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This weekend

Fri 11 - Sun 13 Oct


CULTURE: Bill Bryson, New Theatre, Oxford, 12 Oct 

This weekend I’m looking forward to the arrival of adventurer, charmer and author Bill Bryson in Oxford –  I love his books and approach to life, and he’s a dab hand at live shows, so it should be a goodie.


KIDS: The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Wycombe Swan, 7 – 8 Oct

Judith Kerr’s tea guzzling tiger comes to Wycombe direct from its West End stint in The Tiger Who Came To Tea – it’s directed by children’s theatre Stalwart David Wood OBE (BFG, The Witches, Meg and Mog – you name it!) so bound to be brilliant.


THEATRE: The Exorcist, MK Theatre, Milton Keynes, 8 – 12 Oct

It wouldn’t be October without a few spooky shows on the run up to Halloween. The Exorcist live, based on the two-time Oscar winning film, comes to MK Theatre direct from the West End with Ian McKellen voicing the Demon


KIDS: We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, The Theatre, Chipping Norton, 9 – 13 Oct

We’re going to catch a big one! Little Angel Theatre bring Michael Rosen’s iconic children’s book to life with live puppetry, plus music and lyrics from  singer-songwriter Barb Jungr.


THEATRE:Barber Shop ChroniclesOxford Playhouse, 9 – 12 Oct 

We’re excited to see Barber Shop Chronicles which has hit the road following a sell out run at the National Theatre. The critically-acclaimed production, directed by Olivier award-winning Bijan Sheibani, takes place in six barber shops across the world over the course of a single day.


EXHIBITION: Daniel Meadows: Now and Then, Western Library, Oxford, until 24 Nov 

This cool new exhibition of photographs taken by leading British photographer Daniel Meadows compares portraits taken in the 70s and then in the 90s.


MUSIC: Oxford Lieder Festival, various locations in Oxford, 11 – 26 Oct 

In Oxford there’s the 18th Oxford Lieder Festival; one of the leading events of its kind in the world, singers and pianists from all over descend on Oxford for concerts, workshops, masterclasses, talks, and a bit of networking. This year will have over 100 events, with the theme Tales of Beyond: Magic, Myths and Mortals.


THEATRE: The Immigrant, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, 11 – 12 Oct 

The Immigrant, a slapstick comedy inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s original film, is doing the rounds in Oxon. Last week is popped up in Banbury and is moving on to Pegasus Theatre in Oxford (11 – 12 Oct) and Chippy Theatre, in Chipping Norton (19 Oct). Chris Michael, who was the first ever clown at the brilliant Giffords Circus, takes the starring role, so laughs are guaranteed.


EXHIBITON: JMW TurnerBanbury Museum, Banbury, until 12 Jan 

Recognise this? It’s Oxford High Street, of course! This oil painting is part of the collection of JMW Turner‘s work that is currently on show at Banbury Museum. The exhibition, which showed at Blenheim Palace earlier in the year, focuses on the artists work from the 1780s to the 1810s and includes works on loan from The Ashmolean, The Tate and private collections.


KIDS: Rumpelstiltskin & the Snail of Destiny, The Stables, Milton Keynes 12 Oct

Widdershins theatre comes to MK with it’s new show Rumpelstiltskin & the Snail of Destiny (a snail dressed up in sequins with a crystal ball for a shell, perhaps?), a twist on the Grimm’s classic, performed with puppets.


EXHIBITION: George Stubbs: ‘all done from Nature’MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 12 Oct 

The stunning MK Gallery has a new exhibition for Oct, George Stubbs: ‘all done from Nature’which is the first overview of the British artist’s work in the UK for over 30 years. The collection  brings together 80 paintings, drawings and publications including Stubb’s animal and equestrian paintings which he is best know for (12 Oct).


EVENT: Stonor and Papakata Open Weekend, Stonor, Henley, 12 – 13 Oct 

Ding dong! Is that wedding bells I hear? Wedding and events tent specialists Papakata are pitching up (quite literally) at Stonor to show off their giant tipis and Sperry tents. There’ll also be accompanying suppliers that cover every stage of planning your wedding.


FILM: Wilderland film festival, Amey Theatre, Abingdon, 13 Oct

This brand new film fest showcases nine short independent wildlife films that have been chosen by industry stalwarts including award-winning documentary cameraman Doug Allan (The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Frozen Planet), naturalist and author Stephen Moss (Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival, Springwatch), and producer/director Louise Heren (Big Cat Diaries). Abingdon is the sixth stop on the 26-date tour around the UK with film topics including the diminishing Orangutan population in Borneo, exploring how the mercurial Snow Leopard and Himalayan communities co-exist, impact of noise-pollution on humpback whales.


EXHIBITION: Kiki Smith: ‘I am Wanderer’, Modern Art Oxford, until Jan

Kiki Smith, Sky, 2012. Jacquard tapestry ©Kiki Smith. Courtesy Timothy Taylor, London/New York and Magnolia Editions

In central Oxford you can see a Kiki Smith show ‘I am Wanderer’ which promises to take visitors on a mythological and folkloric journey in her huge tapestries to her exquisitely-fashioned gold shells.



Rolling over from last month you can see the Ashmolean’s current display, Last Supper in Pompeii, with 400+ exhibits from the ancient Roman site buried by the enormous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD (until 12 Jan); An Earthly Paradise: William Morris at Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock; First Animalsan interesting exploration of the first life on earth at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (until 24 Feb); the brilliant Bears! exhibit in Henley at the River & Rowing Museum (Muddy review here).



THEATRE: Lungs, Old Vic theatre, London, 14 Oct – 9 Nov

The Crown alumni Claire Foy and Matt Smith (aka The Queen and Prince Philip, of course) are reunited in Lungs at the Old Vic (14 Oct–9 Nov), playing a couple wrestling with life’s big issues, such as whether to have children, against the backdrop of a world teetering on the edge of environmental and political disaster.



Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton, Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.

Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.

Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.

Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.

And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water. Blimey!

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