New season: Norwich Arts Centre

In the first of two more of our new-season previews this week, David Banks takes a look at the packed programme of autumn goodies coming our way at the Norwich Arts Centre.

As you might expect from the ever-popular Norwich Arts Centre, its autumn season is bristling with the usual happy mix of

contemporary music, exciting theatre, comedy, live literature, jazz, blues and all the other good things that make it one of the region's favourites.

Nu-folk and the traditional kind is finding an ever-increasing audience this year and the arts centre has a good cross section at the St Benedict's venue.

Kicking off the season on September 25, singer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer Jim Moray, who re-interprets everything from trad to New Order, puts in an appearance (£10/£6 concs). While this year's Twisted Folk Tour, on October 26, mixes acoustic, electronica and harmonies from Tuung and bluegrass folk and pop from Jill Barber (£10 adv/£11 door). More traditional sounds come from veteran singer Martin Carthy with fiddler Dave Swarbrick on September 27 (£12/£10 concs). Promising Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis is at the venue on November 10 (£12/£10 concs).

Singer-songwriter (and, of course, number one hitmaker) Sandi Thom is due on October 22 - tickets (£10 adv) sold out ages ago. But her appearance is yet another feather in the cap for this lively venue.

Comedy highlights include a return visit by Robin Ince of Book Club fame whose show is all about loving music, cluttered minds, fake science, otters and not being Hunter S Thompson. Don't miss him on October 3, There's also a visit from Scots comedian Danny Bhoy who takes the stage on October 28 closely followed on November 9 by Natalie Haynes with her new show Watching The Detectives, which uses Dr Sloan, Jessica Fletcher, Quincy, Perry Mason and Monk to help her solve why the world is so confusing. All comedy shows £10/£8 concs.

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Expect the usual uncompromising contemporary music this season with a visit from cutting-edge cellist Mathew Barley on November 16 (£12/£10 concs) who covers a musical period of nearly 1500 years in his programme of worldwide music. Reykjavik-based collective Kitchen Motors present Icelandic bassist Skuli Sverrison on November 23 (£tbc) who combines rhythms, non-rhythms and distortion.

Virgins is a must-see piece of theatre for any teenager or, indeed parent. Company of Angels start the season's new theatre events exploring the minefield of sexuality both for young people and their parents on September 28 (£7 / £5 concs).

Motion Loco's new surreal comedy thriller Me and the King arrives on October 11 (£7/£5 concs). Its main character is Harry Smith Jones who wakes up in the branches of a tree in 1977 with no idea of who he is or how he got there. Expect magical comedy, eccentric characterisation, slick physical performance and a selection of Elvis numbers. Pro Active Productions off-the-wall, one-act comedy Bald Prima Donna is on November 6 (£8 £6 concs). This intriguing, wacky, entertaining and compelling Ionesco piece is set in the suburban living room of Mr and Mrs Smith who watch six characters spiral out of control as they attempt to maintain normality.

World music gets a look-in on October 6 when the infectious Zimbabwean rhythms of Chimanimani set the ball rolling. Then passionate Cuban beats come from Pedro Luis Ferrer on October 27. Jazz fans will already be looking forward to the return of Gilad Atzmon, this time assuming the character of Jewish jazz man Artie Fishel on November 8. A Euro-jazz double comes in the form of Norway's Solveig Slettahjell and Finland's Ilmiliekki on November 20 and the Neil Cowley Trio bring their intriguing and dynamic melodies on November 30. (All world music and jazz concerts £10/£8 concs.)

In October the Arts Centre continues its reputation for innovation with four evenings of multi-media performance in conjunction with the Norwich International Animation Festival. These four nights feature the latest in VJing and music visuals including a performance on October 19 by German artist Jurgen Reble (£tbc) with his four-screen performance. On October 21 Norwich-based 2Bit TV bring their own mix of VJs and DJs (£8/£6 concs). On October 29, the Photophonic Experiment tour arrives featuring Pram and Blissbody with cutting-edge work in the electro/music/visual performance field (£10/£8 concs).

Look out for more of the region's burgeoning rock talent in this year's Fringe Festival between October 6 and 22 with local favourites Cortez, the Elephant Dress and Natural-Disasters. September 15 sees Sennen return to the venue while Bearsuit feature on the John Peel Day gig on October 13 (£tbc all gigs).

Bluesman Michael Roach brings his vintage sounds on November 2, while Guy Davis delivers his story-telling blues on November 7 (£10/£8 concs both gigs).

Poetry, writers' showcases and storytelling all feature too. Norfolk-based Hugh Lupton brings his version of Beowulf on September 23 (£8/£6 concs), poet Tim Turnbull brings his Caligula on Ice in October (£5/£4 concs), Anthony Joseph (£5/£4 concs), brings his musical musings the day before the return of poetry group Aisle 16 on October 31 (£6/£4 concs).

There are exhibitions of photographs and art in September and October from Ellen Rogers, Mike Harding and Sarah Cannell.

Norwich Arts Centre also plays host to courses ranging from website design to digital photography.

Box office 01603 660352 or visit

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