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ArtsPreview June 24

Preview June 24

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BBC Young Musician on tour
Concerts in the West

PIANIST Lara Melda, winner of the 2010 BBC Young Musician competition, comes to Bridport Arts Centre at 11.30am and Ilminster Arts Centre at 7.30pm on Friday 21st June and the Dance House, Crewkerne, on Saturday 22nd at 7.30pm, with Concerts in the West.

The talented young pianist, on her debut with the music charity that promotes rising stars of the chamber music scene, made her BBC Proms and Royal Albert Hall debut in 2023, as one of the soloists performing with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Andrew Gourlay, in an evening devoted to previous Young Musician winners.

She performs regularly in Turkey and made her debut at the International Music Festival in Istanbul in June 2011. Following the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, Lara has been working tirelessly on fundraising projects and events helping those affected.

In the summer of 2016 Lara graduated from the Royal College of Music with a first class honours degree. Most recently she curated a critically acclaimed multi-sensory Van Gogh immersive concert experience in collaboration with Exhibition Hub, where the audience and Lara’s playing become intertwined in a journey through Van Gogh’s life.

Her programme for the evening concerts is Liszt’s Étude in D flat major, Un Sospiro, and Sonata in B minor, Chopin’s Sonata No 3 and Nocturne No 3 and Beethoven’s Sonata No 17, The Tempest. She will play the Beethoven and the Liszt B minor sonata at Bridport.

From Newfoundland to Dorset
Drimpton and Broadmayne

DORSET has long historic connections with the Canadian island of Newfoundland, so there should be a warm local welcome for the eastern Canadian five-piece folk band, Rum Ragged, who have two June dates with Artsreach, on Thursday 6th at Drimpton village hall and Friday 7th at Broadmayne, both at 7.30pm.

Rum Ragged have performed at some of the world’s premier folk, Celtic and roots venues and festivals, and recorded five award-winning studio albums. They combine a reverence for their roots with a creative, contemporary edge.

They have a reputation as the finest purveyors of their musical tradition, taking a bold approach to the distinctive folk music of their homeland. Playing bouzouki, fiddle, bodhran, banjo, guitar and button accordion, they delight audiences with their brand of Newfoundland folk, captivating storytelling and combination of striking vocal harmonies and staggering musicianship.

Artsreach director Kerry Bartlett says: “I was thrilled to discover this traditional folk group while in Newfoundland last September, and really enjoyed the way Rum Ragged celebrate their musical heritage. We’re looking forward to sharing their music with audiences in Dorset, which should have particular relevance given the rich history between our county and this Canadian island.”

I know a seaside theatre whereon …
Lyme Regis

THE 2024 Lyme Regis community play, A Midsummer Lyme’s Dream, at the Marine Theatre from 12th to 15th June, is an irreverent, modern-day blast through Shakespeare’s most enchanting comedy, interwoven with nuggets of Lyme’s history.
The magical charm of both the play and the town have been woven together by Andrew Rattenbury to produce another unmissable Lyme Regis event, a captivating new version of a much-loved classic, created by the community for the community.

Following previous award-winning and hugely successful community productions, Monmouth: A West Country Rebellion, Are you Going to the Marine? and Lyme and the Sea, Rattenbury, a Lyme Regis born-and-bred screenwriter, actor and Marine patron, has once again taken a compelling story, and woven in local tales and characters.

The play is directed by Tessa Morton who has been running weekly rehearsals to bring the show to life with musical director Declan Duffy, and a large team of singers, musicians, actors and back-stage crew.

Variations for piano and sitar

BACH’s Goldberg Variations are among the composer’s best-known and most loved works, a musical challenge that has been undertaken by many of the greatest pianists of all time. Bridport Arts Centre hosts an extraordinary reworking of this masterpiece as part of a concert, Goldberg Romain: Variations, on Saturday 15th June, at 7.30pm

Originally recorded and produced by Andrew Goldberg at The Music Room and mastered by John Robertson at Little Winters Studios, these variations for piano and sitar and other works from their debut album will be performed by Goldberg and Ricky Romain. For the second part of the concert they will be joined by special guest John Robertson on guitar, introducing new repertoire from their forthcoming next album.

Andrew Goldberg started studying the piano and harmony in Cologne at the age of eight in 1965, studying the works of JS Bach, Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin. Compositions by György Ligeti, Arvo Pärt, Terry Riley, Philip Glass and Steve Reich inspired his compositions for contemporary dance and visual arts. Further collaborations included classical Hindustani masters such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (qawwali), Sayeeduddin Dagar (dhrupad) and Pakistani sarod virtuoso Asad Qizilbash.
Ricky, whose music is familiar to Bridport audiences, began studying the sitar and Indian classical music from 1972 to 1975 with Punita Gupta, a disciple of Ravi Shankar, and with Bengali sitar player Pandit Ganguly between 1975 and 1977.

A perfect recipe
Upton Country Park

BIG band tributes and big flavours are on the menu at the Upton House Food and Music Festival at Upton Country Park near Poole, on 14th to 16th June.

The popular three-day family-friendly festival features top UK tribute acts and some of the region’s finest food and drink in the beautiful setting with views over Poole Harbour.

“What better way to celebrate great food from around the world than with a soundtrack of music by some of the world’s greatest artists?” asks festival organiser Serena Wren. “It’s an amazing site—not too big, not too small—and we’ve got a brilliant line-up of top tributes with even more food and drink, including fabulous local producers. There’s entertainment for kids every day and we’ve kept the prices down. This has to be the best value festival out there!”

For foodies there are flavours and treats from around the world including traditional Asian cuisine with a western twist from The Bao Bao Beast, Greekery street food, Montien Thai and Mauritian street food from The Island Box. To wash it down, the choice includes Poole’s own Shanty seaweed botanical vodka cocktail, Zzinga Honey Cider and the organic Pothecary Gin.
The music lineup includes tributes to Oasis, Bon Jovi, The Killers, Queen, Stereophonics, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Any Winehouse and Madness. Among the local acts are ukulele-wielding Mother Ukers, The Transitions, rock radio stars SOS, Chris Payn and Jordan Watts, and breakthrough artist Charley Varley.

Adolf and Winston
Lyme Regis

LIVING Spit, sadly without the late, great Howard Coggins, but still in the madcap and able hands of Stu Mcloughlin, are back on the road in June with a new production of one of the company’s ridiculous hits. Adolf and Winston, the story of two world leaders—and one black dog—told by two actors (Stu and Bristol-based Craig Edwards), is coming to the Marine Theatre at Lyme Regis on Thursday 20th June.

Living Spit, who were described in the Daily Telegraph as “the Morecambe and Wise of Weston-super-Mare” (actually its Clevedon, but you can’t expect national newspapers to get these things completely right), take a riotous, rebellious and ridiculously rib-tickling look at the history of the Second World War, asking the question: “Who thought this was a good idea?”

Characteristically unafraid to tackle colossal, morally questionable subjects in an essentially inconsequential way, Craig and Stu walk the tightrope of taste and decency with another slice of poorly-researched history. But will either of them escape from this war alive?…

Plymouth, Portland, Wight …

THE shipping forecast celebrates its centenary this year, and Charlie Connelly, author of the best-selling book, Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast, performs his hilarious and fascinating history of this important maritime service at Bridport Arts Centre on Saturday 22nd June.

The BBC radio shipping forecast started out as (and remains) an essential service for mariners, but has acquired a unique place in our culture and hearts, and Connelly brings this peculiarly British phenomenon vividly to life.

How did a weather forecast for ships capture the hearts of a nation, from salty old sea dog to insomniac landlubber? How is it possible for ‘rain later’ to be ‘good’? And where the hell is North Utsire?

Delving into the history of the forecast and the extraordinary people who made it, Charlie Connelly explains what those curious phrases really mean, celebrates its wide cultural impact, shares riproaring adventures from his own extraordinary journey through the 31 sea areas—the times he was accused by the media of trying to annex Rockall from the British government and sang sea shanties with Tom Hardy in a Manx hotel bar while Scary Spice pulled the pints—and presents his case for the shipping forecast being our finest achievement.

Inspired by his bestselling book, which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies worldwide, this pacy, moving and hilarious show takes you all the way from Viking to South-East Iceland to ensure the shipping forecast will never sound the same again.

Richard isn’t playing ball

COMEDIAN Richard Herring has a question for audiences on his current tour, which comes to the Electric Palace at Bridport on Friday 21st June at 8pm: “Can I have my ball back?”

In 2021 Richard went to his GP to find out why his right ball seemed to be growing bigger. It turned out that he had testicular cancer and one month later he was lying in hospital waiting to have his murderous gonad removed. Would he survive? (No spoilers!)

For a comedian who had done a whole show on male genitalia (Talking Cock) and written a book about toxic masculinity (The Problem With Men), this felt like some cruel trick of fate.

In his much-anticipated return to stand-up after six years, Richard talks bollocks and answers the question you didn’t know you wanted to ask: Is a severed gonad in a jar a fitting prize to bring in for Taskmaster?

Tolpuddle men

DORSET’S New Hardy Players take a break from their familiar adaptations of Hardy stories this year, for an inventive and interesting retelling of a famous and true Dorset story, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, from 13th to 16th June.

Six Men of Dorset will be staged to start with in Dorchester Corn Exchange and will then move to the historic Courtroom in Shire Hall, where the Dorset farm-workers faced the trial which would become one of the major events in British industrial and social history.

In 1834, against a backdrop of extreme rural poverty and national turmoil, six lowly men found themselves facing the full wrath and power of the British establishment.

Commissioned by the TUC, 100 years after their arrest, this production of The Tolpuddle Play takes it back to its roots, with the first act at its original venue, Dorchester’s Corn Exchange, before processing up to Shire Hall Museum for the second act in the very courtroom where the Martyrs met their fate.

Under Tim Laycock and Emma Hill’s direction, this is guaranteed to be a spine-chilling, moving and immersive experience.

The Kanneh-Masons and friends

A REMARKABLE family of musicians, the Kanneh-Masons, comes to Dorset for a Dorchester Arts concert at the Gransden Hall, at Sherborne Girls School, on Monday 24th June, 7.30pm—it is one of only four UK concerts featuring this extraordinary line-up of musical talent.

The concert brings together pianist Isata, cellist Sheku and violinist Bramah Kanneh-Mason with viola player Edgar Francis and double bassist Toby Hughes for a programme which includes Schubert’s Trout Quintet, Mendelssohn’s Cello Sonata No 1, and Brahms’ Piano Trio No 2.

Locked in time
Lyme Regis

LOCKED in Time—Unearthing the Real-Life Behaviours of Prehistoric Animals is a fascinating event at the Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis, on Saturday 8th June at 12.30pm—a talk and book signing with Dr Dean Lomax, palaeontologist, author and TV presenter.

What would it be like to see prehistoric animals as they lived and breathed? Some exceptional fossils can record the life stories of creatures as fully alive as any today. Dr Lomax will outline the extraordinary direct evidence of prehistoric animal behaviour, describing how fossils are captured in the midst of everyday action.

Discover dinosaurs fighting to the death, elephant-sized burrowing ground sloths and pregnant “sea dragons” in this talk which is based on Dr Lomax’s bestselling book, Locked in Time: Animal Behavior Unearthed in 50 Extraordinary Fossils. It offers an unprecedented glimpse of the real-life behaviour of prehistoric animals.

Bringing these fossils to life, the book (and the talk) includes reconstructions by renowned palaeoartist Bob Nicholls.

Bumper year for open-air
Towns and Villages

There’s a record crop of touring theatre companies heading for castles, stately homes, parks, clifftops and other alfresco venues this summer, proving that the COVID doldrums are a thing of the past.

The 17 companies visiting venues in striking distance of the Marshwood Vale include a welcome return of South-West based Miracle, and new troupes Calf2Cow, Dukes Theatre Company, Immersion, Plandits and Sun and Moon Theatre. Old favourites bringing new shows are Festival, Folksy, Handlebards, Illyria, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Pantaloons, Quantum, Rain or Shine and the Rude Mechanicals, with recent additions Three Inch Fools as well.

As always, the list of plays is headed by the works of Shakespeare and Wilde, with a few adaptations of childrens’ classic books and the odd murder mystery to add to the original works. Calf2Cow has chosen Sherlock and Watson: A Murder in the Garden, and there are performances at Maumbury Rings in Dorchester on 7th June and Finn Studios at Colyton on 21st June. The great detective also gets an airing in The Hound of the Baskervilles, performed by Illyria at Killerton House on 4th August, Castle Gardens at Sherborne on 6th August, The Garden House near Yelverton on 14th September and at Cockington Court on the following day.

The Festival Players 2024 version of The Tempest comes to Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens on 24th June and to its “Dorset home”, Meerhay Manor in Beaminster, on 14th July, with another performance at Powderham Castle on 13th August. The new Dukes Theatre brings As You Like It to Kingston Maurward on 23rd August.

Folksy’s version of As You Like It is at Burrow Farm Gardens, Axminster on 24th and Thursday 25th July, Forde Abbey, on 30th July and the outdoor amphitheatre at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis on 27th August.

Handlebards, who as you may remember cycle round the country with their props and costumes towed along behind, will perform A Comedy of Errors at Maumbury Rings and the Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis on 26th and 27th June. The Shakespearean quarter of the 2024 Illyria tours is Romeo and Juliet, at Castle Gardens in Sherborne on 4th July, and Pennsylvania Castle on Portland on 23rd July. Hamlet is the choice of the all-male Lord Chamberlain’s Men, on 19th July at Athelhampton House, and on 23rd at Killerton House. The Pantaloons bring The Merry Wives of Windsor to Montacute House on 26th July, and come back to Dorset, to Maumbury Rings in Dorchester, on 6th September. Another new company, Sun and Moon Theatre, makes its debut with The Winter’s Tale, locally visiting The Walronds at Cullompton on 30th June and Rougemont Gardens, Exeter, on 11th August.

Specially for the younger audiences, Folksy has two shows, Alice in Wonderland and Angelika Sprocket’s Pockets. The first is at Chard School on Sunday 2nd June at 2pm. Ms Sprocket will be revealing her pocketry secrets at Forde Abbey on 24th June, Lyme Regis Marine Theatre on 27th July and Burrow Farm near Axminster on 31st July. Illyria’s family show is The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle, which you can see at Castle Gardens, Sherborne on 21st June, Maumbury Rings in Dorchester on 9th August and Killerton House on 28th August. Immersion Theatre’s Peter Pan, always a popular story in the open air, is at Lapford Mill in Devon on 15th June, Hearn Field in Devon on 16th and Athelhampton House on 22nd June. The Plandits make their debut in The Secret Garden, which they will perform on 3rd August at Athelhampton House and on 10th at Lapford Mill near Crediton.

If cucumber sandwiches and handbags are your thing, there are two touring productions of Oscar Wilde’s comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, from The Pantaloons on Sunday 30th June at Barrington Court near Ilminster, and from the always appropriately named stalwarts Rain or Shine, on 9th June at Beaminster Manor, 6pm, 12th July at the Warehouse Theatre Ilminster, 25th July at Maumbury Rings and on 21st August at the Corn Barn, Cullompton.

The Charles Dickens classic, Great Expectations, has been chosen for adaptation by Quantum Theatre, and will be performed on 7th July at Cannington Walled Gardens and on 20th August at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. The last of the four Illyria shows is Gilbert and Sullivan’s famous Venetian romp The Gondoliers and you can see it on 7th July at Halscombe Farm near Exeter, 16th July at Castle Gardens in Sherborne, 18th July at Killerton House, and on 4th September at the Millennium Green in Bridport.

The three original plays come from the commedia del’arte troupe The Rude Mechanicals, whose 2024 show is The Dressing Book, and will be performed locally at the Square and Compass at Worth Matravers on 7th June, Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens on 8th and at the Tithe Barn at Bradford Abbas on 27th June. The second is Miracle’s Love Riot, described as “a fresh new take on an 18th century rom-com”, in the wonderful setting of Kimmeridge Bay on Friday 2nd August, and the following night at Halstock’s community field. Three Inch Fools, known for their multi-instrumentalist singing actors, have devised their own version of The Secret Diary of Henry VIII, to be performed at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis on 20th September.

Visit all the company websites for more details. Times vary widely, so make sure you get there in time to bag a good place for your chair and your picnic. And pray for a warm, balmy night.

Festival Time

Tickets are flying for the Beaminster Festival 17 – 30 June possibly due to the wide-ranging eclectic programme this year.
If easy listening is your style, then try the Treorchy Male Choir, sure to raise the roof, while the unusual combination of saxophone and harp, the Wiggin Wass Duo brings us favorites such as Girl with the Flaxen Hair and the Recuerdos de la Alhambra. The Tim Kliphuis Trio is always popular in Dorset with its own take on Mussorgsky’s Pictures of an Exhibition.
Really high quality classical music is the backbone of the Festival and we are so lucky to welcome Guy Johnson, cello, joined by Lizzie Ball, violin and Morgan Szymanski, guitar, in a programme of wonderful, often well-known pieces. Brilliant pianist Mishka Rushdie Momen has a stunning programme including Schubert and Mendelssohn and in the Gala Concert Emma Johnson and Friends give a sparkling performance celebrating the music that has roots in Vienna, from Mozart to Lehar.
Unusually, brass instruments make three appearances. Ben Goldscheider, French horn, finalist in the 2016 BBC Young Musician, plays horn trios (with violin and piano) by Mozart, Fauré (transcribed) and Brahms. The brilliant young trombone quartet, Bone-afide will entertain with music from the William Tell Overture to Swan Lake via an injection of cool jazz. Lastly, we are thrilled to welcome top trumpet player Matilda Lloyd with Richard Gowers on both organ and piano who start their concert with the dramatic Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach.

The al fresco play this year is The Importance of Being Earnest. Be sure to come early and enjoy a picnic in the glorious grounds of Beaminster Manor and if you just want to relive your mis-spent youth come and dance to the Liverpool Beatles.
Literature encompasses The Illusionist, Rob Hutton; SOE to Dressing the Queen by Lynda Rowland; Taking Flight by Lev Parikian and The House of Broken Bricks by Bridport Prize winner Fiona Williams.

If you have never been before you are sure of a warm welcome to the charming, quaint but vibrant town of Beaminster. For more information visit or call 0333 666 3366.

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