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Preview: Petrification at Newcastle Live Theatre

Casting announced for
Zoe Cooper’s premiere

Newcastle Live Theatre
Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th May 2016
Wednesday 15thJune 2016: South ShieldsCustoms House

The cast for the world premiere of Petrification at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Thursday 26thto Saturday 28th May 2016 have been confirmed.

James Baxter (BBC1’s Still Open All Hours), Neil Grainger (BBC2’s Hebburn) and Jamie Quinn (BBC Scotland’s The Still Game) will star in writer Zoe Cooper’s (Nativities, Live Theatre) new theatre production Petrificationdirected by Mark Maughan (National Theatre, Paines Plough).

The play boasts an engaging and innovative script that recreates the atmosphere of a booze-fuelled night out at the pub, with all the action taking place around you. 

The three talented actors are currently receiving significant critical acclaim for their roles on stage and TV.

James Baxter
James Baxter, playing Sean, is best known to TV audiences as series regular Leroy in the BBC’s Still Open All Hours. For two years he played Jake Doland in the long-running ITV soap opera Emmerdale. He’s also familiar face to audiences at Live through his appearances in productions of Present: Tense, Jump! and Swansong. His performance in Scarborough as a teenager embarking upon an illicit affair with his PE teacher won him a best-actor nomination for a Festival Fringe Award.

Neil Grainger

Middlesbrough-born Neil Grainger, playing Simon, first came to prominence as a series regular in ITV’s revived Crossroads. More recently, he played the ongoing character of Gervaise in the first two series of the BBC’s Hebburn. At Live Theatre he has previously appeared in Jump! And has previously worked extensively with the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, where his credits include Time and Time Again, Clearing the Colours and My Sister Sadie.

Jamie Quinn
Completing the trio is Jamie Quinn, playing Aidan. Jamie trained at the Drama Centre London. His past work includes the hugely successful Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland), The Slab Boys (Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow) and The Marriage of Figaro (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh). On TV, he has appeared in Two Doors Down, Still Game and Coming Up.

Mark Maughan
Director Mark Maughan commented “I’m very excited that we’ve been able to bring together such a talented and committed acting team to bring Zoe’s fantastic script to life. Both James Baxter and Neil Grainger worked on the show during its development phase, so I’m delighted that we’re able to welcome them back as we bring the show to full production. Joining with Jamie Quinn, whose work I’ve admired for a long time, I’m confident we’re going to create a show that is immersive, intoxicating and incisive.”

Gez Casey, Literary Manager at Live Theatre said: “We were delighted to award Petrification a prize at GIFT for the quality of writing that explored the universal themes of memory, sibling rivalry and loss, whilst also experimenting with time shifts and disputed family recollections.  We’re looking forward to enjoying the fully developed play and experiencing the intimacy of the setting that allows the audience to eavesdrop on the characters’ lives and be at the heart of the action.”

In the play Simon and Sean’s dad is dead. Returning home from London, Simon is shocked to find Sean in a relationship with a man called Aidan. Sean is irritated by Simon’s new cosmopolitan ways. And Aidan? He just wants to be part of the family.

Attempting to find common ground, they head for a night out in Gateshead.  But before long they’re arguing. What is it about the memory of a childhood trip to Whitby that sets them off? Darts, pints and fists fly across the room, as past and present collide with dizzying consequences.  Joining the characters in the pub, the audience is thrust into the heart of one family’s search for truth.

Petrification began its life at the Gateshead International Festival of Theatre (GIFT) in May 2013, originally developed as thirty-minute work-in-progress. The show was awarded festival prizes from Northern Stage and Live Theatre. The company then successfully applied for an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts award. The show was later shortlisted for the Kevin Spacey Foundation Award, making the final round of 6 from over 1000 applications.

Zoe Cooper
Writer Zoe Cooper’s credits as a playwright include Nativities (Live Theatre), Utopia (Live Theatre / Soho Theatre), The Winter’s Tale (adaptation for The Globe Theatre), Longshore Drift (Old Vic New Voices) and Learning How to Swim (ATC/Root Theatre). She has also had work developed or produced with the RSC and National Theatre Studios, as well as with Ovalhouse, Theatre503, Nabakov and the Tristan Bates Theatre.

Mark Maughan (director) has recently worked as staff director on the National Theatre’s hugely successful production of Les Blancs. Other credits include Made in China’s Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me, How Was It for You? (Brighton Dome), Address Unknown (JW3 for Soho Theatre) and The Money $hot Cabaret. He was resident trainee director at Paines Plough.

Telltale’s work is produced by LittleMighty. The company works with remarkable artists to make brilliant theatre happen. Recent successes include Move to Stand’s Fat Man (“For theatre like this I’d follow them anywhere” – The Times); Unfolding Theatre’s Lands of Glass(“charming, harmonizing, enchanting” – The Telegraph) and Testament’s Blake Remixed, a co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse (“An entertaining fusion of hip-hop, rap and beatboxing that thrusts the Blake mythology into the 21st century – The Stage).

Running time: 75mins / Suitable for ages 14+


Written by Zoe Cooper
Directed by Mark Maughan
Design by Emma Bailey
Lighting Design by Josh Pharo
Sound Design by Guy Connelly
Produced by LittleMighty

Development supported by Live Theatre, Northern Stage, GIFT and the Kevin Spacey Foundation.

Petrification comes to Newcastle’s Live Theatre from Thursday 26 – Saturday 28 May, 7.30pm
Saturday 28 May, 2pm
£18 - £10 full, £16 -£12 over 60s, £10 - £6 other concessions
Box Office: (0191) 232 1232

Future Tour Dates

2 June: The Victorian Craft Beer Cafe
In Association with Halifax Square Chapel Centre for the Arts Plays in Pubs

3 June: Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

15 June: Customs House, South Shields

16 June: CAST, Doncaster

18 June: The Lowry, Salford Quays

20 - 22 June: Pub gigs with 2’s Company Festival in association with Harrogate Theatre
20 June - The Mitre Inn, Knaresborough
21 June – Pub gig (tbc), Ripon
22 June - Tap and Spile, Harrogate

26 June: The HUB, Leeds

28 June – 2 July: The Shaftesbury Club, London, in association with Theatre 503

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