Category Archives: theatre

Full of festivals

Secret Garden Party Pirate Ship

It struck me today that Cambridge, in particular, overflows with festivals. Whatever your hyperspecialised desire, there is probably a festival that will include it in this town. I just got an email from the Food and Drink festival about their fundraising quiz, where you go and drink wine and eat cheese and try and answer insanely specialist food and drink questions in one of the beautiful medieval college halls. Worth doing it for the architecture alone, which is frankly wasted on undergraduates.

The image above of dawn breaking over a pirate ship is from the Secret Garden Party. It’s a kind of English-country-house-themed tiny Burning Man, part music festival, part theatre event that takes place over four days in the grounds of a Georgian country house outside the city.

The University culture means that more cerebral festivals are strong – we’re having a Darwin Festival in July to celebrate the anniversary, and there is always the Festival of Ideas in November, to mop up anything intelligent that hasn’t been covered to death earlier in the year. Also the science festival starts this weekend under the auspices of the university, which deliciously has guidance on some events “Warning, loud bangs”. And for grown ups we can “join the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, Professor David Spiegelhalter as he discusses ‘Statistics: can we sex them up without dumbing them down’. ” Telephone booking is now open.

A particular favourite is the Shakespeare festival – it takes place in July in various college gardens, and is again worth it as much for the architecture as the acting, although the standard is fairly high.

Edit: I forgot Cambridge Word Fest, which is booking now for April with a cornucopia of literary events and workshops.

Then there is of course all the music, so much music. The Folk festival, the Summer Music festival, the Rock fest (in association with a beer festival, naturally) and on. Put out more flags, it’s going to be a beautiful year.

folk-festival-imagesImages of the Folk festival by Arkadyevna on Flickr
If I’ve left any out of my list please do let me know.
Science Festival 9-22nd March – Science fun for adults and families
Cambridge Word Fest 23-26th April – Book events and writing workshops for all genres
Cambridge Super8 Festival 29th April – 2nd May
Cambridge Beer Festival 18-23rd May – Real Ale drinking
Strawberry Fair 6th June – Free festival of music, theatre, arts and crafts
Cambridge Comedy Festival 8-14th June – Live Comedy
Cambridge Shakespeare Festival June-July dates TBC  – open air shakespeare in college gardens
Pink Festival 09 date TBC – Gay open air music festival
Darwin Festival 5th – 10th July – philosophy, literature, history, theology art and music arising from the life of Darwin
Cambridge Fringe Festival 16 July – 2nd Aug – open access performance
Cambridge Summer Music Festival 17 July – 8th Aug 09 – world class classical music
Secret Garden Party 23rd – 26th July – music theatre performance camping
Cambridge Folk Festival 30th July – 2nd August 09 – world class folk music
Cambridge Rock Festival 6-9th August – Rawk and Beer
Cambridge Film Festival 17-27th September 09 (submissions open 1st March)
Festival of Ideas 21st Oct – 3rd Nov – explore more about the society we live in
Cambridge Music Festival 8-29th Nov – Serious classical music trienniale, commissions new work
flags_and_skyNB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

A nautical one night stand

Bo Nanafana Shore Leave poster

Valentines day entertainment for all you 1940’s pin up girls at the Talk in Norwich. It looks like a glorious evening – I’d like to draw your attention to the dress code of Fishnets and Seamen. Find out more on their myspace page.

via All Things Considered
NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

The Angels Sale

Edit: If you missed this or got there after all the good stuff had gone, try the calmer surroundings of  The London Vintage Fashion, Textiles and Accessories Fair in Hammersmith Town Hall on Sunday.

See all the details on their website.



This is where I’ll be this weekend. The Angels sale.


Boxes of vintage clothes and costumes

Boxes of vintage clothes and costumes

For those who don’t know, Angels and Bermans is the theatrical costumier’s theatrical costumier… Founded in Seven Dials in 1840, they started by selling second hand clothing and tailors samples from Saville Row, often to local actors looking for costumes. Morris Angel eventually diversified into renting for the duration of a play, and a successful business was born.

It’s still a family business, and they run the gamut from film and tv and theatre costumes, to fancy dress hire from their shop in Shaftesbury Avenue and their warehouse in North London. Their warehouse with 5 and a half miles of rails of beautifully made costumes of every era. 

Angels Warehouse

Angels Warehouse

They have remained at the top of their profession by doing what they do incredibly well – well researched, beautifully made historical costumes, creative costumes with flair, lots and lots of them. Think of a movie and they may well have dressed it – Star Wars, Marie Antoinette, The English Patient, Death on the Nile, Memoirs of a Geisha…

They are selling off old costumes and broken jewellery. There will be a whole room of 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s clothes, laid out in rows of cardboard boxes to rummage through. It’s going to be chaotic, frenetic madness. You pay not by the outfit but by the bag. There is a victorian section, a 1970’s and 80’s section. 

All this is just to try and explain why it’s important to get up up long before dawn tomorrow to drive there for an early spot. Given that in my mind’s eye at least, I look like the women below, this is my idea of perfect heaven and I’m already sharpening my elbows. I think I’ll need a big bag…

(Image from carbonated on Flickr)

If this doesn’t sound exciting enough, they have made some YouTube videos to whip up the frenzy levels. Just the sight of all those full cardboard boxes sends a little shiver down my spine. If it does yours too, do what you can to be there, as this kind if thing happens very rarely.

All the details on the Angels website. Open 9am to 5pm on Saturday 6th December only.

Eight at Baldock Arts

Baldock in Hertfordshire is a slightly depressed town with the most glorious brick architecture from another age. It was once one of the coaching stops on the main road to London, and the doublewide high street is full of parked cars and big old inns are sadly shabby, many closed. 

In a ‘Lets put on the show right here’ kind of way, the closed town hall has been turned into a tiny studio theatre, and a new arts festival has burst upon the world. (Full disclosure, I’ve been helping out and thus am totally biased in its favour).

On Sunday night a play called Eight is stopping on its way between London and New York, which is quite exciting for Baldock. It was the hit of the summer in Edinburgh, and seems to be building from strength to strength. There are eight twentysomething characters each dealing with modern life in their own particular way. Apparently they are “deliciously cynical yet touching snippets of life that question what it is to be ‘normal’ in a generation where everything has become acceptable. Investigating 2008 from a refreshingly offbeat angle; these eight monologues present obsession in its moral, sexual and religious guises, offering intelligent, politically punchy and incisive writing that rebuffs the definition of contemporary youth as apathetic, drug-munching, no-brainers. ”

Hence its clutch of awards and good reviews from everyone from the Scotsman to the New York Times.

I’m excited. Catch them this weekend before they hit the states.

Eight by Ella Hickson – Sunday 26th October at Baldock Town Hall, Baldock, Hertfordshire.
Get tickets from Clare Heyhoe  on 01462790975,  07962663499 , or email
See more of the schedule at the website