On Stage: Features

Bloke from the Big Country: Rich Hall

Fairly loud though he is, Rich Hall is a comedian who creeps up on you. His appearances on TV shows like Buzzcocks and Have I Got News For You haven't been the motormouth type you get from too many lad panellists. Just a few lines will do for Rich, but they're the sort you'll be retelling for years afterward in the pub. His timing is brilliant, the lines razor sharp and the topics refreshingly different.

The BBC obviously noticed too, rewarding him with the chance to film a series of documentaries on his home country, the US. Though born in Montana, Rich's abiding interest is the South. Redneck country, as his early lines would have it, but more recently as a misunderstood place all too easily caricatured for a quick joke. His film The Dirty South set the tone, and others followed on the mythology of the West, Inventing the Indian, and Continental Drifters.

Soon there will be a new one out, titled intriguingly You Can Go to Hell, I'm Going to Texas. That's a line from couture pioneer Davy Crockett, him of the raccoon hat. Voted down by the public in his native Tennessee, Crockett decided to move to the Lone Star State and ended up in the heroic but doomed defence of the Alamo.

Rich Hall has also won accolades in the US. Writing for the David Letterman Show, he won two Emmys. He was the inspiration for Moe the barman in the Simpsons, written by Matt Groening.

Will we get some wild frontier moments in the latest show? The only way is to get along and find out.

An evening with Rich Hall
The Spa
Tuesday 12 March

01723 357869, www.scarboroughspa.co.uk



The Valleys come to the moors

Arts Council meanness can’t keep the irrepressible Esk Valley Theatre down. The small but perfectly formed professional company has reacted to a grant cut with a series of great fund raising events, to ensure their big summer run can go ahead as usual. Now in its ninth year, the summer production has been a triumph – with quality and entertainment every bit as good as you’ll find in bigger theatres.

Directors Sheila Carter and Mark Stratton have managed something of a coup for their first fundraiser, on Sunday 17 February. Acclaimed actor Josh Richards will be staging his one-man show, Playing Burton.

From humble roots as the 12th child of a drunken Welsh miner, Richard Burton rose to become the world’s first megastar. He was infamously married to Elizabeth Taylor, and the word ‘paparazzi’ was coined for the photographers that surrounded them. But the real Burton, little Richie Jenkins, was known only to a few.


Josh has an extensive CV which includes working for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His association with Richard Burton has continued from stage to screen, starring in the feature film adaptation of Playing Burton. He has also voiced The Richard Burton Diaries for BBC Radio 4.

Esk Valley Theatre’s next event will be an auction of promises on Saturday 2 March.

The Robinson Institute - Glaisdale

Sunday 17 February at 7pm

Tickets: £12

Box Office: 01947 897587


Host of writers for Long Weekend litfest

This year’s Scarborough Literature Festival hosts a veritable quillery of writers, tackling everything from chicklit to biography. Among the well known names visiting is crime novellist Peter James, who has a claim to having published the first electronic novel, on a floppy disc (remember those?). These days most of his books feature Brighton-based detective Roy Grace, though he has also written supernatural thrillers and spy books.


Elsewhere at the festival there’s a session with Kathy Lette, who says she divides her time between being a writer, demented mother and trying to find a shopping trolley that doesn’t have a clubbed wheel. Her novels include Mad Cows, Nip’N’Tuck and How to Kill Your Husband (And Other Handy Household Hints). She’s also been a singer with the Salami Sisters and has written several plays.


There’s a special session at 7pm on Friday 13 April with Dr Jack Mapanje, a Malawian poet, linguist and human rights activist, and one of the most important living African poets. Malawi authorities arrested him in 1987 and he spent more than three and a half years in prison without trial. The title of his talk is that of his most recent book 'And Crocodiles Are Hungry At Night' (2011) about his time in prison. Jack will be also be reading some of his poetry. There is no charge for this meeting, which is organised by Amnesty International’s Scarborough branch.


For full details of the Long Weekend festival, 12 to 15 April, go to http://www.scarboroughliteraturefestival.co.uk/

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