The Chester blog

Chester weekly News torpedo #3

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The Chester comedy festival , organised by Chester BID launches on Sunday 11th July with a sold out family fun event at Chester market. Running until the 22nd July the festival features 35 comedians including big names like Jason Manford, Rich Hall and Reginald D Hunter. Venues all across the city include Storyhouse, the Cathedral and the Racecourse. For tickets and further info visit Home – Chester Comedy Festival

Suzanne St Clare has been chosen for a photographic residency in Chester as part of Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme. 

The residencies are for ‘Picturing England’s High Streets’, which is a three-year project as part of the national cultural programme for High Street Heritage Action Zones. The photographers will use a ‘socially-engaged’ approach, working alongside local communities, to create a contemporary portrait of England’s high streets between now and 2024. Starting immediately, the photographers-in-residence will work with local people to reimagine the high street, producing images which will become part of the Historic England Archive. To host each residency, Photoworks and Historic England have partnered with photography organisations across England, including Open Eye Gallery. 

Users of the high streets and the community are at the heart of ‘Picturing England’s High Streets’, and each selected photographer has a link to the local high street area. 

Open Eye Gallery is supporting established photographer Suzanne St Clare, who will be working with various communities in Chester from 2021-2024. Adding to this, during 2021/22, emerging photographer Ciara Leeming will develop work with a local community group. Both will receive additional support from Cheshire West and Chester Council. 

Suzanne St Clare said: Chester has been part of my family life since childhood.  When I was looking through my dad’s old 35 mm Kodachrome slides recently I came across one of us feeding the ducks by the Dee.  Even though it was a Sunday afternoon my mum was in a two piece suit from Browns!  In the summer holidays whilst my dad called in on suppliers in the city centre I’d wander round the black and white timber framed buildings in Eastgate Street and spend my pocket money in Woolworths. 

Having worked closely with Chester residents early this year for Reclaiming the City I was inspired by their thoughts about their identity with Chester and sense of place.  I am thrilled to be collaborating with a wider audience to explore this further, particularly at such an exciting time as we create our vision for the cultural future of the city.”

Photographer Suzanne St Clare

Chester Race Company, in partnership with Chester BID, has committed to provide free parking for shoppers and visitors to the city at the racecourse and at Linenhall car park in Nicholas Street. Free parking will be available every Sunday following a Saturday race meeting during the Chester Racecourse season and every last Sunday of the month for the rest of the year. The first free parking day will be Sunday 11th July, followed by the 22nd August and 12 September . Full list at Visiting Chester – Experience Chester Chester Race Company Finance Director, Marco Garavello said: “We are delighted to be supporting Chester BID and our city trader neighbours with the free parking initiative for the fifth consecutive year. We remain committed to supporting the local community, its businesses and people throughout this period of uncertainty.”

A new historical walking tour focussing on Chester’s medieval history is arriving on the 21st July. Presented by Roman Tours in association with Heritage Works . Chester Medieval Tours will tell the story of Chester in the year 1403: “England is under the rule of King Henry IV but the rebellion of Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, along with his allies Owain Glyndwr and the Earl of Douglas, threatens his reign.  Our authentically dressed medieval soldiers will lead you around Chester highlighting significant events of the time and outlining the reasons leading to Hotspur rebelling against the King. You will also learn about what life was like for the soldiers living in the city, particularly the famous and skilled, Cheshire longbowmen the former bodyguards to the crown.  ” For details visit Chester Medieval Tours – Unique Tours of Medieval Chester

Storyhouse’s hotly anticipated new adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone will receive its premiere on the main stage this autumn.  Award-winning poet Hollie McNish has created the modern retelling of the Greek masterpiece which will be staged from October 13-23. 

The production was due to form part of the Storyhouse Originals season of plays in spring 2020 until the Coronavirus pandemic struck and the country was plunged into a nationwide lockdown.  It is being co-produced with TripleC, a Manchester-based disabled-led organisation that supports access and representation for deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people across the arts and screen sectors.  The collaboration will ensure Antigone is accessible to creatives and actors as well as to the audience, including captioning at each performance. 

 McNish, a former poet in residence at Storyhouse, has published five books of poetry including Nobody Told Me for which she won the Ted Hughes Award. 

Her poem Mathematics about immigration has had more than two million views on YouTube, while she is currently preparing to continue her tour of her latest book Slug which she will bring to Storyhouse later in the year.   Antigone, which is her first solo play, is a deadly political drama which centres around the daughter of Oedipus. 

When Oedipus’s sons Eteocles and Polyneices kill each other in a bitter battle for the throne of Thebes, their uncle Creon declares himself king and decrees that while Eteocles be buried, Polyneices is a traitor and his body should be left outside the city walls to rot. 

It is up to Antigone to brave her uncle’s wrath and honour her brother by giving him the burial he deserves – even if it means her own death in return. 

Storyhouse’s departing artistic director Alex Clifton said: “It’s 18 months later than planned, but I’m really excited that we’re finally going to be able to present Hollie’s vibrant adaptation of this important work – a work which poses pertinent questions, about parenthood, gender, immigration and the role of the state in all our lives. 

This modern retelling will place the voices of young women and girls firmly to the fore, with girls from our youth theatre taking the role of the chorus.”  http://www.storyhouse.com

Chester dance company Fallen Angels, is searching for Guardian Angels to help continue its life-saving work with people in recovery from addiction. The Guardian Angel scheme invites supporters to contribute regularly to their work so that they can increase capacity and help more people reach their full potential.

Artistic director Paul Bayes Kitcher, himself a recovering addict, said: “The Covid pandemic and lockdown has been tough for many people but especially tough for those battling poor mental health.

“I know from lived experience that isolation makes people in recovery more vulnerable to relapse, so during lockdown we moved quickly to transfer our groups online.

“These workshops became a lifeline so we are appealing to the public to consider giving us regular support so that we can offer more and more recovering addicts access to our unique and creative practice.”

Becoming a Guardian Angel costs as little as £3.50 a month although people can choose to contribute as much as they like. Guardian Angels will receive a regular newsletter from Fallen Angels Dance Theatre plus twice-yearly exclusive insights into their exciting and innovative work. Details of how to sign up are available on the Fallen Angels Dance Theatre website : Become a Guardian Angel – Fallen Angels Dance Theatre (fallenangelsdt.org)

FADT artistic director Paul Bayes Kitcher and chief executive Claire Morris. Pic: Brian Slater

The CWAC civic team showed support for the first ever NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day on Monday 5 July.

The Lord Mayor, accompanied by the Sheriff of Chester and Deputy Lord Mayor, took to the Town Hall steps, clapping to show appreciation for the dedicated workers in these services. The bells of Chester Cathedral’s bells rang 73 times – one ring for every year of the NHS.

The Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Martyn Delaney, said: “In the current pandemic it is important for everyone to support NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day on 5 July 2021. We need to show our appreciation for the way all of the staff from these services have stepped forward to keep us safe and well, and so I have no hesitation in joining in.

“I speak from recent personal experience when I say that when I needed the NHS they were there for me, and I hear many similar stories from the residents of Chester who I meet, whether it be about care in hospital or from other care providers in our community. So, let us all be there for them on Monday 5 July 2021.” The Council also lit the Chester Town Hall, Eastgate Clock and Newgate with blue lights on the weekend to show their support.

Pic: Daniel Schott

Meanwhile a NHS protest meeting/march took place on Saturday July 3rd in Town Hall square. Organiser Kenny Cunningham said ” we are here campaigning in defence of the health service. Behind the scenes the Government are taking significant steps to break the health service down into small commercial units to be sold off. The American private health industry has already shown a great deal of interest . We are here to protest against that and the insulting wage rise offered to health workers by the Government. We are demanding a 15% increase , after what they’ve been through and what they’ve helped us get through” Speakers at the event included Ellesmere Port MP Justin Madders.

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