Moonlight Flicks – Brooklyn (12A) #chesterculture

12A | Dir: John Crowley | 2015 | 109 mins | UK |
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent

Adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Toibin’s acclaimed novel, Brooklyn is the story of Ellis (Saoirse Ronan) who leaves 1950s’ Ireland to build a life in New York.

There she meets and falls in love with a local boy but a trip home to Ireland reveals another possible love and life. Ellis is faced with the choice of two very different prospects.

Full of drama and romance, with beautifully captured period detail, Brooklyn is perfect viewing for a warm summer night under the stars.

Roman Gardens, Chester
Tuesday 5th July – 20:45, Friday 15th July – 20:45, Saturday 23rd July – 20.30, Thursday 28th July – 20.30
Castle Park, Frodsham
Saturday 30th July – 20.30
Ashton Park, West Kirby
Sunday 7th August – 20.15
The Measure: cinema ticket



#wearehere – #Somme100 – #chesterculture

Hundreds of volunteers led by the Royal Exchange Theatre and partners at Storyhouse (Chester), Bolton Octagon, LeftCoast (Blackpool), and Oldham Coliseum were part of a UK-wide event that took place today, 1 July 2016, as a modern memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, the work was conceived and created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre.

The specially commissioned event saw around 1500 voluntary participants dressed in First World War uniform appear unexpectedly in locations across the UK. The Royal Exchange was one of 27 organisations which collaborated on the work, called ‘we’re here because we’re here’. It was produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the National Theatre, working in close collaboration with partners including: Lyric Theatre Belfast, National Theatre of Scotland, National Theatre Wales, Northern Stage, Playhouse Derry-Londonderry, Salisbury Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres and Theatre Royal Plymouth.

The project breaks new ground in terms of its scale, breadth, reach and the number of partners and participants involved. This is the first time three national theatres have worked together on a joint project, and the first time so many theatres have worked together on a UK-wide participation project.

The participants who walked the streets today were a reminder of the 19,240 men who were killed on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Each participant represented an individual soldier who was killed that day. The work is partly inspired by tales of sightings during and after the First World War by people who believed they had seen a dead loved one.

The participants wore historically accurate uniforms, representing 15 of the regiments that suffered losses in the first day of the Battle. The soldiers did not speak, but at points throughout the day would sing the song ‘we’re here because we’re here’, which was sung in the trenches during the First World War. They handed out cards to members of the public with the name and regiment of the soldier they represented, and, where known, the age of the soldier when he died on 1 July 1916.

The daylong work ran from 7am to 7pm and covered the width and breadth of the UK, from Shetland to Penzance. Sites they visited included shopping centres, train stations, beaches, car parks and high streets – taking the memorial to contemporary Britain and bringing an intervention into people’s daily lives where it was least expected.

The volunteers were men aged between 16-52, reflecting the men who would have fought in the Somme. They were not trained actors but come from a range of professions, including a sheep farmer, flight attendant, doctor, lawyer, social worker, shop assistant, portrait artist and GCSE student. They came together to rehearse in theatres across the UK over a month-long period in the run-up to the performance. ‘we’re here because we’re here’ is one of the largest arts participation projects ever staged in the UK, with hundreds of additional volunteers working behind the scenes.

Jeremy Deller said:“I wanted to make a contemporary memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, one that moved around the UK with an unpredictability in which the participants took the work directly to the public.”

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, said: “This work by Jeremy Deller is a truly national piece of theatre and is a powerful way to remember the men who went off to fight 100 years ago. I also hope it will serve as a catalyst to strengthen ties with theatres and communities across the UK.”

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said:
“1 July 1916 saw 57,470 casualties on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, of whom nearly 20,000 died: it was the bloodiest day in British military history. Taking part in ‘we’re here because we’re here’ has given hundreds of young people across the UK the chance to find out more about the Somme, and in some cases discover the stories of family members who fought in the war. Working alongside brilliant artists, directors and theatres on this astonishing project will be an experience they will never forget.

Alex Clifton, Artistic Director, Storyhouse: “I was deeply moved as I stood in Chester station this morning, with Jeremy Deller’s living monument to a dreadful day in our history. A young soldier gave me card with a name: Private William Hamilton, of the 17th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, who died in the battle of the Somme. I’ve been reminded today how blessed we are to live in a period of relative peace and security, and am hugely glad that Storyhouse has collaborated with arts organisations all over the country to bring this work to Chester, the Wirral and Liverpool.

The project was supported by: Storyhouse, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, The Belgrade Theatre, Bolton Octagon, Bristol Old Vic, Left Coast, Leicester Curve, Nuffield Theatre, Oldham Coliseum, Pontio, Shetland Arts, Sutton Coldfield College BMet, The Artrix Bromsgrove, The Garrick Lichfield and Volcano. Media partner: BBC

‘we’re here because we’re here’ was made possible by an Ambition for Excellence Award from Arts Council England, with additional support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Creative Scotland and Art Fund. 14-18 NOW is principally funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport


Warning: Dinosaurs are roaming the streets in Chester! #chesterculture

‘You won’t see a tyrannosaur, on the way to the shops. Pretty much all of them have gone the way of Top of the Pops…’

Actually, Biscuithead and The Biscuit Badgers, you’re wrong as dinosaurs are roaring their way into Chester city centre in the shape of two free citywide trails designed to give high street visitors a taste of the Jurassic age, in celebration of Chester Zoo’s popular dinosaur exhibition this summer.

Pre-historic dinosaur fossils and cave finds – many of which were found in the Cheshire region – have been put on display in ten businesses across the city centre as part of a new ‘Dino Chester Trail’. City visitors can pick up a free map to find the fossils, which include a 350 million year old dinosaur footprint, dinosaur bones, shark teeth and a full-size replica Tyrannosaurus Rex skull.

A second ‘Dino Chester Jurassic Facts’ trail launches this Friday (1st July) and will see a range of historic dinosaur facts hidden in a further 40 high street businesses. The trek challenges families to uncover the facts and find the names of ten dinosaurs hiding in the city for the chance to win an annual family pass to Chester Zoo.

To add to the excitement, a life-like Tyrannosaurus Rex from Chester Zoo’s herd of dinosaurs will be making special appearances in the city centre at weekends and Thursday evenings throughout the summer, giving locals and visitors the chance to experience what life was really like when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

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“Having dinosaurs in the city centre is a fantastic addition to our Chester Fiesta events programme this summer and we’re sure it will appeal to people of all ages,” said Julie Charlton, Marketing Manager at CH1ChesterBID, which has partnered with Big Heritage, Chester Zoo and The Grosvenor Museum to deliver this year’s dinosaur-themed trails. “It’s fantastic to have so many of our city centre businesses involved and we believe this campaign will attract thousands of people to our high street, encouraging them to explore new areas of the city and shops they may not have been in before. There are already so many great reasons to visit Chester city centre but with these new dinosaur expeditions, we think this summer will be spectacular!”

City centre locations including Corks Out, Edinburgh Woolen Mill, Cotswolds Outdoor and Lakeland all feature on the Dino Chester Trail and the ten fossils have already been put on display within selected stores.

Blackhouse Grill, Deva Travel, Ed’s Easy Diner, Ginger Wine Bar and Deli and Sofa Works are some of the 40 businesses taking part in the ‘Dino Chester Jurassic Facts’ trail, which launches this Friday.

Dean Paton, Managing Director at Chester-based social enterprise Big Heritage, said: “We’ve turned the clock back by more than 400 million years with this new citywide trail and are bringing something that’s fun, exciting and educational to Chester’s high street. The fact that many of the fossils have come from across Cheshire and the Wirral is a huge bonus and it’s fantastic to see them on show for everyone to see in the city centre.”

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Charlotte Smith, head of discovery and learning at Chester Zoo added: “Young or old, people are fascinated by dinosaurs so we’re thrilled to be helping to bring dinosaurs in to Chester city centre with this new citywide trail. The dinosaurs at Chester Zoo have been hugely popular and putting a dinosaur-theme somewhere as historic and iconic as Chester city centre will be a fantastic attraction.”

Both dinosaur trails will be available every day until Sunday 4th September 2016. To find the dinosaurs, city centre visitors need to pick up a free trail map from Chester’s Visitor Information Centre, the Grosvenor Museum, at participating retailers or can download one directly from

Billy Elliot: The Musical – Monday 11th to Saturday 16th July 2016 – Christleton High School #chesterculture

Following the closing of Billy Elliot the Musical in London’s West End earlier this year, after 11 years and nearly 5000 performances, the show has now started a national tour and, at the same time, been released for schools to perform.

Christleton High School in Chester is one of the first schools in the country to be granted a license and they are now in final rehearsals for their production of the smash hit musical about a boy from the northeast of England, living through the miner’s strike of 1984, who finds he has a natural talent for ballet.

The heart-warming story and memorable music, set against the backdrop of political and social turmoil in Thatcher-era Britain make for a show which quite rightly deserves its reputation as one of the most successful musicals in West End history.

img_1008Year 7 student Ben Rackham, from Barrow, landed the dream role of Billy following hard fought auditions back in February and has been working hard to master the lengthy and complex choreography required for the show, as well as learning a lot of lines and songs.

The show’s Director, Simon Phillips, said “Ben is a star; he is so modest and takes everything in his stride. As one of the youngest boys in year 7 he will still be just 11 years old when he plays the part next month and the weight of the whole show rests on him in many ways. But, he is a very confident and talented performer and will really wow the audiences, I’m sure.”

In addition to Ben, some 70 students appear in the cast of the show and a further dozen or more will be working behind the scenes alongside the professional 9-piece band and theatre experts who help to create the technical elements of the show.

Mr Phillips said “We try, each year, to raise the bar in terms of what we are able to do with our productions and this year is no different. The company of nearly 100 students, staff and theatre professionals are so enthusiastic about this show and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to produce it.”

The school, following successes in recent years with We Will Rock You, Joseph, Oliver!, The Lion King and Our House, is developing a reputation for producing annual musical theatre shows which aim for high standards in terms of both artistic and technical achievement. With music written by Elton John and  the script and lyrics by Lee Hall, who wrote the screenplay for the film this is going to be one not to miss.

Monday 11th to Saturday 16th July 2016
Christleton High School
Tickets £8 available by clicking the link below.



Under The Blue Sky – Chester Little Theatre – Saturday 2nd to Saturday 9th July 2016 – #chesterculture

Chester Theatre Club are proud to present their summer play ‘Under the Blue Sky’ directed by Andy Hutchings which opens on Saturday 2nd July 2016.

Under the Blue Sky is a roller-coaster of a play that looks at the full spectrum of love. In three subtly-linked acts, the play tells the stories of six teachers and the mess of obsessions, jealousies, indifference and affections that lie between them as they discuss love and lust with boldness and honesty, as the playwright studies unrequited affection, obsession, sex, and even being happy. It was first performed in 2000 at London’s Royal Court Theatre.


Nick and Helen (Jess Toyne and Ally Goodman pictured left) have been friends for three years since they slept together once, but they’ve got very different feelings about Nick taking a new job at a public school.

In the next act, a drunken Michelle (Leah Bell, pictured right) is very determined to sleep with her faithful confidant, the virginal history teacher Graham, but the recital of her various liaisons leads to a sinister reversal of the seduction.

Finally, two older teachers, Robert and Anne, who have spent the school holidays together for many years, look up at the sky and begin to hope they could be happy.

Joining the cast is newcomer to Chester Theatre Club, Ally Goodman, an Events & Arts Co-Ordinator by day. Ally is well known in Llangollen, his home town, where last year he played Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers and more recently at Grove Park Theatre Wrexham where he was seen in their very successfully production of The Ladykillers.

Please note: This is a very frank, open play which contains some scenes of an adult sexual nature. Recommended audience age is fifteen and above.

Under The Blue Sky
Chester Little Theatre
Saturday 2nd to Saturday 9th July 2016
Tickets £9.00
Concession price of £7.50 for seniors, students and unemployed on first Saturday, Monday and Tuesday evenings only.
Admin charges apply to online and telephone bookings
Book by calling TicketSource: 0333 666 3366 or click here to book online.


Storyhouse presents Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre 2016 Season – Friday 1st July to Sunday 21st August 2016 #chesterculture

img_0618Produced by Storyhouse, the 2016 season will see productions of Shakespeare’s As You Like It and The Two Gentlemen of Verona and a new adaptation of the children’s classic Stig of the Dump staged at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre this summer.

Opening on Friday 1st July and running until Sunday 21st August the 2016 season is the biggest to date, with 59 performances in the season’s schedule.

Alex Clifton, Artistic Director, Storyhouse, who is producing the season said: “We are thrilled to be announcing our 7th season of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, at the heart of a monumental year for Chester’s cultural scene. Our 2016 season presents two very different Shakespeare comedies – an anarchic farce and a magical romance – which we can’t wait to share with our summer audiences.

We are really proud to be bringing our 7th new play to Grosvenor Park, this year a reworking of the children’s classic Stig of the Dump by Olivier winner Jessica Swale. Above all we look forward to welcoming back our spontaneous and joyful audiences to our glorious open air festival.”

One of the century’s best-selling and enduring children’s classics, Stig of the Dump by Clive King, will be brought to the open air theatre by the same team as sell out hits Wind in the Willows and The Secret Garden. The Bard’s incredibly popular pastoral comedy ‘As You Like It’ is the season’s headline Shakespeare, performed in rep with the ‘ridiculous’ ‘The Two Gentleman of Verona’.

In 2015 the award winning season of open air theatre welcomed over 25,000 theatregoers to its nine week season and it won Event of the Year in the region’s tourism awards, beating off competition from Chester Zoo and Just So Festival.

Storyhouse are expecting this year’s season to be more popular than ever. Tickets are on sale now.

Grosvenor Open Air Theatre
Friday 1st July to Sunday 21st August 2016
Performance times vary 


Gladstone’s Library’s Writers in Residence 2017 Shortlist Announced. #chesterculture

Gladstone’s Library has revealed the names of the 10 writers shortlisted for its prestigious Writers in Residence award for 2017.

This year’s submissions were drawn from a pool of entries from around the world.
To qualify for consideration, all applicants had to submit a book published in the last three years as well as a short piece of writing on liberal values.

Now into its sixth year, the Writers in Residence programme, established in association with Damian Barr (saloniere and author of Maggie and Me), was set up to explore and define liberal values in the twenty-first century.

The shortlist is made up of novels, poetry and creative non-fiction that, in the eyes of the panel of judges of authors, industry experts and members of the Gladstone’s Library team, best represent some of the most creative contemporary writing.

The ten shortlisted titles for 2017 are:

  • William Atkins, The Moor: A Journey into the English Wilderness (Faber & Faber, 2014)
  • Elaine Beckett, ‘Faber New Poets 13’ (Faber & Faber, 2016)
  • Penny Boxall, ‘Ship of the Line’ (Eyewear Publishing, 2014)
  • Caroline Brothers, The Memory Stones (Bloomsbury Circus, 2016)
  • Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Harmless Like You (Sceptre, 2016)
  • Nancy Campbell, Disko Bay (Enitharmon Press, 2015)
  • Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse: Women Write the City (Chatto & Windus, 2016)
  • Pippa Goldschmitt, The Need for Better Regulation of Outer Space (Freight Books, 2015)
  • Antonia Honeywell, The Ship (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2015)
  • Mab Jones, Take Your Experience and Peel it (Indigo Dreams, 2016)
  • Jacqueline Saphra, If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women (The Emma Press, 2016)
  • Ruth Scurr, John Aubrey: My Own Life (Vintage, 2015)

Four of these authors will now be awarded a month’s residency at the Library in Hawarden.

“The Gladstone’s Library Writer in Residence programme continues to go from strength to strength,” said Warden of Gladstone’s Library, Peter Francis. “This is thanks, in part, to the support and generosity of our sponsors, in particular that of Joanna Munro, but also to the continual high standard of applicants. We are hugely proud that the programme continues to attract the very best in contemporary creative writing and are looking forward to revealing our four winners in October.”

This year’s judging panel consists of Senior Strategy Director at FutureBrand and Trustee of Gladstone’s Library, Freddie Baveystock; writer and journalist Peter Moore; author and journalist Melissa Harrison; poet Judy Brown; Peter Francis, Warden of Gladstone’s Library and Director of Collections and Research at Gladstone’s Library, Louisa Yates.

Judging takes place on Friday August 5th and the winners will be announced on Monday October 3rd at the National Liberal Club in London when the four winning authors will read from their work.

Tickets for this Writers in Residence 2017 launch event are priced at £10, to register your interest, call 01244 532350 or email

Jamie introduces new Johns to Alexander’s #chesterculture

Just over six months ago Alexander’s Live was sold to Jamie Northrop. Jamie has been working hard at the venue since then ensuring a complete and full line up of events with something ‘Live’ each day of the week. Jamie also closed the venue for the refurbishment of the main floor in January this year and installed a new bar with quirky lighting made from up-cycled bottled and pipes. Jamie boasts that the lighting was all made by his father. He says; “I have always had an image of what a venue should look like in my head but when we came to sourcing the products we couldn’t find what we wanted… that’s when I turned to Dad (Michael Northrop) and together we got the image out of my head and into a reality.” 

The toilets at Alexander’s Live sadly didn’t get more than a lick of paint back in January as Jamie explains; “We just simply ran out of time.”
Anyone who had been to the venue before Jamie took over would know that the toilets were infamous in Chester for their cracked tiles, bad smells and worn out floors (to say the least).

Well now the toilets have undergone a full refurbishment with new toilets, sinks, cubicles, tiles, modern mirrors and all the accessories to go with it. The gents even have waterless urinals now and the toilets are decorated quite minimally but still with an edgy music and performance twist with the display of different vinyl records and artwork.

Jamie explains; “It was extremely important for us to get the toilets refurbished as a venue is very often judged on its cleanliness, etc, by the state of its loo’s… I know I do that all the time! I am really happy with how the refurbishment has gone and it’s so nice to have things starting to all come together. I only wish we could’ve somehow extended the space to make the toilets less cramped but obviously with the toilets being on the first floor we are limited to the space that we have. Overall though I hope we have done enough to win back all the customers that I have heard exclaim; ‘We’ll return when the loo’s are done…’ ”

Jamie has clearly taken time to consider the venue and its requirements and is working through what must’ve been an extensive list of jobs. His final touch to the new loo’s at Alexander’s are the new doors which he has had painted by good friend and artist, Glen Cross. The doors feature the faces of what Jamie considers two of the most iconic people in music industry history, Jim Morrissey and Madonna. There is a story behind these choices but Jamie says that is just something that customers will have to come and ask him about themselves!

The full line up of upcoming events can be found on and tickets can be purchased in house, online or by calling the venue on 01244 401402.


Zoot Serious and the Belly Full of Bop – Friday 1st July 2016 at Alexander’s #chesterculture

Zoot Serious and a Belly Full of Bop boogie their way into Chester playing Rhythm and Blues, Jump Jive, Swing and Soul. T

The music performed by Zoot Serious is seriously energetic and delivered by a band with the same traits as the music.
The ten piece band, which includes all that you’d expect along with saxophones, trombones and trumpets, play all the classic jive and R’n’B tunes from James Brown to Ray Charles.

Zoot Serious and the Belly Full of Bop
Alexander’s Live
Friday 1st July 2016.
Tickets are £7 in advance or £8 on the door, with an option of a pre-show dinner for £27. Tickets are available from or by calling 01244 401402. 

The Hills Are Alive – Tues 5th to Thurs 7th July 2016 – St Mary’s Creative Space #chesterculture

Singers and musicians from as far as the Philippines, Zimbabwe and Canada will be arriving in Chester to take part in a mini international celebration. The international performers will add to a programme which blends some of our finest local musicians with high ranking performers of all ages from across the world in a mini festival which is being hosted by St Mary’s Creative Space in the city centre.

Organisers at Theatre in the Quarter have been working with the International Eisteddfod to provide choirs and dancers the chance to visit the city on their way to Llangollen where they will be taking part in the high profile competitions there.

Artistic Director Matt Baker, who recently brought hundreds of singers together in Chester City Centre to perform for the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, said, “The standard and range of international performers at Llangollen is breathtaking, and we have been working with the organisers to not only give some of these visiting groups the chance to visit our beautiful city, but to give people in Chester a glimpse of what amazing things happen just a few miles away from here in Llangollen every year.”  Matt added “But we also have some great choirs and musicians of all ages in Cheshire, and so we wanted to create line up of local and worldwide acts to form an intimate celebration with an international flavour.” 

The festival, entitled ‘The Hills Are Alive” takes place from Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 July and will feature the following groups:
Cantilon – an exciting young choir from Alberta Canada
Coro San Benildo – a choir of young performers from the Philippines
Mother Touch Dance Group – a children’s dance ensemble from Zimbabwe
Hillside Singers – dynamic young singers from Helsby
The Fireflies – a vivacious all women’s choir from Cheshire
Soundwall – a music sensation from Chester
Hope Street Harmonies – a terrific close harmony group from Liverpool
The Little Big Band – a fantastic musical ensemble from Chester

Matt Baker concludes “This is a wonderful addition to the city’s cultural calendar, and in the intimate and beautiful setting of St Mary’s Creative Space. We hope that people will come along and support these musicians, whether they are from another continent or just up the road. We hope that this is just the beginning of a celebration that will grow each year. It has been terrific to partner up with the International Eistedfodd for this, and we hope that visitors to our mini festival will also have a glimpse of what is on offer just over the border on the following days.”

The Hills Are Alive
Tuesday 5th July to Thursday 7th July 2016
St Mary’s Creative Space
More information can be found by visiting . Tickets for each event are just £5 from