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Sahar International Short Film Festival

Just as summer arrives, with its fresh atmosphere, SAHAR will arrive once more in Saddleworth, for the SAHAR international short film festival, taking place on June 24th, at the Millgate Arts Centre.

The Millgate Arts Centre will, for the third year running, turns on its lights as SAHAR spreads its wings to host the pure ideas and creative thoughts of emerging and new filmmakers.

SAHAR International Short Film Festival, will this year see a variety of new dimensions added to the programme. Short fiction and documentary films, with genres including animation, experimental, psycho and horror, form the main event, with a new educational programme around specific issues in the cinema, including discussion sessions scheduled around the screenings.

On the sidelines of the event, festival attendees can enjoy music and dance on the stage, and observe an exhibition of posters and photography in the Art Gallery area of the building. This is an inspirational opportunity for lovers of art, literature and cinema to expand their experience and network, support emerging and talented filmmakers from around the world as they screen and celebrate their work.

Tickets are available on the door, at just £5 for the general public. (Films are suitable for age 15 or above.)

Edwina Rigby, June 4, 2017,

A man of many hats

Hi, I’m Ian Shepherd. I've never acted on stage, but I've spent 42 years at Millgate Arts Centre working on everything from sound and lighting, stage management, to front of house and the bar. My job here at Millgate Arts Centre now is in charge of ticket sales – the lifeblood of an organisation such as ours. 

I started this aspect of work when the management committee took the bold decision to computerise our ticketing operation five years ago.  We moved from a cash and paper-based system onto a fully web-based system utilising card payments, eTickets and mobile ticket delivery. It was a giant leap into the 21st century – but one that certainly seems to have paid off as it quickly established itself as the most popular method of booking, and paying for tickets. We now also have an experienced team in the background helping with marketing which is increasingly internet and social media based, but includes traditional methods such as local press, posters and flyers.

My other hat is as building manager, responsible for the day to day aspects of everything from changing lamps to health and safety - and out of hours call outs.  That is also my day job for a much larger site in Oldham – so it’s a bit like a busman’s holiday.  Nevertheless living so close it’s not such an onerous task.

The one thing that makes it such an enjoyable hobby is the friendship of so many dedicated volunteers, many of whom have worked here for decades like myself.  As with many similar community based organisations, it’s volunteers that make the difference between success and failure.  What’s more, we always need new blood, so even if you can just spare one evening per show, you would be very welcome and you’ll experience the warmth and friendship I have for many years.  So don’t delay – pick up the phone and give us a call on 01457 874644.

Ian Shepherd, May 30, 2017,

A good story with believable characters

Hello. My name is June Holmes and I play the part of Letty Harnham in the forthcoming production of ‘The Day After the Fair’.

I've been a member of Saddleworth Players for more years than I care to admit to, and over those years have been in a variety of plays, but ‘The Day After the Fair’ is a favourite. It has a good story, with believable characters and a truthful ending. Based on a story by Thomas Hardy, it deals with the lives of ordinary people from a range of backgrounds.

My character, the sister of the local brewery owner, is both sympathetic and empathetic to the situation of my younger sister-in-law. She is a self-confident, well-to-do spinster of her time and I am looking forward to bringing out the different facets of her character.

Saddleworth Players will perform ‘The Day After the Fair’ at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph, from May 20 – 27. Tickets £8 (£5 students) from

June Holmes, May 22, 2017,

Getting into character

My name is John Tanner and I am playing the part of Arthur Harnham in Saddleworth Players forthcoming production of ‘The Day After the Fair’ at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph. My character is introduced in the script as red faced and solidly built; he is the third in line to hold the chairmanship of Harnham’s Brewery; he is pompous and a bore, so nothing like me of course!

To get into character I am growing a beard, which at this rate, by the time the play opens I will look like Father Christmas! The last time I grew a beard was in December 1994 for ‘Lion in Winter’ opposite June Holmes playing ‘Eleanor’ – now reunited for this play as Brother and Sister.

Verity Mann is playing my long-suffering wife Edith (didn’t she suffer enough in ‘Filumena’!) but at least she doesn’t have to kiss me! We have great cast including Lulu, Rosemary and James and we are in the safe hands of Karen Barton and all her team.

As a side note my own Great, Great Grandfather (also called John Tanner) came to Friezland, Saddleworth, in 1820 to work as the Manager at the Royal George Mills – but he originally hailed from Ringwood, Hampshire, a town still famous for its’ Brewery and many Mangers went on to jobs in the emerging textile factories of the North.

John Tanner, May 9, 2017,

Cumbersome clothes as a metaphor for life

Hi. I’m Rosemary, playing the part of Anna in ‘The Day After the Fair’. I'd been looking forward to playing love-struck servant, Anna, for a few reasons: the play is based on a short story by Hardy, whose tragic characters I love; it's a story of romance, which I'm inclined to indulge in now and again; and, (and this is the biggie), it's a period drama, and I haven't done one of those in yonks. Period dramas, for me, mean complex characters, beautiful language and - here it comes - costumes! I was so excited to get my mitts onto some Victorian clothing. I was ready for the bustles, hankering after the blouses, itching to wiggle my fingers into pretty lace gloves.

And then I met my rehearsal skirt.

I eagerly tied its mass of heavy material around my middle and prepared to perfect my graceful Victorian stride. The skirt had other ideas. This floor-length garment has trapped itself under furniture, swept props from low surfaces, and - during one hearty attempt to wear it at home - it got caught under my feet whilst my hands were full and left me stranded on the stairs. I am not the only one to struggle! Lulu, my fellow maid, has taken to lifting her skirt up entirely when trying to move anywhere quickly. June is coping a little better - but this may be down to her choosing the prettiest, (and I suspect lightest), rehearsal skirt for herself. And Verity, who will be playing the lady of the house, has, it should be noted, taken to not wearing hers at all.

The struggle is real. But, I suppose, it was back then too. United in a plight to stay upright in our clothing, the female members of this cast can perhaps begin to understand the empathy and support Hardy's women show each other in Frank Harvey's adaptation. The restrictions Victorian society puts upon these characters go far beyond inconvenient clothing, (as you will see when the play opens), and the kindness and support they provide to each other is, at times, their only source of strength. I will be remembering this underlying struggle and comradery as we attempt to navigate the stage in a series of beautiful, impractical costumes - and I hope you will bear it in mind too, if at any point you see Lulu trying to subtly pick me back up off the floor.

Rosemary Terry, May 4, 2017,