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Preview: SUNFEST 2016 at Washington Arts Centre

SUNFEST  2016 – The Student Take Over!

Sunderland drama students are staging a series of critically acclaimed plays at Arts Centre Washington as part of the annual arts festival ‘Sunfest’ throughout the month of May.

The University of Sunderlandstudents will bring several plays to life at the venue, featuring the work of some of UK’s greatest playwrights, presenting some unforgettable nights of drama.

‘Sunfest’ is organised by the University’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, in which students take over the Theatre space at Arts Centre Washington for a whole month to run their own exciting programme of theatre.  This will be the fifth year that the festival of drama has taken place.

Graeme Thompson, Dean of Arts, Design and Media at the University of Sunderland, said: “Sunfest gives our students the experience of planning, producing and performing shows for a paying audience. It’s an invaluable experience and a tremendous platform to showcase their skills.  I am grateful to our friends at Arts Centre Washington for providing this unique opportunity for our students.”

Helen Green, Creative Director at Arts Centre Washington said “At Arts Centre Washington we are passionate about working with young people; supporting new and emerging talent in Sunderland and the development of high quality theatre experiences for all. We are therefore delighted to be able to merge all three of these priorities in the Sunfest partnership with the University of Sunderland. Arts Centre Washington’s growing reputation for original and innovative theatre makes it an ideal base for the drama students where they can gain a real insight into the workings of a small-scale touring venue.”

There are a number of thought-provoking plays including works by William Shakespeare, Sean O’Casey, William Wycherley and others
Performances will include:

The Drunks on Thursday 5 May and Saturday 7th May.  Taking place in a small rural town in
Russia, Ilya, a shell shocked soldier returns home after serving on the frontline only to unwittingly becomes a pawn in an extraordinary power struggle.

Juno and the Paycock on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 May.  In this modern classic, playwright Sean O’Casey mixes drama and pathos with robust humour as he creates a vivid depiction of Irish working-class life during a bloody civil war.

The Plough and the Stars on Saturday 14 May.  Sean O'Casey's masterpiece paints a vivid portrait of a city and a nation in turmoil during the Easter Rising in Dublin 1916.

The Country Wifeon Thursday 19 May + Saturday 21 May.  A play reflective of a new era—the "Restoration"—which followed an eleven-year period of harsh Puritanical rule under Oliver Cromwell, by William Wycherley. 

King Lear on Thursday 26 May.  By William Shakespeare - A kingdom is divided on a whim, a King loses first his family, then his throne and then his mind.

The Tempest on Saturday 28 May.  By William Shakespeare, when a powerful sea-tempest shipwrecks Prospero’s former adversaries, they are tricked and tormented to hilarious effect.

Sunfest runs at Arts Centre Washingtonfrom Thursday 5 – Saturday 28 May.  Tickets for all performances are  £7.50 / £6 (concessions )/ £5 (NUS) and start at 7.30pm.  To book or for more information visit or call 0191 561 3455

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