Buxton relives death-defying stunts on the silver screen

Death-defying stunts including driving a car down a busy shopping street blindfolded and a man hanging in a straitjacket from a burning rope will feature in rarely-seen archive film at a special event organised by The Friends of Buxton International Festival.

The British Pathé newsreels are part of the Friends’ recreation of the golden years of Hollywood where the audience will be greeted with a red carpet reception at Britain’s best example of an Art Deco cinema.

Stockport Plaza, built in 1932 at the height of Hollywood’s glamour, will host the morning of newsreels featuring Buxton’s past as well as classic silent comedy from greats such as Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy.

“The glorious thing with somewhere like the Plaza is that we are the last super-cinema and variety theatre trading in its original capacity in the entire country,” said Ted Doan, General Manager.

“These places were built as shrines to the Silver Screen. From the day that cinema was created it became the definitive entertainment for everybody. It crossed all class barriers.”

The event on April 29 is part of the Friends programme of presenting exciting music in fascinating places, and the films will be accompanied by the cinema’s original organ.

“If you are going to see a film, why not see it in a venue like the Plaza that was built for that purpose at the height of Hollywood’s glamour?” asked Ted.

Among the Buxton newsreels will be two spectacular stunts organised in Buxton by the International Brotherhood of Magicians. At their annual conference in 1937, Paul Graham walked blindfold along the 60 foot high parapet of the historic Crescent – and then drove down the Spring Gardens shopping street blindfold with a huge crowd following him.

In 1959, the Brotherhood was back to see Alan Alan (correct) suspended by a burning rope in the Pavilion Gardens as he struggled to escape a straitjacket.

The event is open to the general public, and begins with a reception where Bucks Fizz and popcorn will be served. The screenings will be followed by a lunch in the delightful theatre restaurant at the end of the show. Period costume is being encouraged!

To book, go to www.buxtonfestival.co.uk/events

l Classic Cinema at Stockport Plaza: April 29, 11.45 am, £28 including reception and lunch in the Plaza restaurant.

For further details please email John Phillips at john@buxtonfestival.co.uk or visit www.buxtonfestival.co.uk

Visit buxtonfestival.co.uk for more information or telephone 01298 70395.

About Buxton International Festival

Buxton International Festival is one of the UK’s leading arts events taking place in July each year; a cultural celebration of the very best opera, music and literature taking place in the beautiful Peak District. The Festival features the most promising rising stars in the arts world, as well as prominent international singers, artists and literary figures performing in a packed summer programme of in excess of 120 events over a 17-day period to an audience of over 30,000.

The Festival produces three operas alongside a series of concerts given by many leading British and international musicians, and a literary series featuring leading writers and thinkers. Festival venues include the exquisite Matcham-designed Buxton Opera House, St John’s Church and the Pavilion Arts Centre. Together with the Buxton Festival Fringe, the spa town is a haven for arts enthusiasts throughout July each year. The Festival also presents an annual autumn Book Weekend and Outreach Programme.

Buxton International Festival has been presented annually since 1979. The brainchild of Malcolm Fraser, the Head of Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music, who had a vision of making the dilapidated Buxton Opera House, which had been used as a cinema for most of its life, into the home of an annual opera festival. With the help of Welsh National Opera conductor, Anthony Hose, he set about making his dream a reality. The Artistic Director is the acclaimed conductor, Stephen Barlow.


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