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Preview: Iris at Newcastle Live Theatre

Corrie regular Katy Cavanagh returns to the region of her birth, to star in the World Premiere of Iris by Alison Carr at Live Theatre, Newcastle

Newcastle Live Theatre
Wednesday 6th to Saturday 30th April 2016

The cast for the world premiere of Iris at Live Theatre, Newcastle have been confirmed and start rehearsals today at the Quayside based theatre.  Katy Cavanagh who played Julie Carp, a regular in Coronation Street between 2009 and 2015 stars as Julie, the central character who returns home after living away. Katy, who was born in Whitley Bay, returns to the region making her first appearance at Live Theatre, in this play set in a north eastern coastal town, very similar to Whitley Bay.

Katy said: “I am delighted to be coming to Live Theatre for the first time. I absolutely love the play Iris, and can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into the part to bring the production to life.”

Iris cast L-R Joe Caffrey, Samantha Neale,
Katy Cavanagh with writer Alison Carr
Katy is joined by Live Theatre regular Joe Caffrey, seen recently in Live Theatre’s productions of Wet House (NETG review: North East Theatre Guide review LINK), for which he received a Journal Culture Award for best performer, and Cooking with Elvis and who also tour nationally in The Pitmen Painters. Sam Neale, another Live Theatre regular who starred in Nativities, and one of Alison’s earlier plays, The Girls From Poppyfield Close, as well as appearing in Live Theatre’s Write Stuff plays, is the final cast member.

Iris is Newcastle based writer, Alison’s first full-length play to be presented on Live Theatre’s main stage, and brings a heady world of caustic humour and tender pathos ,and is Directed by Live Theatre’s Artistic Director Max Roberts.

Max Roberts added: “The more I've been working on this play the more I've grown to love it. Hearing it read in auditions and listening to the actors thoughts and responses to it has fired my passion to bring Alison's story to fruition. The characters, especially Julie played by Katy Cavanagh (whom I'm delighted to welcome to Live Theatre for the first time) and Ruby played by Sam Neale, are so richly, complex funny and real. I'm also looking forward to working with my long-time associate Joe Caffrey who plays the part of Gerry. Joe will bring a real warmth, sense of humour and empathy to his equally complex and well-drawn character.”

Iris is a three-hander that follows the relationship of sisters Julie and Ruby who are coming to terms with the death of their mother Iris. This formidable matriarch manages to control their lives from beyond the grave. On the night of the funeral, Julie gets off with Gerry, a crime scene cleaner. Maybe that’ll help. It doesn’t.

When their mother’s unusual bequest unearths a story that leaves some indelible marks, something more than a deep clean is needed.

As Live Theatre’s Literary Manager Gez Casey explains:
“Alison Carr has a distinct and individual voice as a playwright – witty, quirky and engaging. Following her previous work for Live Theatre, including The Girls From Poppyfield Close and The Soaking of Vera Shrimp (North East Theatre Guide review LINK)  in our Studio Theatre, I’m delighted that audiences will be able to see her first full commission in the Main House.”

Iris was first seen at Live Theatre as a play called The Day We Rode the Shuggy Boat when a short extract was presented at the theatre in 2012.

Alison explains: "My first piece of writing performed at Live Theatre was part of Short Cutsin 2002. Ten years later an extract from the script that became Iris was showcased as part of the final Short Cuts event. In the decade in-between I have worked with Live Theatre on a variety of projects including The Girls From Poppyfield Close, Paines Plough's Come To Where I’m From and Boys on the Edge. Seeing Iris on the main stage at Live Theatre is the culmination of a long-held ambition and I am incredibly excited to start rehearsals and for audiences to see the play."

Alison’s relationship with Live Theatre began in 2002 when she assisted Jeremy Herrin in directing Double Lives by Julia Darling and Sean O’Brien. In the same year Alison wrote her first short play for the company called Yellow (part of Short Cuts), which was also directed by Jeremy Herrin. In 2003 Alison also took part in Live Theatre’s popular Introduction to Playwriting course to hone her playwriting craft.

Since then Alison has gone on to write numerous plays for Live Theatre including Come to Where I’m From (Paines Plough), The Girls From Poppyfield Close, When It’s Gone (part of nabakov’s Present:Tense) and Ten Tiny Tyneside Plays. Alison has also worked with Live Theatre’s Education and Participation team as a dramaturg for their Write Stuffprogramme, which works with young people still in education to develop their writing and literacy skills.

Notably in 2013, Alison won Live Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Bursary for her heart-warming one woman show The Soaking of Vera Shrimp. The show was described by The Telegraph as ‘achingly beautiful and utterly compelling’ when it later toured to the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Iris is the third production supported by the Friends of Live Theatre. The Friends membership scheme enables individuals who are passionate about Live Theatre’s work to make a tangible difference and get closer to work the company produces. Through regular financial contributions Friends play a pivotal role in unlocking creative talent and supporting emerging playwrights such as Alison Carr. Friends have special access to exclusive behind-the-scenes events which this year include a series of play-development events around Irisfollowing the play from script to stage. On Wednesday 6 April and Saturday 9 April Friends of Live Theatre can benefit from an offer for two tickets for the price of one to see the show.

On Saturday 9 April audiences can join writer Alison Carr, following the
2pm matinee performance, for a free Meet the Writer event where she will discuss the making of the play.

Tickets for Iris cost £22-£10 full price, £22-£12 over 60s and £15-£6 for other concessions. For more information or to book tickets visit or contact the box office on (0191) 232 1232.

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