RTH: Luke Wright helps literary hounds off the leash

Luke Wright.
Luke Wright.

By Graham Chalmers

It’s young, innovative and freewheeling - and it’s in Knaresborough.

The second annual Release the Hounds Festival kicks off tomorrow, Friday with a series of workshops from mid morning featuring Scottish poet Ross Sutherland who was included in The Times’s list of Top Ten Literary Stars of 2008.

I’m pretty sure these are for local pupils only during the day - though Sutherland is definitely doing his normal show at The Mitre at 8pm.

Devised by talented Knaresborough drama graduate Steph Jones, this performance, poetry and devised theatre festival may only run for three days but it’s packed with creative ideas - as well as some leading performers.

Two of the best to look forward to are mythical storyteller Matthew Bellwood, aka the Ice Man, and award-winning spoken word poet Luke Wright.

The former will be performing his brand new mystery tale An Icy Man at 2pm and 4pm in Frazer Theatre Studio on Sunday (September 14).

Based on Northern folklore and myths and legends about ice and snow, it’s a chance to see this entertaining new piece before its premiere at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds next month.

Meanwhile the bequiffed Luke Wright should know a thing or two about running festivals, he’s programmer and host of the UK’s largest annual spoken word event - The Poetry Arena at Latitude Festival.

The witty and lively Wright will be bringing his alter ego Fat Dandy to The Hart Bar at 7.30pm this Sunday.

Described as “one of our best young poets” by The Observer, his latest show looks at solitude, politics and his dual life as a “paunchy dad” and “jobbing fop” on tour.

In 2000, aged 18, he founded celebrated poetry collective Aisle16. whose poetry/theatre/multi-media shows raised the bar for spoken word in the UK. Since 2006 he has written and performed eight one man shows across the globe.

A regular on BBC Radio 4, where his writing has won him millions of fans on Saturday Live, Wright’s verse documentaries on Channel 4 were broadcast to more than a million people.

Wright’s fast-paced, bawdy poetry is crammed with references to yummy mummies, debauched Tory grandees, small town tragedies and Westminster rogues.

Always with at least one finger on the pulse, he recently joined the debate over the forthcoming vote on Scottish independence with a typically tongue-in-cheek new poem Better Together which was given a video slot on The Guardian’s website.

Wright is by no means the only star coming to Release the Hounds but, under the guidance of artist director Steph Jones, it’s more than merely a collection of impressive names.

Encouraging festivalgoers to engage with contemporary arts, this not-for-profit three-day extravaganza gives local residents the chance to catch the kind of show that’s usually the preserve of major cities.

Venues utilised for Release the Hounds this year will include The Mitre Hotel, Blind Jacks, The Cross Keys, Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre, The Frazer Theatre Studio, Art in The Mill and the Market Place.

Release the Hounds festival

September 12-14, Knaresborough

Tickets www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk

Information www.rthfestival.co.uk