P O Box 27, Stroud, Glos.  GL6 0YQ
tel no. 01453 885088

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What’s in this newsletter?

–  Latest News 

–  Forthcoming festivals and concerts

–  A Winter’s Tale tour by The Festival Players – Review and Final tour dates in England and Wales, until 26 Aug in  Oxford, Stratford upon Avon, Worcester, Witney, Stroud, Cheltenham, Winchester, Liskeard, Bideford, and South Glos.

–  BBC Acoustic programme – now on 4 radio stations across the West on Sundays at midnight

–  Albums for sale 


Do come and support my  concert with PHIL BEER on Sunday 26th August at SHREWSBURY FOLK FESTIVAL 

A rare chance to reunite with the very talented PHIL BEER  (from Show of Hands) for a set at 2pm in the Sabrina Marquee    –


Exciting News about The Festival Players Theatre Company!

We can think of no greater endorsement of the integrity of our work.

There was a wonderful performance of The Winter’s Tale last Sunday (12th) on the beautiful Scilly Isle of Tresco with Dame Judi Dench in the audience.

We are thrilled and honoured that this great Lady of the Theatre has accepted an invitation to become a Patron of our Company.

Just a few final chances to see The Winter’s Tale by The Festival Players –  

18 August in Oxford, 19 Aug in Stratford upon Avon, 21 Aug in Worcester,  22 Aug in Witney, 23 Aug in Stroud, 24 Aug in Cheltenham, 25 in Winchester, 26 in Liskeard, 27 in Bideford, and 28 Aug at Winterbourne, South Glos.


My BBC Acoustic radio programme – is now on 4 radio stations across the West on Sundays at midnight on BBC Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Wiltshire- and on iPlayer.

Many many thanks to all those who came to my concert for WORDFEST at Gloucester Cathedral on Friday 6th July   “Forest and Vale and High Blue Hill” –  songs of the Gloucestershire poets In The Lady Chapel – and also my concert with KEVIN BROWN at Bath Folk Festival on Sunday 12th August




In the Sabrina Marquee at 2pm

Mon 1st October – RUNCORN Folk Club, Runcorn Golf Club,

Clifton Road, Runcorn, WA7 4SU  – 8pm

Roger Hanslip 01928 731567

Fri 5th October – MINCHINHAMPTON Church, nr Stroud – with Paul Burgess 7.30pm 

a Charity concert in aid of Horsfall House 

Information      tel 01453 882960

Fri 9th November – GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL – “By Severn and Somme” a commemoration of the Centenary of end of WW1 – with Paul Burgess and Martin Fry – 8pm  For details of all weekend events and tickets

ALL ON A WINTER’S NIGHT TOUR Late November / December –

with dates so far confirmed in

Pimperne Village Hall nr Blandford, Dorset (23 Nov), 

Tedburn St Mary, Devon (1st December),  

Wychwood Folk Club, Oxfordshire (8 Dec),

Bristol Folk House (9 Dec), 

Stroud Subscription Rooms (15 Dec), 

Folk on the Moor, Lee Mill near Plymouth (16 Dec), 

Cheltenham Bacon Theatre (20 Dec), 

Lichfield Guildhall, Staffs. (22 Dec).


FESTIVAL PLAYERS SUMMER TOUR of “The Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare with music written and directed by Johnny Coppin,

” a delightful summer evening’s entertainment “

Final tour dates in England and Wales, until 26 Aug …..   

On the 8th in Dorset, 9th in Penzance, 10-12th on Isles of Scilly, 15th in Devon, 16th in West Wales, 18th in Oxford, 19th in Stratford upon Avon, 21st in Worcester, 22nd Witney, 23rd near Stroud, 24th in Cheltenham, 25th near Winchester, 26th in Liskeard, 27th near Bideford, and 28th in South Glos.

see website

Directed by Michael Dyer – Music written and directed by Johnny Coppin

A talented team of professional actors in a colourful comedy; an all-male, fast-paced, costumed production. Most performances are open-air, so bring low-backed seating, rugs and warm, rainproof clothing.  Note –  I DO NOT peform at these events. ALL the music is sung and performed by the actors.

‘The Winter’s Tale’ has long been regarded as one of Shakespeare’s most problematic plays – and rightly so. Neither fish nor fowl, it juxtaposes the high tragedy and dark themes of ‘Othello’ with the sun-lit, pastoral comedy of ‘As You Like It’. The interval makes the switch easier but it’s still quite a leap for the audience.

 Perhaps changing attitudes are rendering as problematic plays that were not originally considered so; for example, since I first fell for Drama in the Fifties, I have seen great changes in how ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is interpreted and received. Humour is a touchstone for the times. I confess I often find Shakespearean comics tedious, but have learned to live with them in order to enjoy the timeless treasures that make Shakespeare unparalleled. If ‘The Winter’s Tale’ were lacking in timeless treasures, it would not have survived for so long. Fortunately the capable hands of Director Michael Dyer and his talented Festival Players safely steer us to what one (sadly anonymous) reviewer eloquently described, in 1999, as ‘the sudden, unexpected return of spring to wintry hearts [which] has extraordinary spiritual grace.’

 Mark Spriggs excels in the really tough role of Leontes, King of Sicily. One minute he is doting on his gracious wife, Queen Hermione (Edmund Attrill), the next he is consumed with murderous jealous rage as she charms, at Leontes’ bidding, his old friend, Polixenes (Jaymes Sygrove) into delaying his departure. Mark’s responses, written on his expressive face, leave us in no doubt that his conviviality is turning poisonously sour. His deadly rage is the more lethal for simmering silently before any words are spoken. As Hermione, Edmund Attrill is the epitome of ‘extraordinary spiritual grace’ bringing tremendous dignity and clarity to this most sorely wronged Queen.

 It is important to say this is the tenth all-male play I have seen by the Festival Player and their excellent reputation is, in part, down to the fact that they never caricature women. Hermione is a case in point; well-observed and played with respect. The same comments apply to Matthew Samuel’s Perdita and Jaymes Sygrove’s Paulina; the latter shown as courageous, determined and loyal to her Queen. Jaymes’ eloquent facial expressions reveal the conflict and fear within Paulina as she takes the terrible risk of speaking truth to power, as do the other members of the court. Will Gillham as Antigonus has the unbearable task of abandoning Hermione’s baby, at the King’s command, before being eaten by a bear. Antigonus, like the First Lord (Tom Everatt) tries to reason with Leontes, but the king is in the grip of a terrible, destructive, unfounded jealousy and will not be placated, even as his family is lost to him, apparently for ever.

 All the players take two or more parts, and cope with the costume changes with aplomb. I think Frances Holt has surpassed herself with these costumes – they are elegant, striking and, for those actors playing women, graceful and unfussy. As Perdita, Matthew Samuel, (who also plays the sickly Mamillius, the truly tragic son of Leontes and Hermione), handled a costume malfunction with calm efficiency. Pretty Perdita and Polixenes’ dashing son, Florizel (Tom Everatt) make a charming couple, showing the meaning of true love to fathers who are both domestic tyrants.

Will Gillham’s assured Autolycus has fun at the expense of the shepherds, bringing a natural exuberance to the role. As I live in a rural area, I get a bit twitchy when country folk like the shepherds are seen as dim and risible, so I liked Mark Spriggs’ calm and contemplative Shepherd. Tom Everatt as Young Shepherd came perilously close to activating my Wurzel Alert, but a certain sweetness and freshness redeemed him.

 No Festival Players production would be complete without the excellent musical direction of Johnny Coppin and the very effective voice work of Trish Knight Webb. Alan Christopher’s set is simple, effective and portable as befits a company that sets up pretty much any place, anywhere. Credit is also due to whoever choreographed the witty country dance. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed a delightful summer evening’s entertainment in the glorious gardens of Cothay Manor.

 Unusually for me, I intend to let someone else have the last word. I received this from my friend Vicky: “If you are writing a review about the Festival Players, my comments are FABULOUS! As usual. They are the best and my favourite Shakespeare company, for style, clarity, talent. My top vote for Shakespearean performance goes to the Festival Players every time.” – AVRIL SILK in


My BBC ACOUSTIC RADIO SHOW –  now has a new day and time – 

every Sunday at midnight across the West

on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Bristol, BBC Somerset, and BBC Wiltshire

on FM, AM, DAB, online and listen again for 30 days!!!  On iPlayers of all 4 radio stations. 


JOHNNY COPPIN PROGRAMMES available on listen again- with playlists and gig guides   

These shows are still available to listen again 

Sun 22nd July – This week there are new tracks from the likes of Damien O’Kane & Ron Block, Whiskey ShiversVelvet & StoneTrail WestHatful of Rain, Yves Lambert Trio,Brackenbury & Neilson

All this plus a look-ahead to festivals and gigs in the region with music from Roseanne Cash, Sharon Shannon, Alaw, Pierre Bensusan, Tim Edey, Keith Thompson, and Discovery

Sun 29th July  – This week there are new tracks from the likes of We Banjo 3, Damien O’Kane & Ron Block, Steve Tilston, Mike Vass, Eilidh Patterson, Bob and Gill Berry,  Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, and Stuart Masters

All this plus a look-ahead to festivals and gigs in the region with music from Karine Polwart, The East Pointers, Skipinnish, Peter Knight’s Gigspanner, Julie Fowlis, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Sam Outlaw, and Saskia Griffiths-Moore

Sun 5th Aug – This week there are new tracks from the likes of Runrig, Danu, Fairport ConventionRachael McShane, Eamon O’ Leary,  Jeff Warner, Ben Morgan-Brown, BBC Young Folk Award winner Mera Royle, and Velvet & Stone

A preview of the Bath Folk Festival with organiser Marick Baxter and music from John Doyle, The Bookshop Band, and Alan Burke 

plus a look-ahead to other festivals and gigs in the region with music from Baka Beyond, Midnight Skyracer, and Mike Silver


* ALBUMS on sale now!

All On A Winter’s Night


The Winding Stair

The Gloucestershire Collection

Breaking The Silence – with Mike Silver 

for £13 (inc post and packing)

(£16 for European mainland / £17.50 for rest of the world)

Line of Blue 

Roll On Dreamer 

Edge of Day – with Laurie Lee

West Country Christmas

A Country Christmas

The Glorious Glosters

for £11 each (inc post and packing)

(£14 for European mainland / £15 for rest of the world)

Also available is

Afterwords – the live Decameron album from 2001

For £13 (inc post and packing)

(£16 for European mainland / £17.50 for rest of the world)

Please order by phone – 01453 885088  (leave message and your phone number if we are out)

or by posting either a cheque or credit card details to

Red Sky Records, P O Box 27, Stroud, GL6 0YQ. UK.


Thanks so much for all your support – 

I really do appreciate it, and hope to see you at a concert very soon!

With kind regards,

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