The Stranglers announced among first acts for Holt Festival

Just Regional
Apr 22, 2014 5 mins read

Details of the first shows have been announced for this year’s Holt Festival. The Festival opens in the North Norfolk town on Saturday 19 July and this year is extended by a day to run to Sunday 27.

This year, the Festival’s sixth, is shaping up to be another exuberant week of international music, drama, visual art, literature, dance, comedy, free street entertainment, kids shows and workshops.

Festival organisers have expanded the programme of events in the beautiful Theatre In The Woods at Gresham’s School to cover 3 days and tickets for these shows are available online now.

Following the disappointment of his cancellation last year American comedian, writer and musician Rich Hall vowed to make amends this year and has been as good as his word. He presents his Hoedown to open the Theatre In The Woods programme on Friday 25 July. Rich won the comedy ‘Oscar’ The Perrier Award in 2000. Since then he has had four BBC TV series of his own as well as making frequent appearances on shows such as Have I Got News For You, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Channel 4’s Stand Up For The Week. This show will be a rare outing for his band of virtuoso musical mates with a late-night mash-up of music, comedy and gratuitous colouration showing the musical side of his renowned grouchy, deadpan style. The stage floor will reek of spent dreams and liquor.

Writer, comedian and radio and TV broadcaster Sandi Toksvig takes to the stage on 26 July. Born in Copenhagen, and brought up around the world, Sandi began her comedy career at Girton College, Cambridge where she wrote and performed in the first all-woman show at the Footlights. A favourite with UK audiences the radio and TV broadcaster is also passionate about live performance and a veteran of The Comedy Store, having performed there on its opening night. A prolific writer, last year she published a new novel Valentine Grey and a light-hearted book of women’s history, Heroines & Harridans. With more than twenty fiction and non-fiction books to her name, a musical and a handful of plays, she has for good reason been described as a one woman cottage industry. Sandi will be in conversation with Chris Gribble, Chief Executive of Writers’ Centre Norwich.

In the evening it’s the turn of The Bad Shepherds featuring Adrian Edmondson. Superb musicianship combined with Ade’s hilarious between song banter utilising his irreverent sense of humour creates a show that has been the hit of many festivals. The band perform their very distinctive interpretations of punk and new wave anthems in an impassioned folk influenced style that stamps their own brand on even the best known songs. Expect classics originally performed by the likes of Elvis Costello, The Sex Pistols, The Adverts, Ian Dury, The Ramones and more played in a style you never imagined they could be. Support on the night comes from the original new wave maverick Wreckless Eric, named by artist Peter Blake as ‘one of the most important pop icons of the past forty years’.

Fittingly on Sunday (27 July), the Festival hosts a unique discussion on religion and belief. Broadcaster, and writer Melvyn Bragg challenges the committed atheism of evolutionary biologist, and writer Richard Dawkins. Dawkins’ book The God Delusion is an impassioned, rigorous rebuttal of religion. In 2013 he was voted the world’s top thinker in Prospect Magazine’s poll of 10,000 readers from over 100 countries, beating four Nobel Prize winners. Bragg is an admirer of Dawkins scientific work but has been openly critical of his anti-religious views, dedicating a whole chapter of one of his books to expressing his unease at Dawkins’ uncompromising stance on religion. Now these intellectual giants converge on Holt to discuss their views in public for the very first time.

Giants of another type stride the stage that evening. Celebrating their 40th anniversary The Stranglers come to Holt with a promise to play a selection of material from every studio album of their career, from  debut Rattus Norvegicus to their most recent acclaimed album, Giants. The punk veterans have always combined a brilliant melodic touch with genuine dark aggression in music that continues to be relevant across the decades. 

Holt Festival Director Delaval Astley said ‘Once more we have increased the number of performances in Theatre In The Woods and this year have extended the Festival by a day to bring even more international performers to our part of the county. There is plenty more that we shall be announcing early in June, from another full day of family events and street theatre to classical music and a quite extraordinary event with a world renowned actor, but for now we wanted to give people the opportunity to book early for the big events’. 

The full programme will be announced on 2 June but tickets for these five events are available now from www.holtfestival.org

Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg

The Stranglers

The Stranglers

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