As the nights draw in, village halls across Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland will be turning up the heating, drawing the curtains and stocking up the raffle prizes as they welcome audiences to a rich mix of Highlights performances this autumn.
Showcasing new work alongside old favourites the Highlights autumn programme, whilst typically varied, puts a focus on the stories of migrants, travellers and pioneers – of those who cross borders whilst fleeing war, chasing dreams or searching for their identity.
We see the Berlin Wall come down in Fallen Fruit which tells of leaving a life under communism in 1980’s Bulgaria; enter a steamy authentic bath house as actor Nick Cassenbaum searches for his Jewish identity in Bubble Schmeisis and travel to Zimbabwe to hear a fascinating story of modern and ancient migrations in Kure Kure Faraway. In a show created especially for village halls, Little Bulb take audiences on a journey of musical migration from the British Isles to the Appalachian Mountains to explore the roots of country music in Mountain Music. And the music offerings continue this theme when a quartet of musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philarmonic Orchestra explore the music and stories of immigrants across the world, who left their homelands in pursuit of a better life in Music of the Travellers; and The People’s String Foundation bring us their ‘virtual 32-piece gypsy orchestra’.
Elsewhere, audiences can enjoy a border-crossing menu of music styles played by musicians from Cornwall, Cuba, Canada and beyond. Folk, Flamenco, world, roots, swing and tango can be heard alongside full evenings of Jewish Klezmer, Cuban ‘Son’, stunning acapella and a made-for-sharing ceilidh from the Monster Ceilidh Band.
From the UK, Highlights is bringing some of the best touring companies to parts most don’t usually reach. Little Earthquake take us back to the 1980s for a comic investigation into a childhood haunting in I Ain’t Afraid of no Ghost; award-winning playwright, Alison Neil takes audiences even further back to the 1800s in her show about the extraordinary life of Mrs Beeton in Mrs Beeton, My Sister and, following the opening run at their home in Newcastle, Northern Stage will be bringing us their latest show The Hound of the Baskervilles.
On cold dark nights, intimate village halls are made for storytelling. Audiences can gather round to hear magical and timeless tales in Twice Upon a Time and James Rowlands tells his own life affirming story and ‘hymn to friendship’ in Revelations.
Highlights’ ‘pick of the sticks’ this autumn is a colourful show for children and families from award-winning Sonia Sabria Company. Same Same…But Different mixes Kathak with western dance styles and live music to celebrate individuality.
Other highlights include a jaw-dropping performance from internationally acclaimed circus artists Nikki & JD with their show Knot; an inspiring story of one woman’s journey to compete in athletic’s most gruelling event – the Tetra-Decathlon and screenings of cult horror classics with a live score from Minima.
For children there’s a new telling of an old favourite with The Boy Who Cried Wolf; a slug takes the lead role in a slimey show with wriggles and giggles called Slime and we visit a world of ice and adventure in Under the Frozen Moon. Scheduled between Christmas and New Year, this charming tale of courage offers a seasonal treat for ages 3+.
And finally, the season draws to a close in December with some festive fare as the awful truth about A Christmas Carol is revealed in The Scrooge Diaries and virtuoso musicians Marie Ni Chathasaigh and Chris Newman bring us some Christmas sparkle with Celtic Christmas Strings.
Rural Touring offers a friendly and intimate alternative to theatres, right on your doorstep, and we hope you will enjoy these quality performances.