Fingers crossed for some spring highlights
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A SPRING programme of performances has been announced by the Highlights Rural Touring Scheme with nine shows planned across Teesdale, despite the current national lockdown restrictions.
One-man shows, plays and musical events as well as craft workshops have been planned for village halls and community venues in Mickleton, Barningham, Cotherstone, Boldron, Staindrop and Middleton-in-Teesdale with the first scheduled for Friday, March 12.
Heather Askew, general manager at Highlights North, said the schedule has been announced “with an air of optimism over adversity”.
She added: “We put the brochure together before Christmas and normally we would have performances start at the end of February.
“We took the decision to do a soft publishing of the events starting in March, aware that they could be cancelled if restrictions are not eased or lifted.”
Most of Highlights’ spring events last year had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 and only one performance went ahead in the autumn.
Ms Askew said: “We did a test programme in autumn when restrictions eased to work out social distancing and see if there was a demand.
“When we put the question to our volunteer promoters to see if we should put something together, the resounding answer was yes – we should try and support the various artists and village halls.”
“We organised eight events in November and December across Northumberland, County Durham and Cumbria, but the second lockdown got the November shows and because of Tier 3 restrictions we were only able to do one of show in December, in Cumbria. However, there was a demand for all of the shows and although we had reduced capacity with social distancing measures, all of the shows were sold out.”
The decision to launch the spring programme during lockdown was to ensure that if restrictions are eased events are already in place.
She added: “It has been so hard for organisations. If the Government say we can open tomorrow, we can’t just do that.
“It’s not something we can just throw together.
“We have planned the programme and we are keeping an eye on the situation. If we have to cancel some of the early March events, we will cancel them.”
She added: “But if people have booked, they will be given a full refund so there is no risk to them.
“If we don’t try there will be nothing in the spring to look forward to.”
The Highlights spring programme of live events kicks off at Cotherstone village hall on Friday, March 12, with a musical, storytelling show – the Adventures of Captain of the Lost Waves.
Inspired by musical halls, vaudeville and folk cabaret the show is fused with a modern twist of an intergalactic time detective’s travels.
Old Herbaceous is a one-man show sown with seeds of gardening wisdom that finds Herbert Pinnegar (Peter Macqueen) pottering amongst the cuttings at the back of his ramshackle greenhouse in the garden of a country manor house.
He recounts his journey from orphan to legendary head gardener and tells of his relationship with the lady of the house.
The touching show at Mickleton village hall on March 19 and the Scarth Memorial Hall on March 26.
Mastering the Japanese art of origami is on the cards at a half day workshop at Mickleton Village Hall on Saturday, March 27, where the aim of teachers Caroline Collinge and Edmond Salter, from Cabinets of Curiosity, is to explore the traditional craft and create an origami lampshade.
The high-energy show La Bella and the Lost Chord of Ulaanbaatar follows three hapless travelling musicologists who are catapulted into adventure and rolls into Bowes and Gilmonby village hall on April 10.
A mix of Tintin, Sherlock Holmes and possibly Gardener’s Question Time it combines tunes, questionable theatrics and a few jokes.
The Dinosaur Detectives, a combination of puppetry and shadow theatre, promises a fascinating storytelling journey of fun and conflict surrounding the first fossil finds of Mary Anning, William Buckland and Gideon Mantell.
If you’re a fan of the prehistoric world and dinosaurs then the Scarth Memorial Hall, in Staindrop, on April 16 and Utass, in Middleton-in-Teesdale, on April 18 are the places to be.
Flats and Sharps, a four-piece outfit from Penzance, are hoping to deliver an energetic and spirited evening of Bluegrass at Boldron Village Hall on April 22.
An introduction to lino printing with the Liz Jones Studio is on offer at Barningham on April 23.
The half-day workshop, aimed at those with little or no experience of lino-printing, aims to help you design, carve and print your own lino block by the end of the day.
Hefted, a play by David Lane, sweeps across 600 years with stories embedded in the landscape, history and psyche of rural life, from the past are retold to heal the present.
Four actors conjure a score of characters between them in a show interspersed with song and a spectacular soundscape at Utass on Saturday, April, 24
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, a play based on the 1914 novel by Robert Tressell, brings wit to Barningham on May 15.
For more information on Highlights or to book tickets visit www.highlightsnorth.co.uk .