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Preview: Autumn 2018 at Northern Stage

Autumn 2018 at Northern Stage

The autumn 2018 season at Northern Stage features ambitious new productions made in Newcastle alongside new shows from some of the UK’s most exciting and innovative theatre companies. Plus comedy, dance, shows for children and young people and an eclectic programme in the intimate Stage 3 performance space.

Opening the season, as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting and developing artists in the region, Northern Stage, The Royal Court and New Writing North proudly present a public sharing from Royal Court Writers Group North (4-8 September) - nine new works from playwrights Olivia Hannah, Karen Laws, Mhairi Ledgerwood, Laura Lindow, Jack Nicholls, Lindsay Rodden, Tamsin Daisy Rees, Chris Salt and Zosia Wand.

Photo: Topher McGrillis
After a sell-out run earlier this year, Laura Lindow’s critically acclaimed adaptation of The War of the Worlds returns (19 – 22 September). This Northern Stage production of H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic relocates the story to the North East of England, where a band of survivors confront a Martian invasion against the backdrop of 1898 Newcastle. Directed by Elayce Ismail, who has worked with companies including the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Young Vic, Gate, Soho Theatre and the Royal Court, Lindow’s script cleverly weaves in references to the North East’s industrial heritage and inventions – from shipbuilding to the first street in the UK to be lit by electric lightbulbs, while Mariam Rezaei’s eerie, atmospheric soundscape drives the narrative. 

Alice Sebold’s global best-seller, The Lovely Bones (9-20 October) is brought to life on stage for the first time this autumn.  Adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery and directed by Melly Still, Alice Sebold’s unique coming-of-age tale captured the hearts of readers throughout the world when it was first published in 2002. An uplifting story about life after loss, The Lovely Bones achieved critical acclaim and became an instant bestseller. It won the Indies Choice Book Award for Adult Fiction 2003. The Lovely Bones has its world premiere at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 1-29 September 2018 before a UK tour, and is a co-production between Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Royal & Derngate and Northern Stage, in association with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse.

Originally written as a BBC radio drama by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood (2 – 17 November) gets a contemporary, technological twist under the direction of The War of the Worlds director Elayce Ismail. Dylan Thomas’s “play for voices” follows 24 hours in the lives of a collection of Welsh characters who inhabit the fictional town of Llareggub, and was made into a film starring Richard Burton with Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O’Toole. Elayce Ismail is currently Associate Director at Northern Stage as part of a pilot scheme by the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme (RTYDS) aimed at preparing directors with a strong professional track record for artistic leadership. 

 Image from Ernest Withers Collection
A revival of the Olivier award-winning play about Martin Luther King Jnr’s last night on earth, The Mountaintop (9-13 October) is directed by Roy Alexander Weise, winner of the JMK Award 2016, and co-produced by Reading Rep, Desara Productions and Nuffield Theatres. Originally presented at the Young Vic, it’s an intimate look into the quieter moments of King’s life. American playwright Katori Hall’s drama chips away at the myth of the great man to expose his fears about his family, his country and the ever-looming threat of a violent death.

Unlimited, in collaboration with RashDash and co-produced with HOME Manchester, present Future Bodies (16-18 October). Working with leading scientists and researchers in the fields of brain implants, smart drugs, and artificial intelligence, Future Bodies smashes together science, fact and fiction in a kaleidoscopic montage of words, music and movement, imagining the implications of real world, cutting-edge developments in human enhancement technologies.

One of Shakespeare’s most startlingly contemporary plays, Othello (13-17 November) is a masterful depiction of a life torn apart by prejudice. Following a critically acclaimed tour and London run, Richard Twyman’s vital production is brought to the stage by UK Theatre Award winners English Touring Theatre in a co-production with Oxford Playhouse and Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory.

Photo: Ian West
Dance includes Northern Stage associate company balletLORENT celebrating their 25th anniversary with After Dark (7-10 November) - an exclusive chance to experience scenes inspired by the ever popular la nuit intime and The Night Ball, with some original dances, plus an exhibition of unseen photographs from the archive, a celebration of the Newcastle-based company’s heritage; Tangomotion (25 October) features new choreographies by world-class tango dancers Alexandra Wood, Guillermo Torrens, Paula Duarte and Richard Manuel, with live original music and evergreen tango classics from the acclaimed Tango Siempre quartet; and Avante-Garde Dance Company and The Place present Fagin’s Twist (30-31 October) - Dickens’ Oliver Twist gets a contemporary hip hop reinvention in Tony Adigun’s production featuring five familiar characters.

For families and young people, Tall Stories’ magical, musical production The Snail and the Whale (3-5 October) is inspired by the fantastic bestselling picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler for children aged 3+; Dinosaur World Live!  (22-24 October) is interactive new show for all the family featuring remarkably life-like dinosaurs on our main stage; Egg and Spoon (22-24 October) is an interactive romp through the seasons - a gentle introduction to the magic of theatre for children aged 1-5; and on the first Saturday of every month The Storyteller Chris Bostock shares stories from all over the world with children aged 5-8 and their grown-ups, plus Storyteller for under 5s (Sat 27 October).

Comedy and spoken word shows include The Guilty Feminist (17 September) – a live recording of Deborah Frances-White’s podcast described as “screamingly funny” by The Guardian; straight-talking quick wit and bewilderment from Kerry Godliman: Stick or Twist (29 September); sixteen of the best slam poets in the North have three minutes each to wow the audience in the Great Northern Slam (4 October); and Crick Crack Club present The Gods and Monsters Show (19 October) with Pandvani108, combining performance storytelling, music and song.

The Stage 3 programme features an eclectic mix of theatre, comedy, spoken word, poetry and scratch nights including Alif Presents: Scratch Night (27 September) – new work from an independent writer-led collective of playwrights of colour who want to share their stories with the North East; Suicide Notes (2 October) - stories, poems and black humour from Christopher Brett Bailey whose critically acclaimed solo debut, This is How We Die received the Arches Brick Award, an Off West End Award, and was shortlisted for Stückemarkt at Berliner Festspiele 2016; and Rob Kemp reinterprets classic horror movie Evil Dead 2 through the songs of Elvis Presley in the multi-award winning Edinburgh Fringe cult hit The Elvis Dead (12 October).

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1 December – 5 January 2019) is given boisterous new life in a brand new production by the team that created James and the Giant Peach and Alice in Wonderland. Mark Calvert will direct Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of Dickens’ classic story of ghosts, greed and goodwill. For younger children aged 2-4, The Three Bears at Christmas (27 November – 5 January 2019) is a festive adventure into the woods with original live music, puppetry from Kitchen Zoo – the makers of The Owl and The Pussycat and graduates of Northern Stage’s NORTH programme for emerging artists and theatre makers. And for the grown-ups, The Suggestibles return with their entirely improvised Christmas show Impro Pantso (13 & 20 December).

Tickets for most shows start at £10. Priority booking for members opens on 24 May and tickets go on general sale on 7 June. New season passes offering savings of 20% when booking three, or 25% when booking five selected new season dramas are on sale now. For full details or to book tickets see  or call the box office on 0191 230 5151.

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