Live & Local visits East Midlands promoting groups ahead of exciting chapter for the schemes…

As some of you may know, Live & Local will be taking over the management of the East Midlands rural touring schemes (Centre Stage – Leicestershire, Village Ventures – Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire Rural and Community Touring) during 2015 and we’re very excited to start working with the communities involved with these schemes!

Towards the end of the Spring/Summer season, some of the Live & Local team got the opportunity to go and see shows and visit promoters in the East Midlands.   John, Julia, Frances, and Rosalind have written a little piece about their visits:

John (Executive Director)

This was my first trip out to see a show in Lincolnshire as part of our preparation to take on the management of the three schemes in the East Midlands. It was certainly the longest journey from base to village hall I’ve had to take since I started to do this job – apart from perhaps a day long journey to see an aboriginal band called Nabarlek in Moira, a small town in Western Australia!

Heydour is a village half way between Grantham and Sleaford, tucked away off the beaten track with a parish population of about 500. The village hall is 2 ½ years old and is a beautifully located and designed hall.

Heydour Village Hall
Heydour Village Hall

I was met by the friendly promoter, grabbed a pint from the bar and joined the small but expectant audience, ready for what was an entertaining if slightly bizarre show, a mix of street theatre, circus, music and film. I’m not sure whether the finale featuring a giant inflatable lobster or hearing ska music in the Australian outback is the most surprising show in a surprising place I have experienced, but my visit to Heydour certainly is up there. Thank you to the local promoter and his colleagues for making this stranger in their midst, feel so welcome and we look forward to working with them next year.

Julia (Warwickshire & Worcestershire Fieldworker)

In April I visited Kegworth Village Hall in Leicestershire for my first East Midland show, Old Herbaceous. Just off the M1 and close to East Midlands airport Kegworth village was very easy to find along with their centrally located village hall. When I arrived the car park was nearly full and the hall was buzzing.

I was warmly welcomed at the box office and directed to the bar where I purchased a cup of tea – this is where the promoters, Graham and Karen, found me. They were so warm and welcoming and very proud of their village hall. I sat within the bustling audience ready for the show to begin.

The stage was set with lots of pot plants, a table and watering cans and it felt as I was looking into a green house. This was brought to life by Peter Macqueen as Herbert Pennegar. Pennegar, now in his twilight years tells his memoirs as head gardener in the Gloustershire manor house. Through the show I slowly fell in love with Pennegar and by the end of the play I felt a bit teary. I think my favourite part of the event was Councillor Julie Cooke serving ice creams during the interval in the full ice cream seller kit!

Later in the spring I was given the opportunity to see another event in the East Midlands and this was in South Clifton near to Newark. I was greeted at the Coronation Hall by a horse in the car park and I could smell Fish & Chips in the air (the Fish & Chip van comes every Friday). The hall looked fabulous with decorative table clothes and pot plants.

I spent the evening sat with the very welcoming committee who kindly shared their drinks and snacks with me. It was lovely hear that the committee were new to the community and find Village Ventures to be a great way to meet others and get involve in village life.

The show, Miss Caledonia, is performed by Melody A. Johnson along with her fiddle accompaniment, Alison Porter, who played while she and Melody made their way onto the stage and brought the audience to the year 1955 in RR#2 Caledonia. With a simple stage Melody brought the hall to life as she portrayed the life of Peggy Ann Douglas, who wants to escape the farm and to become a film star. With help from her mother the play takes us through her journey as a farmer’s daughter to winning a local beauty pageant. The play was filled with comedy and I instantly built a rapport with Peggy Ann. I loved the play and would like to see Melody back in the UK very soon.

Frances (Derbyshire & Staffordshire Fieldworker)

Caunton Dean is a gorgeous village not far from Newark.   It even has a ford which my husband delighted in sloshing through! There are quite a cluster of villages in the area that are part of Village Ventures but all appear to be quite distinctive and very popular. The venue, which is actually in the local primary school is the delightfully named Caunton Dean Hole Community Centre and has the most beautifully tended school veggie patch I’ve ever seen.

We went to see Avanti and Artisani’s 6 Impossible Things; a show I had worked on with Live & Local promoters but hadn’t actually seen so was intrigued to see what it was all about. It was so much better than I’d imagined, very funny and incredibly imaginative. I had thought it was a magic show but it was much more Tommy Cooper or Morecambe and Wise than Paul Daniels and the entertainment was as much in the interaction between the two actors (as 2 sleazy end of the pier magicians who had somehow done away with their female assistant, Maureen) and their banter with the audience as the amazing if slightly surreal technical feats. It had the audience laughing and involved from start to finish.

It was lovely to see so many children at the show and such a mixed audience. Caunton Dean is clearly a very close knit, sociable and indeed welcoming community and everyone stayed afterwards for a chat and a sumptuous buffet and to polish off the bottles of wine they’d all bought with them.

Rosalind (Marketing Officer)

It had been a lovely spring day when I visited Harmston and the village looked beautiful in the sunshine. The village hall looked average in size from the outside, but when I entered the front door it revealed a huge room which was already packed with excited audience members! Luckily, I found a seat a few tables from the front of the stage so I had a great view of the stage and the rest of the hall.

I went to see Wolfscote featuring Andy Cutting In Concert and it was a fantastic show! Wolscote are a four piece band and their set was full of rich melodies and harmonies which were sang wonderfully (especially from Cathy Lesurf and Isobel Morris). The band performed on guitar, the ukulele and Isobel played the harp which was a treat to watch, as I haven’t seen the harp being played live before!

Andy Cutting, a renowned virtuoso on melodeon and button accordion, was a special guest performer for the show, and the music he played was something I hadn’t previously experienced. It was exciting to watch someone so skilled play these great instruments.

I had a lovely time meeting the promoters of Harmston Village Hall and I look forward to working with all the promoters in the East Midlands schemes in future!

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