writers Festival, 15 – 17 June. The festival includes some interesting networking opportunities, including the chance to meet editors and agents.  The keynote speaker for this year’s festival is the novelist Patrick Gale. To book your place, visit the website here.

Winchestival takes place 16 June in North Walls park.  There will be music, comedy and street food to enjoy with the 1980’s synth pop band Fickle Friends headlining the event.  Winchester Comedy Festival will be ensuring that there will be plenty of giggles on the day.  To book tickets for beats, eats and comedy treats, visit the website here.

Hat’s at the ready, the UK’s longest running outdoor arts festival Hat Fair takes place Friday 29th June – Sunday 1st July. On Friday and Saturday there are two jam-packed dates of arts and culture all around Winchester city centre. On Sunday, all are welcome to picnic on North Walls recreation ground where there will be more entertainment to enjoy. For the full programme, which includes an inflatable Whale venue and dancing on giant Jenga, visit the Hat Fair website here.

With so much culture on offer this June, it’s going to be a great month in the city. We’ll be bringing you more updates on Twitter throughout the month. Have fun one and all.

Win Guide to March

March started with the Beast from the East and an Amber weather warning. We hope our fellow Wintonians managed to stay warm and dry in the snow.  A big thank you to Trinity Winchester, local carers, emergency services, public sector staff and neighbours who cared for the vulnerable during an unexpected freeze.

As the snow melts and we return to the beginnings of Spring, here’s our Win Guide to March:

Handbags at the ready, The Original Theatre Company will be visiting the Theatre Royal Winchester with a delightful production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Gwen Taylor, 5 – 7 March.  For more details or to book tickets, visit here. Other theatre highlights this month include Slightly Fat Features, think Monty Python meets Cirque du Soleil, 11 March. Lloyd and Rose Buck will be giving a talk, Our Life with Birds, 13 March.  There will be a rare opportunity to meet Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, hawks, owls, starlings and many more, in the theatre! Jason Donovan will be at the Theatre Royal on 16 March, along with his mid-life crisis.  For the younger audience members, don’t forget to book for Peppa Pig, 17 – 18 March.  The Winchester Comedy Festival will be presenting a Comedy Gala, 17 March.

The University of Winchester students will be teaming up with the Theatre Royal for Scratch Shakespeare on 19 March.  With four directors, four theatre companies and four performances inspired by the Bard himself, be there or be a poisonous bunch-backed toad. Our insult (Richard III) not theirs! There is also the chance to see Wessex Dance Academy, 22 March, and the Young Theatre Royal showcase on 27 & 29 March. Oh, and the Swansea City Opera will be bringing the Barber of Seville to the Theatre Royal stage on 20 March.  For full programme details and to book tickets, visit the website here.

Craig Charles, the beloved Red Dwarf actor, will be bringing his Funk & Soul Club to the Guildhall on 9 March from 10pm.  The event is for 18+ years. Support comes from The Soul Rays and Jimi Needles. For full details and to get booking, visit the Guildhall website here.

Don’t forget it’s mother’s day on Sunday 11 March.  There are still a limited number of tickets left for the Great British Gin Festival, which could be a treat.  To snap the last tickets up and find our more, visit here. There are also various offers on offer throughout the city to spoil mums with lunches, dinners or afternoon tea.  Hotel du Vin has an afternoon tea with Champagne deal on, £50 for two. Or the Holiday Inn will be offering afternoon tea with unlimited Prosecco. An 18+ age guidance of course applies.

For some more theatre fun, The Venetian Twins by Carlo Goldoni will be on at the Chesil Theatre, 17 – 24 March directed by Mark Frank.  Goldoni’s timeless comedy is a wonderful whirling confusion of frustrated lovers, bizarre fights between mistaken adversaries and devious plots that go off the rails – with a surprising bitter-sweet twist at the end. Check out the trailer:

Don’t forget to book tickets here.

Whilst we’re at the Chesil Theatre, the 10×10 Playwriting Competition is open for submissions until 30 March.  The theme is Hidden Worlds.  Ten plays will be selected for performances at the 10×10 New Writing Festival to be held in October 2018. The aim of 10×10 is to discover, promote and produce the very best new writing of ten-minute plays. 10×10 has provided a platform for playwrights and played a small but significant role in their continuing successes. For more details and to download the submission form, visit the website here.

Finally, we recommend a trip to Winchester College to hear the Winchester Symphony Orchestra and pianist Ivana Gavric on 24 March, 7.30pm conducted by Nicholas Wilks. The programme includes Jean Sibelius – Finlandia, The Swan of Tuonela, Lemminkainen’s Return and En Saga. Felix Mendelssohn – Piano Concerto no. 1 and Johannes Brahms – Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn.

We’ll be bringing you more updates throughout the month @Win_Guide.  Have a fun month, one and all.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

As the ‘dark pleasure’ of the multi-award-winning Mark Bruce Company’s Macbeth arrives at Theatre Royal Winchester (Jan 31 & Feb 1) as part of a national tour, veteran dance-theatre critic Donald Hutera learns more about this compelling new take on Shakespeare’s most notorious couple – and, in a Winchester Guide exclusive, speaks not just to the show’s creator but to the two dancers cast in the leading roles.
MARK BRUCE, choreographer and director
Q. What are your thoughts on Macbeth?
MARK BRUCE: It hits you fast, cuts through to the bone, and for me it’s the least ambiguous of Shakespeare‘s plays. Its darkness opens our nightmares; we recognise fundamental traits inside ourselves, and the consequences of acting upon them. The vicious pursuit of power to fill a void will always be relevant. The Macbeths are everywhere in every age, because they’re a part of us.
 
Q. When did you discover Macbeth and what did you think?
MARK BRUCE:   I first read it as a teenager and, returning to it now, the images and atmosphere it evokes haven’t changed. Its power lies in a relentless tale of supernatural horror told with a beauty and symbolism that reaches to the tragic state of the ‘other.’   The supernatural is always present in Macbeth, bending our own thoughts and perceptions as well as those of the protagonists. It infects us, always one step ahead, and Macbeth’s decisions are made in the world of a nightmare as if there’s no separation between thought and action. Murder is done and descent is rapid.
 
Q. Why choose Macbeth?
MARK BRUCE: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I had a vision of Macbeth’s world and some of the cast in mind. It was the same with my company’s previous shows, Dracula and The Odyssey.  The choreographic language of Macbeth is very specific and detailed, and I felt I had the right dancers at the right time in their careers to pursue this vocabulary.  I do feel there’s a time when you are ready to do a production, and you can’t really contrive that.

Q. Your production puts Lady Macbeth centre-stage with Macbeth himself. Please say more…
MARK BRUCE: The Macbeths are mere playthings of the evil they set free, and in the madness and emptiness that ensues they become but walking shadows, or – as in my adaptation – simply clowns of sound and fury.
Q. Are you influenced by other artists?
MARK BRUCE: Influences always begin subconsciously and often it’s only in retrospect that I identify them. I also don’t expect to completely understand why an influence has imposed itself. I do think I’ve been affected by the films of David Cronenberg for this production: their pace, his economic shot selection and the film Eastern Promises especially. The brooding atmosphere, the colour, the darkness seem to marry with the world and characters I saw Macbeth taking place in. Compared to a production like The Odyssey, in which there was a myriad of influences, Macbeth is far more lean. It’s written for the stage. My approach has been quite simple so I can really explore the text, and get deeply into the characters and the world in which it is set. 
Q. How do you choose your dancers for Mark Bruce Company productions?
MARK BRUCE: Sometimes I’ll have particular dancers in mind for a production and this will have a bearing on whether I pursue it or not – whether it’s an established narrative or something I’ve written myself. With Macbeth I had a combination of dancers I already knew and some new ones. I held an audition for which we had over six hundred and fifty applicants. From this I took three dancers. They needed to be strong dramatically and in contemporary and classical technique.
 
Q. Your music choice for Macbeth is classical and doesn’t involve any of your own compositions, unlike many of your other productions.
MARK BRUCE:   The music of Arvo Pärt was a fundamental decision in realising a through-line for Macbeth. I was instantly drawn to how it captures something deep inside us. It can be sparse and refined, and for me Macbeth is a refined play. Like Arvo Pärt’s music, there’s so much going on with every line, every suggestion, and this enables our imagination to transcend to the state of what’s inside the protagonists, what they are missing, and the state of their souls. I felt the combination of the subject matter and this music created something beautiful and tragic. These two elements were the basis of my interpretation of Macbeth.
ELEANOR DUVAL and JONATHAN GODDARD, dancers
 
Q. What are the pleasures (and any perils!) of working for and with Mark Bruce?
ELEANOR DUVAL: This process has been a pleasurable one. We started with some R&D a year ago with a few dancers in the studio, where Mark tried some ideas out and started working on the relationship between the Macbeths. He’s taken his time to create these characters, which has also given us time to inhabit them. Everything has been very detailed, and the ‘conversations’ between Jon and myself are crucial to the plot. The new studio the company has in Frome is a game-changer. There all the creative team have been around, and we’ve had the set up in the studio from day one of rehearsals, so a real sense of atmosphere and excitement has been apparent from the beginning. I guess the only peril working for Mark is that I seem to have very disturbing dreams!
JONATHAN GODDARD: This is my third production with Mark, and I enjoy trying to bring the visions he has into the world. It’s always interesting to see how a director imagines a character, and I relish the darkness of the roles – thankfully quite different to my own temperament and life.
 
Q. What sorts of things have you discovered during the creation period about the character you play?
ELEANOR DUVAL: Lady Macbeth is extremely manipulative and will do anything to gain power. I feel during the creation time I put a lot of work into how I could make this clear to an audience. The result has been an editing process where ‘less is more.’ The calmer she remains the stronger she comes across. The detail in every look is crucial. Mark spent a long time with Jonathan and me on our physical and mental reactions to the various situations we find ourselves in during the piece. One thing that surprised me was the vulnerability in my character. Obviously I know the play, and the ‘washing of the hands’ scene is well-known. Her insanity, however, builds throughout this production. Lady Macbeth remains strong for her husband until her stubbornness, pride and denial finally cracks, and everything spirals out of her control.
 
JONATHAN GODDARD: It’s been interesting to give myself over to a character that seems to aspire to total freedom, but who also has to negotiate and bear the extreme repercussions and effects of his actions and fate.  I love that Shakespeare makes everything happen right away, right that minute. If Macbeth decides to murder someone he’ll do it straight away; if things go wrong, they spiral fast. It makes the journey a thrilling one, and demands real on-the-spot commitment to some quite extreme moments.
 
Q: What have you discovered about yourself as an artist and a person?
ELEANOR DUVAL: Worryingly, I’ve discovered that I enjoy being an incredibly awful person! It’s been a real treat to dip into something this evil. I’ve also found the detail and precision of the choreography an enjoyable challenge. We’ve worked closely from the script in creating a choreographic language. Every nuance and accent is specific. Of all the productions I’ve danced in for Mark this has been a very different approach, and therefore I’ve learnt new skills at the right time in my career.
JONATHAN GODDARD: That I’m still enjoying dancing in my late thirties. It takes longer and longer to warm up, but I’m still curious and my body is just about doing what I want it to.
Q. If this version of Macbeth were to be experienced with all the senses, how might it smell, feel and taste?
ELEANOR DUVAL: This production would definitely taste metallic and smell of flesh. However there are sweet tastes along the way as I feel Mark has created a lot of beauty within the harshness.
JONATHAN GODDARD: I think it would taste metallic, and feel as if someone has just left you alone in a car park at night!
Q. What will it sound and look like?
ELEANOR DUVAL: Truly beautiful. 
JONATHAN GODDARD: It sounds very beautiful. Mark has worked with a lot of Arvo Pärt for this production. I think this music captures Macbeth’s sort of transcendent state and the constant presence of the supernatural in his world.  
Q. In a nutshell, why does this Macbeth need to be seen and experienced?
ELEANOR DUVAL: It’s a unique production that touches all the senses. Audiences will ultimately find it cathartic. Mark has created a world which we have all delved into, from the dancers to the creative team – lights, costumes and set. The audience will have a chance to be drawn into this world and experience Shakespeare’s savage tragedy in all its beauty.
JONATHAN GODDARD: I think Macbeth always feels very modern and current to audiences. It definitely speaks to now and the perils of power unchecked. It’s a brilliant introduction to dance-theatre if you haven’t seen any before and, hopefully, a dark pleasure if you have.
Company and tour info: http://www.markbrucecompany.com/
  

Win Guide to January

Happy New Year, Wintonians. The christmas festivities may be over but we’re very excited about 2018 in Winchester. Here’s our guide to some invigorating arts and culture in the city this January.

To start the year off with some live music, take a look at the Railway Inn’s programme.  Events include Riteoff (12 Jan), Who Killed Nancy Johnson? (13 Jan), Lucy Bernandez and Friends (19 Jan), Blackstone Jones (20 Jan) and the Department electro party (26 Jan).  For full details or to book tickets, visit the website here.

From the Jam will be taking the Guildhall by storm (26 January) whisking you back to the early 80s.  The band is comprised of legendary former ‘The Jam’ bassist Bruce Foxton, vocalist & guitarist Russell Hastings, drummer Mike Randon, and Andy Fairclough on Hammond and piano.  Tickets (14+) are available here.

For a different aesthetic, Index Cantorum will return with an immersive musical performance at Winchester Cathedral 20 Jan, 12pm & 1pm.  Experience the music in a promenade or sit in the nave whilst the singers encircle the audience. The event is free with a retiring collection.  For details, visit the cathedral website here.

Tom Kempinski’s ‘Duet for One’ is a thought provoking piece at the Chesil Theatre (20-27 Jan). The play which premiered starring Frances De la Tour in the 1980s is inspired by the story of Jacqueline du Pre and her conductor husband, Daniel Barenboim.  A virtuoso violinist, Stephanie has lived for music since the age of four. She and her composer husband appear a golden couple until she is struck down with multiple sclerosis. Can she adjust to a different life? The story is told through successive interviews with a psychiatrist whose quiet probing unveils the true picture. For ticket details, visit the website here.

The Theatre Royal will be hosting the World Premiere of Mark Bruce’s dance theatre adaptation of Macbeth 31 January. That’s right, you can see it here first.  Goaded by the whispers of demons, the Macbeths unleash murder for their own gains and set in motion their path to madness and self-destruction, unravelling events in a nightmare they cannot control. To book tickets, visit the theatre website here.

Trailer:

Macbeth Trailer from Mark Bruce Company on Vimeo.

We’ll be bringing you more highlights throughout the month on Twitter @Win_Guide.  Have a great start to 2018, one and all.

Review of Peter Pan by Sophia, aged 6

Sophia went to see Peter Pan with her primary school. Here is her review of this year’s Theatre Royal Winchester pantomime:

I went to the Theatre Royal and the show was called Peter Pan.  It was so fun!

So there were some characters and one of them was called Tiger-Lily.  I liked her because she was good and she had a costume that looked like a tiger.  There was a really amazing song that I really liked and it had the word ooh-ahh in it.

There was Tinker Bell and it was actually amazing because she really looked like a fairy, she was small and green and she glowed.  There was someone who was Peter Pan and it looked like he was flying.  There was a crocodile and it went on its feet and the feet were sideways.  It looked really good!

There was someone called Wendy and she had brown hair like me and she went to Netherland with Peter Pan.  Captain Hook had a golden bit in the middle and it was shiny.  He was funny and he had a beard.  And there was a disco ball.

At the end we sang a song and it was a really funny Pirate song.  If I could have been in the pantomime I would have been the ballerina.

Sophia and her class had a brilliant time at Peter Pan.  Don’t miss out! To book tickets, visit the Theatre Royal Winchester website here.

‘Thrilling’ is the key word as Charge comes to Winchester’s Theatre Royal

Donald Hutera talks to Kevin Finnan, the artistic director of Motionhouse

Given that creative energy is never in short supply Motionhouse, it may come as no surprise that energy is the core subject of the latest touring show by this long-established, UK-based company. But the production, entitled Charge, is nevertheless bound to offer visual thrills and kinetic surprises aplenty as it uses dance, acrobatics, digital projection and a galvanising soundtrack to probe the sources that activate life in the human body.

I fired off a few questions to Motionhouse’s artistic director Kevin Finnan in advance of the imminent performances at Theatre Royal, Winchester Nov 10 and 11. Here are his answers in an exclusive interview for this website.

Donald Hutera: Charge is part of what the company is calling the Earth Trilogy that includes the shows Scattered and Broken. What prompted this trilogy in the first place?

Kevin Finnan: It wasn’t originally conceived as a trilogy. It started out as a single show, Scattered, which was about water. But Scattered opened up ways of engaging with the human condition, eliciting questions about the environment and a way of working that was really interesting to me. So I decided to make Broken, a show about our relationship with the earth that could develop all of these questions and explore this way of working. That show raised yet more questions and prompted me to make Charge, a show about energy. So it’s a trilogy that has revealed itself through doing.

DH: What forms of research did you and the company undertake in order to create Charge?

KF: To make a show about energy on the micro and macro scale you have to read widely on the subject to gain some small understanding, and search for ideas that will make the story visible.  I did a large amount of academic research. I went to a stimulating event in Oxford run by the Tipping Point/Stories for Change teams. I eventually found – through Sophy Smith, my composer – the work of Dame Professor Frances Ashcroft at Oxford University. I got in touch and she graciously agreed to meet me, afterwards agreeing to help and becoming a partner in the project.

This developed into a series of meetings between my creative team with Frances and her team, during which we spent time discussing the workings of electricity and the human body. Imagine having a whole room of dedicated scientists and artists discussing electrical transmission in the human body. What a gift, and an invaluable resource! Later in the process Frances and some of her team traveled up to see our work in the rehearsal room, and to give feedback. To have access to such fantastic, cutting-edge thought is a thrill, and very humbling. It opens new ways of seeing the world. I can’t imagine I would be creating an ion channel onstage without Frances, as I’d never even heard of them!

I’ve also set a course with the dancers to expand the physical language we use. We recently collaborated on a work with No Fit State Circus called Block which brought fresh skills and impetus into the company, and we’re continuing to explore and expand the use and role of spectacle in our work. In the studio we’re constantly trying to challenge ourselves to move on, creating and stockpiling ideas. With Charge we also spent a lot of time exploring our relationship with the digital. This show crossed the Rubicon for us as it was a massive jump in terms of its complexity of ideas and delivery.

DH: More specifically, how did the work’s themes and ideas get translated into actions and images? I’m especially interested in how scientific principles become theatre.

KF: In a large-scale spectacle the narrative line is created before any movement, and images are developed to it within a strict timeline. With Charge I knew the themes, but had no firm idea of the form with which to tell them.

For all of our stage shows I try to be as open as possible. Through the research process I narrow things down to a series of themes and movement ideas to explore. This creates a series of mental pictures I wish to realise. The company is then encouraged to play and create with each other and the environment. What I do not do is come in with a narrative line as that makes devising very difficult for the dancers and collaborators. Things float and change and everyone’s quite lost for a long time. I have to trust that, in partnership with my fellow artists, I’ll be able to realise the work in the time available.

Ultimately I’m waiting for the work to reveal itself; the creation process is about continuing to explore until you recognise what you’re looking for.

As an example of this, two of the dancers in Charge had been improvising with an idea for a strop duet. When I saw that I played a certain type of music to it, knowing it would work as a thread throughout the show to explore the notion of fading memory as in dementia or Alzheimer’s – where essentially the mind goes dark as there’s no energy passing in that part of the brain.  I saw that the spatial separation inherent in what the dancers created could express this narrative; it would be beautiful, sad and troubling. This is a good example of wanting to embody and make visual a scientific fact, and waiting for the right material to emerge.

An example on the other end of the scale is the work we did on the human heart. The heart beats to a rhythm; all the muscles must be activated at the right time to make the heart muscles open and close together. You can imagine the pulse as a single flash. When you have a heart attack, the rhythm of the spark is interrupted; it’s off-beat, with many points twinkling. This makes the heart go flaccid and unable to pump. The electric shock you see being given in TV programmes set in hospitals is not to restart the heart, but to stop it. The hope is that when it restarts naturally it will restart in rhythm. It’s a bit like restarting your computer. Delving even deeper, it’s the single transmission of electrical energy – the line of ions waiting to pass through the Ion channel – that makes all this possible.

We began by exploring ‘making hearts’ on our own and in groups, moving them and beating them. How would a heart attack make a physical score? Unity to chaos; it seemed quite simple, but in making it we found that chaos meant we completely lost the image of the heart and it just looked like formless, abstract dance. The solution was to keep enough form to recognise the heart, but introduce the breakdown of unity within that form. We then played with how we could make that moment of pulse tell the story in a different way – exploring momentary tableaux, and breaking down movement to a single flash to show the external story of a heart attack. But whose heart is it, and how could we visualise and embody the ion channel?

Our research around the idea of the single energy flow across the cell created so much material that I could just go on and on. Professor Ashcroft is so pleased with our work in this area that she’s asked for film of the show to use at conferences.

DH: This is fascinating stuff, Kevin. Could you mention a few other highlights of the show?

KF: Well, there’s a section where we journey from Galvani’s frogs through to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Here we’re telling the story of our modern comprehension of the human body as an electrically-activated system. And how do we explore the idea of what a memory is – a mutating, complex physical structure that’s built and developed by the brain like the growing of a tree, but only accessed and animated by sparks of electrical energy? We began using silk to signify the tendrils of the mind, and then interacting with film to develop the energy flow.  I love this section. But the company looks great throughout Charge, and really shows what they can do. I’m very proud of them.

DH: What, not incidentally, are some of the qualities and attributes that a performer must have to be a member of Motionhouse?

KF: They have to be daring, bold and committed to working together to realise something as an ensemble. The range of skills and what’s asked of them makes them a special group.

DH: Are you able to encapsulate a little of what you’ve learnt from making Charge?

KF: It was an extremely difficult show to make for a number of reasons. Basically we learned that if we all pull together we can do anything.

DH: Finally, what is Motionhouse’s place in both the UK and global, dance-based cultural ecology?

KF: We started out as dance-theatre and then, fed up with the restrictions of that, we became just Motionhouse. Others then began calling us dance-circus, so we’ve assumed that mantle too. We seem to have just wandered off on our own. I don’t see much that seems like us. All along I’ve simply pursued an interest between movement, imagery and spectacle, and then try to make work that’s emotionally engaging, thrilling to watch and driven by a roiling physical energy. I continue to be amazed at and proud of both the number of people who see us, and the reception they give us. It’s a huge relief that we’ve found a large and very passionate audience for our work.

Friday 10 & Saturday 11 November.
Theatre Royal Winchester
https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/charge/

 

Win Guide to November

If you take a stroll through the city you’ll see that the wooden cabins have been constructed, the lights are hanging above the high street and Winchester is ready to get festive.  But fear not, whether you are ready to get into the spirit or not, there’s plenty of entertainment to amuse this month. Here’s our guide to whats on in the city in November…

It’s the 6th edition of the Winchester short film festival, with screenings taking place between the 3rd and 11th November.  Screenings take place at various locations throughout the city, and you can view the full programme here.

Winchester University is running its weekly faculty of arts talks on a Wednesday afternoon between 4.30pm – 6pm on campus.  These are free to attend and an opportunity to hear about some of the research being undertaken at the University.  November’s programme is:

8 November | 4.30pm | SAB203
A Nexus of Creativity: Musical Comedy at Daly’s Theatre, 1894-1899 (Presented via video link).
Prof. William Everett (University of Missouri-Kansas City)

15 November | 4.30pm | SAB201
The Facts and Trials of Jane Griffin, hanged for the murder of Elizabeth Osborn, 29 January 1720
Debbie Webber (Winchester)
&
An ekphrastic inspiration for a writer: Bruegel’s depictions of Carnival
Lisa Koning (Winchester)

22 November | 4.30pm | SAB203
Greenwashing Culture
Prof. Toby Miller (Loughborough University London)

29 November | 4.30pm | MB5
‘Meaningless secretaries and humourless bitches’: Mad Men, mediations of women’s work, and the vexed question of feminism
Prof. Caroline Bainbridge (University of Roehampton)

Have you bought your panto ticket yet for the Theatre Royal’s Peter Pan?  There’s an exciting programme of work to explore meanwhile.  The celebrated Motion House Charge will be bringing their exciting dance circus show about energy on 10, 11 November. Motionhouse is working with partners from Oxford University to support the creative and choreographic process, putting science at the heart of artistic practice. Tickets are available here.

Other highlights include the Shakespeare Schools Festival, which gives local schools a change to tread the boards staging a Shakespeare play, 7-8 November.  John Boden will be bringing his fiddle, guitar, concertina and trademark stomp box, 12 November. Wayne Ellington will be singing Nat King Cole on 22 November.  Or if you can’t wait to get festive, join the Winchester Musical and Opera Society for Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, 15 – 18 November.  For a full programme or to book tickets, visit the website here.

Heart Radio’s Rich will be leading the city in the Christmas Light Switch on 16 November. There will be live entertainment on offer, with events taking place between 4 – 7pm.  The lights should be officially switched on at 6pm.  Event details can be found here.

Don’t forget to visit the Chesil Theatre for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson.  When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on his estate, a look of terror still etched on his face and the paw prints of a gigantic hound beside his body, the great detective Sherlock Holmes is summoned from Baker Street. The production will run between 17 – 25 November and you can book tickets here.

Finally, the Winchester Cathedral Christmas market opens 20 November and will be available daily until 22 December.  The Ice Rink also opens 20 November and will be open until 7 January. The Cathedral have produced a helpful guide to festivities in the city which you can visit here.

Have a wonderful month, Wintonians. We’ll be bringing you more updates on Twitter @Win_Guide…

Win Guide to October

Autumn is upon us, a time for knitwear, leafy walks in vibrant reds and burnt orange or perhaps a time to head indoors and visit some of Winchester’s cosy city hosts. Here’s the Win Guide to what’s on this October:

The first thing any Wintonian ought to do is follow in the footsteps of Keats, who composed his ‘Ode to Autumn’ whilst gadding about the water meadows, or there about.  For a detailed walking trail, follow the guide provided by Winchester’s Tourist Information Centre here.

Going to the Ball (San Martino)

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the modest Turner exhibition in the Discovery Centre, closing on the 15 October.  Entry is free and it’s a fine opportunity to admire the breathtaking ‘master of light’. For more information, visit here. Comedian Paul Sinha will be bringing his show Shout Out To My Ex on 7 October at 7.30pm, also at the Discovery Centre. For details, visit the website here.

BBC History Magazine’s Winchester History Weekend will be running 6 – 8 October, in association with Waterstones and for its second year.  Events will take place in the Great Hall and the Ashburton Hall, Elizabeth Court. To book for some of the exciting speakers, visit the website here.

If you have little people, make sure you have booked your tickets at the Theatre Royal for The Gruffalo, 6-8 October and Stick Man, 13-15 October. Don’t forget to read our interview with a member of the Stick Man cast, here. Bring the much-loved modern classic stories to life with some live performance in our beloved local theatre. For more details, visit the website. For the slight older children, Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur is on 22 October.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of things on at the Theatre Royal for grown ups to enjoy too.  Jay Rayner will be bringing his The Ten (Food) Commandments on Friday 5 October.  He’ll ‘invite thee to honour thy pig – and so much more besides’. Opera della Luna will be presenting The Tales of Offenbach on 11 October and Bilimankhwe Arts’ dance version of The Tempest will delight us with traditional Malawian music.

There’s comedy aplenty, including Winchester Comedy Festival – Comedy Gala (6th) Mark Watson (7th), Penny Ashton (16th) Lea Anderson (18th), Ed Byrne (19th, 20th) and Stewart Lee (21st). Comedy drama fans can enjoy Sherlock Holmes and the Crimson Cobbles (25th, 26th) and there’s live music from The Baroque Bohemians (10th), Graham Gouldman, one of the founding members of 10cc (17th) and the Spitfire Sisters (28th). Finally Winchester Poetry Festival will be hosting a Winchester Poetry day on 14 October, and the delectable Private Lives by Noel Coward opens on the 30 October. For full details or to get booking, visit here.

Things get spooky at the end of the month in time for half-term.  Join the Halloween Spooky Trail, with a riddle sheet that can be picked up from Winchester’s Tourist Information Centre. Don’t miss the activities at the City Mill including baking, pumpkin carving and storytelling.

Plenty to amuse and entertain this October and we’ll be bringing you more highlights throughout the month on Twitter @Win_Guide.

 

Stick Man – cast interview with Christopher Currie

Stick Man by Scamp Theatre and Freckle Productions is coming to the Theatre Royal Winchester, Fri 13 – Sun 15 October. Here’s an interview with a member of the cast, Christopher Currie.

Tell us about Stick Man

Stick Man is the sweet story of an anthropomorphic stick who becomes lost and finds himself far from home. The show is based on Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler’s charming and much-loved book.

At the start of our tale Stick Man is happy, living in the family tree with his stick family. Like so many of our favourite heroes, Stick Man will have to lose what he has before he perhaps comes to a deeper awareness of just how precious the love he has really is.

In the face of scary dogs and happy holidaymakers he will assert that he is “Stick Man” and not just any old stick, but can he hold on to his identity long enough? Can he remember who he is and what is dear to him when he is far from what he knows and in a world where everybody would have him be otherwise?

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production? 

I hope the audience, young and older, will rediscover this tale anew and be excited, moved and warmed by our adaptation.

What was your initial response to the Stick Man script? 

I had never read the book so I did this first. I was delighted when I read the script and observed how innovative it was in bringing the story to life. I felt excited to be involved.

My thoughts were that like Stick Man, us adults must all quest to find home in our lives (whether to rediscover the home we loved when we were young and left behind or the home we long to discover out there) and to stand up for who we are in the face of adversity. This is why Stick Man’s story is and will be everyone’s story. A story we must all live, each in our own way, every day.

Have you find it hard bringing a character to life from the book?

No, I can’t say I have so far. I am aware that we will be joined my puppets to further bring the characters to life. I feel that my physicality suits stick man and that bringing his humanness alive is something I am equipped to do. I think it will be a new challenge though when we rehearse together and the characters come alive in new ways, in relationship with each other.

Did you always want to be an actor? How did you get to where you are today?

As a child, my brother and I delighted in playing with our cuddly toys, giving them voices and adventures. Yes – I have always wanted to act, even though I have other passions as well. When I was fifteen I was offered a role in the school Shakespeare play. It gave me the chance to express emotions inside of me that I could not outside of school and this was very therapeutic and empowering for me at the time. As time went on I realised I had an aptitude for the work and how much it excited me.  After three years of auditioning, I was thrilled to be offered a place to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London which was a remarkable place to be. I was gifted with the most brilliant education, it was such a creative and rewarding environment.

What was your favourite book growing up?

Ooh great question! Gosh um…I think my favourite book growing up was Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I adored the story of the girl who was made to feel less, then found her kind teacher Miss Honey and felt like she was finally seen for who she really was. It’s wonderful! In my earlier years, my parents subscribed me to a magazine series which came with cassette tapes of a series of fairy tales brought to life. This was wonderful, I am so grateful for this. My imagination was enriched by these stores. They are magical times, when we read our first stories.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

This is such a lovely and clever adaptation of the book, full of life. I think children and adults are bound to have a fabulous time.

Any advice for budding actors?

I think acting is a wonderful opportunity to give a gift to others and that at its best it is an act of great empathy. Be generous and make it all about those whose lives you touch through your acting and the characters you inhabit. A professional training is a wonderful experience but it is not always financially manageable for everyone these days. Watch the actors you love and ask yourself what it is about them that makes them special to you? Surround yourself with those who love you and support you and choose to believe in yourself, even when things don’t go the way you might have planned. Finally try not to get too caught up in all the drama of being an actor or how “good” you are in the eyes of others. You are a vessel for something bigger. When you come from your heart in your acting it will be full and the world will benefit from it.

Stick Man is live at the Theatre Royal Fri 13 – Sun 15 October:
Fri 4pm
Sat 11am, 2pm, 5pm
Sun 11am, 2pm
For more info and to book tickets, visit here.
Stick Man trailer:

 Stick Man is on a UK tour from September 2017 to January 2018. Find out more over at www.StickManLive.com.
Stick Man © 2008 Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Published by Alison Green Books, an imprint of Scholastic Children’s Books.

Win Guide to September

September is here, the summer holidays for some have come to an end but fear not, for Winchester is offering plenty to amuse and entertain us all this month.

Winchester Heritage Open Days

You have hopefully read our Heritage Open Days guide but just in case you missed it, don’t forget to visit some of the many free events on offer locally to celebrate our heritage, 7-10 September. Over the four days there will be more than 70 events: everything from guided walks and labyrinths to storytelling and river dipping for families, and gin and cider tastings for the over 18s. You can even make your own Medieval encaustic tile. Remember all events are free of charge although some you will need to pre-book as numbers are limited. There are also competitions including a chance to win one of the first Monopoly Winchester Edition games. For more details, visit the website here.

Pin Drop ComedyPin Drop Comedy will be hosting their monthly open mic night at the Wintonian Bar in the Guildhall, 7 September.  The bar is open throughout, so come down, relax and enjoy comedy straight from the street. Entry is FREE.

Later in the month look forward to the Winchester Jazz Festival. The festival runs 21st – 24th September with acts performing at various venues throughout the city.  Head along to the Guildhall on 22 September for an evening of jazz provided by a swinging band and try your hand at Lindy Hop, as instructed by dynamic duo Bic and Simone from The Lindy Club. Dance the night away or sit back and enjoy the music! Tickets are available here. For a full programme of festival events, visit the Winchester Jazz Festival website here.

The Theatre Royal has a number of treats on offer this month, including its Open Weekend, 16 – 17 September. The theatre is throwing open its doors for all the family to enjoy behind the scenes tours, theatre workshops and craft activities.  The event is FREE and you can drop in between 12 – 4pm each day.  Why not book tickets for ‘Austen Undone’ running throughout the open weekend, a promenade performance through the city presented by Natural Theatre Company.  For full details, visit the website here.

It’s the Michaelmas Fair at the Hospital of St Cross, 23 September from 9.30am – 4pm.  Medieval knights will be demonstrating their skills alongside falconry displays by Falconhigh display team and a static display of at least 12 birds of prey. There will be 20 craft stalls to be found in and around the beautiful buildings and grounds of The Hospital of St Cross. Refreshments are available and parking is free. Entrance is £3, or free for children 12 years and under.

You might visit the Chesil Theatre as part of the Winchester Heritage Open Days but if not, it’s worth looking out for Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward, 16 – 23 September, directed by Tom Williams. Charles Condomine invites medium, Madame Arcati, to hold a séance at his home. The unintended consequences lead to a merry dance of mayhem, mischief and murder. Later in the month The Railway Plays offers a collection of eight short plays: an enticing smorgasbord of style, subject and theatrical approach, performed back-to-back in under 90-minutes. The plays have been written and directed by Nicholas Joseph, a playwright/director and senior lecturer at UoW. For more details or to book tickets, visit the Chesil Theatre website here.

Don’t forget to visit the Hampshire Harvest Festival, 30 September – 1 October, a fun packed family event celebrating local produce and farming. Activities include live music, children’s have-a-go activities, vintage tractors, falconry displays, farm animals, horse-drawn wagon rides, Hampshire Fare market, local beers and ciders and, new for this year, an afternoon tea tent offering wonderful cakes, scones, tea and even a glass of fizz. A special Evensong service celebrating harvest will take place in the Cathedral at 3.30pm on Sunday afternoon, all are welcome. There is also a Scarecrow competition with full details available here.

It really is a bumper September in Winchester so there’s no time for end of the summer blues.  We’ll be bringing you more updates on twitter @Win_Guide. Enjoy, one and all!