Arts news March & April 2016

Shrews Folk Fest CREDIT Richard Hammerton

Music preserved

Shrewsbury Folk Festival has revealed plans to create a unique archive of Shropshire music. Organisers have commissioned county musician John Kirkpatrick to put together the collection as part of its All Together Now project. All Together Now is the SFF’s two-year programme for musicians, dancers and schoolchildren, with the aim of gaining a new audience for folk and world music. An online teaching resource pack for county schools will include music, notes and short videos, and some of the tunes will feature in John’s set at this year’s event in August. John, who’s performed with The Albion Band and Steeleye Span, says, “I’m honoured to take on this important project that will preserve and share the music from our amazing county with future generations.”

More artists for the festival have been revealed, with Nick Lowe of ‘I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass’ fame lining up along with Paul Carrack of Mike and the Mechanic and Squeeze. Visit to find out more.

Folk heroes visit Shrewsbury

Described by Peter Gabriel as ‘one of the great English bands’, Devon-based duo Show of Hands have become one of the leading forces in British folk. Steve Knightley and Phil Beer visit Shrewsbury on 13 April to perform old favourites and songs from their new album, The Long Way Home. Steve’s a particular fan of the county town, saying, “It’s a lovely place to come and play, and the theatre’s gorgeous. I’ve been playing at small venues for the past year but here you can get really close to people, thanks to the great layout.” Visit for details.

Poetry please!

Ticket sales for Wenlock Poetry Festival, which runs from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 April, are now in full swing. Festival organisers have announced the most exciting line-up yet, marking the event’s place as one of the top poetry festivals in the UK. Performers include Lemn Sissay MBE, chancellor of Manchester University and occasional star of TV’s Grumpy Old Men and South Bank Show, National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke, BBC Radio 4’s poet in residence Daljit Nagra, 2015 Costa Poetry winner Don Paterson, and Andrew McMillan, winner of Guardian’s First Book award for his collection Physical.

Wenlock Poetry Festival was founded in 2010 by Anna Dreda of Wenlock Books, and its patron is the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who describes Much Wenlock as ‘the perfect place for poetry’. The festival aims to present the best of contemporary poetry and to make it accessible to as wide a range of people as possible. This year’s event includes a free children’s marquee, a poetry busk, a prosecco bar on the church green, ‘poems and pints’ in the George and Dragon, and a whole day of events centred around Shropshire itself; ‘These Parts’. As well as offering its usual programme of fresh, contemporary poetry, the festival will also celebrate poetry’s roots with Shakespeare-themed events to celebrate 400 years of the Bard’s legacy.

Founder Anna Dreda says, “Our promise is always to bring some of the UK’s very best poets to Wenlock. The festival is full of opportunities to listen, to write, to play, and above all, to enjoy poetry. Whether you take your poetry neat, or with coffee and croissants, lunch, afternoon tea, in the pub, on the green, or at a party – there will be something for everyone!”

The event also serves as a gathering point for poets. Incumbent poet-in-residence Jean Atkin passed the baton to Paul Francis at a special event in January, and Paul will be taking part in a range of events including reading with Daljit Nagra on the opening night from 7pm. Saturday night’s headline show features Andrew McMillan, Don Paterson and local poet Liz Lefroy, and this is when the winner of the annual poetry competition will be revealed – and there’s still time to enter before the closing date of March 7!

Andrew McMillan says, “This will be my third visit to Wenlock, and every time I’m blown away by the scope, ambition and depth of programming on offer from a relatively small place – for the weekend of the festival, Wenlock feels like the centre of the world… it’s always a delight and a joy to be there.”

See what’s going on and buy tickets at or pick up a programme from Wenlock Books in Much Wenlock High Street.

Lemn Sissay opens the Festival on Friday 22 April

Award-winner Andrew McMillan will present a workshop on Sunday 24 April
Enjoy a ‘working lunch’ with Gillian Clarke on Sunday 24 April
Don Paterson delivers the Wenlock Poetry Lecture on Saturday 23 April

Players’ eventful year

Bridgnorth Players’ latest production, ‘The Shakespeare Revue’ has been rescheduled for the end of June, while a production of ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ is planned for November. The group are meeting for a St Patricks’ Day supper at 7.30pm on 2 March at Tasley Village Hall, with soda bread, potato cakes and Guinness available. A donation of £2 is suggested. There will be reading from works by Shaw, Beckett and Wilde amongst others, and anyone interested in joining is welcome to come along. The group have a new website at, and you can find them on Facebook or email

Big call for artists

Shrewsbury’s Big Arts Show was created by an artist, for artists – and it’s now calling for artists and designers to come along and exhibit their work to arts-minded customers who are at the show for one reason only: to buy. Glass artist David Dawkins founded the July event, now in its third year, to provide an affordable showcase for fellow creatives, and last year saw 140 stallholders take part, including woodturners, glassblowers, silversmiths and masons as well as painters and printmakers. Packages range from £185 to £360. The Big Arts Show also needs volunteers, and it provides valuable experience for students and young artists who’d like to see how the commercial side of creativity works. Visit uk for details.

Olympian opens Live Arts

The 130th Wenlock Olympic Games kick off with the Live Arts Festival on the weekends of March 12 to 13 and 19 to 20, when primary and secondary pupils perform in a range of categories taking in dance, music and speech. This year, Wenlock Olympian Games will be opened by gold medal- winning Olympian Jonathan Edwards, who will be setting the wheels in motion on March 12 with a few well-chosen words for the Live Arts competitors. Visit and click on the ‘Live Arts’ link for more details.

‘Transports’ transcends time

Visiting Theatre Severn on 15 March is a poignant play that oscillates between decades to tackle a subject of real relevance to our modern world. Pipeline Theatre’s ‘Transports’ explores themes of escape, immigration and displacement. In the 1970s, a spiky 15-year-old girl finds herself shunted into her final foster home. Her widowed foster mother has the merest trace of a foreign accent… and a suitcase full of secrets.

“The two main actors switch between stories in the ’70s and the Second World War,” explains director Jon Welch. “Moving the action between eras was a real challenge, but we use a lot of soundscapes and technical tricks.

“The whole story has real relevance for Pipeline because our designer Alan Munden’s mother was herself a Kindertransport refugee.”
Tickets are £8-£14 from; the show starts at 8pm.

Photographer explores ‘Wilderland’

Wildlife photographer and ‘wild swimmer’ Andrew Fusek Peters has down together his lyrical writing and sumptuous photography in a new book, Wilderland, which will be launched as part of the Wenlock Poetry festival. The book, published by Oswestry’s Fair Acre Press and available at Wenlock Books, takes readers on a journey through the stunning landscapes of Shropshire and its borders, intimately observing the changing of the seasons. Andrew was shortlisted for British Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2014 and 2015 and his work has been published in the Guardian and Amateur Photographer, while his poetry has been recorded as part of the Poetry Archive.

Andrew feels his new book has brought him closer to the county’s landscape, explaining, “As I’ve increasingly got up pre dawn and climbed high hills and heathland into sunset and beyond, I’ve begun to experience the wonder that is Shropshire in a new way, despite my living here for 25 years. To catch the sunset over the Long Mynd or the Milky Way on the Stiperstones showed me a beauty I thought only existed in more exotic climes…”

Jam Sandwich for Broseley

Project Jam Sandwich are set to deliver an exciting concert at 7.30pm at Broseley’s All Saints Church on Friday 22 April. Kate Hogwood, director of Shropshire Music Trust (, says, “Following their knockout performance at Bishops Castle last season, this dynamic quintet of award-winning musicians jam up another legendary storm of fusion folk – an explosion of exhilarating improvisations, scorching rhythms and beautiful melodies from South Africa to Scotland to Bulgaria and beyond.”

The group will be running workshops with Broseley schools, with pupils performing at the concert. Tickets are £1 for under-18s, £4 for 19-21 years, and £8 for adults, and are available from Downes’ and Davis’ in Broseley, or call 01743 367482 or email

Carers get creative

Since 2012, Telford and Wrekin has been delivering drawing and painting classes for registered carers in the borough. The fortnightly sessions, run at The Place in Oakengates by artist Caris Jackson, funded by Telford NHS and managed by Telford and Wrekin’s Creative Arts Team, give members the opportunity to take time out from their caring responsibilities and meet other carers. The emphasis is on developing the individual’s own style through experimenting with a range of media, and no experience is necessary. Participants also benefit from reduced price tickets to events at The Place. Call 01952 380987 to find out more.

In the spirit of Woody

Following a critically-acclaimed run in London’s West End, ‘Woody Sez’ brings all the heartache and spirit of Woody Guthrie’s American heartland to Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn from May 3 to 5. The story follows the folk hero through his eventful life and times, with actors switching roles throughout, as well as playing over 20 different instruments live on stage. The show starts at 7.30pm and tickets are priced from £13.50 to £15. Visit for details.

Light fantastic

The Neon Collective is a group of singer-songwriters who meet at Neon Sound Studios in Burntwood, Staffordshire. The Collective are visiting Broseley’s Birchmeadow on April 16 in a performance that acts as a showcase for their individual songs. Life, poetry, emotion and a subtle touch of humour are all woven into the Collective’s music. Tickets are £9 from Downes’ or E Davis on Broseley High Street or you can buy them online at uk. Doors open at 7.30pm.

Local boys join Big Busk

Teenage musicians Guitar Cubed are set to join a world record-breaking attempt to busk for over 24 hours and 30 minutes during an event taking place in April. The Big Busk starts on Friday 1 April and will go on until the next day, with money being raised for Shrewsbury’s Ark charity in memory of Shropshire busker Ben Bebbington, who died after being attacked in 2012. Thirteen-year-old Louis Briggs and Tom Barras, 14, who sing and play guitar and cajon respectively, are proud to come ‘all the way from Bridgnorth’ and look forward to another busy year of gigs and events – “we’ve got our sights set on Farmer Phil’s and Shrewsbury Fields Forever this year!” Guitar Cubed are already booked for Uttoxeter’s Acoustic Festival. Donate to the Big Busk and catch up on the boys’ news at

Opera at The Edge

Appearing on Monday 15 April, ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ tells of a feud between families in 17th century Scotland, which threatens the happiness of two lovers. It includes one of opera’s most gripping scenes and is regarded as one of Donizetti’s finest works. The opera has not been seen at the Royal Opera House in more than a decade, so this new production by Katie Mitchell will be a particularly important event. The show starts at 7.15pm and tickets are £10-11. Visit for details.

Garland’s tale comes to Grand

The West End smash ‘End of the Rainbow’ is coming to Wolverhampton’s Grand, bringing all the glitz, glamour and heartache of the life of Judy Garland, played by TV’s Lisa Maxwell. Despite the blaze of publicity surrounding her as she arrives in London to make her explosive comeback, Garland’s star is on the descendant, and she’s battling her destructive addictions… as well as her new young fiancé. The fiercely funny and emotionally charged musical features all of Garland’s most memorable songs including of course ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, and it also features Gary Wilmot as her devoted accompanist, Anthony. ‘End of the Rainbow runs from 18 to 20 April, with tickets priced from £11.50 to £25.50. Visit or call 01902 429212.

Bookfest unveils features

Shrewsbury’s Children’s Bookfest runs from 29 April to 2 May this year, and there’s a glittering array of events to dazzle and delight every young bookworm. From Star Wars animation to Shaun the Sheep model-making, as well as a visit from Bookfest president Dame Jacqueline Wilson, this year’s festival sees a splendid range of workshops, talks and readings. Visit to find out more.

Tribute to Bowie

Returning to the Theatre on the Steps after several sell-out performances, the Bowie Experience celebrates the life and work of one of the world’s greatest musical icons. The breathtaking show spans the entire breadth of David Bowie’s career in sound and vision, with dazzling stage sets and painstakingly recreated costumes. Meet the Starman on Friday 15 April at 8pm, with tickets priced £12 in advance or £14 on the door. Visit for more information.

Meet Annie…

Coming to the Grand in Wolverhampton from 4 to 9 April is one of the best-loved childhood classics of all. Set in 1930s New York during the Great Depression, ‘Annie’ tells the timeless tale of a brave young girl who’s is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Determined to find her real parents, Annie’s luck changes when she is selected to spend Christmas at the residence of a famous billionaire – but Miss Hannigan (played by Bird of a Feather’s Lesley Joseph) has other ideas… Visit for details – tickets range from £23.50-£40.50.

Avonlea comes to Bridgnorth

The classic story of ‘Anne of Green Gables’ is brought to life at Theatre on the Steps in a delightful play. The tale of an orphaned, red-headed 11-year-old girl who’s sent to Green Gables farm in Avonlea by mistake will delight audiences of all ages. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, the elderly brother and sister who own the farm, wanted a boy to help with the chores, but Anne makes such an impression that even bad-tempered Marilla begins to want her around. Anne is here from 28 April to 1 May, with tickets priced from £12 to £14 and family tickets at £47. Buy tickets at the box office at Bridgnorth Town Hall or call 01746 766477.

Get in quick for Zerdin

America’s Got Talent winner Paul Zerdin’s UK tour starts in April and, though he’s not visiting Telford’s Oakengates Theatre at The Place until 19 October, tickets are selling fast. Zerdin, who was born in the UK, appeared on Michael McIntyre’s Big Christmas Show on Christmas Day, and he’s bringing his puppet sidekicks Sam, Albert and Baby to the stage in a new show called ‘Spongefinger’. Tickets cost £18.50 each, and can be booked online at by calling 01952 382382, or in person at the theatre or Southwater One in Telford Town Centre.

Broseley snaps happy

Broseley Camera Club will be holding an exhibition of members’ photographs, with the theme Black and White, at the town’s Birchmeadow Centre from 1 March until 30 June. The display is part of the Birchmeadow’s policy of encouraging local clubs to showcase their artistic abilities. The Camera Club meets met at 7.30pm on the last Monday of the month and new members are always welcome. Call 01952 884766 or email

Bill says goodbye

Jackfield folk legend Bill Caddick hung up his touring boots at a sell-out show to Broseley’s Birchmeadow in January. The Birchmeadow’s Caroline Bagnall says, “We put up a ‘sold out’ notice and still people came! Bill gave us a real treat of beautiful music and wonderful stories. It was an occasion that will stay long in my memory as one of the very best nights at the Birch.”

Madeley classical concert

A performance by Telford Orchestra will include some of the best loved pieces in the classical repertoire, performed at St Michael’s Church Madeley. The show takes place at 7.30pm on Saturday 9 April and includes Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture and Haydn’s rousing Trumpet Concerto. Tickets are £8 on the door or call 01952 884416.

All about the Cash

The Johnny Cash Roadshow comes to the Place in Oakengates on Friday 15 April; the only to be endorsed by the Cash family. Endorsed by the Cash family, the band features Clive John as Cash and Jill Schoonjans as June Carter performing songs including ‘Walk the Line’ and ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. Tickets for the show at 7.30pm on Friday 15 April cost £20; book online at or call 01952 382382.

Ella’v a picture!

The crew of For the Love of Ella, a comedy shot in and around Bridgnorth, outside Giovanni’s, where some of the filming took place. Visit to find out more. Love of Ella

Cadence donation Beverley Wightman of local choir Cadence presents a cheque to Tony Chandler of Cancer Research. The choir raised over £600 during December performances. Cadence

Mint condition Bridgnorth artist Eve Gregory with her portrait of Royal Mint coin designer Ron Dutton, pictured along with Ron and Tom Jenkins of the Friends of Wolverhampton City Art Gallery. Eve Gregory

Show a success Buildwas Players’ ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ raised over £1,500 for charity. If you’re interested in appearing in this year’s show, call 01952 432497.

Living on the EDG

Once again, the team behind the EDG Sun Fest on the Edgar Davies Ground in Bridgnorth are (almost) guaranteeing a sunny day on Sunday 1 May. Organiser Andy Vaughn says, “We’ve booked the sunshine – as well as a fantastically diverse musical line-up, plus a barbecue, beer and plenty of entertainment for the kids.” Advance ticket prices have been frozen at just £3, but it’ll cost more on the gate on the day; under 13s are free with a paying adult. Find them on Facebook – EDGSunFest.

Scarecrow alert!

Much Wenlock Festival takes place in June, and this year, visitors and locals should be on the look-out for a host of scarecrows who will be popping up throughout the town, made by children from Much Wenlock Primary School. The Festival also promises fabulous musical and theatrical treats, the popular Open Garden trail, and a celebration of HM the Queen’s 90th birthday. See for details.

Alveley’s ‘Valentines’ treat

Alveley’s St Mary’s Church welcomes the Valentines on Saturday 16 April from 7.30pm. This all-female choir have an outstanding reputation for their beautiful four-part harmonies featuring music ranging from Mozart to barbershop and musicals. Tickets (including a glass of wine or juice) are £7.50 on the door or in advance from the church or Alveley Post Office. Call 01746 780478 for details.

Get coastal

If you’re missing the seaside in our landlocked county, you might enjoy a workshop at Oswestry’s Willow Gallery. Coastal Scenes aims to create different textural effects using tissue, papers, sand and paste. The workshop is on Wednesday 20 April from 10am until 4pm and costs £38. Some experience with acrylics is desirable. Visit for details.

Wedding blues

Telford and District Light Operatic Society is breaking with tradition in its spring show, a version of the film The Wedding Singer, which starred Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The tale of the Robbie, the entertainer jilted at the altar and left to wreak creative havoc during his subsequent gigs, combines humour with pathos. Tickets are £12 from; for more information visit



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