THE life of a Saints fan at the moment may be one of great joy but over the years Southampton supporters have suffered their fair share or misery.

And now, in an event backed by the Daily Echo, the world premiere of a newly-commissioned play on the highs and lows of being a Saints fan is to take centre stage in a series of events marking Southampton’s 50th anniversary as a city.

It will open this summer’s Art at the Heart festival – a celebration of 50 years of Southampton at a new pop-up venue in the heart of the city’s Cultural Quarter.

The Saints, which explores football in Southampton, the history of the club and how it’s shaped the city’s understanding of itself, will be among the events on offer at Nuffield Playing Field in Guildhall Square.

The festival of theatre, film, music, visual art and dance will act as a precursor to the opening of the city’s new art complex in 2016 and is being presented by some of the city’s leading arts organisations.

The festival, which also marks the Nuffield’s five decades, will also include Hampshire Youth Theatre’s new adaptation of War Horse author Michael Morpurgo’s The Best Christmas Present in the World and a series of film screenings curated by City Eye.

There will be a concert series presented by Turner Sims; a day of global music presented by Art Asia; and a light installation by artist David Ward presented by John Hansard Gallery. Also on show will be Five of the Best which will be performed by Mayflower Theatre Summer Youth Project and Stolen Wishes created by contemporary dance company ZoieLogic and featuring local young dancers, commissioned by The Mayflower theatre and The Point.

Nuffield director and Art at the Heart chairman Sam Hodges said: “As Nuffield and the city celebrate their joint 50th birthday, I can’t think of a better party than setting up a stunning new pop-up venue in the centre of town, with Southampton’s community the essential revellers and guests.

“It is great to bring so many of the city’s arts organisations together to present the diverse array of work that Southampton offers. For Nuffield, this is the start of a commitment to work in and across the city on a regular basis; for the city, it marks the emergence of a unified cultural offer.”

Southampton City Council leader Cllr Simon Letts added: “This event will bring together the best of our local arts and entertainment scene in a unique setting at the heart of our cultural quarter. I hope and expect this to be one of the high points of our 50th year celebrations, an anniversary we share with Nuffield.”

Tickets for the events go on sale tomorrow at 10am from 023 8067 1771 or

Daily Echo: Best of Southampton. Southampton's Guildhall Square

What's on during the festival?

The Saints, Nuffield
A NEWLY commissioned play about Southampton Football Club. Kenny Glynn is the world’s biggest Saints fan and for 25 years he has been locked in a game of football against the world. On his 26th birthday the world steps up its game and he faces the match of his life as he takes on women, money and status with the help of his mates, his family and the guiding spirit of Matt Le Tissier. Can they conquer all the things the world is throwing at them? Will Southampton ever win the FA Cup again?
Dates: August 1 to 17
Tickets: £15

The Best Christmas Present in the World
Hampshire Youth Theatre (Nuffield)

IN commemoration of the centenary of the start of the First World War, Hampshire Youth Theatre (HYT) run byNuffield, presents a brand new adaptation of this work by War Horse
author, Michael Morpurgo. Almost a century after the famous Christmas truce of 1914 and the
football match in no-man's land between the British and the Germans, a soldier’s letter is found by chance inan antique desk and begins the quest to find “Dearest Connie”.
Dates: August 14 to 16, various times
Tickets: £12.50

451, Apples and Snakes
451 is Apples and Snakes’ regular poetry event in Southampton that brings national performance poets to the city and offers a chance for local poets to share the stage with them. Date: August 11
Tickets: To be confirmed

Global Rhythms
Art Asia
FEATURING music from Africa, the Caribbean, India and Bali, musicians  Keith Waithe (flute), Mehboob Nadeem (sitar), Sanju Sahai (tabla), Jo Jo Yates (African drums), Chris Jerome (keyboard) and Eustace Williams (bass) take audiences on a whistle stop tour around the globe through music and dance. Global Rhythms culminates in a spectacular finale celebrating the
universal language of music with a fusion of world music including local Bhangra band Sunny UK, and Afghan Stars who will perform traditional and modern Afghanistani music.
Date: August 8
Tickets: £5

Film screening series
City Eye
GATHER your friends and family,picnics, cushions and rugs to enjoy film screenings from the Playing Field pitch. With morning and late night films as well as a Sunday afternoon family
screening Film titles to be announced.
Dates: August 3, 10, 11 and 15
Tickets: To be confirmed

Stolen Wishes
by ZoieLogic, Mayflower theatre and The Point, Eastleigh

LOCAL professional dance company ZoieLogic perform alongside young local male dancers in Stolen Wishes, this piece not only generates instant interest from its obscure mechanical
design, but what makes the work visually breathtaking is its ability to rotate a whole 360 degrees ensuring an ‘on the edge’ experience for the audience.
Date: August 11
Tickets: £5

Five of the Best
Mayflower Youth Theatre
MAYFLOWER Theatre’s second Summer Youth Project, Five of the Best, is a celebration of 50 years of musicals. A cast of 100 local young people will perform with a live band in this new production. This performance showcases hits from some of the biggest musicals on the Mayflower stage over the years.Date: August 9
Tickets: £12.50

Concert series
Turner Sims
Concerts to be announced in due course.Dates: August 3, 10, 12 and 15

John Hansard Gallery
As part of the project, John Hansard Gallery is working with visual artist David Ward on a light-based artwork which will illuminate Nuffield Playing Field throughout the festival.