Article – Event Preview

Article, Events

Stroud Shakespeare Festival – Good On Paper – May issue 2019

When Kate Raw starts speaking about Shakespeare her eyes flash and dance with wicked humour and passion. Pithy and pertinent quotes tumble out of her mouth with all the clarity, gaiety and force of a mountain stream in full flow. As our conversation progresses and I learn about Kate’s background as a self-confessed “Shakespeare nerd”, independent researcher at The Globe and Royal Shakespeare Company, creative director of open-air theatre company, designer and musician; I find myself thinking there can be no-one better equipped to bring Shakespeare out from behind dusty pages and into the park in an accessible and exciting way.

This is exactly what Kate and her team have set out to do with this year’s Stroud Shakespeare Festival. The intention behind the festival is to change people’s experience of Shakespeare from something alienating or difficult, to truly accessible and engaging entertainment. Of the 13 productions on the programme, under half will be in the original Shakespearean language. The rest will bring Shakespeare’s magnificent storytelling into the modern voice – and even multiple languages. The companies who make up this year’s programme will seek to retell the timeless tales of The Bard through a spectrum of unexpected – and at times hilarious – performances.

The festival was successfully established last year by Five Valleys Productions – the student production company from SGS College who are now known as Space Productions – under the leadership of Alan Mandel Butler. Kate performed songs from Shakespeare at the festival last year with her musical trio ‘Sounds and Sweet Airs’ and approached Alan to be part of organising the festival in the future, whereupon he encouraged Kate to take over the leadership role for 2019.

This year’s event will be held in the stunning surrounds of the Museum in the Park. As well as the ticketed performances (which will be priced at no more than £10) there will be a cornucopia of free events and Shakespeare-themed creative activities for everyone to enjoy – kids very much included! The event takes place during half term and will offer crafts and theatrical workshops for children, face painting, flower crowns, a children’s trail through the museum and a costume cupboard!

Kate will be directing the Stroud Shakespeare Festival Company in a production of The Tempest, in which the cast will perform as a group of fishermen – complete with sea shanties and Ariel playing accordion. There will be a 1940s rewrite of the famous ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ from StormCloud Arts (think land girls and much laughter), as well as scenes from Twelfth Night by the International Actors’ Ensemble, who will be performing in multiple languages at once!

Thornbury-based Downpour Theatre company bring one of the bard’s lesser known plays – the Comedy of Errors, a farcical comedy with 2 sets of twins and lots of mistaken identity!and of course the Impromptu Shakespeare company will be offering their uniquely off-the-cuff approach to performance, improvising a live production for your entertainment. Last year’s organisers Space Productions will be bringing a production of Macbeth to the festival this year, as well as supporting as volunteers with some of the running of the festival. Finally, do keep an eye out for special guest Queen Elizabeth I – a great supporter of Shakespeare who is rumoured to be making an appearance at the festival this year!

In between workshops, films, and theatre productions you will be treated to performances from local musicians and have the chance to enjoy coffee and a cake from Grouch Coffee and The Canteen and or grab a meal on the go from culinary pop-ups dotted around the venue. Musical highlights include the Shakespeare Heptet – a trio who perform the sonnets in a variety of styles, including folk, blues, punk, jazz, and more!- and Nailsworth’s own Sotelo Singers who will perform operatic numbers from Shakespeare-inspired musicals such as Kiss Me Kate. To top off the local line-up, established local artists such as Dennis Gould and Phillip Kingsbury will have Shakespeare themed work for sale during the festival.

If you are still on the fence about coming to the Stroud Shakespeare Festival and think perhaps that Shakespeare is not your thing, Kate has the following invitation for you:

“At the end of the day, Shakespeare was an entertainer, and his plays were meant to entertain. Sometimes the language feels like a barrier, but one of the best things about him is that he was a genius storyteller. So whether they’re told though the original language, or retold in contemporary English, as quite a few of this year’s productions are, just come and experience the storytelling! Shakespeare was writing for the masses, for everyone. That’s what we want to bring out with the festival – Shakespeare is for everyone.”

Kate tells me that what she is really most excited about is the chance for people to experience Shakespeare in a new and joyous way. In the words of the man himself, Kate invites the people of Stroud to: “Frame your mind to mirth and merriment”- so come along to the festival, experience something new and above all have a jolly good time!

Stroud Shakespeare Festival takes place at The Museum in the Park between May 30th and June 2nd. Applications to perform at the festival are now closed and the full line-up has been confirmed. Tickets for the festival performances are available now through the website and don’t forget there will be plenty of free events throughout the weekend – so just turn up and enjoy!


Article – Event Preview

Article, Events

The vibes are high on Nelson Street these days. There is something in the air this month that will bring a whole lotta love to the street, drawing the culturally curious and open-hearted from all over town and even beyond the five valleys.

The Donnelly Sisters, Kirsty and Katy, have made a sparkling splash with their curated art parties in the last 18 months and are devoted advocates of local artists. Last summer their ‘Lust’ exhibition at The Pink Cabbage coincided with the launch of The Diner and saw revellers flitting back and forth, sampling the tantalising delights of both venues and creating a buzzy street party atmosphere.

Inspired by the good vibes of the first event, the sisters decided to go a step further and get the whole street officially involved, curating a full weekend event to celebrate the vibrant community of independent businesses that make up Nelson Street. One Love Nelson Street takes place on the first weekend of June and will offer a cornucopia of love-themed delights while raising funds for The Door charity, who provide vital support for young people in Stroud.

“We feel passionately about independent businesses in Stroud and know how hard everyone works so we wanted to join forces and all support each other to make the weekend a success for everyone” says Kirsty, “We hope that everyone will be feeling the love – whether they buy a romantic novel from Ruth or get love ink’ed at Q’s tattoos.”

Lust 2 will take place once again at The Pink Cabbage, celebrating the work of Stroud artists including Alex Merry, Lorraine Robbins, James Green, Soozy Roberts, Abigail Fallis, Marcus Walters, Tamzin Malleson-Mason and many more.

The sisters have also secured pieces from The Connor Brothers (big love for the sibling teams!) whose work has been sold at Christies and Bonhams and showcased from London to Los Angeles, as well as from Sara Pope who recently became the first female artist in more than 70 years to have a piece accepted into the Vatican collection. The exhibition will be open from 6pm Friday and Saturday for all to enjoy.

Cirencester duo Bethany Irving and Jamie Blackburn will perform at The Pink Cabbage on Friday evening and DJ Neil Wilson will be cranking up the vibes from 9pm. On Saturday evening Sarah Phaedre Watson will take to the decks and get the Stroud glitterati wiggling. Cocktails will be flowing and costumes will be fabulous. Entry will be £3 on the door.

The Marshall Rooms continue the live music love-in on Friday night from 8-11pm, with ethereal indie rock artist Bryde. Saturday sees the venue open early for luscious daytime vibes on the terrace, a lovely social drinks party and further good times still TBA.

The Diner will be showing their love for Nelson Street with a celebration of all things Prince. Glam Slam Lovesexy will see the venue all dressed up in paisley and hearts, with a menu of Prince inspired ice cream sundaes, cocktails and hard shakes such as Raspberry Beret Slushes and Under the Cherry Moon sundaes – all with plenty of cream of course! You can sing along to “Sign of the Times” Prince karaoke and there will be a prize for the best “U Got The Look” prince look-alike.

Thirsting for something hoppier? The Golden Fleece will kickstart summer with their first annual beer festival, showcasing modern and traditional cask ales from across the country, summer seasonal specials from regional brewers, as well as tropically hopped IPAs for craft ale afficionados. They will be celebrating love from 12pm on Saturday with live bands and a pizza pop-up from master baker Dominic of Salt Bakehouse. There’s even a whole extra day of love when we need it most, with an all day barbecue to accompany Sunday beer samplings.

At Qs Tattoos you can literally wear your heart on your sleeve. They will be offering exclusive love-themed tattoo flash starting at £30 each and will be open all day Friday and Saturday for walk-ins. Attendees of the Lust exhibition will also be entitled to 20% off any tattoo over £50 for the two weeks after the exhibition

Ruth and Ron at R&R Books, stalwarts of the Nelson Street retail scene, are delighted to see the friendly community opening its arms to draw more visitors up beyond the High Street. Their eclectic book selection has something for absolutely everyone to enjoy so why not enjoy a browse and savour your purchase over a fresh brewed coffee at Black Books Cafe. The cafe will be open til 8pm on Friday and will be offering 2 for 1 hot drinks from 6pm with specially baked love-themed sweet treats on the side.

Elvers Studio moved into their shop on Nelson Street in April of last year. The father and daughter duo are keen to celebrate Nelson Street and let people know there is plenty going on beyond the end of the high street! They will be opening their doors and their hearts to all comers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday so pay them a visit for a beautiful piece of artwork or jewellery as a token of your love for the Stroud independent arts scene. The Yoga Space will also be keeping their doors open to embrace the good people of Stroud until 8pm on Friday and Saturday, so you can give your body some love and attend to your heart chakra.

All this – and more surprises in store – awaits you on Nelson Street from 1st to 3rd June. Keep watch on social media for further announcements – or take a stroll up the street and see for yourself!