Cambridge Shakespeare Festival

Dr David Crilly describes himself to me as “a musician from Liverpool”.  His first brush with The Bard was as a post graduate student of musicology at Oxford University when a friend asked him to be Musical Director for a student production of “The Taming of the Shrew”.  While David was happy with the incidental music he composed, he was distinctly underwhelmed by the production and reckoned that he could definitely do better himself!  Without further ado, bolstered by the insouciance of youth and undaunted by his lack of experience in the producing/directing department, he appointed himself Artistic Director, put an advertisement in “The Stage” newspaper and set about casting “Macbeth”.  And so it began ….

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival Macbeth

…. Now in its 31st year, the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival holds 4th position in The Independent’s Top 50 UK Arts Festivals and attracts upwards of 25,000 visitors a year, from all over the world.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival A Midsummer Night's DreamThis summer, the Festival runs from 9 July to 25 August, bringing its open air productions to the stunning and intimate surroundings of private College gardens which the public can’t normally access.  Heck, even the College students can’t access some of these!  Think the Fellows’ Gardens at King’s College and Trinity College and the Scholar’s Garden at St John’s, all of them hidden gems.  This year’s programme includes crowd pleasers “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Macbeth” alongside plays such as “Cymbeline” and “Pericles” which are perhaps less well known.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival The Taming of the ShrewThe actors perform in full period costume and there is live Elizabethan music.  This is Shakespeare without gimmicks … in the magical atmosphere of the gardens, with the light changing as the sun goes down, David creates productions that everybody can enjoy whether they’re familiar with Shakespeare or not.

Festival prep begins in February as David starts to audition professional actors to build a company.  Each actor appears in two plays so the rehearsal period during June is intense with 12 hour days.  And once July’s plays are under way, the cast rehearses the August plays during the day.  Inevitably, the company (who lodge in College accommodation) becomes a very tight unit.  Along the way this has led, rather romantically, to 11 marriages!

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival The Comedy of Errors

It’s over thirty years since David appointed himself Artistic Director and founded this Festival.  Since then, he’s developed a linked programme of educational events for students of all ages.  He composes and conducts, writes and publishes, researches and lectures here and overseas.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival Pericles

Each of the 8 plays in this year’s programme holds one charity matinee performance at 2pm, raising funds for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices and St John’s Hospice on the Wirral, in memory of David’s sister.  Tickets are only available on the door for these performances and you need to pay with cash as every penny raised goes to the charities.  Funds raised over the years come to £89,650 so far and David hopes to hit £100,000 this year.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival Twelfth Night

All performances start at 7.30pm but you can arrive in the beautiful College grounds to enjoy your picnic from 6.30pm.  Mulled wine is served in the interval and children of all ages are welcome.  You can buy tickets and season tickets in advance through the Festival website but there are always tickets for sale for every performance on the door too.

http://www.cambridgeshakespeare.com

These productions take place at multiple venues across the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chesterton Festival Cambridge

The Chesterton Festival returns later this month with a range of events happening at venues all over the Chesterton area.  This community festival, now in its 10th year, runs from 23 – 30 June.

Chesterton Festival Logo Cambridge

I met with Rachel Clarke, Hall Manager at St. Andrew’s Church, to find out more.  The Festival is organised by a dedicated team of volunteers from the three Chesterton churches with local residents and it’s supported by a grant from Cambridge City Council.  This year, they’ve put together a programme that includes jazz and choral concerts, stunning flower displays in St Andrew’s Church and free circus skills workshops with Cambridge Community Circus.

Flower Festival Cambridge
Image credit: Stewart Abrey

The Community Fun Day happens on Saturday 23 June from 1 – 5pm at Pye’s Recreation Ground.  “It has a lovely relaxed village fete atmosphere,” Rachel tells me, “and it’s a really fun event for all ages.”  There’ll be plenty of stalls to browse … think crafts and handmade goodies, local groups and charities, cakes, ice cream, face painting and more.  Cambridge City Council will be running a free Athletics Area with table tennis, football and an Activity Pod alongside a Golden Mile Family Challenge walk or run.  There’ll be a Children’s Fun Zone and lots going on in the Arena, with a variety of acts from samba and jazz bands to Polish dancers and performances from local schools.

Polish Dancers Cambridge
Image credit: Stewart Abrey

If you’re artistically minded, you’ll enjoy the CreativeSpace at St Andrew’s on Wednesday 27 June.  Just turn up any time between 11am and 7pm.  You’ll find a selection of art materials … let yourself be inspired by the beauty around you and see what you create!  This is a free event, all ages are welcome and they’ll be serving light refreshments too.

Wild West comes to Brown’s Field on Green End Road on Friday 29 June from 6 – 10pm with live music, children’s activities and performances, Rodeo bull and food stalls.  There’s free entry to this event which is brought to the Festival by ChYpPs at Cambridge City Council.

Punch and Judy Show Cambridge
Image credit: Stewart Abrey

If you’d like to join in and celebrate community life in Chesterton, just check online for full details of all these events and more in the Festival schedule.

http://www.chestertonfestival.wordpress.com

This event takes place at multiple venues around Chesterton.

Polish Heritage Day Cambridge

Everyone is invited to join the Polish community of Cambridge on 13 May at The Guildhall to celebrate their heritage and culture.

The Polish community in Cambridge numbers around 5,000 people, many of them permanent residents and some who are here to study.  The Polonia Club on Chesterton Road is a meeting place, a cultural centre and has a restaurant serving traditional Polish dishes while the University offers a Polish Studies programme which runs lectures, film screenings, debates and meetings with writers and artists, events which are open to all.  There’s a Polish Saturday School and a Polish Mass is held every Sunday at the Catholic church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs on Hills Road.

Polish Heritage Day 2018 Cambridge

There’s plenty going on at this Heritage Day event which will be opened by the Polish Ambassador.  You’ll be able to taste authentic Polish food such as pierogi (little dumplings of various flavours, both sweet and savoury), cakes, pastries and breads.  Local Polish artists and craftspeople will be exhibiting.  There’ll be choral, guitar and piano performances, dancing from the Wiwat Folk Group and a Thai boxing display while local Polish businesses will host stalls.

Polish Heritage Day is happening on Sunday 13 May from 12 noon to 5pm.  Entry is free.  Everyone is welcome to join the celebrations and to discover more about Polish life and culture.

Facebook:  Polish Heritage Day in Cambridge

http://www.klubpolonia.co.uk

The Guildhall, Market Place, Cambridge CB2 3QJ

 

Slow Food Cambridge

One of the many things I love about Cambridge is the food!  From street food in the market to fine dining and everything in between, this city has so much to offer.  And now, Slow Food Anglia is hoping to establish a Slow Food Cambridge group.  At a gathering in Thirsty on Chesterton Road last week, they spoke about their ethos and shared their thoughts on how the group might work here.

Slow Food UK logo
Image credit: Slow Food UK

The Slow Food movement was set up in Italy in 1986 by Carlo Petrini to promote local food, food producers and traditional cooking.  It encourages us to think about the sustainability and traceability of our food, as well as reducing food miles by buying seasonal local produce.  Slow Food has also developed the “Ark of Taste”, designed to preserve heritage foods which are in danger of being lost.  In the UK, these foods include Colchester Native oysters, Dorset Blue Vinney cheese and Jersey Royal potatoes.

The Slow Food Anglia group has run events very successfully in Norfolk.  The plan for Slow Food Cambridge would be to run an event in the city later this year, at Harvest Festival time, culminating in a feast, a communal meal with everybody coming together to celebrate local food and community.

Camcattle on Midsummer Common Cambridge
Camcattle grazing happily on Midsummer Common

Of course, there are many fabulous food enterprises already happening in the city and Slow Food Cambridge plans to work in tandem with them.  But it needs a group of people to get this enterprise off the ground.  Do you care about your food, where it comes from and what you do with it?  Do you have skills that could help get a group up and running?  If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes!”, please get in touch with your thoughts and ideas.  Just leave a comment on this post or get in touch via my Contact page and I’ll feed back (pardon the pun!) to Slow Food Anglia.

http://www.slowfoodanglia.org

http://www.slowfood.org.uk

Artsfest 2018

Artsfest 2018 returns to St Paul’s Church on Hills Road from 26 – 31 March, celebrating creativity and culture with events and activities for all ages throughout the week, based around the theme of “Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained”.

Artsfest 2018 poster
Image credit:  Artsfest 2018

The Festival has been organised by Martin and Julia Evans with Kip and Jane Gresham.  They’re building on the foundations of the very successful inaugural Artsfest held in 2016 and they firmly believe that people can flourish when they have the chance to be creative.

Artfest 18 workshop
Image credit: Artsfest 2018

There’s a packed schedule through the week, whether you want to be hands on or prefer to watch and listen.  Daytime workshops for adults include printmaking, creative writing, drawing and painting and there’s a daily after school art workshop for children while a drop in embroidery group will stitch through each day.  Anyone can share in the daily lunchtime and evening meals; indeed, the cafe is at the heart of the Festival, offering a place for everyone to meet, talk and share experiences.

A range of talks includes print maker Kip Gresham who will look at the way artists make their work and Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and now Master of Magdalene College, who will explore the theme of hope and loss through poetry.

Artsfest 2018 music
Image credit: Artsfest 2018

Evening events include a performance from local performing arts college Bodywork Company Cambridge, a jazz concert and the world premiere of an opera based on John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” with leading counter tenor Lawrence Zazzo.  On the final day of the Festival, there’ll be a Scratch “Messiah” in which everybody is welcome to take part, whether as a singer, an orchestra musician or an audience member.

Artsfest 2018 St Paul's, Hills Road
Image credit: Artsfest 2018

St Paul’s is an Anglican church and community centre.  Its motto is “All are welcome, all are safe” and its doors are open every day to welcome everybody, whether they have a faith or not.  “We want to bring people together,” Martin tells me, “and we believe that in creating a positive community we can help to combat the loneliness felt by so many.”  Around two thousand people use the building each week, either to attend the daily service, to join in with one of the many classes (think yoga, lindy hop, salsa and more) or simply to sit quietly in the foyer.

You’ll find full details of all the Artsfest 2018 events on their website.  Most workshops and all the exhibitions, talks and lunchtime concerts are free, although voluntary donations are always welcome.  Evening events cost £7.50 per head.  For logistical purposes, workshop places need to be booked in advance through the website.  Finally, please email juliaevans51@hotmail.co.uk if you’d like to get involved as a volunteer and help to run this wonderful celebration of culture and creativity.

http://www.stpaulsartsfest.org

http://www.stpaulscambridge.org.uk/

Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1JP

 

e-Luminate Cambridge Festival photo blog

Back in January, I posted a piece on the e-Luminate Cambridge Festival and tonight it opened, with fabulous light installations illuminating some of the city’s most iconic buildings.

It’s a really cold night here in Cambridge but I wanted to get some photos, just taken on my phone, to give you a flavour of the event.

Firstly, Senate House with its installation “I See”, created in collaboration with The Ordered Universe Project.

Senate House B and W

Senate House spots

Senate egyptian

Senate blue and green swirls

Senate black and white broken

In Bene’t Street, another moving image projection, “Bright Lights – The Colours of the Brain”, has been created by artists working with Cambridge community groups in a series of workshops.

Benet St

Gonville & Caius College is looking glorious with its installation “The Colours of Caius College” created by artist Patrice Warrener using the Chromolithe technique that he developed thirty years ago.

Caius close up

At The Fitzwilliam Museum, projection artist Ross Ashton has created a colourful projection which shows some of the most iconic artefacts held in the Museum’s collection.

Fitz neon

Fitz women

Fitz Gold

You’ll find more installations outside King’s College Chapel, at Trinity Hall and at the Guildhall.  Full details of all these are on the event website.  It may be freezing out there but it’s really worth wrapping up and getting out to see the city in a whole new light.

http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/e-luminate

This event takes place at multiple locations in the city

 

 

 

 

Watersprite Film Festival

The Watersprite International Student Film Festival returns to the city from 23 -25 February, showcasing the wealth of emerging talent in student short film making from around the world and offering a springboard for the film makers of the future as they start their careers.

Watersprite 2018 General Image
Image credit: Rob Eager

This year, the organisers have received around three hundred and ninety submissions from ninety five countries.  Fifty nominees have now been chosen for a dozen award categories, including fiction, documentary, animation and original film music – you can find their details on the Watersprite website.  Overseas nominees will be flown into the UK to attend the Awards Ceremony at the Fitzwilliam Museum thanks to the continued support of Red Arrow Studios, the Festival’s official Film Maker and New Talent partner.

The prestigious Film Maker of the Future award will go to a film maker who tackles modern day issues in the world, creating a film that tries to make a difference or presents to us a story that we haven’t heard before.  Part of that prize is the opportunity to participate in a producers’ workshop in Cannes, enabling the winner to network within the film business.  In fact, the Festival gives all the entrants a chance to collaborate with other film makers and to forge new creative partnerships.

Elisa
2017 Film of the Year Winners, Elisa  Image credit: Chris Williamson

Aside from the screenings, there’s a packed schedule of talks and workshops led by leading professionals in the film and TV industry.  Films will be showing at various venues across the city but most nominee screenings will be held at King’s College while talks and events will happen at St John’s College Old Divinity School where you’ll also find the Festival hub.

The Festival started life in 2010 as Cam’era and Film of the Year was awarded to Will McGregor’s “Who’s Afraid of the Water Sprite?”.  Will has gone on to make a very successful career as a screenwriter and director, working in film, TV and commercials.  With producer Hilary Bevan-Jones, the Festival’s Patron, Will has developed his short film into a feature film, “The Dark Outside”, which is currently in production.  And in honour of that first winning film, the Festival was renamed “Watersprite” in 2011.

Watersprite 2017 Student Committee
2017 Watersprite Student Committee  Image credit: L Odufwa-Bolger

The Festival is open to everybody.  It is entirely free for film makers to enter plus all the events and screenings are free thanks to sponsors such as Decca Publishing and Fox Networks Group.  Local companies also get involved.  Jocks and Peers, a beer brand recently launched in the city by three Cambridge alumni, is sponsoring drinks at one of the event’s ceremonies.  Tickets can be booked through Eventbrite or you can just turn up at an event or screening and if there’s room, you’ll get in.

www.watersprite.org.uk

http://www.eventbrite.co.uk

This event takes place at multiple venues around the city