Festival to stage 50+ events

Retiring Rye Arts Festival chairman Ian Graham-Bryce introduces last year's programme

The 44th Rye Arts Festival’s programme was launched on Sunday, July 19, at The George by chairman Ian Graham-Bryce. Presentations  of the 36 page programme, lasting over an hour, covered over 50 events in more than 15 venues over 17 days, from Friday, September 11 to Sunday, September 27. The programme is split up into seven categories – literary, classical music, contemporary music, exhibitions, theatre, the fringe and walks – to which you can probably add art and photography galleries and antiques – and possibly film, as Rye’s new cinema, the Kino, is now one of the venues, proving that it is more than just a cinema.

The Marquee in the garden of the National Trust’s Lamb House (home to various authors) features the largest number of  events and is at the heart of the literary programme, while nearby St Mary’s Norman church at the top of Rye is the venue for six concerts. Rye Community Centre in Conduit Hill features an eclectic mix of music, separated by the battle of Waterloo (a one man play about Wellington who was briefly Rye’s MP ) – between, of course, the markets and various other activities in the centre.

The Kino kicks off for its first year with a discussion about Derek Jarman’s films (as Jarman lived nearby in Dungeness), the Festival’s artist in residence Charlie Cobb is talking about painting ‘Turner’ for the film “Mr Turner”, film director Dave McKean talking us through his work “The Gospel of Us” and, finally, “The Mad Lover” – an evening of music and words around the work of Rye playwright John Fletcher.

The marquee in Lamb House, reliably re-enforced against all weathers it is claimed, also houses a master class from Charlie Cobb as well as literary forays into Polar explorer Shackleton, housekeeping in stately homes, unique bees, Margot Asquith, cyberphobia, the Mad Boy and, inevitably, Lamb House author E.F.Benson.

In St Mary’s church (built by a French abbey), tourists wanting to view Rye from the tower’s top may have to yield to pianists, as there is a three day piano marathon (because hiring pianos is expensive), featuring Angela Hewitt, Maya Irgalina, Alexander Panfilov (who won the Hastings International Piano Concerto competition) and duo Donohoe and Roscoe. Later on, however, the stage will be back again in church, for concerts from the English Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble, and then the Belcea and Piatti Quartets performing Mendelssohn’s Octet – which should add up to an interesting evening.

The music at the Community Centre is somewhat different though, as it features the Cajun Hotfoot Specials, The Rails (folk, and think Pogues), the Mountain Firework Band (self-described as acoustic folk bluegrass) and Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (think Bonzo Dog and Viv Stanshall, and weird).

For more details, visit www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk first or, once the box office is open, call 01797 224442 or visit the box office c/o Phillips & Stubbs, 47-49 Cinque Ports Street, RYE TN31 7AN. Priority postal and on-line booking for patrons, friends and advertisers began on July 20. General enquiries and booking from August 3. Box office open Mon-Sat 9.30am-12.30pm, but you can book on-line.

Photo: Kenneth Bird