Star Attractions alongside Local Talent
The aspect of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival which usually grabs the headlines is the power of this small town to attract big names. In previous years Clive James, Roger McGough, Jacqueline Wilson and Rhona Campbell, among others, have featured, and this year the Festival welcomes comedian Sean Hughes, painter Paula Rego, international pianist Young-Choon Park and poet John Hegley.
What really gives the Festival its character, however, is the way the best of local talent takes its place alongside these "star attractions" and, far from being overshadowed, raises the tempo and energy level of the two week event.
Some local stalwarts such as pianist and band-leader Dave Nelson, jazz multi-instrumentalist Peadar Long, and painter and sculptor Alan Gummerson will readily admit to being part of the fabric of the Festival. What is so encouraging to the event's organisers is the way new local talent is emerging and taking its place in the Festival line-up, and here we take a look at two of this year's performers.
Adam Bampton-Smith started his association with the stage by joining the Calder Valley Juniors in Mytholmroyd at the age of 10. Adam is the son of two local councillors, Dr Michael Smith and former Town Mayor Christine Bampton-Smith. He last appeared on the stage of the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre at the age of 15 when he played the title role in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, and went on to study drama in London. He has since worked with top children's theatre companies around the country, travelling last year to New York's Broadway with a ground-breaking production of Snow White, (playing all seven dwarves), with which he subsequently went on to tour America and Canada.
While on tour Adam had the idea for a one-man show based on The Legend of Perseus, which started writing when he came back to London, and set up his own theatre company called "Big Wooden Horse". After a year of research, writing and rehearsal the show is now touring the UK, and Adam is thrilled to be returning to the refurbished Little Theatre.
Adam says "This Greek myth was made popular for modern audiences by the film Clash of the Titans and follows the story of our young hero Perseus, son of Zeus, who is sent on a quest to kill a hideous monster called Medusa. She has snakes instead of hair, horrible claws and tusks, and can turn a man to stone with one look! Along the way he frees the winged horse Pegasus and vies with Poseidon for the hand of beautiful Andromeda. One performer recreates this ancient time with the use of simple props, story-telling, music and a variety of eccentric and comic characters to provide an exciting and entertaining adventure."
"It is a great feeling to have written a show that families and children really enjoy. The story is fantastic and has loads of eccentric characters and horrible monsters. It is also a great challenge performing a one-man show as I don't get any breaks and have lots of lines to remember. I play twenty-six characters in the show altogether so that can be a bit confusing as well!"
Jago Parfitt's passion for creative juggling stretches back 13 years. His fluid and beautiful style specializes in 'contact juggling', balls, and other creative object manipulation. Having worked with 'The Fairly Famous Family' and 'Astral Circus', Jago is now the principle contact and administrator for Full Moon Performers, a unique and dynamic collective of modern circus performers and live musicians, which also includes his brother Ross. Both brothers are life-long musicians and with Full Moon (a far cry from early days in the Hebden Bridge Junior Band), they have performed at the Manchester Commonwealth Games and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as in Greece and Hungary. Their mother, Ness Parfitt, is a board member of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.
Full Moon bring their exhilarating "Rhythm and Fire Spectacular" to the 2004 Festival. This is a stunning drum and fire show that is both beautiful and highly charged. The free outdoor performance includes deep bass carnival rhythms setting pace and intensity to intricate and technical fire manipulation and dance routines leading to a dazzling 3-person fire torch juggling finale.
Full Moon perform on the opening Sunday of the Festival, 20th May, and The Legend of Perseus is on Thursday June 24th. Full details of the 2004 Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, which runs from 19th June to 4th July, are contained in the widely available Festival Programme, as well as on the Festival website (www.hebdenbridge.co.uk/festival) Early booking is advisable as many events sell out weeks before the opening date.