Well, Steph Jones said she was going to create a festival that showed literary lovers didn’t need to move to the big cities to see great live performance art and spoken word events and she’s certainly proving it with Release the Hounds.
This year’s three-day festival in Knaresborough looks set to be the best yet. Bolstered by new support from the Arts Council, the range and quality of acts this dynamic ex-King James’s School student is bringing to the town simply has to be seen to be believed.
Steph said: “We’re proud of the impact Release the Hounds has already had in its first two years. Some in our audiences have even been inspired to become performers themselves.
“But this year’s is going to be the biggest yet. With the support of the Arts Council, we will be able to bring artists and companies we couldn’t before and offer even better events for the people of Knaresborough.”
Having attained her Masters in Devising for Performance at in London, Steph. who also studied at Harrogate Ladies College. returned to her home town determined to come up with a young and vibrant festival featuring both emerging and established talent.
Advice and backing from the likes of Harrogate Theatre and Harrogate Borough Council were vital in developing the festival, Steph acknowledges.
Last year’s events attracted the best audiences to date with some of the big-name performers full of praise for the atmosphere of the shows in the town’s intitimate venues.
One of the special guests, performance poet Luke Wright said: “Release the Hounds in Knaresborough has all the makings of a great festival. It’s boutique and it will grow, too.”
The year has already started with a bang for the Release the Hounds founder when she organised a one-off sold-out show with legendary punk poet John Cooper Clarke at Frazer Theatre.
And Release the Hounds is set to expand in a major way.
In total 22 artists will appear at the third festival this September, with name poets and performers such as Hollie McNish, Molly Naylor and Mark Grist sharing the bill with local acts and events.
One of the companies Steph herself is delighted to have attracted, Blast Theory, promises to push the artistic boat out in a challenging but thrilling way.
Set in a world of bombings and kidnappings, Dial Ulrike and Eamon Compliant is an inter-active work bringing together two controversial figures from recent history - Ulrike Meinhof (Red Army Faction) and Eamon Collins (Irish Republican Army).
Audience members are given mobile phones on arrival to talk to the central characters in this exciting ‘immersive’ work about political violence.
Steph said: “They’re a small but brilliant company from Brighton I learnt about when I was doing my masters. I chose it because it’s an extremely thought-provoking piece of work and did well at at the Venice Biennale.”
Not that Release the Hounds is a case of provocation for its own sake. It’s also about simply having fun.
Having previously presented a poet in an ambulance in the town’s market square, this year’s will see the Poetry Takeaway wherein the performer will write a new poem on request - for free!
Release the Hounds 3 runs from September 11-13 at various Knaresborough venues.
More information atwww.rthfestival.co.uk