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NEWS: Exciting Packed Spring 2019 Season at Newcastle’s Northern Stage

Exciting Packed Spring 2019 Season at Newcastle’s Northern Stage

• Discounted tickets now on pre-sale to members
• Tickets from £10 on general sale from 17 October

Spring 2019 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 and work made by and for children and young people. Plus comedy, dance and an eclectic programme in the intimate Stage 3 performance space.

The UK stage premiere of Khaled Hosseini’s international best-selling novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns (30 May -15 June) will be directed by Roxana Silbert in a Northern Stage and Birmingham Repertory Theatre co-production. From the writer of The Kite Runner, and adapted for the stage by Irish/Indian Scriptwriter for theatre and screen, Ursula Rani Sarma, it’s the powerful story of three generations of women discovering strength in unity and finding hope in the unlikeliest of places.

Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director, Birmingham Repertory Theatre said, “A Thousand Splendid Suns is a rare glimpse into 30 years of contemporary Afghan history. Ursula Rani Sarma’s emotionally stirring adaptation effortlessly weaves the extraordinary story of two radiant women who struggle to survive the terrifying political situation they find themselves in. The result is an inspiring, enlightening and magical theatrical experience.” Playwright Ursula Rani Sarma said, “This play is about the immense strength and endurance of women and how they can survive tremendous suffering to keep those they love alive. It is also about how even in the darkest of times and places, love can grow and sustain the human spirit beyond all pain and hardship. It’s about friendship and loyalty, courage and selflessness, grief and violence. What the play has to say about love, endurance, and survival is very much worth listening to for a contemporary audience. There is beauty and strength at the heart of A Thousand Splendid Suns, and I feel so proud to be part of its evolution from novel to stage.”

Photo: Nottingham Playhouse
Wonderland (27 Feb - 9 March) is a spirited and uplifting drama written by a miner’s daughter. Expect dark humour and tension in this 360° look at the events leading up to and during the miners’ strike. Directed by Nottingham Playhouse Artistic Director, Adam Penford and written by Beth Steel, Wonderland premiered in 2014 in London to critical acclaim. Designer Morgan Large's stunning set design was widely praised by critics, and has been nominated for Best Design at the 2018 UK Theatre Awards.

Director Adam Penford said: “Beth’s play is really special. It’s incredibly funny and moving, with great characters, and looks at the strike in a fresh way. The set design is hugely ambitious and there are movement sequences and live music; it’s a visual treat.” Beth Steel added, “I could not be more thrilled that Wonderland, having played to audiences in London and the Midlands, is now coming to the North of England. For us to be sharing it with the people of Newcastle is a privilege. Whilst the play is set in the Midlands the scope of the story is nationwide, just as the devastating Miner’s Strike was itself.”

Following on from Richard III and fresh from directing Two Noble Kinsmen at Shakespeare’s Globe, Barrie Rutter OBE will both direct and play the title role in Jack Lear (12 – 16 February). The production will include live music by award-winning English Folk Musician, Eliza Carthy MBE and will premiere at Hull Truck Theatre before transferring to Northern Stage.

Barrie Rutter said: “I am thrilled to be directing and playing the title role in Jack Lear. This is a play that belongs on the East Coast: fish, fighting, passion and pride; served up with a healthy dollop of tradition and song.” Mark Babych, Artistic Director at Hull Truck Theatre, said: “Barrie’s passion and iconic northern voice is at the heart of this piece of work and it’s our pleasure to be delivering this ambitious play with him by our side. We’re also really excited that the play will be transferring to Northern Stage, to give audiences in the North East a chance to sample a very Yorkshire twist on a Shakespearian tragedy.”

Following the success of Where Do We Stand?, Northern Stage Young Company presents Where Do We Belong? (24 - 26 April) - a vibrant view of what global citizenship looks like through the lens of young Europeans finding their way in the world made by young people from Newcastle and Gateshead.

Visiting companies include the return of Pilot Theatre, who follow their critically acclaimed Brighton Rock with Sabrina Mahfouz’s exciting new adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s bestselling young adult novel Noughts & Crosses (7-11 May). Directed by Pilot Theatre’s Artistic Director Esther Richardson (Brighton Rock), the new adaptation will premiere at Derby Theatre in February 2019 before a national tour. Told from the perspectives of the two teenagers, Noughts & Crosses is a love story set in a volatile, racially segregated society and explores the powerful themes of love, revolution and what it means to grow up in a divided world.

Malorie Blackman has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the award-winning Noughts & Crosses series and science fiction thriller Chasing the Stars. Her work has also been adapted for TV with Pig-Heart Boy winning a BAFTA and Noughts and Crosses currently in production for the BBC. Sabrina Mahfouz is a British Egyptian poet, playwright, performer and writer from South London, England. Her recent plays have included Offside (co-written with Hollie McNish) and With a little bit of luck (Paines Plough). Sabrina said: “As a young adult, Noughts & Crosses showed me the power storytelling can have in highlighting injustice in the world, so it is a complete honour to now be adapting the legendary Malorie Blackman's words for the stage, alongside the bold vision of Pilot Theatre and partners.”

Chekhov’s First Play (25 – 27 April) from Dead Centre and Battersea Arts Centre is a deconstructed and absurd take which explores the essence of Chekhov and performance itself. 

Bill Kenwright’s Rain Man (8-13 April), is based on the Oscar-winning film starring Tom Cruise. 

Ned Bennett’s bold new production of Sir Peter Shaffer’s critically-acclaimed classic, psychological thriller Equus in an English Touring Theatre co-production opening at Theatre Royal Stratford East in February, before a national tour including Northern Stage (30 April - 4 May). 

Photo: Topher McGrillis
The Letter Room’s No Miracles Here (15-16 February) is a tale of resilience, strength and the need to just stay on your feet. 

Harry Gibson’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s cult novel Trainspotting (5-9 March) is an immersive production for In Your Face Theatre company which invites the audience into the action. 

John Godber’s international smash hit comedy Bouncers (19-23 March) returns with contemporary music and an updated script. 

The Scotsman Fringe First award-winning show The Shape of the Pain (5 April) explores life in extremity and the joy that can be found there. 

Outcaste (13 May) is a new play by Avin Shah (Tommies, BBC Radio 4) directed by Fay Lomas (The Crucible, Royal & Derngate) – a story of forgotten voices and individual struggles set in 1914 Punjab.

Dance includes BalletBoyz: Them & Us (22-23 March) – two brand new works set to original scores by world class composers; Proceso Eterno (6 April) from one of the most celebrated female flamenco dancers of the moment, Patricia Guerrero; Northern Ballet: Mixed Programme (16-18 April) features three new works by three young choreographers; and Abbott Dance Theatre returns with Deeds Not Words (21 May) – a moving and energetic piece of dance theatre commemorating women’s suffrage in the UK.

For families and young people: 
  • ·       
    Princess Charming (23 February) explores gender stereotypes in a fun questioning way for children aged 7+;
  • ·        Based on the much-loved book by Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat (27 – 31 March) features infectious humour and spectacular circus for kids aged 4+ and all the family;
  • ·       
    Northern Ballet presents live ballet, music and theatre for children aged 3+ in Puss in Boots (18 April); inspired by Hans Christian Andersen, What the Moon Saw (21-23 February) is a new dance and circus performance for ages 3+;
  • ·       
    We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (6-9 February) is a smash-hit production direct from the West End, for children aged 3+;
  • ·        Showstopper! Kids Show (23 February) – Olivier Award-winners turn kids ideas into musical adventures in this comedy improv show for kids aged 6+;
  • ·       
    Photo: JMA Photography
    The Isle of Brimsker (29-30 April) is a new multi-sensory story for young people aged 13+ from Frozen Light, specialists in making theatre for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities;
  • ·        Kitchen Zoo follow up their popular production of the Owl and the Pussycat with The Tin Foil Astronaut (28 May – 1 June) – a space adventure for children aged 3-7 years;
  • ·       
    CBeebies’ Patrick Lynch uses a pioneering mix of live cinema and theatre in There and Back Again – An Odyssey (22 June) for ages 6+;
  • ·       
    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 (starting Sat 2 February).

Comedy and spoken word shows include:

  • Mark Kermode: How Does it Feel? (4 February) – the film critic and broadcaster recounts his utterly foolhardy attempts to fulfil his dreams of becoming a pop star; 
  • The anthropologist, broadcaster and author shares behind-the-scenes stories from her personal journey to explore Britain’s past in An Evening With Alice Roberts (31 January); 
  • After a sold out run at the Great Exhibition of the North, stand-up poet and broadcaster Kate Fox’s comic and thought-provoking Where There’s Muck There’s Bras (13 March) is a show about the real Northern Powerhouse – Northern Women; 
  • ·        Following last year’s sellout tour, RuPaul’s Drag Race favourite Jinkx Monsoon returns with Major Scales to showcase music from their upcoming album in The Ginger Snapped (6 April) – a witty, biting look at the dark side of Drag fame; 
  • The Great Northern Slam (14 March) is back, featuring special guest David C. Johnson who has toured his brand of quirky, witty performance poetry all over the USA and headlined the Austin International Poetry Festival in 2018; 
  • ·        Edinburgh Fringe Best Newcomer Sofie Hagen returns with Bubblewrap (24 May) after a sell-out at Northern Stage earlier this year; 

  • Crick Crack Club present The Remarkable Tale of Robert Desnos (5 June) – performance storytelling by Claire Muireann Murphy and Daniel Morden.

Tickets for most shows start at £10. Priority booking for members opens on 4 October and tickets go on general sale on 17 October. 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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