June Culture Round Up

Here you can check out all the different theatre, music, visual arts and writing events happening this June.

Written by: Emma Gullon


CAST show their versatile theatre productions this month. From the brand new play Oysters (18th June), which examines the life and music of Johannes Brahms to Le Navete Bete’s comedy parody  of ‘The Three Musketeers’ (21st -22nd June).

CAST will also be playing host to ROUNDABOUT – Doncaster’s first pop theatre on 16th September this year.

Over at the Doncaster Little Theatre, their little space is also packed to the rafters with talent. Their own collaboration with RKC Productions ‘Afternoon Cabaret’  (14th June) promises to be a fun afternoon of live entertainment, while Paul Martin presents his tribute act to Gary Numan & Man Machine (Kraftwerk) (28th June) bringing 80’s nostalgia with him.


Doncaster Youth Jazz Association is the perfect way for the younger generation to expand their passion for music, backed by strong reinforcements in areas such as sight reading, rhythmic understanding, intonation, balance, blend and leadership through part independence.

Click HERE to join up today.

Doncaster’s Quirky Choir host term time rehearsals at Darts (The Point) every Wednesday evening 6.45pm -8.45pm. No experience required, just a love for singing! £4 per person.

Doncaster Rock Choir is hosted every Monday night at 8pm the Nostell Place, Bessacarr. No need to have had any training – just come on down and have a sing along to classic songs like ‘Don’t Stop Believing‘ and ‘Footloose’.


Visual Arts

Doncaster Museum and Art Art Gallery is hosting the exhibition of  Terence Bennett – A Retrospective. (27th April – 30th June).  The large-scale exhibition brings together paintings and drawings produced over a 60 year period, from student works created at Doncaster School of Art in the 1950s, to a series of glowing watercolours fresh off the easel.

The New Fringe is a collective of up and coming artists in the Doncaster community. The aim is to develop and stimulate creative minds and help them to develop professionally with their craft.


The annual Doncaster Emerging and Professional  Art Fair 2019 (30th June) provides an equal opportunity for emerging and established artists to showcase and trade their work. It’s also a rare chance to meet the artists in person as they all have individual stands.

Doncaster artist Ian Latham has a pop up studio of his ACE funded project on sculpture mixed with VR/AR on Scot Lane. This exhibition is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:30am – 3:30pm.


Writing & Poetry

Helm is a coworking office space where a community of creatives meet, work and collaborate together to help businesses, running workshops on the last Tuesday of the month.

Hive Young Writers Group gives 14 -19 a great weekly meet up to show their work with a supportive young team as well as make new friends. There’s also a Saturday poetry group for 16 -25 year olds.

Queens Poetry Slam is  on 11th June. This is a rare moment when hip hop and culture collide in spectacular fashion, with a collection of local spoken word and runs every SECOND Tuesday of the month


Doncopolitan Happenings

Creativity and Commerce

June 17th 10am @ The Point 16 S Parade, Doncaster DN1 2DR

I will be hosting this networking event on a monthly basis. This time it will be hosted at (Darts) The Point, focusing on Supporting the Visual Arts. Tickets are still available on the Doncopolitan shop online. £5 per person.

We also have the weekly Mama Wheatley’s Craft Club  every Monday from 6.30pm – 8.30pm who are currently working on Doncaster’s biggest yarn Bomb. Contact their Facebook page to get in touch.

Don’t forget Doncopolitan Crawl is on the 23rd of July. A festival of local talent, communities and businesses come together for a fantastic night out!

To keep up to date with all the artsy Donco happenings, click HERE to subscribe to our weekly mailing list

Listening Room Interview

I had the pleasure of interviewing writer and producer Harriet Madeley, as she prepares to take her touring play ‘The Listening Room’ to CAST.

Words: Emma Gullon

The Listening Room is a play about real life violent criminals meeting the grieving families of their victims years after they’re convicted. What was it like working with the families to create this show?


“It was quite daunting initially, as this is obviously a very sensitive subject and these stories really happened. This was also the first thing I’d ever written and created myself.  But the two families we met were very warm and welcoming people, and it was a very inspiring experience. I always like working with real people in general so the creative process is more of a discovery of real lives, rather than making them up.”


We’ve seen all over the news that knife crime in the UK has had scarily high statistics in recent years. Do you think the stories told in this play are relevant to that?


“I do. the criminals in this are all young men, whose crimes come about largely as a consequence of the cultural surroundings that they find themselves in. Knife crime is complex and there many different reasons for it, but anyone can get into it if it’s normalised and promoted within their social environment. They had also all got into drink and drugs, which adds fuel to a lot of violent crime.”

Without giving too much away, do we see both perspectives of the victims and the perpetrators? How do you want the audience to feel about that?


“There are three stories in the show. One we just hear from the perpetrator, one is the family’s view and one that has both sides  I think there’s a range of emotions you’ll feel as the play goes on. I don’t want to apologise for the criminals, but I also want people to understand the impact of going to prison. I really wanted to lay bare the pain left behind after a crime and put the people involved centre stage.”

And finally, what would you like the audience to take away from The Listening Room long after they’ve left the theatre?


“Ultimately, it’s a play about communication and empathy. Today with such political divisions etc. it’s becoming harder for us to empathise with others, and I want people to have a fresh perspective on those two things. I want people to think about the toxic power of anger too, and think about who it is really aimed at. And is it really worth holding on to? I also want them to realise empathy can be found… a fresh perspective on what could be possible, even in extreme circumstances.”


‘The Listening Room’ will be performed by Crowded Room Theatre Company at CAST on 11th June at 7:15.


In conjunction with this performance there will be a  Artist Co-op networking event hosted by Rosie Clark Cast’s Assistant Producer, Rosie has invited  writer Garry Lyons to discuss developing creative writing for the stage, especially verbatim pieces. Garry has written for TV shows such as Heartbeat, The Bill and Holby City. He was also the writer of The Last Seam, which had a sell out performance at CAST last year.


As well as meeting other local artists and listening to Gary, you will also have a 10% discounted ticket for ‘The Listening Room’.


Tickets cost £11 (£9 for under 26 and £9.90 with Artist Co – Op)


Click HERE for CAST tickets.


Click HERE for more information on Artist Co – Op events.


Click HERE for the full ‘Listening Room’ tour dates.

The Future Of Food

Warren Draper talks about the region of Doncaster and how we have been affected by the daily foods we consume and what the impacts are.

Words: Warren Draper

Photography: Warren Draper

As a region, Doncaster currently has the second highest proportion of overweight and obese people in the country. At 74.4%, nearly three-quarters of us, including myself, are officially overweight.

We may be one of the worst cases nationally, but we’re far from alone. As far back as 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally recognised obesity as a global epidemic. In 2014, a study in the Lancet estimated that the number of overweight adults in the world in 2013 was 2.1 billion, over double the 857 million estimated in 1980. Studies have found that it’s not a case of people being lazy or greedy, but the result of a combination of genetic predetermination, poverty and, arguably the single most influential cause of the global epidemic, ‘obesogenic environments’.

Many humans carry genetic markers, which will make them susceptible to both weight gain and addictive personalities. Our genetic make-up can make life harder, but an understanding of it makes it possible to adjust our lives, so that we avoid situations which will make it harder for us to control our weight. Unfortunately, living in poorer areas like Doncaster does narrow our choices.

There is a direct correlation between poverty and obesity. Supposedly cheaper foods – when we start buying fresh veggies instead of processed ready meals we actually start to save money – are cheap because they are full of low-nutrition bulking agents, such as palm oil and whey powder, which rarely do our bodies any significant good and which often have disastrous environmental impact. Palm oil is threatening the survival of orangutans in the wild, but it’s hard to find any processed food nowadays which doesn’t include it in the ingredients. High-fat, high-sugar, processed foods are already highly addictive, but that doesn’t mean the advertising men hold back when it comes to trying to sell you their brands. Which brings us to the third, and perhaps the most important, problem of them all.

Obesogenic environments are, as the name suggests, environments which encourage obesity. Unfortunately, modern life has become one giant obesogenic environment. In terms of the immediate physical environment, both myself and my old friend, the mysterious Greenjacker, have previously highlighted the problem of Donny ‘food deserts’, where it’s easier to buy kebab than kale. These days, it seems like every other shop is a fast food joint, but very few of Donny’s satellite towns are lucky enough to have a dedicated greengrocer anymore. Unlike the greengrocer’s paper bags, the waste from fast food joints also makes up a very large percentage of the litter which further ruins our physical environment.

The cultural environment is even worse. Every day and everywhere, we are bombarded with tempting ads for so-called convenient, processed foods. The modern penchant for pricey posh processed junk shows that it’s not just a problem for the poor, although the wealthier a person is the easier it is for them to find help. As well as encouraging us to eat nutritionally sub-standard produce, the marketing men are also pushing up the price of healthier alternatives through the development of food fads. This makes it harder for poorer people to access certain foodstuffs and also leads people to believe that they are eating healthily when they are not.

Jackie from The Masons Arms, who along with places like Pure Lunch offers one of the healthiest menus available in Doncaster, tells me of her concerns about the trendy ‘superfood’ label. Jackie knows her stuff when it comes to food – we enjoyed a wonderful Doncopolitan chow down at the Masons’ earlier in the year and I can heartily recommend the sharing platters – and she is sick and tired of the marketing myths. Knowledge is the most important and powerful tool we have in the fight against obesity – knowledge of what our bodies really need and understanding of the negative pressures we face on a daily basis. Thankfully, people like Jackie and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council’s Jennefer Holmes, who is in the process of launching a range of anti-obesity strategies in the borough, are leading the way when it comes to sharing information and dispelling misinformation.

Knowledge is essential, but to make a real difference in Doncaster it must be accompanied by access to affordable, fresh, healthy food. This magazine has always emphasised the need to build a stronger, more resilient and sustainable local economy, so now we’re gonna walk the walk and work towards building Donny’s first urban farm as part of a borough-wide good food strategy.

Bentley Urban Farm will see the former horticultural training centre at the back of Bentley High Street School brought back into use as a market garden. We will use a range of techniques, from permaculture to hydroponics, to provide affordable, fresh, seasonal produce whilst creating much-needed local jobs. The idea is to use Bentley as a testing ground to help seed other urban farms throughout the area.

And while we’re focusing on walking the walk, I’m going to use my own situation, as a pretty average, low-pay, overweight Doncastrian, to see what good food and regular exercise – there’s plenty of digging to be done – can do for my body, my mind and my wallet.

I’ll be documenting my personal journey in the pages of the Doncopolitan, but if you’d like to join me on my expedition to a brighter, healthier future, contact the magazine or Bentley Urban Farm to see how you can get involved. The more the merrier. Just leave the cream cakes at home.

Bill Bailey @ The Dome

Rob talks about the cool uncle of British comedy, Bill Bailey.

Words: Rob Johnson

Bill Bailey is the cool uncle of British comedy. Whether it be appearing in cult sitcom Black Books, cult quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks or cult movie Hot Fuzz, Bailey picks his projects across a broad church of geekdom. He arrives at the Doncaster Dome for his Larks in Transit tour in high spirits and accompanied by various guitars, a theremin, a box of wonder (no, really), a keyboard and something that just plays bird calls. He is nothing if not unique.

It is customary for any comedian arriving at the Dome to joke about how odd it is to play a gig in a gymnasium, or as Bailey puts it ‘Donny Dome just reeks of show business’. This is delivered with an affection that is only fitting for one of the nicest guys in show business.

The first half of the set covers everything that floats into Bailey’s dandelion mind. Roald Dahl-esque descriptions of various Tory politicians (‘in a nice way’ offered as a caveat each time),fantastic wordplay (‘the stale pitta bread of self-loathing’) and a long section examining why the Doncaster crowd is so damn weird. When Bill asks the crowd generally if anyone is in a relationship, he is met with an uncomfortable but warm silence as if the crowd don’t want to admit to any kind of monogamy.

After the interval we are treated to a hilarious ‘poem’ about marriage which is basically a back and forth about why his wife has moved his keys, an examination of why the Loon has the most haunting birdsong, a German singalong and a delightful diversion into Indonesian phrase books. Bill Bailey’s performances are somewhere between stand-up, a rock show, and a conversation with a troll during which you have to answer a riddle to cross his rickety, old bridge.

One thing that is striking is that whenever Bailey touches any kind of musical instrument, his talent can’t help but shine through. It is astonishing that one man can be so musically gifted and yet that only be a secondary part of his live show.

Bill Bailey has often portrayed himself as a man who floats down the stream of life jumping from one barge to the other depending on what catches his eye. However, on a grey Wednesday night in Doncaster Bailey is focused, razor sharp and downright joyous. Hopefully his first ever Doncaster gig won’t be his last.


Check out Rob’s website HERE to read more of his reviews.

All The World On A One Way Street (Issue 28)

All The World On A One Way Street is a documentary project which looks closely at the people of Copley Road and the Nether Hall region in general.

Photography: Warren Draper

As many of you will be aware, we chose to build our studio-cum-gallery-cum-workshop -cum-think-tank-cum-venue-cum-laboratory on the corner of Copley Road and Broxholme Lane. If you haven’t visited Doncopolitan HQ yet, you should really find the time to drop in. It is one of the most creative and inspiring places in Doncaster – or the world for that matter. We didn’t choose to settle on Copley Road for financial reasons (OK, it was a little bit for financial reasons). We came here because, at the time, the Copley Road Project was one of the most exciting things happening in Donny. The Project has changed a lot over the last few years, but then so has Copley Road.

Not long ago it seemed like every other shop on Copley Road was empty. The Nether Hall region had been through a long period of economic decline. What had once been a thriving over-spill from the heyday of Doncaster Markets was a sad, dirty shadow of its former self. But in recent years the region has seen a real upturn. The vacant shops are being filled and the streets are alive with people. All kinds of wonderful, beautiful, colourful, powerful, painful, sorrowful, soulful, joyful people.

This regeneration isn’t the result of top-down planning or the injection of millions of pounds of UK or European grants. It has come from the hard-work of the people and businesses who live and work in the area. It doesn’t take a genius to see that many of these new businesses have been created by ‘new arrivals’ – people who have migrated to Doncaster to build a new life. This shouldn’t be a surprising fact in itself, migrants have always helped shape the local economy. Doncaster would never have been the productive area it was without the influx of Polish, Welsh and Geordies who spent their lives down the pit.The role of migrants in the regeneration of Nether Hall is made surprising by the fact that Doncaster was a key Brexit Town.

This article isn’t about taking sides over Brexit. I have written elsewhere of my disgust in the attitudes of some, left and the right, leavers and remainers, after the referendum:

We have learned anything from this referendum it is that the powerful and the political on both sides of the debate have nothing but contempt for everyday people. By ‘everyday’ I mean the people I spend every day with; the former – and formerly loved – ‘working class’ people of the regions which, once upon a time, made up the  Labour heartlands. I live in Doncaster, where 69% of voters ticked the ‘Leave’ box.

Neighbours and work colleagues I’ve spoken were all hungry for more information. Rather than focusing on the immigration debate – which made up 90% of the vox pops in the media (a propaganda strategy used to reinforce classism for the last 50 years) – the majority of people voiced concern for the immediate welfare of their friends and family and many spoke about their fears for an uncertain future… the kind of thing which should be at the heart of every political decision.

People were truly torn and many felt that they were making a decision between a rock and a hard place… it is not as if we’re exactly thriving under the EU, despite the £millions of EU funding which has been pumped into the region. None of this was reflected in the media or in the attitudes of politicos… both left and right.

(For the full article, the first in a series of three, visit: https://warrendraper.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/the-echo-of-the-voiceless/)

I’m not going to pretend that I have the right to pass judgement on the result of the referendum. The truth is, I didn’t vote. I’m not against Britain or Europe, to me they’re just geography and interesting cultures, but when it came to deciding in a referendum I couldn’t really say that I was ‘for’ either of them. Me? What am I for? I’m for Doncaster.

This is not sitting on the fence. Everything I have been involved with creating, from Doncopolitan to Bentley Urban Farm, stems from my belief that regions are at their most creative and most resilient ( an increasingly crucial quality) when they are free to live autonomously. For all the good they may have done, when it comes to people having the freedom to design, create and maintain their own villages, towns and cities – the places they have chosen to make their home – Whitehall, Westminster and Brussels have all placed major obstacles in the road to self-determination. For me, the choice as it was set out in the referendum, was no choice at all. And besides, I have always tried to live by the old Jewish adage: “If somebody offers you two choices, take the third.” The dominant economic system offered by Europe and the UK does not offer the freedom I seek for Doncaster. Freedom can never be granted, only lived.

All The World On A One Way Street is a new documentary project which will look closely at the people of Copley Road and the Nether Hall region in general. Using photography, video, visual arts and written word, it will tell the story of the area’s recent regeneration and look at the long proud heritage one of Doncaster’s most interesting streets.  Inevitably, Brexit will be it’s backdrop; we can’t look at a place like Nether Hall without wondering what it will hold for its diverse community. But this will be a story about people. All of the people, both new arrivals and families who have lived in the region for generations. To tell an honest story we must give equal voice to all. To tell an interesting story we must embrace the good, the bad and the bizarre. So if you’d like to tell your story, give your view, or want involved with an exciting new documentary project then why not take up my offer and pop along to Donco HQ.

All The World On A One Way Street launches on March 28th 6pm at Doncopolitan Studio, 83 Copley Road, Doncaster, DN1 2QP.