Interview: Creative vision behind Release the Hounds

editorial image

By Weekend Editor Graham Chalmers

Knaresborough is unlikely to know what’s hit it when Release The Hounds, a new and innovative festival, takes over its streets next week.

Running from Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 15, the three days of poetry and performance events will take place in an unusual mix of locations.

This not-for-profit, cultural jubilee is largely the work of a single person - drama graduate Stephanie Jones , who has returned to Knaresborough after learning her craft in London.

A creative and dynamic spirit, this 27-year-old ex- King James’s School sixth former seems to have brought much of that city’s ambition and verve back home with her.

Proud of her roots , she says Release the Hounds will seek to inspire, as well as entertain.

“I want to let youngsters know you don’t have to move away to big cities to be a part of innovative theatre or to achieve a career in the arts.

“But it isn’t designed to be a one-off event, hopefully it’s the start of a long-term project appealing to people across all ages.”

From Cornish playwrights to punk poets, this former pupil of Harrogate Ladies’ College has conjured up an impressive line-up of rising talent from across the UK for this new event in Knaresborough.

Rather than discouraging, Stephanie’s experiences in London seemed to have sparked increased idealism.

She said: “When I first went to London it was a place to make it, to be an actress. But I eventually lost interest. I discovered I preferred working more collaboratively and learnt to value the journey.”

“I also missed my hometown. I knew I had to go back and communicate that it’s ok to return.”

Stephanie’s first literary extravaganza is receiving help from her parents Steve and Anne Jones and their Knaresborough-based company Homes Together - along with mentoring support from Harrogate Theatre.

The end result sounds very eclectic, perhaps the result of its creator’s earliest literary influences?

“I first became interested in poetry when I read Sylvia Plath. The dreamlike qualities of her work put a spell on me.

“My other great literary love is the work of Samuel Beckett.”