I'm quite the fan of Derbyshire, so I was very interested when I heard about Constella OperaBallet's latest project, a collection of seven films in celebration of a cotton mill in the county, made in collaboration with local residents, all under the banner of the 'Spin A Tale' festival.

The films feature a range of disciplines, genres and themes, and all are inspired by, and focused on, Darley Abbey.

To find out more about the project, and the company behind it, I spoke to Leo Geyer, Constella OperaBallet's founder and Artistic Director.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

Constella OperaBallet's 'Spin A Tale' films will premiere as part of a live online event on 8 May, and will be available on demand from then on. See this page here for more information.
With most COVID restrictions still in place, this week we are mainly tipping the best in digital culture from across the UK - including online shows from performers and companies we first discovered at the Edinburgh Festival.


I Could Use A Drink | via | 7-16 May
Remember last week when I talked about the tantalising scent of socially distanced in person shows that is beckoning to us from the near future? Well, when you read our recommendations next week, I can guarantee there'll be some Threes To See in there as well as the Threes To Stream. This week, though, we're mainly sticking to the sort of stuff you can access via your trusty internet connection, starting with 'I Could Use A Drink', whose title probably reflects exactly how many of us felt for most of lockdown. Written by Drew Gasparini, this collection of songs is described as "an eclectic mix of progressive contemporary musical theatre (both poignant and hilarious)", covering a range of themes from teenage pregnancy and heartbreak to mass shootings due to bullying. See this page here for info and to book.

Sunset Boulevard | Curve Theatre | 10-15 may
This is one we have tipped before, but it's back by popular demand, so we are going to tip it again just in case you missed it the last time. It's streaming via Leicester's Curve Theatre: here's a bit of the blurb so you know who and what to expect: "Set over a turbulent New Year's Eve in 1940s Hollywood, 'Sunset Boulevard' is a compelling story of romance and obsession. Directed by Nikolai Foster, the performance will see Ria Jones reprise her role as silent-screen goddess Norma Desmond, with Danny Mac returning as penniless screen writer Joe Gillis, Molly Lynch as Betty Schaefer, Adam Pearce as Max Von Mayerling, Dougie Carter as Artie Green and Carl Sanderson as Cecil B DeMille". Click here.

The Sorrows Of Satan | 5-9 May (pictured)
"Pretentiously avant-garde musical playwright Geoffrey Tempest has been kicked out of his accommodation with not a penny to his name. He has one chance to prove himself to the theatrical community: a rehearsed reading of his musical play, 'The Sorrows Of Satan'. When his patron, the prodigal Prince Lucio Rimânez, suggests some significant changes, Geoffrey must decide whether to hold on to his artistic integrity (for what it's worth) or sell out for the promise of fame, money and the love of his leading lady". A musical play based on Marie Corelli's Faustian 1895 novel by Luke Bateman and Michael Conley, the creative team behind Southwark Playhouse streaming hit 'The Fabulist Fox Sister'. Lots more info here.


Always Be Comedy | 5 May
A week can be a long time really, and so some of the things we recommend - ie the ones towards the end of our 'tipping week' - sometimes feel ages away. So for those of you who are desperate for something to jump into straight away, I've grouped the following three together, all happening in the first half of the week. We're starting here with another Always Be Comedy night, taking place in a couple of days time. The line up is as promising as you'd expect, based on recent form: Rhys James, Ellie Taylor, Tom Davis and Kemah Bob. As usual, it's hosted by James Gill. It's a Zoom-based show, head this way to get your ticket and remember to turn up in good time.

Outside The Box: North West | Camden People's Theatre | 3-23 May (pictured)
While - as I mentioned at the start - we are still mainly tipping online shows this week, here is an exception to that rule: yes, it's an "in person" experience, even if you're doing it on your own. We are talking about Anna Morrissey's 'North West', which is an in-person, site-specific audio artwork combining music, sound and the words of former staff and students of North Westminster Community School. You'll experience it via headphones as you walk the grounds of the school, hearing the testimony of those who passed through it, before it's demolished to make way for new apartment buildings. Read more about that here.

The Monkey King And The Mangoes | Tara Theatre | from 4 May
"On the banks of the river Ganges, two mischievous monkeys swing in the branches of the majestic mango tree. Join Billa and Chitham on their adventure as they learn what it means to share their forest. A tale of kindness and wisdom adapted by Carmen Gaur and brought to life by Medhavi Patel". Hurrah, one for the lovely young people in your life, who deserve good things after the difficult and no doubt often very boring pandemic year they've had to go through. This is a short show, less than half an hour running time, for children aged six and over, available to watch from 4 May onwards. Head to the venue website here for more info.


Lady Blackshirt | Impermanence/Bristol Old Vic | 10-30 May (pictured)
You know how we were talking about how some things feel like they are still a long way off when we are tipping them? Well, here are some things that you are going to have to wait a bit longer for. But not too long. This one's a "new experimental dance feature film" by Impermanence, which looks back at the growth of modernism and the accompanying radical ideologies of the early Twentieth Century. It takes its name from the story of suffragette Mary Richardson, who in 1914 vandalised a painting of Venus in the National Gallery in protest at Emmeline Pankhurst's imprisonment, but later led the women's section of the British Union Of Fascists. More here.

Belfast Blues | | 10-16 May
"Passionate, riveting, and often humorous, 'Belfast Blues' is a tapestry of autobiographical stories told from Geraldine Hughes' perspective as a little girl coming of age in the war-torn Belfast of the 1980s. These stories bear insightful witness to the many faces of 'trying to live a normal life' amidst the violence born of the longstanding conflict between catholics and protestants. At thirteen, Hughes temporarily left The Troubles to star in a TV movie, 'Children In The Crossfire', directed by George Schaefer, only to return home to a different kind of confusion and pain". A chance to see this critically acclaimed work in the comfort of your own home. See this page here for more.

Thinking On Sunday: We Need To Talk About Death | Conway Hall | 9 May
Um, I know what you are thinking, this sounds a bit grim. But actually, this talk from Conway Hall is going to be really interesting, if perhaps a little sobering. "There is a call to arms to all of us to talk more about death and radically change our perspectives on this final 'Age Of Man', an age prolonged, perhaps to our detriment, by medicines failure to be open with the public. Dr David Jarrett's book '33 Meditations On Death' is about our denial, at a personal and societal level, of ageing, frailty and death. It reflects on the massive rise in the proportion and absolute number of the very elderly - a phenomenon new in world history". See this page here for more info.
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