Summer entertainment: Bromley Arts Festival

Launch event with Sir Bob Neill MP, Cllr Hannah Gray, Mayor of Bromley, and actors Zoe Tapper and Freya Collins. Image: Rik Ward – Instagram: rikwardphotoart

Guest post by Caroline Jenner of Sardines magazine.

If the constant news reports reminding you of food shortages, rising fuel costs and chaos at our airports has left you feeling that the summer, despite some glorious June weather, is guaranteed to be one of disappointments, perhaps now is the time to look closer to home for some summer entertainment.

Inaugurated last year with a handful of events, the Bromley Arts Festival has moved on in leaps and bounds and is showcasing to host over 100 events and 150 dates during the month of July.  Pauline Armour, Director of Bromley Little Theatre and one of the festival organisers was involved in last year’s excellent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ performed in the amphitheatre of the Churchill Gardens.  This year she is directing Great Expectations, but said the festival promises a wide diversity of events including much great theatre with many local amateur groups putting on performances.  From the very modern The Last Quiz Night on Earth’ performed by Matchbox Theatre, Theatre 62’s performance of Priestley’s Dangerous Corner, Chelsfield Players Ladies Down Under or Bromley Little Theatre’s Breaking the Code, there is something to suit everyone.  All theatres suffered during the pandemic and amateur theatre particularly struggled with their inability to rehearse in their normal spaces, often village halls and community centres.  If you have never checked out your local amateur company perhaps this is your opportunity to see what great shows can be had at reasonable prices on your doorstep, and it might even inspire you to take a turn at treading the boards yourself or get involved behind the scenes or front of house.

Of course, the Churchill Theatre is also an option with a choice of musical extravaganzas ranging from the ever popular We Will Rock You musical, featuring the songs of Queen, through a whole raft of events including tributes to Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston or discover the best of new young talent from bands to the spoken word at their Live and Unreleased event.  Maybe, for those of you who love the 80s you might choose to escape back to the world of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Soft Cell at the Planet Earth event.

However, there are many other much-loved, familiar local organisations bringing their talents to the festival.  If you fancy something a little more classical Southborough School Fields is playing host to the Bromley Youth Music Trust Garden Party and admire the talent of the borough’s young musicians as they provide a day of entertainment alongside Pimm’s, Prosecco and the ubiquitous summer BBQ. Alternatively, Penge Chamber Choir will be celebrating the summer at the Bridge House Theatre with madrigals, sacred and secular pieces alongside a few jazzy numbers or perhaps visit the Ripley Arts Centre to hear entertainer James Hay interviewing a series of opera singers. From open mic nights to stand up comedy many of our local pubs have also added their events into the mix.

For those of you who would like to try something a little more interactive there are mosaic workshops, rainforest workshops, adult ballet classes or head along to the Cleaner Greener Hub in the Glades and discover the wonders of rolled paper butterflies, paper beads or stuffed rag rug animals. For a little light exercise Bromley’s Heritage Walks are running a Family Heritage Trail. If you have more of a literary bent perhaps try your hand at a poetry workshop in the idyllic setting of Beckenham Place Park run by the 2019 award winning Young Poet Laureate, Theresa Lola or pop along to The Bluebell Café for Penge Poet’s evening.

Whatever your interests Bromley Borough is buzzing with activity this July so shake off the doom and gloom of what’s going on elsewhere in the world and have fun supporting your local arts festival. Details of all the events mentioned and many, many more can be found at www.bromleyartsfestival.com.

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