Arts festival hits the spot this weekend

A giant tortoise called Zelva, theatre and music from Canada, dance workshops, and a stand-up poet are all ready for audiences in Poulton this weekend.

Spot On Festival arrives at venues and pop up stages across the town from today until Sunday. Run by Culturapedia, Lancashire’s rural and library-touring theatre network, which hosts over 50 shows a year, it is the first festival of this scale and kind.

Some events are ticketed and others are free including an artisan makers’ market curated by Hopeful and Glorious in the Community Hall in St. Chad’s Church, Poulton Library, and the town centre’s public outdoor spaces.

Highlights include Altar, by Santiago Guzmán (he/they), an award-winning playwright, dramaturge, performer, and director originally from Metepec, Mexico, now based in St John’s, Canada. He is the Artistic Director of TODOS Productions & the Artistic Associate for Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre.

He brings his new work, Altar, a piece exploring heartbreak in the context of immigration and under-represented narratives, to Booths café in Poulton at 7pm On Saturday 15th June. His work invites audiences to appreciate the vibrancy of Newfoundland and Labrador from a diverse perspective. His work is very gay, very brown, and very real.

Altar, by Santiago Guzmán

Another not-to-be-missed event is Kate Fox, the ‘stand-up poet’, who comes as part of her UK tour, bringing her Dr Who inspired Bigger on the Inside show to Poulton Community Hall at 3pm on Saturday 15th June. This funny and smart stand-up spoken word show looks at autism and neurodiversity through the theme of Doctor Who, as Fox takes us through the ways the iconic sci-fi show has shaped her view of the world.

Fox is a regular voice on Radio 4 and a “gentle activist” campaigning for the voices of Northerners, the working class, women and the neurodiverse to be heard.

Elsewhere in the festival lineup opera fans, and those wishing to dip their toe into the genre, will enjoy Down to earth soprano Nicola Mills, who brings her popular Opera for The People to Spot On. She asks the audience to choose their programme from her Song Menu which is full of popular opera, classical songs and musicals for an uplifting and touching night to remember.

Music and dance lovers can enjoy The Swan of Salen, a unique blend of Tchaikovsky’s iconic Swan Lake music and traditional Gaelic melodies played live by The Willow Trio, with enchanting ballet footage projected behind the harpists as they perform.

There’s plenty for young audiences across the weekend, with Ten in the Bed celebrating the power of imaginary play, a Bhangra dancing sessions with CBeebies’ Sohan Kailey, Gemma Bond the Pirate Princess searching for a safe space to land in a children’s outdoor pole-theatre show, and Splat! a funny show about art and creativity. Families can step inside the Library at the Edge of the World, meet a giant tortoise and then dance their socks off at MiniFest – a gig created especially for children on Sunday afternoon.

Robert Howell, director of Culturapedia said: “This is a key moment for Spot On Lancashire as we present the first-ever Spot On Festival. We’re so pleased to be working with the people in Poulton-le-Flyde to make this happen. The programme has something for everyone, from feel good family shows to big band music so whatever your tastes, you’ll find something to take your interest.”

Visit the Spot On Lancashire Festival website for the full programme.

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