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Live Lab Elevator Festival at Newcastle Live Theatre

See the best new theatre from some of the most exciting new companies in Live Lab Elevator festival at Newcastle’s Live Theatre

Live Lab Elevator Festival
Newcastle Live Theatre
Tuesday 21st - Saturday 25th February 2017

Live Lab Elevator, Live Theatre’s annual festival showcasing the best new theatre from the North East and beyond, returns for its second year between Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 February 2017.
Audiences are being invited to see young companies present brand new plays in their exciting early stages of development as well as the opportunity to attend talks and workshops by some of the UK’s leading writers and directors as they share their experiences of making new theatre.
Graeme Thompson, Creative Producer at Live Theatre said: “Live Lab Elevator is a chance to see new plays and extracts of work from companies that Live Theatre are supporting as we believe they have exceptional talent. We are also delighted to welcome Vinny Patel, writer of True Brits (Bush Theatre and Edinburgh Festival Fringe) and Murdered by My Father (BBC3 and BBC1), as he takes part in a discussion about how to theatrically capture political debate on stage.  Soho Theatre’s Artistic Director Steve Marmion will also be sharing his approach to directing plays and presenting new work in a special Director’s Masterclass.”
Parklife written by Mhairi Ledgerwood and
directed by Melanie Rashbrooke presented
by The Six Twenty as part of a double bill at
Live Theatre's annual Live Lab Elevator festival
OnWednesday 22 and Friday 24 February at 7.30pm theatre goers will travel into the future in a double bill of two new hour-long plays.  ParkLife, written by Mhairi Ledgerwood, directed by Melanie Rashbrooke and presented by The Six Twenty, follows Victoria who now lives on a ‘21stCentury Noah’s Ark’ whilst Earth is under water. Sex with Robots and Other Devices, a new play by Nessah Muthy (Gastronauts, Royal Court Theatre), explores the normality of using advanced technology in our day to day love lives, and the moral implications that come with being able to buy whatever you desire the most. This play has been specifically developed for this year’s Live Lab Elevator festival by Live Lab 2016 bursary winner Cloakroom Theatre.

Sex With Robots And Other Devices
written by Nessah Muthy and
presented by Cloakroom Theatre as
part of a double bill at Live Theatre's
annual Live Lab Elevator festival
Melanie Rashbrooke, Director at The Six Twenty said: “We’re really excited to work on a new hour long version of ParkLife for Live Lab Elevator festival and to bring it back to Live Theatre where it began as a ten-minute short play in 2014 as part of 10 Minutes to… Save the World. Live Lab Elevator gives us a chance to hear what people think at an early stage and help us shape the plays future development.”
Helen Matravers, Co-Producer at Cloakroom Theatre said: “Cloakroom Theatre have been presented with an invaluable opportunity through winning the Live Lab 2016 bursary, where we received £2000 as well as space and support to develop new work. We are delighted and incredibly excited to be presenting our work in the North East for the first time.”
Short extracts of four new plays will be shown for the first time in Work-In   Progress on Thursday 23 February at 7.30pm. Scrambled by 2016 Live Lab Associate Artists Plane Paper Theatre, follows two sisters as they embark on an emotional and physical journey together that they had never imagined. In Preservationby Louise Taylor, a graduate of Live Theatre’s Introduction to Playwriting course, we join Polly on New Year’s Eve in a high-rise flat as she is searching for a ghost she hopes will bring her family together. Unlabelled Political Project is writer Luca Rutherford’s latest initiative about politics following on from her acclaimed first solo show Learning How To Die. One more short extract is still to be added to the line-up.

Blackout presented by fanSHEN
as part of Live Theatre's annual
Live Lab Elevator festival
On Saturday 25 February at 4pm and 6pmaudiences of just 12 people are being invited to embark on a sensory adventure in complete darkness in Blackout presented by last year’s Live Lab Bursary winners, fanSHEN (Lists for the End of Time).  Blackout explores what happens when you escape from bland certainty of sight, and promises to be an outing into the unexpected. fanSHEN will also be leading a workshop exploring the process of making sensory theatre on Thursday 23 February at 2pm.
Rachel Briscoe, Creative Director, fanSHEN said: Blackout is an experience that takes place in total darkness. But it’s not about not being able to see, it’s more about the things you notice when you can’t see - the way your senses heighten, and time does funny things. It's also about how you can pay more attention to things when you’re not distracted by sight - how often do you spend time with yourself, without distracting yourself with your phone, for example? We hope it’ll be a space for reflection - people often think immersive theatre has to be lots of running around but this isn’t like that.”
“We’re thrilled to be part of Live Lab Elevator again. Winning the Live Lab Bursary last year helped us make a show we’re now very proud of but also more importantly, as newcomers to the region, gave us a home. Presenting our work to audiences, next to other exciting companies, really helped us develop what we were trying to do - that’s what every artist needs!”

Tickets for Live Lab Elevator festival events cost between £5 and £8, with some events free. To book tickets and to find out more contact Live Theatre’s box office on (0191) 232 1232 or visit

Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 February
Live Lab Elevator festival
Live Lab Elevator is an annual festival showcasing the best new theatre from the North East and beyond. Specially curated from the Live Lab programme, brand new theatre productions are put centre stage alongside participatory events including workshops and discussions. Be the first to see emerging new work at the earliest stages of its development, help shape its future and join in conversations with leading theatre-makers from across the UK.

Tuesday 21 February 7.30PM
Writing Political Theatre
Panel Discussion
Britain has a rich tradition of political playwriting.  An industry panel hosted by Live Theatre’s Literary Manager Gez Casey discusses how to theatrically capture political debate in a chaotic, media driven, post-truth 21stcentury. Gez is joined by Vinny Patel, writer of True Brits (Bush Theatre and Edinburgh Festival Fringe) and Murdered by My Father (BBC3 and BBC1), Max Roberts, Artistic Director at Live Theatre and Lindsay Rodden, Writer in Residence at Live Theatre. Followed by a Q&A session.

DURATION: Approx. 1hr 20mins
COST: FREE, booking essential

Live Lab Elevator Double Bill
Wednesday 22 & Friday 24 February, 7.30pm
Presented by The Six Twenty
Written by Mhairi Ledgerwood
Directed by Melanie Rashbrooke
With the Earth under water, Victoria now lives on a ‘21st Century Noah’s Ark’. She must adapt to a new life, while still being haunted by memories of the old one. A play that examines the choices we make, and what we must do in order to survive. This play began as
short play in 10 Minutes To… in 2014, and has been supported through Live Lab to be developed into to an hour long piece.

Sex With Robots and Other Devices
Presented by Cloakroom Theatre
Written by Nessah Muthy
It’s 2018. Except, it feels like 2050, or a different planet. Trust us, it’s definitely 2018.
Your neighbours can’t have children, so they buy them. Your dad is lonely (and let’s face it, horny) so he sources some pretty interesting company. Your best friend has started dating someone you’ve never met, and never will.

Sex with Robots is the new play by Nessah Muthy (Gastronauts, Royal Court Theatre) which explores the normality of using advanced technology in our day to-day love lives, and the moral implications that come with being able to buy whatever you desire the most.

DURATION: Approx. 2hrs 20mins, incl. interval
TICKETS: £8, £6 concs

Thursday 23 February 2pm
Devised Theatre Workshop
Ahead of their performance of Blackout, fanSHEN explore the process of creating sensory theatre. Whether you are a theatre professional or budding theatre maker this workshop provides a fascinating insight into the creation of new performance work and the practice of this innovative theatre company.

DURATION: Approx. 2hrs
COST: Free, booking essential
Thursday 23 February 7.30pm
An evening of work-in progress performances in which extracts of larger pieces will be performed with a view to how they will be shaped in the future. These include:

Scrambled by Plane Paper Theatre, current Live Lab Associate Artists, which explores the emotional impact of assisted reproductive technology, motherhood and the psychological effects of infertility. When Beth is unable to conceive, she turns to her sister for help and to donate one of her own eggs.

The sisters embark on an emotional and physical journey together that they had never imagined. A visceral and darkly comic investigation of the lengths some women will go to
have children.

Louise Taylor, a graduate of Live Theatre’s Introduction to Playwriting course who has also previously written two plays for 10 Minutes to…, presents Preservation.  Its New Year’s Eve in a high-rise flat. Polly is searching for a ghost she hopes will bring her family together.

Following on from her acclaimed first solo show Learning How To DieLuca Rutherford shares the first public showing of material from her next project about politics - Unlabelled Political Project. 

The world is in a mess. Am I part of the problem? Why is the world so confusing? Why are discussions about politics so divisive? Can we help each other find some answers to some big questions? Or find some better questions? 

DURATION: Approx. 1hr 30mins incl. an interval

Saturday 25 February 11am
Director’s Masterclass: Staging Text
How does a director approach a new play for the first time? There are many approaches to directing plays and Live Theatre has been home to most of them.

In this participatory workshop join Steve Marmion, Artistic Director at Soho Theatre, and discover how a director works with text. How they form ideas and translate those to the stage.

This workshop, open to anyone with an interest in directing, is a fantastic opportunity to learn the secrets of bringing new plays to life.

DURATION: Approx. 3 hrs
TICKETS: £8, £6 concs

Saturday 25 February 4pm & 6pm
Presented by fanSHEN
If seeing is believing, what can you believe when you’re in complete darkness?
Blackout explores what happens when you escape from bland certainty of sight. Where does your imagination take you? 
Does time follow the same rules when you can’t see the hands of your watch? When do you start to notice all of the sounds that make up silence? And what stories do you tell yourself to make sense of it all?
Take part in a moment of reflection, an outing into the unexpected, a sensory adventure, all from the safety of a darkened room…
See this brand new piece by fanSHEN who were Live Lab 2015 Bursary winners to develop Lists for the End of the World for last years’ Elevator festival.
Please note this audience members will be asked to wear a blindfold for this performance and audiences are limited to a capacity of 12 people per performance.
DURATION: Approx. 40mins

Preview: Robin Hood at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Anton Benson Productions Ltd presents
Robin Hood
with Gareth Gates, Graham Cole & Zippy and George from Rainbow
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Monday 17th & Tuesday 18th April 2017

Whitley Bay Playhouse are delighted to announce the return of Anton Benson Productions Ltd on Monday 17th & Tuesday the 18th of April 2017, with Robin Hood!

Anton Benson Productions are proud to bring the fun and frolics of panto to Sherwood Forest as Robin Hood and his Merry Men battle to outwit the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham. Will Robin seize the day and win the hand of his fair Maid Marion? All will be revealed in another laugh a minute, all-singing, all-dancing rollercoaster ride through pantoland!

Anton Benson Productions Ltd presents Robin Hood with Gareth Gates, Graham Cole & Zippy and George from Rainbow at Whitley Bay Playhouse on Monday 17th & Tuesday 18th April 2017.
Timings: Monday 3.30 pm & 7pm, Tuesday 2pm & 5.30 pmTickets costing £16, £14 conc. & £54 Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 children) are on sale now.
Tickets are available from the Box Office open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10.30am – 2.30pm plus until show start on event days. Tickets can also be purchased on the booking hotline 0844 248 1588* or online at

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.


Preview: Hadaway Harry at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Hadaway Harry
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Friday 24th - Saturday 25th February 2017

Newcastle’s Theatre Royal will play host to a hit play about the Victorian Geordie who invented the sport of rowing we know so well today.

Harry "Hadaway" Clasper, who was from Tyneside, was the Sir Steve Redgrave of his day having led seven teams to win the Championship of the World on the Thames at Putney. In addition Harry, in the 1840s, invented and built the slim, light boats and outriggers used by modern scullers.

At the time Clasper's revolutionary new initiatives were ridiculed because rowers were still using the old clinker-built boats that had been a feature on rivers for centuries.

Harry also went on to train future world champions and umpired world championships.

The play, "Hadaway Harry", which will be performed at
Newcastle's 1200-seat Theatre Royal, will also have an out-of-town-run at the prestigious London Rowing Club on the banks of the Thames in Putney on Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18.

The play itself, which was performed to sell-out crowds and received standing ovations on Tyneside in June 2015, focuses on the very first time the Geordie oarsmen - led by Clasper and comprising his brothers - defeated the "unbeatable" Thamesmen in 1845.

Jamie Brown
Playwright Ed Waugh, whose shows have been performed nationally and internationally, explained: "Rowing was the sport of the working class prior to football. Every major river had its champion so there was huge interest in matches because civic pride was at stake.

"When Harry led his team of brothers to Putney in 1845 to win the World Championship for the first time it caused a sensation nationally; was akin to Fulham beating
Barcelona in the final of the European Cup!

"Even Charles Dickens wrote about the wonderful spectacle of the Geordies versus the Thamesmen."

Ed continued: "The
National Rowing Museum in Henley features the modern greats but at the very start of the rowing timeline there you'll see writ large the name of an illiterate, former Durham miner called Harry Clasper."

Waugh added: "After 1845, Harry went on to dominate national rowing for the next 25 years and when he died in 1870, aged 58, more than 130,000 people crammed the streets of
Newcastle and Gateshead to pay tribute."

Harry Clasper was a regular visitor to Putney. He often lodged in The Feathers pub at the mouth of the River Wandle when preparing for races.

Harry Clasper's son, John Hawks Clasper, himself a top rower, went on to live in Putney;
Lower Richmond Road and Stainbridge Road, both within a few hundred yards of the London Rowing Club.

John, who also lived in and ran The Feathers pub, was a master boater builder; his workshop, on the banks of the
Thames in Putney, is now the Westminster School boathouse, which still bears his name, JH Clasper.

Tickets cost from £10. Contact the box office on 08448 112121 or


Preview: The Dressing Room at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Cannon and Ball
‘The Dressing Room’
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Monday 6th February 2017

Cannon and Ball will visit the Playhouse on Monday the 6th of February 2017 in ‘The Dressing Room’.

Set behind-the-scenes at a run-down theatre Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball find themselves involved in the crazy goings-on of compère Stu Francis and fellow comic Johnnie Casson.

A hilarious comedy play, written by Bobby Ball, that combines sitcom with variety and comedy. Part play, part variety show - a whole night of great entertainment!

So get ready to get your “hankies" out to wipe away tears of laughter.

Suitable for all the family!

DERBYSHIRE TIMES - “'Cannon and Ball' won a standing ovation! A night of pure nostalgia!"

Tickets costing £18, £16 conc. are on sale
Tickets are available from the Box Office open Monday – Friday
10am – 4pm, Saturday 10.30am – 2.30pm plus until show start on event days. Tickets can also be purchased on the booking hotline 0844 248 1588* or online at

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

Preview: Dirty Dancing at Sunderland Empire


Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage
Sunderland Empire
Monday 26th June – Saturday 1st July 2017

Producers Karl Sydow and Paul Elliott are delighted to announce that the new UKproduction of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, will mambo back onto the road after a sensational Christmas season in the West Endfollowed by international dates in Bremenand Cannes. The show opens in Southend on 11 January and tours the UKand Irelanduntil the autumn of 2017 with a date at  Sunderland Empire Monday 26th June – Saturday 1st July 2017.
Starring Lewis Griffiths as ‘Johnny Castle’, Katie Hartland as ‘Baby Houseman’ and Carlie Milner as ‘Penny Johnson’, the UK tour has taken over £10million pounds since it hit the road last August and, due to overwhelming demand for tickets around the country, even more dates have been added, including return visits to Manchester, Blackpool, Liverpool, Woking and Sunderland.
The classic story of Baby and Johnny, featuring the hit songs 'Hungry Eyes', ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and the heart stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’, returns to the UK, following two blockbuster West End runs, two hit UK tours, and various international productions.
Full of passion and romance, heart-pounding music and sensationally sexy dancing, this record-breaking all new concept of the show is directed by Federico Bellone, choreographed by Gillian Bruce with set design re-imagined by top Italian designer Roberto Comotti. It premiered in Milanin July 2015, subsequently packing out the 15,000 seat Roman Arena in Verona, and then played a season in Rome.
Lewis Griffiths has had a prolific career in musical theatre, most recently starring as ‘Nick Massi’ on the UKtour of Jersey Boys. Other roles in UKtours include Ghost and Legally Blonde, and West End credits include Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Rent and Whistle Down the Wind.
Katie Hartland made her professional musical theatre debut carrying the watermelons as ‘Baby Houseman’, having graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2015.
Carlie Milner is part of the Dirty Dancing family; starting as a member of the ensemble in 2014, she covered and subsequently took over the role of ‘Penny’ in 2015.
The rest of the company are: Julian Harries as ‘Jake Houseman’, Simone Craddock as ‘Marjorie Houseman’, Tony Stansfield ‘as Max Kellerman’, Jo Servi as ‘Tito Suarez’, Lizzie Ottley as ‘Lisa Houseman’, Michael Kent as ‘Billy Kostecki’, Greg Fossardas ‘Neil Kellerman’, Nigel Nevinsonas ‘Mr Schumacher’, Daniela Pobegaas ‘Elizabeth’, and Camilla Rowlandas ‘Vivian’. Also joining the company are Gabby Antrobus, Imogen Brooke, Simon Campbell, Robert Colvin, Katie Eccles, Beth Highsted, Samuel John Humphreys, Megan Louch, Ashley Rumble, Callum Sterling, Austin Wilksand Karl James Wilson, who is the Alternate ‘Johnny Castle’.
It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year- old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing. On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, she shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles across an all-night dance party at the staff quarters. Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor. Her life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off, and two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.
Dirty Dancing –The Classic Story On Stage originally opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre in 2006 with a record-breaking advance of £15 million, making it the fastest ever selling show in West End theatre history. The production became the longest running show in the history of the Aldwych Theatre and played to over 2 million people during its triumphant 5 year run.
Since its Australian debut in 2004, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, has become a worldwide phenomenon, with productions staged in the USA, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singaporeand throughout Europe, consistently breaking box office records. Recent sell out tours include France, Germanyand Australia. The first ever UK tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, launched in 2011 and then returned to the West End in 2013 playing at the Piccadilly Theatre in London, prior to launching a second UK and Ireland tour.
Produced by Karl Sydow, Joye Entertainment and Paul Elliott, in association with Lionsgate and Magic Hour Productions, and written by Eleanor Bergstein, script writer of the phenomenally successful 1987 film, the production features the much-loved characters and original dialogue from the iconic film, as well as exciting extra scenes added in.
On The Web:

Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or*calls cost up to 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.