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Preivew: GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre

GIFT returns to Gateshead for three action packed days of exciting new contemporary theatre, workshops and discussions

GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre
Various locations in Gateshead
Friday 4 to Sunday 6 May 2018

GIFT returns to Gateshead this May with an explosive line up of UK and international artists. Celebrating bold contemporary theatre, GIFT brings together audiences and theatre-makers for an action packed three-day festival of new theatre, workshops and discussions. Committed to breaking down barriers, GIFT is accessible and affordable; with a number of free activities and performances across the festival.

As the North East’s only dedicated contemporary theatre festival, GIFT is a unique opportunity for audiences to experience contemporary theatre and international work right on their doorstep. With events happening across a variety of Gateshead venues, this year’s programme includes a thrilling mix of contemporary dance, live art, durational performances, children’s shows, physical theatre and workshops. It’s not to be missed!

As GIFT Festival Director, Kate Craddock explains: "For GIFT 2018 audiences should expect to be surprised by the diverse range of work in the programme, but also be prepared to get really involved. There are lots of artists in the programme who will be testing out new ideas for shows, and so audiences will be invited to offer feedback in different ways, contributing to the next steps of a number of new artistic projects.

Composed presented by Rosa Postlethwaite as part of GIFT at
Caedmon Hall. Photo: Dawn Felicia Knox (Sat)
By programming events in venues across Gateshead, GIFT 2018 will stretch from BALTIC on Gateshead's Quayside, all the way up through the town centre to Caedmon Hall in Gateshead Central Library, and on to the amazing gallery and creative space Thought Foundation in Birtley. By creating GIFT events in many different spaces, GIFT aims to reach lots of people who might not have encountered GIFT or the type of experience it offers.

This year, alongside the extraordinary artists from across the UK and Europe who have been invited to perform at GIFT, there are also lots of North East based artists to look out for."

GIFT showcases theatre that’s contemporary and relevant. It’s about bringing people together to think, share and have fun. Crossing cultural and interdisciplinary boundaries, GIFT champions work from some of the most exciting, honest and innovative performance artists around.

GIFT features over 50 artists, over 25 performances and events across 8 venues. Below are just some of the highlights from the 2018 programme. 

GIFT 2018 highlights
For 2018, GIFT is particularly excited to be returning to BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art with a selection of free and ticketed events. 

Durational performances at BALTIC

Wallflower presented by Quarantine as part of GIFT at BALTIC (Fri)
At BALTIC, on Friday 4 May, join award-winning Manchester based theatre company Quarantine for Wallflower a breath-taking 5-hour durational dance marathon. Quarantine are a unique voice in British theatre, internationally acclaimed for their experiments with everyday life. Spanning a lifetime of music, fashion, politics, friendships, parties, love and loss, Wallflower is a show about how dancing can shape our lives. Alongside this performance, audiences are invited to share their own remembered dances and add to a playlist of tracks, which will be played at the Wallflower after-show party (also at BALTIC).  As the company’s director Richard Gregory explains:

“Like much of Quarantine’s work, the performance serves as a form of portraiture – a brief glimpse of the complexity of so-called ordinary lives. These are live self-portraits. In the moment, the performers choose which dances they want to present, which narratives to reveal and pursue, an ongoing process of tangling and untangling personal histories.  Sometimes they’ll return to a memory to discover something new or to correct a detail.  As we look at the portrait of another, we might also somehow see ourselves. I’m drawn to the difference between what we think we’re showing and how we’re being seen. And of course, when we’re the ones doing the seeing, our own experience influences what we think we see.  Dance appears to be a potent way to do this – it’s familiar to us all, whether we choose to sit on the sidelines or jump right in”

Present Tense presented by Adam York Gregory &
Gillian Jane Lees as part of GIFT at BALTIC (Sat)
On Saturday 5 May, Glasgow based performance artists Adam York Gregory & Gillian Jane Lees share Present Tense a task based durational performance at BALTIC. Experimenting with anxiety, a performer backs herself into a corner by setting several hundred mouse-traps, each one adding to a growing sense of tension and a breath-taking visual.

International artists

This year’s International artists include Danish theatre company CHACMA and German performance artists Oliver Zhan and Julian Warner. CHACMA present ROBUST a unique fusion of physical theatre, soundscape and poetry slam at BALTIC on Saturday 5 May at 2pm and 4pm. Oliver Zahn and Julian Warner present Situation with Doppelgänger examining the cultural appropriation of the minstrel dance at BALTIC on Saturday 6 May at 8.30pm.

New for 2018

For the first time, GIFT is joining forces with the Thought Foundation in Birtley to present a selection of performances and works in progress. Newcastle trio Bonnie and the Bonnettes will be based at the Thought Foundation working on their new show And She. exploring motherhood, femininity and reinvention. They will open up their rehearsal room on Sunday 6 May between 10am-3pm inviting GIFT participants to drop in and share their stories and thoughts on motherhood. As Cameron Sharp, from Bonnie and the Bonnettes, said:

Someone Loves You Drive With Care presented
by Tom Cassani as part of GIFT at BALTIC (Sun)
“GIFT is hugely important as it gives us a platform to begin work on our second show. It’s a stepping stone between the gathering of our mums stories, which we did with a residency at Gala Theatre supported by the NEAD scheme, and going on to make the show. With GIFT, we are opening our first rehearsal up for an audience to come in and to hear our mums words, in our voices, for the first time. We are really excited to start work on our second show. It's going to be a lot different and a lot bigger than our debut show Drag Me to Love”

Also, new for 2018, GIFT has curated two Scratch events. Little GIFT Scratch is especially created for young people (4-8 year olds) and their families. Taking place on Saturday 5 May, Little GIFT Scratch includes two work-in-progress performances by NE artists created specifically for young people and their grown-ups. Plus, on Saturday night, the GREAT GIFT Scratch will bring together some of the most daring NE based artists for a night of brand new ideas. These Scratch events give audiences a unique chance to see work at a very early stage and offer feedback on their future development.

Other artists and companies featured during the festival include Third Angel (Sheffield), Unfolding Theatre (Newcastle), Rosa Postlethwaite (Newcastle), Jamie Harper (London), Hannah Sullivan (Bristol), Helen Collard (Newcastle) and Tom Cassani (Leeds).


Draw To Look presented by Hannah Sulivan
as part of GIFT (Sat & Sun)
GIFT brings together artists, audiences and participants in venues and locations across Gateshead from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 May. Festival Passes allowing access to all events are £40 (Full Price) and £25 (Concessions).

Tickets for individual events vary from £5 to £12. There are also a number of free performances and events throughout the festival.

Find out more about GIFT and book tickets

Join the conversation on Twitter #GIFT18 @GIFTfest

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