Optimism over adversity: Highlights Rural Touring Scheme is still very much a force for culture in the North East

Highlights now has a full programme which hopes to start in March this year.

It’s 2021. What will this bring to our concert halls, theatres and performance venues in the UK and across the North East? Highlights Rural Touring Scheme is very much looking forward to a new Spring season in a spirit of hope and resilience. The scheme valiantly kept going through 2020, as did many performers and artists with a very different kind of programme. They put on online performances, radio shows, workshops for schools and much more when it was not possible to hold shows in their usual village and church halls across Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham.

Highlights now has a full programme which hopes to start in March this year. They always have a beautiful and eclectic mix of spoken word, drama, dance and music and this year is no exception.

If you go to Wingates, Norham, Felton or Orton you can enjoy the fabulous French music of Fifi lamer and learn a bit about the history of French music from Parisian folk, through to 1970s French pop music with Stephanie Mair (vocals and accordion) and Olly Wilby (tenor sax and clarinet). What’s not to like?

You can also go to see a one man show ‘Old Herbaceous’, a wonderful piece told by the character, Herbert Pinnegar from an old manor house where he reminisces about his path to eventually becoming head gardener. This performance by Pmac Productions is on at various locations including Stanhope and Staindrop. A must for those with a passion for plants and a good story.

And at Appleby you can join the ‘Hotel Experience’ with Lila Dance. The hotel is not as it seems as it turns into the scene of memories from staff and guests from the past. You are invited to eavesdrop as part of this thrilling high energy dance theatre show. Not to be missed!

That is only a brief taste of what Highlights Rural Touring Scheme has planned for 2021. It is well worth having a look at their programme. I have been to see many Highlights shows in the past and I never fail to marvel at the creativity, the professionalism, the variety and the very warm welcome. The Covid-19 rules may make the experience a little different from before but the experience of sharing in the energy, warmth and sheer vitality of the performances will not go away.

Highlights shows a real optimism over adversity that is impressive and I wish them all the very best for 2021.

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