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Preview: Brave New World at Darlington Civic Theatre


Brave New World
Darlington Civic Theatre
Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th November 2015

Photo: Manuel Harlan
Darlington Civic Theatre will soon welcome a brand new stage adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s ground-breaking novel Brave New World, presented by Touring Consortium Theatre Company and Royal & Derngate Northampton which will run from Tuesday 10thto Saturday 14th November 2015.

Brave New World, widely considered to be one of the finest and most prophetic dystopian novels of the twentieth century, bursts into life on stage in an adaptation by award-winning playwright Dawn King, directed by James Dacre, with original new music by the ground breaking British band These New Puritans.

Olivia Morgan (Lenina) &
Samantha Pearl (Polly)
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was first published in 1932, and is widely seen to be one of the most important novels of the 20th century, anticipating developments in reproductive technology, psychological manipulation and behavioural conditioning. Set in AD 2540 human life has been almost entirely industrialised, and humans are created and conditioned in a lab according to a strict caste system, in a World State whose motto is “Community, Identity, Stability”. Monogamy, the family unit and the ‘natural’ process of giving birth, are considered horrific and unnatural, and material comfort and physical pleasure - provided by the drug soma - represent society’s highest good.

Photo: Manuel Harlan
Dawn King said, “Huxley's novel is over eighty years old, but his vision of the future is shockingly familiar. In many ways, we already live in Brave New World: a glittering dystopia built on inequality, where people keep themselves distracted with empty pleasures, chemical stimulants and consumer goods. Adapting this huge work for the stage has been as tough and stimulating as anything I've ever done and a huge pleasure.”

Sophie Ward
as Margaret Mond
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Sophie Ward stars as ‘Margaret Mond – the Regional World Controller for Western Europe’, which in Huxley’s novel is a male character. Dawn King said, “I took this decision primarily because as a feminist, I wanted to increase the gender equality of the show. I also felt that having a female world controller of Western Europe is more representative of our world today, and of a world of the future. In the novel the character is called ‘Mustapha Mond’, but in my adaptation I chose the name Margaret, for its obvious allusions. I think Sophie Ward is a great choice to play the role because ‘Mond’ is a person who has had to make hard decisions, has a strong sense of her own personal morality, and has real steely authority.”

Brave New World is at Darlington Civic Theatre from Tuesday 10 to Saturday 14 November. Tickets* are priced from £17.40

*All ticket prices include a £1 restoration levy.

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit




The Creative Learning team at Sunderland Empire were delighted to welcome a special visitor this week as Pawsum, the Mascot from the North East Autism Society presented the venue with the Autism Charter as part of their continued commitment to autism awareness.

Sunderland Empire is the first theatre in the North East to sign up to the Autism Charter which is an initiative by Autism Alliance and the Department of Health.  The autism charter has been produced in collaboration with people with autism and is a framework for making venues more autism-friendly. By signing the Charter, venues receive additional free autism awareness training and support for staff.

Hollie Coxon (Sunderland Empire)
Pawsum and
Lisa Taylor (North East Autism Society)
The commitment to the autism charter complements the range of autism friendly projects the Creative Learning team at Sunderland Empire have initiated over recent years. The theatre will host its third relaxed performance on Thursday 17 December (1pm) this year as Aladdin flies in for the pantomime season. Following previous successful relaxed performances, the theatre continues to work in close partnership with the North East Autism Society throughout the year to ensure preparations are in place for visitors.

Kerrie Highcock, Family Development Manager, North East Autism Society said:  “We have had the opportunity to work with the Sunderland Empire for the previous three years on developing and delivering a relaxed performance for people with autism and their families. It has been fantastic to be part of something which can make a difference to so many people’s lives.   A visit to the theatre can be just a standard experience for many people, but for someone with autism it can be very difficult, confusing and overwhelming. By making a few adjustments at the theatre means that people with autism can experience the show too, many for the first time.”

Kerrie added:  “The Creative Learning team are a real asset to the theatre as they are really passionate about access and inclusion. The venue staff team were a pleasure to train as they were willing to learn and understand more about the condition. The relaxed performance each year really is fantastic and to see so many people accessing such an event is priceless. We look forward to working with Sunderland Empire on many other projects.”

The theatres passion for autism access development spans beyond the programming of the annual Relaxed Performance. Last year the Creative Learning team at Sunderland Empire worked on a special pilot with Widgit who design symbol resources, regularly used by schools and groups for learning and access.

Through discussing and evaluating the resources at the relaxed performance last year, the team found out how vital these resources are in supporting groups with needs such as Autism. Widgit have agreed to extend the support in Sunderland this year, which will provide beneficial resources for groups to access online.

In addition, following a successful summer of autism friendly family learning which brought many arts and cultural venues together through the Get Curious! project, a legacy project will follow - Curious Connections!

Curious Connections! is a group which offers young people with Autism the unique opportunity to enjoy developing participation and performance skills which can be applied to other areas of life. The group will run Mondays (4.15-5.45pm) at Sunderland Empire, and is specifically for young people aged 13-19 with Autism.  Participants will work with the Creative Learning team and No Limits Theatre to develop an exciting piece of theatre called ‘Eclipse’ by writer Simon Armitage which will be performed locally and regionally.

By signing the charter, Sunderland Empire solidifies its commitment to making the venue even more autism-friendly and has signed up to a range of initiatives including staff training and developing an autism-friendly environment including communication and customer service.

Hollie Coxon, Creative Learning Manager, Sunderland Empire said: “We are delighted to sign the autism charter and are committed to continuously developing our creative learning offer through innovative projects and initiatives to support accessible theatre engagement in partnership with the North East Autism Society.”

Review: Error 404 at Newcastle Northern Stage

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Error 404
Newcastle Northern Stage
Thursday 29th– Friday 30th October 2015

A 10 year old boy is, not surprisingly, very upset when his best mate dies. His Mum comes to the rescue and appears with a robot that wants to be his best friend. But can a robot be a friend? How will his friends at school react? How much empathy will he get? The younger members of the audience are asked for their input in determining the direction of the plot of this modern tale.

North East Theatre Guide favourite Daniel Bye (Review Link) is an engaging storyteller. Clearly the time spent as a philosopher in residence at a Wimbledon primary school has helped refine the necessary skills.  Daniel is comfortable asking for suggestions from the young audience. There is no guarantee about what they’ll say and he is skilful at making each contribution feel valued. The kids in the target 8-11 age range are also far more perceptive than their years suggest.

The colourful set features 5 small tv screens that help illustrate the story and are able to cope with the suggestions as they fly in. In addition to the quick fingers behind the scenes changing these scenes we also have Daniel using numerous loops to provide the musical score. Whilst the screens help the narrative, the sounds help set the atmosphere.

The show does cover some big philosophical questions including “What is reality”. The children lap them up and come up with erudite observations and contributions to the later questions.  The 12 year old who came along with me to see the show said it was a cool show and he really enjoyed it.

Interactive Jackanory it may be. Daniel is a captivating narrator who delivers a show that will appeal to a wider age range than the target key stage 2 audience. 

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Cast & Creatives:
Written and performed by Daniel Bye
Directed by Alex Swift
Design by Fiammetta Horvat
Lighting by Katharine Williams
Musical director: Tom Adams
Dramaturgy: Sarah Punshon


Error 404 appears at Newcastle’s Northern Stage on Thursday 29th  & Friday 30th  October 2015 at 11am & 2pm
Book now: 0191 230 5151 /
Recommended age: 8+
Running time: 1 hour
Adults £10.50 Children £8.50

Remaining tour dates:
Thursday 29th - Friday 30th October,
11am+2pm, Northern Stage, Newcastle 
Friday 27th November, 10.30am + 1.30pm; Saturday 28th November, 11.30am + 2.30pm, ARC, Stockton.


Review: Shhh! at Newcastle Dance City

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Shhh! – C-12 Dance Theatre
Newcastle Dance City
28th October 2015

On a dark damp afternoon in Newcastle the electric atmosphere was building up as the C-12 Dance Theatre company were about to entertain a packed house. As part of the Juice Festival there had been earlier workshops and these had clearly been effective in drawing the large young audience. Anything that helps draw younger people towards live entertainment has to be a good thing.

Shhh! is based in a library. There are seemingly 3 themes: a love of books; a love of people and a need for communities to retain their facilities.  Each of the five dancers starts with a musical theme as they go about enjoying their books. For example classical, jazz, modern electronic dance, classical guitar or rock music is used to represent their personality. The young crowd could be heard laughing as the previously quiet library shook to the rock guitar riffs and a dancer strutted her stuff around the bookcases.

When the library closure arrives and the tone of the production changes. The few props on stage find themselves involved in the routines.

What stands out is the apparently effortless way in which the cast perform challenging manoeuvres.  They make the business of flinging themselves around the stage seem simple when it must have taken years of training plus a real trust in their fellow performers.

The soundtrack helps to carry both the emotion and the story and Jamie Salisbury has managed to weave the individual themes well.

Shhh! succeeds in being an inclusive show that appeals to both the younger members of the audience and the older people that brought them to the show.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Reece Causton
Alice Laidler
Hayley Chilvers
Kimberley Clarke
Ashley Hind

Concept and choreography by Annie-Lunnette Deakin-Foster
Projection by Arnim Friess,
Original music composition by award winning Jamie Salisbury
Executive Producer Adam Towndrow of Welwyn Garden City. Shhh! is produced by C-12 Dance Theatre, ARC, Stockton, Hawthorne Theatre, funded by Arts Council, Hawthorne Theatre, ARC, Stockton and C-12 Dance Theatre, additional support from The Albany and Dance Digital.

Shhh! Rehearsal images taken by Charlotte Levy

On The Web:

Read the North East Theatre Guide preview of the Autumn 2015 Season at Newcastle’s Dance City Theatre:



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Sunderland Empire and Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, are pleased to announce a new partnership to offer free Metro travel to theatregoers. 

Theatre ticket holders coming to see one of the show stopping productions at Sunderland Empire can now travel on the Metro and the Shields Ferry for free for up to two hours before and after the performance by simply presenting their show ticket*.
The announcement comes as a busy Autumn/Winter season is currently taking Wearside by storm including one night spectaculars, opulent opera through to the arrival of the monster hit Shrek the Musical ‘taking ogre’ the stage  11-22 November and the magical family pantomime extravaganza Aladdin flying in 11 December3 January.

Huw Lewis, Corporate Manager for Customer Services and Communications at Nexus, said: “We’re delighted to provide this special offer for Empire Theatre ticket holders. Metro takes away all the hassle of driving to a venue so is great way to travel around. We hope this offer encourages more people to use Metro to explore Sunderland city centre and other locations.”

Ben Phillips, General Manager, Sunderland Empire said: “We are delighted to be involved in this free travel initiative with Nexus to add value to our customer’s theatre experience. With a busy Autumn/Winter season ahead we anticipate that a number of customers will take advantage of this great opportunity.”

Sunderland Empire is just a short walk from Park Lane Metro and bus interchange and Sunderland Metro station.

*This is a temporary arrangement and patrons are advised to check Nexus website prior to travel that this free travel scheme is still available

Preview: Error 404 at Newcastle Northern Stage

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Error 404
Newcastle Northern Stage
Thursday 29th – Friday 30th October 2015

 A show for little audiences that asks some big questions

There’s a boy who is about 10 years old. We bet you know someone just like him. He’s lost his best friend and is very sad. This boy’s mum is a scientist and one day she brings home an unusual parcel to try and cheer him up. Things start getting weirder and weirder after that.

Could his new best friend be a robot? How would that work?

Superbly performed...captures the audience’s imagination  (both big and small) right from the off” MUMSNET

A sixty minutes show filled with laughter, music, games and chances to join in and change the end of the story, Error 404 asks you to look again at things you thought you knew.

Fascinating and innovative.”  THE GUARDIAN

The writer and performer Daniel Bye said: “I spent time at Norton Primary in Stockton-on-Tees and Pelham Primary in Wimbledon, creating short stories to tell the children, and asking them philosophical questions arising from those stories. The results were incredible.
With little prompting, the children grasped often very complex philosophical ideas. It was thrilling to witness. The stories that the children found most compelling form the basis of Error 404. It’s been one of the most rewarding writing and creative processes I’ve ever been through.”

Error 404 appears at Newcastle’s Northern Stage on Thursday 29th  & Friday 30th  October 2015 at 11am & 2pm
Book now: 0191 230 5151 /
Recommended age: 8+
Running time: 1 hour
Adults £10.50 Children £8.50