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News: The Customs House receives grant from Government


South Shields Arts Centre The Customs House receives grant from Government

The Customs House has been awarded £255,000 as part of the Government’s  Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

The Customs House is one of just 588 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support – with £76 million of investment announced today. This follows £257 million awarded earlier in the week to 1,385 organisations, also from the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

The Customs House is based on the banks of the River Tyne in South Shields. As a charity, every penny of its profit is reinvested to help support the local community, deliver education projects, nurture new creative talent and maintain the Grade II listed building it’s situated in.

This grant will help sustain The Customs House’s future post-Covid, as well as plan for its future programme and create a safe environment for audience members to return to the venue.

It will enable the charity to continue the work it does throughout the year in the community, with young people, new writing, emerging talent and creating first-rate entertainment which is often said to be ‘punching above its weight’. The grant will also support the shortfall from the closure of venue during the pandemic with more than 200 performances being cancelled.

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Culture is an essential part of life across the country, helping to support people’s wellbeing through creativity and self-expression, bringing communities together, and fuelling our world class creative industries. This latest set of awards from the Culture Recovery Fund builds on those announced recently and will help hundreds of organisations to survive the next few months, ensuring that the cultural sector can bounce back after the crisis.  We will continue doing everything we can to support artists and cultural and creative organisations, with further funding to be announced in the coming weeks.”

Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer said: “We are both relieved and delighted to have received this support from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund through Arts Council England. Delighted for the people of South Tyneside and relieved that this grant will support our remaining staff through a very difficult winter and hopefully give us the springboard to serve our community and with our partners, South Tyneside Council, be here for culture.”

As a charity every penny of profit at the Customs House is reinvested to help us support the local community, deliver education projects, nurture new creative talent and maintain our Grade II listed building. The Customs House has inspired individuals across all ages and all areas of our communities to engage in the creative arts, being inspired to try something new and whose well-being has been enriched through their involvement with The Customs House.

For more information visit



Preview: Chris Cross: DRIVE-IN at Morpeth Town AFC Craik Park Stadium

Tricks & Treats as Chris Cross Stages a Drive-In Magic Show


Morpeth Town AFC Craik Park Stadium, Morpeth. 

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One of the North East's most prolific magicians, Chris Cross, 31, has had the majority of his 2020 shows postponed or cancelled, due to COVID-19, which means he's had to experiment with some brand-new ways of presenting his live performances. This Halloween October half-term, Cross will be hosting what is probably the World's first ever drive-in Magic Show, on 29th October at Morpeth Football Club.

In this hour-long live performance, ticket holders will be tricked by some sleight of hand and close-up magic, which will be projected on to a huge LED video wall screen. They'll then get the opportunity to learn some magic for themselves, as Cross explains how to perform some easy but baffling tricks with cards and everyday objects. Upon entry to the event, each car will be given a pack of cards and some tricks to take home with them, so they can practice along with Chris Cross in the safety and comfort of their own car, then take the tricks away to fool their friends.

After the magic performance and lesson, there will be a short interval, followed by a screening of Edward Scissorhands, which is one of Cross's favourite films - and an appropriate choice to celebrate the beginning of the Halloween weekend early. Tickets for the magic experience can be purchased, with an add-on option of the film screening right afterwards. 

Chris Cross explains: ''I'm really looking forward to performing again. This show really will be fun for all the family and completely different to anything that anyone has ever done before. It'll be cool close-up magic that everyone will be able to see on the huge LED screen we have in place. It's the sort of screen you see on the backs of stages at big music festivals and gigs. Come and watch some magic tricks, learn a trick or two yourselves, then watch Johnny Depp, Vincent Price & Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands. A great early start to your Halloween weekend.

This Global pandemic has really hammered my business massively, as it has most other performers and other showbusiness professionals, too. It's been a real challenge to remain creative and keep my head above water in the process, but I think this will be a really fun event! Earlier in the year I was performing at The Dubai Shopping Festival at the Dubai Mall and I had a fully booked year of exciting gigs lined up, it's such a shame that COVID-19 has landed. Unfortunately, I can't make the virus disappear - but if I could I would!''

Chris Cross has performed all over the World for many celebrities, including Two-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson, The Arctic Monkeys, Knightrider Star David Hassellhoff, Rock Legend Alice Cooper, Celebrity Chefs the Hairy Bikers and he's even worked his magic for Prince Charles during his state visit to the region! He has self-published 'The Geordie Book & DVD of Magic' which he sells on his website. Cross made front page news in 2016 when he escaped from a straitjacket whilst hanging upside-down from the roof, 80ft in the air, suspended from Newcastle's Castle Keep. 

Hot drinks, food and alcoholic beverages will be available on-site, with an 'at-car' service in operation. 

There's only space for 45 cars at Craik Park Stadium (Home of the Morpeth Football Club) so to avoid disappointment, book your tickets now! Suitable for both children and adults. 

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Preview: Jack & the Beanstalk at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Does the Tyne Theatre & Opera House have a Pantomime this year..?


Jack and the Beanstalk

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera Theatre

Friday 18th – Thursday 24th December 2020

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A new socially distanced Covid secure pantomime, starring the popular Charlie Richmond as Simple Simon, is coming to the Tyne Theatre for a very limited run in December.

The Tyne Theatre and Opera House have announced that they will be postponing their original 2020 Pantomime; Sleeping Beauty.

The theatre have said that this decision was made to avoid the need to restrict capacity beyond what had already sold and make significant changes to the show itself. In an announcement, they have said: “We have big plans for Sleeping Beauty and want you all to be able to see it as we had intended – for this reason we will be postponing the show until 2021.”

They have clarified that ticket holders will have their tickets transferred to December 2021, and should wait to be contacted by their point of purchase to arrange this.

Show organisers, Enchanted Entertainment, have said in their statement: “The team at Enchanted Entertainment are sad to say that we won’t be producing Sleeping Beauty this Christmas for our wonderful audiences at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House. We know how important the panto is for so many families in the North East as part of their Christmas celebrations.

However, we will now spend the extra time making sure that Sleeping Beauty sets her alarm clock and wakes up in time for our biggest and best panto yet for Christmas 2021!

We are always grateful that so many families turn out year after year to support this amazing theatre and our Christmas show and we’ll see everyone very soon for more singing, dancing and panto silliness.”

However it’s not all bad news, Tyne Theatre & Opera House have announced that they will be hosting a socially distanced Pantomime this year; Jack and the Beanstalk coming to the theatre for one week only from Friday 18th – Thursday 24th December 2020.

In a statement, the theatre have said: “It's clear that Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a traditional pantomime (…) We've been working incredibly hard to ensure that this can be done safety for our venue staff, panto cast/crew and audiences. This year’s production is a specially designed 75 minute rib-tickling festive treat for all the family, with a reduced capacity and no interval to minimise crowding.”

The theatre will be seating audiences in socially distanced groups of 2, 4 and 6. This will accompany a host of additional safety measures, details of which can be found on the Tyne Theatre website.

Despite restrictions, they promise a ‘GIANT of a show’, starring panto favourite Charlie Richmond as Simple Simon, with the rest of the cast of ‘North East’s best panto talent’ still to be announced.

Tickets for Jack and the Beanstalk go on general sale at 10am on Monday 19th October 2020. Pre-sale tickets are available from 12noon on Friday 16th October for Sleeping Beauty ticket holders. For full information on how to access the pre-sale, customers should see the Jack and the Beanstalk event page on the Tyne Theatre website.

Theatre Director Joanne Johnson has said: “We’ve had a lot of feedback from our audiences to suggest that people really want to see a show at Christmas this year. It has been a difficult year for everyone and for many of our customers, an opportunity for some panto fun and laughter in December is more important than ever.

Having hosted our first socially distanced shows this month, we have seen that it is possible to deliver live entertainment in a safe way. We are expecting tickets to sell quickly due to high demand on a limited run, with limited capacity. We advise booking early to avoid missing out. We absolutely can’t wait to welcome our panto audience back into the Tyne Theatre this Christmas.”

As an independent venue, the Tyne Theatre and Opera House relies entirely on ticket sales and donations to survive and keep the theatre’s 150+ year heritage alive. In addition to buying tickets for upcoming shows, you can also support the theatre directly by donating to their #SaveOurTheatres Crowdfunder campaign launched earlier this month.

On The Web:

Safety information for Jack and the Beanstalk:


Sleeping Beauty bookers pre-sale: Friday 16th October 2020 (if booked through Eventim, you will have received a link via email. If booked directly with the Tyne Theatre box office please email with the name of your lead booker and performance booked for to be sent the link)
General on-sale: Monday 19th October 2020. Accessible bookings can be made by emailing (please specify access requirements and which performance you would like to attend)

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Preview: The Soldier’s Return - Online


New opera film giving Wearside veterans a voice to premiere on Remembrance Sunday


The Soldier’s Return


Sunday 8th November 2020

When everything has changed in your world and your family and friends feel like strangers can you ever really feel at home again or will a part of you always be at war?

When the UK went into lockdown in March, Opera Sunderland had just recruited a 40-strong intergenerational community chorus to take part in the world premiere of The Soldier's Return. With venues closed and live performances cancelled, and after data suggested singing could be particularly hazardous in the potential transmission of Covid-19, the Opera Sunderland team had to radically rethink their plans.

Sunderland born Artistic Director Alison Barton explains, “We wanted to honour the commitment to our community participants, the veterans who shared their stories with us, our artists, team and funders by taking a radical, lateral view of the situation. So we came up with a new and completely safe way of making the production that we hope will prove to be even more inclusive and accessible than our original plan to stage the opera live here in Sunderland.

"We decided to collaborate with award-winning North East film makers Meerkat Films and sound engineer Ian Stephenson at Simpson Street Studios to produce The Soldier’s Return as a film instead of a live production. Social distancing rules have meant taking an approach more akin to producing a pop video than an opera, but although it’s quite an experimental approach in the classical music world, it is tried and tested in other genres such as pop and rock. It’s a case of the show must go on, and it will!

Inspired by present day war veterans’ real life experiences, The Soldier’s Return is drawn from interviews with local people involved in past, recent and ongoing combat situations. It explores the impact of conflict when soldiers return home, not only on the soldiers themselves, but also their families and their relationship with the wider community. The film will premiere in November 2020 to mark Remembrance Sunday.

It follows the success of MIRACLE! An Opera of Two Halves which premiered in Sunderland in 2015. For this new production, Opera Sunderland has brought together many of the same artistic team, including Artistic Director Alison Barton, international award-winning composer Marcos Fernandez-Barrero, Director Annie Rigby and Musical Director Marco Romano. They are joined by T.S. Eliot prize-winning poet Jacob Polley who has written the libretto, Production Designer Imogen Cloët, Sound Engineer Ian Stephenson and Meerkat Films.

The cast are baritone Ian Priestley (The Man), mezzo-soprano Katherine Aitken (The Woman), tenor Austin Gunn (Voice 1) and bass-baritone Andri Björn Róbertsson (Voice 2).

Ian Priestley studied voice at Guildhall. He toured with the D’Oyly Carte and Carl Rosa opera companies and has appeared at the Buxton International Festival. Ian has also sung with Welsh National Opera, notably in their award-winning production of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron and at the Savonlinna Festival in Finland, the Dutch Nationale Reisopera, Scottish Opera, Opera North, Royal Opera, as well as solo recitals with the London Mozart Players. In 2015 he played the roles of God and Larry Trench in Opera Sunderland’s award-winning production, Miracle!: An Opera of Two Halves.

Katherine Aitken is a graduate of the Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music, Lon- don where she sung roles including Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and La Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Katherine’s recent highlights include Charles Grey (Georgiana compiled by Mark Tatlow) for Buxton Opera Festival, Tisbe (La Cenerentola by Rossini) and Pippetto (Donizetti’s Viva la Mamma!) for Opéra de Lyon, Pippetto (Donizetti’s Viva la Mamma!) for Grand Théâtre de Genève, Tisbe (La Cenerentola by Rossini) in the Edinburgh International Festival and Cher- ubino (The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart) for English Touring Opera. Katherine also recently premiered the role of Wild Woman in Aurora by Noah Moseley with Bury Court Opera and the Grimeborn Festival.

Austin Gunn has worked with English National Opera, Scottish Opera, Loughborough Festival Op- era, Berwick Festival Opera, Edinburgh International Festival and many others. He made his Portuguese debut in 2017 in the Musica Na Fabrica Festival in Lisbon directed by Max Hoehn, and his Swiss debut in 2018 as the spectre in Dvorak’s The Spectre’s Bride in Zurich. He has appeared in concert in France, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and throughout the UK.

Andri Björn Róbertsson made his House operatic debut in the 2019/20 season with his native Icelandic Opera as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and returns to the Dutch Opera as Der Einäugige in Die Frau Ohne Schatten. Last season, Andri appeared at both the Staatsoper Hamburg and Opera National de Lyon with Sir George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence following his house debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with the world premiere of the same production. Róbertsson studied at the Royal Academy of Music and was nominated ‘Brightest Young Hope in Classical Music’ at the 2013 Icelandic Music Awards. He is currently a Harewood Artist supported by the Behrens Fellowship with English National Opera. Róbertsson’s awards include the Audience Prize in the Mozart Singing Competition in London and first prize in the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and Icelandic Academy of Arts Competition. Concert appearances include Christus (Bach’s St Matthew Passion) with Newcastle Bach Choir at Sage, Gateshead.

Formerly known as Music in the Minster, Opera Sunderland is a registered charity that believes opera is for everyone, making it available, attractive and accessible by creating exciting opportunities for the people of Sunderland. The commission is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and as with all of Opera Sunderland’s work, The Soldier’s Return is about local people taking part – from sharing their stories, to workshops and performance opportunities.

The Soldier’s Return will premiere online on 8 November 2020 to mark Remembrance Sunday. For more information visit

Photos: Mark Savage Photography


Preview: October Events At Darlington Hippodrome


October Events At Darlington Hippodrome


Darlington Hippodrome announces a full schedule of events for all ages throughout October.


Having re-opened at the start of September Darlington Hippodrome has expanded its offer with a full schedule of events for all ages to enjoy throughout October.

The successful dance and fitness sessions will continue including regular Monday morning classes for those aged 65+ and dance fitness sessions each Tuesday evening. Further opportunities in dance include a contemporary dance taster session on the Hippodrome stage for adults (16+) on Saturday 3 October, a family taster session on Saturday 10 October and a Sling dance taster session for parents with young babies from 8 weeks of age which will take place on Thursday 22 October.


There will be two book group sessions on Wednesday 21 October when the text under discussion will be the gothic horror classic Dracula.


For those with an artistic flair there is another Lust For Life Drawing workshop on Monday 5 October and Sky Landscape Artist of the Year semi-finalist Brian Ramsey will hold a beginners’ drawing workshop on Monday 19 October. Quiz fans can book a spot in the Hippo Lounge for our popular Hippodrome Quiz on Wednesday 7 October which will also be streamed live on Facebook.


More classic cinema screenings are on offer in the Hippodrome auditorium with titles such as Sister Act, The Color Purple, Blade Runner, The Lost Boys, Hocus Pocus and The Woman in Black.


The venue’s box office, Hippo Lounge cafĂ© and gallery spaces will be open from 10am to 2pm Monday to Saturday. The box office and Hippo Lounge will also be open thirty minutes before each ticketed event.


Councillor Andy Keir said “I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported events throughout September at the Hippodrome, it was fabulous to see so many people taking advantage of the wide range of sessions. The success of the September schedule has meant an increase in the offer for October and I would hope this is a trend that continues.”


Visitors to the Hippodrome can be assured that all possible measures have been put in place to make a trip to the Hippodrome safe and enjoyable. Capacity at all events is restricted and it is advised to book as soon as possible.


For full details of all the events taking place in October please visit or call the box office on 01325 405405


Preview: Giovanni Pernice - This Is Me at Playhouse, Whitley Bay

Strictly Showman to make spectacular return in 2021...


Giovanni Pernice - This Is Me

Playhouse, Whitley Bay

Mon 12 April 2021

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Strictly Come Dancing Showman, Giovanni Pernice, is set to make a spectacular return to the stage in 2021 with his incredible show THIS IS ME, after the tour was cut short in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The show returns after the sell-out successes of his previous tours and countless five star reviews.

The Italian was devastated to have to put the 2020 tour on hold just a couple of weeks after opening night, announcing on Instagram “Never wanted this moment to arrive, but here we go…I’m so sorry to say that we have had to reschedule the remaining shows of the THIS IS ME tour. We have to think of everyone’s health and wellbeing. Thank you to all of the amazing audiences we have had and apologies to those that haven’t seen the show yet. I hope we will be able to return soon…but in the meantime, be safe, be healthy, look after each other and be kind. I miss you already…G!”

has become a firm fan favourite, having been a professional dancer on the hit BBC TV show since 2015 and has reached the final three times, with Georgia May Foote, Debbie McGee, and Faye Tozer respectively.

On the 2019 series Giovanni was partnered with Michelle Visage, who is a judge on the popular TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, making it all the way to Blackpool!


Will 2020 be the year Giovanni wins the coveted glitter ball? He certainly hopes so! “I dream about that trophy every night, you know, it’s what it means to you!! I would love to sleep next to that trophy for the rest of my life!! But seriously, I just feel very lucky to have been on the show for so long and to have had such great partners.”

The professional dancer has said This Is Me is his ‘biggest and best ever tour to date’. “I just want to try and do something different, something that you haven’t seen before. I want to challenge myself and show off my hidden talents!” 

The showman is set to light up the stage once again, along with his cast of professional dancers, for his fifth year of touring.

With the Italian’s natural charm, combined with beautiful choreography perfectly complemented by a fabulous soundtrack, This Is Me pays homage to the music and dances that have inspired Giovanni’s career, from a competition dancer to one of the biggest names on the hit BBC show.

A limited number of VIP Meet and Greet tickets are also available at each venue.

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Preview: Paloma Faith at Stockton Globe

Stockton Globe Exclusive:
Paloma - The Infinite Things Tour

Paloma Faith with special guest Josef Salvat.

Stockton Globe
Saturday 9th October 2021

Tickets are on general sale from 10am Friday 2nd October from ATG Tickets: #Ad


This is a new Paloma Faith, an artist who has retreated within herself and found not the careful, polished veteran of show business, but the 22-year-old art student being led by her own creativity.

Paloma wrote most of the songs for her new album, Infinite Things, before the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world. Then we went into lockdown, and she ripped them all up and started afresh. She spent her downtime creating, learning to engineer her own music and just thinking about the world.

The enforced downtime was creatively fruitful and taught her that she had been on a sort of conveyor belt of music and promo. The lockdown gave her the space to take stock of her frenetic career, and decide what is meaningful to her. She is emerging from lockdown with a new sense of her priorities which has seen her reconnect with her roots steeped in creativity.

Supporting Paloma will be special guest Josef Salvat.

ATG Proudly Present: Stockton Globe

Situated in the heart of Stockton High Street, Stockton Globe originally opened its doors in 1935. During its life as an entertainment venue it has played host to many international names from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Sadler's Wells Ballet and the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

Tickets are on general sale from 10am Friday 2nd October from ATG Tickets: #Ad



Preview: Cinderella at South Shields Hedworth Hall

Oh Yes There Is! The Show Will Go On As Cinderella Comes To South Shields This Christmas



South Shields Hedworth Hall

Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th December 2020

What is a traditional staple of the Christmas period, has left many families across South Tyneside devastated at recent pantomime cancellations across the region this year. With many theatres closing their doors due to the Covid-19 crisis a local production team are determined to sprinkle a little festive panto magic this Christmas with a socially distanced pantomime.


Producer Kevin Reay said, ‘It has been an absolutely devastating year for theatres and we all definitely need a little Christmas cheer. I am delighted to be bringing Cinderella to The Hedworth Hall. It is a fabulous venue and Cinderella is arguably one of the most popular pantomimes in the world. We will be adhering to all of the necessary government guidelines and seating will be in social bubbles.”

The story of Cinderella is deep rooted in romance and tradition. After the untimely death of her father, Cinderella is troubled by her stepmother and stepsisters. However, her life changes forever after a chance meeting with a handsome prince. Expect the usual twists and turns from wicked stepmothers, ugly stepsisters, and a host of fabulous characters! 


Director and Choreographer Adam Allinson said, ‘Cinderella really is the Fairygodmother of all pantomimes! It is a true family favourite. With the fabulous cast we have lined up and the absolutely hilarious script written by Tom Whalley this production is going to be something really special. The Hedworth Hall lends itself perfectly to a show such as Cinderella. I know that audiences are going to absolutely love this production! 


Cinderella! The Fairygodmother Of All Pantomimes is being performed live at The Hedworth Hall on Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th December with a 2.30pm & 7.30pm performance on both days. Tickets must be pre-booked by calling the box office on 0191 243 86 55 or by booking online at


Preview: Little Cog’s Funny Peculiar goes online

 Little Cog’s Funny Peculiar goes online


Funny Peculiar is the latest lockdown production from Little Cog as part of the Staging Our Futures programme, co-commissioned with ARC Stockton and Northern Stage.  

Written and directed by Vici Wreford-Sinnott, the piece also stars Liz Carr of Silent Witness fame, Mandy Colleran, a comedian and activist, and Bea Webster who is currently an associate of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Playwright's Studio of Scotland.

Vici said, "We are absolutely thrilled to be working with such an amazing cast to tell the stories of disabled women. It feels more important now than ever that we ensure we are visible". Vici is referring to the figures recently released showing that disabled women are 11.9 times more likely to die in the current pandemic than other people. "Terms like 'vulnerable' and 'underlying health conditions' have led to thinking that the deaths of certain groups of people are inevitable. Expected and accepted."

Little Cog decided to challenge that belief and develop work that celebrated disabled women in their rich and complex glory. Vici said, "We are so excited to be working with Liz, Mandy and Bea. We have spent time discussing disabled women's experiences with all cast members and have written bespoke work for the actors."

Liz Carr is known to millions for playing Clarissa Mullery in the BBC's  Silent Witness for eight years. She is an actor, comedian and disability rights activist. Others will know her from the Disabled/Deaf womens comedy group, Nasty Girls or the BBC Ouch! podcast with Mat Fraser or her stand up with Abnormally Funny People, her Criptease routines or her passionate opposition to legalising assisted suicide through both campaigning and her creation of the show, Assisted Suicide - The Musical.

Liz said, Im thrilled to have this chance to give voice to and highlight the fears, dark humour and incredible resilience of Disabled women as together we fight for our very existence not just during this pandemic - but always."

Zsa Zsa, Raquelle, Blanche and Cuba are in quarantine – four disabled women locked down, locked in, shut up and shouted down. While the rest of the nation is in meltdown, it takes a lot to faze this quartet. The new terrain is worrying and frustrating but these women are prepared - perhaps they have waited for a moment like this their whole lives. In a sequence of four original, cross-cutting, witty and wise monologues, broadcasting from their own homes during quarantine, these women are myth-busters giving their all to expose the lie of vulnerability.

"This piece is particularly of this moment and we don't expect to see any of our broadcasters making work like this, although we'd love their support, so we just thought, okay then, let's make it ourselves and the response and interest has been phenomenal.”, says Vici. "There is a danger with a period of potentially prolonged isolation that we could disappear from view, and we were in unanimous agreement that none of us is prepared to let that happen. So here we are making glorious work together."

Mandy Colleran has been involved in Disability Arts since the 1980s. She was a founder member of the comedy trio No Excuses which produced the legendary piece Know My Place, still available to view on YouTube. Mandy was also a founder of North West Disability Arts Forum, later becoming its director. She won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Dadafest in 2007. She was involved in Kaite O'Reilly's In Water I'm Weightless for National Theatre of Wales and has had a long career as a speaker, feminist and campaigner for disability rights.

Bea Webster is a deaf actor who trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She is an actor, drag artist, writer and speaker on Deaf equality. She is currently in rehearsals with the Royal Shakespeare Company for The Winter's Tale, and starred in Red Ladder's Mother Courage and Her Children, and Kaite O'Reilly's Peeling which toured in the Uk last year. Bea is passionate about classical and contemporary texts in English and BSL, has contributed to  BBC Social, has hosted several events, and has published a poem in both BSL and English titled Long Lost Lover, about her birthplace of Thailand.

Vici is Artistic Director of Little Cog, writing and touring nationally a number of pieces of work including, Butterfly which was named Best One Person Play by the British Theatre Guide, Another England, Lighthouse and her recent commissions The Wrong Woman Discussions and Siege for ARC Stockton and Home Manchester can still be seen online as part of the Homemaker's commissions. She is a lifelong feminist and activist, regularly speaking and campaigning on disability rights matters and the role of culture and the arts in equality. She is a founding member of both Disconsortia and We Shall Not Be Removed.

Funny Peculiar is a Staging Our Futures Commission from Little Cog, ARC Stockton and Northern Stage, funded by Arts Council England. 

Funny Peculiar will premiere online on Thursday 24 September 2020, 7pm via Little CogYouTube channel and will be available until 24 October.  


News: Ghost Light Switched back on at South Shields Arts Centre

 Ghost Light Switched back on at South Shields Arts Centre

The ghost light at The Customs House has been switched back on.


The arts centre and charity in Mill Dam, South Shields has suspended live theatre for September and October following concern over the rise in the covid infection rate.


Customs House executive director Ray Spencer said: “After consultation with performers and our partners in public health we have taken the decision to cancel live shows for September and October.  We managed to have 11 live performances in our theatre, we managed to do it safely, we managed to bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye. However, due to the rise in the covid infection rate here in South Tyneside, and indeed across the north east, we have decided to do what we consider to be the right thing.


“The right thing isn’t always what’s legally required but sometimes you have got to do what’s morally required and we feel that our moral obligation is to keep you safe and to keep our community as covid-free as we can.   I have spoken to the artists that were due to grace our stage in September and October and they have agreed that the best way forward is to cancel those shows. We will review the situation in the future.


“So, another chapter in what seems to be the covid-saga but what we do know is we will be keeping our community safe and for now from The Customs House I can tell you the ghost light is back on.”


A ghost light is left on as a beacon of hope, ensuring that the theatre never goes completely dark and the light will return to the stage once more.  The decision to cancel live performances follows the venue’s closure of its restaurant and cinema earlier this week.


Shows that were due to go ahead in September and October but have now been cancelled included: Cook and Bennett are Blethering On, Cook and Hutchinson Have Literally No Plans Whatsoever, Jason Cook’s Comedy Club, A Live Audience With Adam Allinson and Joe McElderry: ‘The Tour that Couldn't Tour' Tour.


Staff at the theatre will be contacting customers, starting with the shows due to take place this weekend, in the coming days. If you have a query, email

To find out more about The Customs House visit


Preview: Jack and The Beanstalk at Newcastle Boulevard

Boulevard's first ever family pantomime


Jack and The Beanstalk - Socially Distanced Family Pantomime!

Newcastle Boulevard

Thursday 24th - Wednesday 30th December 2020


The Boulevard has announced that it will host its first ever family pantomime this Christmas in conjunction with producer Liam Glendinning.  It will be Covid secure, socially distanced with track and trace measures of course. The tickets have gone on sale today.


Show producer, Liam Glendinning said 'I was devastated when the theatre pantomime rescheduling started to happen across due country to the uncertainty of the Government lifting restrictions and producers therefore being unable to forward plan.

Luckily for us, Boulevard had already been made fully COVID secure in July ready for their grand reopening in August. As I already had a relationship with Boulevard management we came up with a plan and we were able to budget the show around a very limited audience capacity, something which theatres with extremely high overheads quite understandably can't do.

I've been involved in professional Christmas pantomimes now for the last 6 years and even before that I performed in them from the age of 12, so I'm delighted to be able to stage this in the North East this Christmas at this fabulous venue until the theatres are back to full capacity. 

I hope that the industry as a whole gets back on it's feet in the not too distant future and that you will support this great venture. 


Jack and his poor mother, Dame Trott, live in a tiny cottage in the shadow of the terrible giant, Blunderbore. With the rent overdue they have no choice but to sell their beloved cow, Daisy. After tricking the Trotts into selling her for a bag of worthless beans, the villainous giant’s henchman Fleshcreep kidnaps the Princess for his master’s supper... Will Jack be able to rescue Daisy and Princess Jill in time? Could he be the hero the village has been waiting for? Perhaps those beans aren't as worthless as they seemed… This 'GIANT' adventure is the pantomime you've BEAN waiting for!



Jack and The Beanstalk - Socially Distanced Family Pantomime!

Thursday 24th December - 1.00pm & 5.00pm

Saturday 26th December - 1.00pm & 5.00pm

Sunday 27th December - 1.00pm

Monday 28th December - 3.00pm & 7.00pm

Tuesday 29th December - 3.00pm & 7.00pm

Wednesday 30th December - 3.00pm

Tickets are available now by calling 0191 250 7068