Artsreach winter programme

WINTER and spring with Artsreach, Dorset’s rural touring arts charity, brings a host of live performances, from traditional folk to contemporary dance, Indian storytelling to physical theatre.

The music programme includes Welsh folk supergroup ALAW, Bristol-based a capella folk and shanty group The Longest Johns, exciting young Belgian period musicians WÖR recreating the music of 18th century Flanders, Tom Langham and Hot Fingers with tunes from the 1920-40’s, a BSO Trio of Flute, Viola and Harp, contemporary music group Kokoro, Resound, the BSO’s professional ensemble of disabled musicians, klezmer and Balkan band She’koyokh, the Mela Guitar Quartet, gypsy folk-rock band Holy Moly and The Crackers, Dorset folk duo Ninebarrow, jazz star Alec Dankworth with daughter Emily and other leading musicians, global song and improvisation with World Spirit, and beautiful singing from Vermont-based Northern Harmony.

The theatre events are similarly eclectic. John Osborne presents an ode to radio in his solo show, John Peel’s Shed, featuring a selection of records previously owned by the late John Peel. Scratchworks Theatre use physical theatre, live music and clowning to unravel the tale of the four forgotten females of The Great Train Robbery. Farnham Maltings present the English premiere of American playwright Will Eno’s moving new play Title and Deed, exploring the idea of searching for home.

With a nod to the golden age of British humour, mixed with farcical physical comedy, Last Chance Saloon twist two classic stories in a side-splitting double-bill – Curse of the Mummy and Sherlock Holmes.

If you are enjoying the new BBC adaptation of Victor Huge’s classic, Les Miserables, you might want a different take on the story when the French-English duo Spitz & Co perform their hilarious and anarchic show, Les Gloriables.

Storyteller James Rowland, of Tangram Theatre, explores the pangs of love in his show, A Hundred Different Words for Love. There is a very different style of storytelling when Emily Hennessey and sitar player extraordinaire, Sheema Mukherjee, take the audience on a white-knuckles tuc-tuc ride through sun-kissed palaces and fiend-infested forests in Kali: the World’s Wildest Goddess.

Performance poet Jonny Fluffypunk joins Artsreach for an evening of poetry and pints in the pub, while MINIMA provide sinister live music to accompany a screening of the original 1925 silent film of The Phantom of the Opera – it’s a far cry from Lloyd-Webber’s West End hit! There is another film, this time with a strong Dorset connection, with DT2 Productions’ film adaptation of Kinetics, the true story of an actress who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and an alienated teenager who finds freedom of expression in parkour (free running).

The Barnes Supper has become an annual event, and this year Stalbridge village hall will host the Ridgeway Singers and Band as they celebrate the birthday of William Barnes, who was born just outside Stalbridge. The event on Saturday 23rd February includes a supper of Dorset fare.

Circus skills and acrobatics are on show when Spanish company D’Click Circo come to Dorset at the end of March. The show, Isla, explores the subtle barrier that exists between physical theatre and dance and between magic and dreams. There is more dance and physical theatre when Lost Dog bring their unique interpretation of a famous tragic love story in Juliet and Romeo, and Corali, specialists in dance performance created by artists with a learning disability, draw inspiration from the films of Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, in their new show, Technicolour Everyday.

Half-term shows include the Anglo-Swiss company Theatre Fideri Fidera with Oskar’s Amazing Adventure, the tale of Oskar the puppy and his search for friendship in the wilderness of the Alps, Uchenna Dance celebrating children’s resilience in a contemporary retelling of Hansel and Gretel, and Angel Heart with their reimagining of one of Aesop’s’ fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

For Artsreach listings, see the FTR arts diary and for full information visit or pick up a copy of the programme in libraries, arts centres and tourist information centres.

Pictured: Spanish company D’Click Circo and Scratchworks Theatre in The Great Train Robbery