Rye Arts Festival launched

Mike Eve, chairman at the Rye Arts Festival launch
Mike Eve, chairman at the Rye Arts Festival launch

The 2016 Rye Arts Festival was officially launched last Sunday evening at the Mermaid to a gathering of its Members. The 45th annual Festival, which runs from Saturday September 17 to Saturday October 1, promises to be bigger and better than ever before. The international roster of artistic talent that will assemble in town over a packed fortnight is truly world class!

Tickets are available for Members of the Festival at the moment but go on public sale on Monday August 1 However, here is a small taster of what’s on offer.


While the weather has been scorching, we can look forward to the sounds of the Sahara on Saturday September 24, when the band Terakaft come to town. Terakaft are Tuaregs, exiled from Northern Mali, who play traditional pulsing music from the desert mixed with blues and rock. The Milligan Theatre will be red hot on the night.

Lauren Libaw
Lauren Libaw

The classical music programme includes not one but two operas.While the Festival kicks off with Benjamin Britten’s Turn of the Screw on Saturday September 17, it closes on Saturday October 1 with Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Both operas are performed by the hugely talented musicians and singers of Euphonia Company who have delighted Rye with operas in four of the last five years.

Turn of the Screw will be an entirely new production, but Don Pasquale has already had a hugely successful run in London. The young American soprano Lauren Libaw is really not to be missed!

Professional theatre is coming to Rye with a production that has also enjoyed a recent and very successful London run. For All Time was part of the Shakespeare 400 celebrations and was staged through Southwark Playhouse. It is set one night in a room over a pub as William Shakespeare and Rye-born John Fletcher struggle to finish a collaborative play, The Noble Kinsmen, which has a tight deadline – next morning! The booze flows, artistic talents ebb and flood like the tide and we laugh as the drama unfolds. The play, which is put on by Fletcher in Rye, is on Monday September 19 at the Rye Creative Centre Theatre.

Film at the Kino will include two films commemorating two of the greats of popular music who have died this year – David Bowie and the Minneapolis genius Prince. The Festival will be screening Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Purple Rain.

Death of Wolfe
Death of Wolfe

The literary talks promise to be informative and entertaining as ever! A highlight should be Loyd Grossman, who made a career in the UK, having left his native Boston, Massachusetts, through peering through celebrities’ keyholes and then rustling up a brand of cooking sauces. Grossman is actually far more highbrow and he will talk about Benjamin West, an American artist who came to England and became George III’s official “history” painter. But he was a history painter with a difference, as he focused on painting modern rather than classical and biblical events in the traditional manner. For example, West famously depicted the death of General Wolfe, rather than, say, the death of Icarus.

These are just a sample of what’s in store and will hopefully whet your appetite. Next week, we will provide fuller coverage of what’s on offer or you can just head to  the Box Office opening online (24/7) or by post or personal visits to Phillips & Stubbs (Mon to Sat 9:30am to 1pm from Monday August 1).

You can go to the website  for the full listings.

Photos: Kenneth Bird and courtesy RAF

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .

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  1. Why did they choose Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence I wonder? Surely The Man Who Fell to Earth would have been a better film to have shown, far more important a film on many levels.


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