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What’s on OCTOBER

Krapp's Last Tape PEO image
Krapp’s Last Tape

Theateregoers this month is for you: Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (Thurs 1 Sept) as performed by Tom Owen (Last Of The Summer Wine) tells the tale of Krapp, an irascible chap who spends each of his birthdays recording a tape to himself. Join him as on his 69th he listens back on the follies of his prideful youth. As can be expected from Beckett, a witty and thoughtful tale. Our other one man show has less to say on the pitfalls of aging and is much more riotous in its humour – Will Seaward’s Ghost Stories (Thurs 22 Oct) will be arriving at Arlington with bags of ghouls, gremlins and growls for a halloween dreadtacular.

Fans of the folk will do well to check out up-and-comers The Rails (Fri 2 Oct). Giving off the vibe of a London pub in summertime (this does seem to be where the majority of their videos are filmed) the duo have been signed to the same label (it’s Pink) that gave us records from Nick Cave, John Martyn and Fairport Convention. At the less rocky end of the spectrum are The Shee (Fri 16 Oct), a sextet of folk aficionados featuring harp, fiddle, mandolin accordion and flute for a gaelic & bluegrass fusion. Mixing even more genres together is the Urban Folk Quartet (Fri 30 Oct). Back on the Arlington stage their influences are too numerous to list, but you’ll find it hard to miss the distinct middle eastern and afrobeat vibes. Put all this in context with Simpson & Flemons (Thurs 8 Oct) as they take you on a journey through England & America’s shared folk traditions. Comprised of English guitarist, songwriter and multi-award holder Martin Simpson, and American guitar, banjo (and bones!) player Dom Flemons, of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, present the unsanitised bigger picture.

Joanne Shaw Taylor
Joanne Shaw Taylor

Moving away (sort of) from the folk we’ve got International Guitar Night (Thurs 15 Oct) bringing together luminaries from across the globe to play solos, duets and quartets. Like the A-Team of the guitar scene, the night will feature Brian Gore, Mike Dawes, Lulo Reinhardt and Andre Krengel. Another guitar star Mark Nevin (Sat 24 Oct), of Fairground Attraction, will be performing his beautiful collection of narrative driven songs towards the end of the month, and Joanne Shaw Taylor (Fri 23 Oct) is a firecracker of a blues guitarist that we’re thrilled to finally have with us.

Double headliners The Christians & Roachford (Sun 4 Oct) are already a very popular choice too, for good reason. The infectious melodies and warm harmonies feed on accusations, protest and despair and strike a deep chord to listeners. Joined by long-time friend Andrew Roachford best known for hits “Cuddly Toy” and “Family Man”, Roachford has something of a maverick take on the singer-songwriter genre.

Tom Robinson (Weds 28 Oct) is back in the studio after 20 years since 2-4-6-8 Motorway and Glad To Be Gay. Inspired by the acts he’s encountered whilst presenting for BBC 6 Music and BBC Introducing, Tom’s new album features full band and all of his raw spirit. Finding innovative ways to collaborate between disable and non-disabled artists, Stopgap Dance (Mon 12 Oct) company also make their debut at Arlington Arts with their show Artificial Things. Slowly suffocating in each other’s company, a group of individuals seek escape in a bash of riotous rock-n-roll.

Stopgap Dance
Stopgap Dance

To find out more or book online click here. Or call 01635 244 246 between 10-4.30pm Monday-Friday.

Krapp’s Last Tape – Thurs 1 October 8pm, £12 (Concession £10, School Groups £8)
The Rails – Fri 2 October 8pm, £12
The Christians + Roachford – Sun 4 October 7.30pm, £27.50
Simpson & Flemons – Thurs 8 October 8pm, £16
Stopgap: Artificial Things – Mon 12 October 8pm, £14 (Concession £12, School Groups £8)
International Guitar Night – Thurs 15 October 8pm, £15 
The Shee – Fri 16 October 8pm, £14
Will Seaward’s Ghost Stories –  Thurs 22 Oct 8pm, £11
Joanne Shaw Taylor – Fri 23 Oct 8pm, £20
Mark Nevin – Sat 24 Oct 8pm, £13
Tom Robinson Band – Weds 28 Oct 8pm, £20
Urban Folk Quartet – Fri 30 Oct 8pm, £12

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Interview with The Rails

Kami Thompson & James Walbourne took some time out to answer some questions about their experiences as BBC Folk Award Horizon Award winning band – The Rails. They’ll be playing Arlington Arts Centre on Friday 2nd October 2015.

“Fair Warning” combines the traditional and contemporary, do you have a vision of how folk might continue to develop?

Folk is developing all the time. It’s in everything from Grime to top 40. It’s all just telling a story. In terms of ‘traditional folk’, i’m not sure. A lot of it is extremely twee these days and not to our tastes. You still have the Eliza Carthy’s of this world pushing the envelope though.

Island’s Pink Label handled arguably some of the most formative folk acts of the 60’s and 70’s (Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, John Martyn). Do you feel any particular pressures or expectations as the first artists on this newly resurrected label?

No. It’s just a label.

You both seem to have been exceptionally musical from a young age, did either of you ever consider, however fleetingly, a career outside of music?

James – Never.

Kami – I consider my options daily.

Do you feel the comparisons drawn between The Rails and Kami’s parents are accurate, or inevitable?

We set out wanting to make a classic sounding folk rock record so it was inevitable, really. It’s as much a pop record as it is a folk record – much like Kami’s parents, I think.

What about your family James – are there many creative types to be found there?

My dad was a major influence. He doesn’t play a musical instrument but took me to see everyone from Frank Sinatra to Stevie Ray Vaughan  when I was a kid. I attended more gigs than days at school. My brother is also a great all rounder and has played with me for many years.

Speaking of family, your support act is Zak Hobbs – Kami’s nephew- could you tell us a

Zak Hobbs
Zak Hobbs

little bit about his style?

Sort of barber shop Raga…..no not really. He’s a great guitar player – definitely one to watch. He’s sort of in the mould of Bert Jansch and the 60’s guys. You saw him here first!

Thankyou, Kami + James!

Tickets to see The Rails are £12 and can be brought via the Box Office on 01635 244 246, or by clicking here.

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A harrowing night out…

Most shows aren’t sold on the basis of being “harrowing” but Badac Theatre Company  are unlikely to let a little thing like unsettling their audience get in the way of a quality production. They have an aim, and that aim is to explore not just what human rights abuses are, but what they mean to the individual.

The show Badac are bringing to Arlington on Thursday 24th September is The Flood. Presenting the tale of a love affair between a WW1 soldier and nurse, all things vicious, visceral and banal are brought to life through an assault on the senses in the style of Antonin Artaud.

artaudEmerging from the surrealist movement of the 1930s Artaud included sound, light and smell not just as add-ons to his scripts but as a constant and often overwhelming integral part.  Artaud’s written theories were not always easy to translate to performance, which is largely why his fascinating school of thought has not been explored as much as it should have been in the years since his death. With over a decade of experience under their belts, Badac stage his concept with beautiful simplicity; the countless soldiers injured on the frontline are rendered by bloody pieces of not-so-fresh meat which are (literally) hurled into the fray, machine gun fire is replicated by an incessantly chopping knife and so on.

Once you have an understanding of their approach (which they term “theatre of cruelty”) what is  gained from performances like these? Surreal – yes, intense- sure, but also enlightening and, many find, a way of unburdening the subconscious. The intention is not to be sadistic or gratuitous, but to stimulate honest reactions from the audience.  This is not a frivolous evening out to the theatre, we’re happy to make that clear. You won’t come away with a fleeting joie de vivre – but bewilderment and adrenaline are a heady cocktail.

Please note: As this is a site specific piece in Arlington Manor Cellar, the performance will only be accessible via a flight of stairs. Arlington Manor Cellar can become quite damp, so we would recommend dressing with this in mind.

Tickets can be booked here or via 01635 244 246 between 10am-4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

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Newbury’s Pick of the Fringe

With 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues across Scotland’s capital city, the Edinburgh Fringe truly is biggest festival of its kind anywhere in the world. Showcasing brand new work from artists, companies and entertainers from across the globe, success (or lack of) at the festival can make or break careers.

I have been fortunate enough to visit the fringe for sixteen consecutive years, in which I try to see as much as possible in one week – literally running from one venue to the next, seeking out new and exciting theatre, music and comedy.

Tatterdemalion
                           Tatterdemalion

In 2012 Dr Brown received the Edinburgh Comedy Award for his show Befredth, which previewed at Arlington Arts that July. Subsequently there has been an encouraging growth in highly playful and hilarious comedy/theatre shows without words. Notably Trygve Wakenshaw’s Nautilus, which I’m sure, will be up for a nomination for an award this year.

The day after seeing Nautilus, I managed to catch Henry Maynard in Tatterdemalion (which has already received a number of 5-Star reviews). It is brilliantly good fun – a friend and student of Phil Burgers (Dr Brown), Maynard captures that inventive sense of playfulness, innocence and mild malevolence which makes his show a wildly entertaining hour of sheer joy – roll on 19 November at Arlington Arts.

Will Seaward Image 1
Will Seaward’s Ghost Stories

I stayed up late to see Will Seaward’s Ghost Stories (midnight at the Gilded Balloon). Will’s natural charm and rich, deep voice has had him described as the love child of Stephen Fry and Brian Blessed. His show is great fun and creepy at the right moments, making it a perfect advent to Halloween when it comes to us in late October.

I spent a good deal of time at The Summerhall, which has fast established itself as a hub for contemporary performance at the fringe. In fact StopGap dance are scheduled to perform Artificial Things there during the last week of the festival, before bringing it here in October.

Every Brilliant Thing

Sited at Summerhall was Paines Plough’s ingenious pop-up venue The Roundabout, in which I saw Lungs, a captivating, tender two-hander about the dilemmas of modern living, modern relationships and parenthood. Also in the Roundabout were Jonny and the Baptists, who played here last spring, their new show about global warming is doing very well, so I’d hope to welcome them back soon.

Jonny was also performing solo in Every Brilliant Thing, which will, along with Lungs, The Human Ear and Our Teacher’s a Troll be moving with The Roundabout, to The Corn Exchange (9-13 September). I would thoroughly recommend a visit.

With everything that we have between Arlington Arts and The Corn Exchange, I would say we have the pick the Fringe coming to Newbury – but then with the Fringe being the size it is, there’s always the next big thing just around the corner waiting to be discovered…

by Tony Trigwell-Jones