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Preview: Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

 Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess: Amanda Owen brings new show to Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre

Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Thursday 4th November 2021

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The Tyne Theatre and Opera House have announced that the Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen, will be discussing the highs and lows of her farming, family life at the theatre on Thursday 4th November 2021.

Amanda will be sharing heart-warming tales and honest anecdotes from her remarkable life, ruled by animals and the four seasons, in this frank, funny and informative show: Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess. We will hear how Amanda juggles life as a shepherdess, home renovator and mother to nine children, with life as a Sunday Times best-selling author of three books and being taken to the nation’s hearts with the Channel 5 hit series ‘Our Yorkshire Farm’.

The show will be accompanied by some of Amanda’s wonderful photography, allowing the audience to experience the remote farming life in North Yorkshire, which over the past few years included the extremes of the Beast from the East and some of the hottest summer temperatures on record.

Funny, charming and filled with unforgettable characters, ‘Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess’ will delight anyone who has dreamt of a new life in the country.

Tickets for Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess are now on sale
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News: Durham students are adapting renowned ‘Frankenstein’ to fit lockdown

 Durham students are adapting renowned ‘Frankenstein’ to fit lockdown


Online Stream

Friday 29 January to Friday 19 February 2021.

One of the world’s most famous horror stories as you’ve never heard it before. 


Durham University’s oldest theatre company, Castle Theatre Company, is collaborating with Green Door Theatre Company to bring you a radio play of ‘Frankenstein’, adapted by Sophie Wright. 

The team has come together to create an hour-long audio production that will be accompanied by original illustrations to create an exciting animation.  

The play will be available to stream from 29 January – 19 February on YouTube.

Along with carefully edited sounds effects, beautifully designed animation, originally composed music and talented actors, ‘Frankenstein’ is a testament to how the arts are still thriving in spite of COVID-19. 




‘Frankenstein’ will be available to stream from 29 January to 19 February 2021.


Tickets are priced from £4 - £4.50 and are available from the online Durham Student Theatre Box Office.

Tickets can be booked at:

News: South Shields Customs House offers artists the chance to win 6m high commission


South Shields Customs House offers artists the chance to win 6m high commission


An arts venue is calling on South Tynesiders to show their creative side – in a very big way. The Customs House, based on the banks of the River Tyne, which is also a charity, is asking artists to fill its 6m high building banner.

The project entitled ‘In this Together’ is open to anyone living in or from South Tyneside and can be in any style but the piece must show “What Togetherness Means to You”.


The chosen piece of art will be displayed for three months from March to July for all to see. While the shortlisted entries will be able to be seen in an online gallery. The final decision on the chosen design will be decided by a public vote via the venue’s social media.


Customs House executive director Ray Spencer said: “We’re so excited to see the entries that come forward. Our building banner is often used to advertise shows and at Christmas we decided to use photographs of our patrons to wish everyone a merry Christmas, we’re now going a step further and fully handing over the space to the people of South Tyneside to show their creative flair.

“We know this last year has meant we’ve had to stay apart from our loved ones, our schools and workplaces and the places we love, like The Customs House. We want to celebrate what it means to be ‘together’ in 2021 and we have the perfect space, splashed right across the front of our building, to display the work.

“This is an opportunity for people to share what togetherness means to them. Does it mean a hug from a loved one? A virtual get together with friends and family? Sitting together in your favourite theatre? A feeling of belonging? Or does it mean something else entirely?”

The Customs House are asking that all artwork is submitted digitally and should be in portrait (610mm [h] x 480mm [w])

Submissions should be sent to by 5pm on February 22nd with the subject title: Togetherness and the artist’s name.

Ray added: “This opportunity is open to everyone in South Tyneside, regardless of age or experience.”

For full specifications and more information visit

News: ARC Stockton and The Albany announce five new artists as part of radical new model transforming the role of 21st century arts centres


ARC Stockton and The Albany announce five new artists as part of radical new model transforming the role of 21st century arts centres

The appointments are part of Artists of Change, which bridges the gap between artists, venues and communities and puts people in Stockton on Tees and South East London at the centre of decision-making.

ARC Stockton and The Albany (based in Deptford) today announce five new artists that will work with people local to each venue over the next twelve months, creating art that responds directly to their needs, interests and tastes. The appointments are part of each arts centre’s biggest commitment to handing power directly over to their communities, whilst removing the traditional ‘top down’ programming model and democratising the way each organisation is run.

ARC is looking forward to working with Lizzie Lovejoy, a creative practitioner working in a variety of mediums including illustration, animation, written poetry and spoken word, and Symoné, a multidisciplinary circus and performance artist and creative producer.

Artists appointed by the Albany are all resident in South East London and include the actor, writer and director Ryan Calais Cameron, award-winning cross arts collective Initiative.dkf, run by Artistic Director DK Fashola and Creative Producer Wofai, and actor, writer and theatre maker Angela Clerkin.

 Lizzie Lovejoy
Each artist was recruited via an open call in the summer and chosen by a panel actively engaged with each venue. Working to an open brief they will curate, create or lead activity in collaboration with the community in Stockton and Deptford and Stockton. The announcement follows a significant shift in the way both venues operate in recent years which has already seen an increase in community-centred models of making art. These include projects such as: Pizza and Pitches, which invites local people to submit their own creative ideas for funding at both venues; and the Here and Now project, a Future Arts Centres initiative led by the two venues, where communities co-create work to reflect their local areas in 40 arts centres across the country.

Lizzie’s role at ARC is part of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme, which supports people from low socio-economic backgrounds. Artists of Change is part-funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation at the Albany.

ARC’s Chief Executive & Artistic Director, Annabel Turpin, said: ‘We know that we need to find new ways of working if we are to change who gets to make and experience arts and culture. We are excited to be employing two artists entirely new to ARC, to work with us and our communities over the next year. We are open to change and want to learn, so hope this will prove to be another way of giving artists and communities a bigger stake in our organisations.’

Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Albany, Gavin Barlow explained: ‘We were bowled over by the wealth of ideas and creativity that we saw in response to our call out, that although we had originally intended to appoint two artists, we had to have three! With the world changing so rapidly, now feels like the right time to try out new ways of working and let artists and our communities tell us what they want from us and what matters to them.’

Creative practitioner, Lizzie Lovejoy added: ‘I am so proud to have this opportunity to work as an Artist of Change with ARC, as a working class creative who has spent their entire life in the North East, I am really excited to be able to interact with the local community and with other artists in engaging and visually interesting projects.’

Circus and performance artist, Symoné said 'I'm really looking forward to working alongside ARC Stockton as an Artist of Change to explore and challenge some of the practices within the arts with a real focus to help artists to grow.'


Preview: Nina Conti at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

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Comedy ventriloquist, Nina Conti, brings new dating show to Newcastle's Tyne Theatre 

Nina Conti: The Dating Show 

Newcastle Tyne Theatre and Opera House

Saturday 6th November 2021

Tickets will be available from our affiliates Eventim UK for Nina Conti: The Dating Show:  #Ad

The queen of ventriloquism, Nina Conti, will return to the Tyne Theatre and Opera House stage pioneering a new dating show on Saturday 6th November 2021. 

Following a four-year absence, the British Comedy Award winner returns like Cilla Black with masks. Derailed. Not so much a Blind Date as a re-voiced one. There is no promise that true love will be found but a firm guarantee that big laughs will be had. 

Nina says: “I can only dream of a land where a theatre is at full capacity and everyone is vaccinated and safe and laughing. Apparently we are on track for this in November, so I’ve agreed to book a tour.

Before this Armageddon hit, I was developing a dating show where I would connive for audience members to fall in love wearing masks. Post COVID, I can’t think of anything more fitting. I think we all need to get in a room together and laugh our heads off, and if the subject can be love, so much the better”.  

Nina started doing stand-up ventriloquism in 2002 and shot to fame by winning the BBC New Comedy Award that same year. Famed for her foul-mouthed ‘sidekick’ Monkey (Monk), Nina has won numerous comedy awards for her writing, acting and ventriloquism.  She has appeared at numerous comedy festivals across the world and her smash-hit solo show ’In Your Face’, which came to the Tyne Theatre in 2016, also enjoyed sell-out seasons in London’s West End and New York’s off-Broadway. 

Nina has stormed ‘Live at the Apollo’, ‘QI’, ‘Russell Howard’s Good News’ and ‘Sunday Night at the Palladium’ – all without moving her lips. In 2012 she fronted two documentaries for BBC4 and in 2013 she appeared in Christopher Guest's HBO series ‘Family Tree’ alongside Chris O’Dowd.

More recently Nina was a runner-up on ‘The World’s Best’, a US major talent show on NBC; produced an improvised web series, ‘In Therapy’ on YouTube, which has amassed over 1.5 million views since 2018; and  joined forces with award winning Shenoah Allen (The Pajama Men) to make the character comedy podcast, ‘Richard & Greta’, unqualified experts who explain how to get the most, or too much, out of your partner.

Tickets for Nina Conti: The Dating Show go on sale Friday 29th January 2021 at 10am and can be purchased from the Tyne Theatre and Opera House website. 

Tickets will be available from our affiliates Eventim UK for Nina Conti: The Dating Show:  #Ad


News: Wallace and Gromit producer funds new theatre scholarship at Durham University

 Wallace and Gromit producer funds new theatre scholarship at Durham University

The co-founder of the animation studios behind Wallace and Gromit is to sponsor a new theatre scholarship at Durham University, it is announced today.

David Sproxton, co-founder of the Academy Award-winning Aardman Animations, is offering a scholarship totalling up to £16,000 over four years to help a prospective student who has exceptional potential in the technical aspects of theatre but lacks the necessary funds to make their creative vision a reality.

David Sproxton pictured at Durham Cathedral when
he received an honorary degree from Durham
University in 2008, with his characters Wallace and Gromit

Mr Sproxton, whose company has also produced Shaun the Sheep, Morph and many other animated favourites, was a student at Durham University and wants to support the next generation develop skills outside their academic discipline.

The scholarship will support the living costs of a student with a passion for the technical aspects of theatre. It offers the opportunity to get involved in every aspect of theatre production and stagecraft – to be part of a community of fellow theatre-makers at Durham Student Theatre, guiding them in a wide range of skills involving lighting, sound, projection, stage management, set and costume design and video production.

The scholarship is worth up to £4,000 per year for the next four years. Applications are open now to prospective students planning to start a degree at Durham in October 2021.

Mr Sproxton said: “It doesn’t take much to give someone an opportunity to help develop a skill that might otherwise lie dormant. I was of a generation of students which didn’t need to worry about funding their way through university, we were given grants. It’s all very different now, so supporting a student allows them to more easily pursue an interest outside their academic studies without financial worries. 

You never know where that interest might lead them, but it’s certainly worth giving them support and encouragement to start on what could be a very exciting journey.”

Durham has one of the most exciting student theatre scenes in the country, with over 30 theatre companies producing over 100 shows a year to the delight of a wide range of audiences.

Student technician Anna Bodrenkova, part of the Durham Student (DST) Executive Committee, said: “I’m so happy that the scholarship will make getting into tech accessible for more people, and will give successful applicants the freedom to focus on what really interests them within DST Tech.

“The community has always been eager to teach new members, so I think it’s important that the new scholarship will value enthusiasm over experience.”

Many Durham Student Theatre productions are staged in the flagship, recently refurbished and award-winning Assembly Rooms Theatre where David Sproxton spent much of his time as a student at Durham University.

Speaking about the Assembly Rooms, he said: “I learnt so much in this place; working as team, taking a brief, giving a brief, even taking an electricity meter reading! But fundamentally, I could explore my deep interest in putting emotion and character into scenes using light, colour and shade. 

This is the core of what a cinematographer does and that’s what I really wanted to become.

What I learnt in this theatre I fed into the film-making processes at Aardman; using lighting to enhance the drama and emotion of a scene.  Looking back, I realise I was fortunate to be thrown in with a bunch of ambitious and infectiously enthusiastic people. I hope it continues to have such a positive impact on people’s lives for many decades to come.”

This scholarship forms part of the Durham Inspired scholarship programme, to widen access and support those from lower household incomes be inspired to reach their potential.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 28 February. For more details and to apply, visit

Photo: Magda Osinska.

All images used with permission from Aardman Animations Ltd.

Preview: 2021 at Northern Stage: THIS IS US

 2021 at Northern Stage: THIS IS US 

Less than three months into her role as Artistic Director, Natalie Ibu announces her inaugural season at Northern Stage. THIS IS US promises to bring audiences stories, no matter what, through a bold programme of collaborations, commissions and curated work that celebrates the collective, connection and community. 

Natalie joined Northern Stage as Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive in November 2020.  She says, “I think it’s fair to say that none of us – me, the organisation, artists and audiences alike – thought I’d be announcing my very first season so soon into the role. But – whilst a surprise twist – it’s provided a brilliant opportunity to hit the ground running, collaborating with artists, with place, with the personal and the political to meet audiences wherever they are and then lead them back to our building when it’s safe to do so.”

Natalie Ibu at Northern Stage - Photo: Pamela Raith

This Is Us is a response to the world we live in, making culture more accessible to more people through a programme of work that reflects diverse stories and communities. It has three strands, designed with enough flexibility built in to allow for adaptions to the latest restrictions: from January, Can We Come In? will take audiences on a journey from their homes, into the city for Out on the Toon from March, and then back into the theatre when it reopens for Housewarming from April.

Natalie explains, “This Is Us is about radical diversity of stories, characters, lives, forms, locations and times to remind us who we are but also reminding audiences about what we do best – facilitating stories that reach beyond the ordinary. It’s about the collective and connection. From tiny stories that provide alternative distractions to doom-scrolling in Scroll, or epic tales on your Smart TV to gather your support bubble around in the comfort of your own home, to using the city as a canvas in Street Art Opera before inviting you to warm our house when we reopen the theatre with a homegrown adaptation of The Invisible Man.” 

Can We Come In? is designed to meet audiences in their homes; a programme of specially commissioned digital micro-stories, plus the very best digital capture of plays, streamed on demand. It launches on 27 January with Scroll, offering audiences an antidote to ‘doom scrolling' in a series of digital story interventions commissioned by Northern Stage to replace the moments of mindless scrolling with tiny stories about us to be experienced in the moments in-between, e.g. while waiting for the kettle to boil, standing in a queue, or just after turning the morning alarm off. Scroll features new work by Adam Lenson, Bridget Minamore, Chris SonnexDaniel Bye, Daniel York LohLeo SkilbeckTabby LambSampira and Uproot Productions.

Five Minute Wake Up by Leo Skilbeck

A partnership with Actors Touring Company (ATC), for Dear Tomorrow - Hope From Home six writers have been commissioned to write letters of hope, as a way of finding optimism in uncertain times. These pieces will be performed to camera by actors from across the UK and available to stream for free from 22 February. Ameera Conrad's letter will be performed by Ameet Chana (BBC/Eastenders), Eve Leigh's letter will be performed by Ann Akin (BBC/I May Destroy You), Satinder Chohan's letter will be performed by Melissa Johns (BBC/LIFE), Nemo Martin's letter will be performed by Kenya Sterling (Ovalhouse/I Am), Hannah Khalil's letter will be performed by Diaana Babnicova (Netflix/Jingle Jangleand Chiméne Suleyman's letter will be performed by Vera Chok (Headlong/Almeida/Channel 4/Chimerica). ATC Artistic Director Matthew Xia said, “Dear Tomorrow was ATC’s ‘letter writing’ contribution to last Autumn’s Signal Fires project, we wanted to find a way to deliver theatrical experiences to people in their homes across the UK. We were blown away by the response to the project, and are now delighted to join forces with Northern Stage to extend and develop the idea. Dear Tomorrow - Hope From Home aims to deliver uplifting and galvanising online experiences, at a time when hope is very much needed.

Dear Tomorrow - Clockwise: Eve Leigh (Photo: Anna Strickland), Kenya Stirling,
Diana Babincova, Satinder Chohan, Vera Chock, Ann Akin

After the 2020 premiere and tour of Gareth Farr’s Shandyland couldn’t go ahead due to the pandemic, Shandyland: Pint Size offers audiences a chance to meet some of the characters, feel the spirit of the pub where the play is set and get a taste of the humour and energy that makes Shandyland so special. Directed by Hannah Bannister and Zak Harney, this short film - being launched on Valentine’s weekend - is a love letter to the northern boozer.

Grief Gatherings is an open invitation to take part in small conversations on 9 and 23 February as part of Fevered Sleep’s project This Grief Thing, which addresses the silence around grief and grieving at a time when many people find death and grief almost impossible to talk about.

Underlining the company’s ongoing commitment to talent development, on 25 February Natalie is calling a Devoted & Disgruntled for North East artists, companies, venues, funders, agents to ask: what has been talent development in the North East? What do artists need to ensure their careers recover from COVID? And – whilst not all talent development is about the new artist – if we want to really build back and better, it will mean new and different voices. But is it ethical to be bringing new artists into a sector in crisis, one that is struggling to sustain those it already holds within it? Improbable’s Devoted & Disgruntled is being presented with Northern Stage, Alphabetti, ARC Stockton, Live Theatre and Newcastle Theatre Royal. And in So Good To Zoom You Natalie Ibu will Zoom a different artist every day in March to try and make up for the ways 2020 kept people apart.

Out on the Toon will see the city become a canvas, creating cultural experiences for audiences to connect with as they wander through their local streets. Part performance, part installation, Milk Presents’ High Vis is landing on the streets of Newcastle. High queer, high camp and high volume, members of the LGBTQIA+ community will be invited to anonymously record celebratory declarations of queerness in one part of Newcastle, and have these broadcast via Milk’s loud and proud hailer on the other side of the city. Milk’s Executive Producer Ruby Glaskin explains, “The pandemic has forced LGBTQIA+ spaces to close and Pride events to cancel, leaving the community isolated from each other. With many missing their queer fam High Vis is an opportunity to shout out to Newcastle's LGBTQIA+ community and also be heard by those who haven’t stopped to listen before.”  Created by composer John McIlduff and writer and director Brian Irvine, Street Art Opera blends opera, street art and animation in a double bill of outdoor video projection by creative producers Dumbworld. Northern Stage’s Young Company will shift towards a hyper-local approach for Out on the Toon, meeting young people where they are for a series of Young Company Walk and Talks, taking the creative team to spaces and places that have taken on new meaning to them during 2020 as they gear up to starting to make brand new work together. And after 60 pop up performances on the Byker Estate in Newcastle in summer and December 2020, Doorstep Music returns to the streets of Byker this spring. Musicians will play live while residents are encouraged to come out onto their doorsteps, gardens or balconies to listen, make requests and sing along.

Housewarming will welcome audiences and artists back into the theatre once it’s safe to reopen, starting with a new adaptation of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic, The Invisible Man adapted by Phil Correia and directed by Anna Girvan. As with previous productions The War of the Worlds and The Hound of the BaskervillesThe Invisible Man is part of Northern Stage's NORTH programme, offering emerging North East theatre makers an opportunity to gain experience of staging and touring a new production. It will premiere at Northern Stage before touring to rural venues across the North East, restrictions permitting. More shows and new commissions will be announced shortly, including the first show Natalie Ibu will direct for Northern Stage in autumn 2021.

Throughout 2021, Northern Stage will also work with English Touring Theatre to explore the untold stories and colonial past embedded in our city’s architecture. Natalie says, “We’re serious about our commitment to being anti-racist and we want to hold space for the city and this region to think and talk about its colonial past, so we will be working with English Touring theatre and North East artists throughout the year to explore what that means. Watch this space. 

Northern Stage is working with Vici Wreford-Sinnott from disabled-led theatre company Little Cog to make the new programme as accessible as possible. This will include captions, audio description, BSL at live events, content warnings and relaxed approaches to the programme and time frames for workshops. Vici says, It’s vital that theatre companies and venues take creative experimentation to their hearts as we navigate unknown territories in the future of theatre, and that we think about everyone in our audiences. Northern Stage’s bold programme is an exciting, rich adventure into what is possible when we include everyone. I’m delighted to work with them, as we let them come into our homes, as accessibly as possible.”

Natalie says, “This is Us is an experiment – demanded by the moment. We’re still here and we’re going to get through this together. You can rely on us to bring you stories, no matter what. 


Ticketed shows go on general sale from 27 January and to Northern Stage members and supporters from 25 January. For more details and updated listings visit 


Preview: Rice online


A delicious blend of storytelling, food and song


A Wayang Kitchen and Omnibus Theatre online co-production

Performed live from both Malaysia and the UK on 20th, 21st, 27th & 28th February 2021


“My life is shaped by a series of experiences at the dinner table.”


1990’s Kuala Lumpur: Connie Cheng is a modern Malaysian-born Chinese woman, torn between the traditional values of her grandmother and her glamourous life as a late-night lounge singer. 2021, London: Now a first generation British Chinese Malaysian, Connie realises she’s lived longer in the UK than she ever did in Malaysia.


Rice! is a story of migration, the delicate existence of life between two cultures and the food that shapes it. How do you hold onto the past while looking towards the future?


Wayang Kitchen presents an immersive, edible journey, performed live from two separate locations in Malaysia and the UK, connecting East and West via Zoom. Written by Vera Chok (#1 Amazon bestseller The Good Immigrant) and featuring actors Amanda Ang (New York Festival’s Best Actress Award  Winner, Last Madame) and Michelle Wen Lee (Miss Saigon, Hey Mr Producer, London Road, Rogue Trader), viewers will be invited to fill their homes with the scent of Chinese five spice and taste Connie’s life through a delicious blend of storytelling, food and song.


As part of the experience audiences will have the option to taste some of the food that defined Connie, during the show. A package of simple ingredients will be delivered with printed instructions straight to their door for easy preparation prior to the show. Alternatively, audiences are also invited to join a 1-hour pre-show virtual cooking class to prepare their light meal.


This unique culinary theatre experience, cooked up by Wayang Kitchen, a new theatre company based in Malaysia which fuses food and performance, was founded in 2019 by Hester Welch and Razif Hashim, who are also directing this production from their respective countries and working around the challenges caused by the pandemic.


This show is co-produced with Omnibus Theatre and supported by The British Council Digital Collaboration Fund, which supports UK and overseas cultural partnerships to develop digitally innovative ways of collaborating.

‘Taking the term "dinner with a show" to new heights’

As featured in Tatler Asia about Wayang’s production of Murder At The Masquerade in Kuala Lumpur in association with the Copper Restaurant



Amanda Ang:                                   Connie  (Kuala Lumpur)

Michelle Wen Lee                            Connie (UK)


Creative Team:

Writer:                                     Vera Chok

Directors:                                Hester Welch and Razif Hashim

Produced by:                          Hester Welch and Razif Hashim

Consultant producer:              Felicity Paterson


Show Information

4 Performances:                    20th, 21st, 27th, 28th February

Time:                                     12.30 (lunchtime)

Show running time:                          1 hr

Pre-show cooking demo session:   1 hr

The performance will take place on Zoom, a link and any further access details will be sent to the email address you used to book one day ahead of the event.


Booking link:


There are three ticket options for this production:

£  10 Performance only

£  16 Performance PLUS food kit for (1-2 persons) or £20 (3-4 persons). This includes access to 1-hour pre-show virtual cooking class. 

* Each food kit supplied by 5 Foot Way is a light meal, delivered in recyclable packaging. A vegetarian option is available.


News: Dance City announce first ‘Made In The North East’ Commission

 Dance City announce first ‘Made In The North East’ Commission

Dance City has announced the recipient of its £25,000 ‘Made In The North East’ (MITNE) commission. It will be Rendez-Vous Dance with The Monocle.

This is the first MITNE commission by a consortium of nine North East venues who together will support the creation of new work and a region-wide tour. Rendez-Vous Dance was established in 2019 by award-winning choreographer Mathieu Geffré, who now lives in Newcastle. During his 15-year career as a performer he collaborated with some of the most celebrated artists in the world including Itzik Galili, Christopher Bruce, Didy Veldman, Angelin Preljocaj and Johann Inger.

Rendez-Vous Dance creates projects to tell past and present stories of LGBTQ+ communities. The Monocle, a brand-new piece is inspired by the secretly notorious 1930’s Parisian lesbian club Le Monocle and will be performed by seven dancers who identify as female or non-binary.

Mathieu Geffré, Artistic Director, Rendez-Vous Dance said: “I feel absolutely elated to have been offered the Made In the North East commission. Firstly, I would like to particularly thank the commission panel, the consortium of venues and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for choosing my project to champion dance in the North East.

Artistic Director of Rendez-Vous Dance, Matheiu Geffré. Photo: Matt Pear.
“After investing energy in developing work and relationships in the region for the past four years, I fully acknowledge with great humility the privilege I now have to be able to project myself in a new creative adventure which I wish to be ambitious, collaborative and people-oriented.”

‘Made in the North East’ is the first commission of its kind, combining the forces of nine North East venues to offer a fee of £25,000 to support the creation of a new work and a region wide tour. Partner venues are:

· Dance City (Newcastle)

· Alnwick Playhouse (Alnwick),

· Queens Hall (Hexham),

· Middlesbrough Town Hall (Middlesbrough),

· The Witham (Barnard Castle),

· The Fire Station (Sunderland), managed by Sunderland Culture

· Darlington Hippodrome (Darlington)

· Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre (Hartlepool)

· Gosforth Civic Theatre (Newcastle)

The commission aims for the partners to develop a better understanding and commitment to programming dance performances in the region. To achieve this the partners are participating in a collective process of development and training activities to best enable the production of new work and touring support through a consortium approach.

The commission opportunity was offered exclusively to dance and physical theatre artists and companies based in the North East, who were able to demonstrate a commitment to building the long term dance ecology of the region.

Phil Douglas, Director of Artistic Programmes and Artist Development, Dance City explained “We are thrilled to be announcing the recipient of a Made In The North East commission. The panel were incredibly impressed by the quality of applications, which proved a testament to the talent working in the region. The panel concluded Rendez-Vous Dance's ‘The Monocle’ was to be awarded the commission for its well-planned, presented and engaging proposal.

“Conceived as an entertaining and immersive experience involving dance and live music, The Monocle promises to be a fun performance articulating themes of pride, gender fluidity and rebellion.

“We want the North East to be a place where world class dance is made. With the support of Esmée Fairburn Foundation we have created this strategic partnership project to share, diversify and develop programming quality professional dance into more places and spaces in the region, giving confidence and deeper insight for venues, audiences and artists about the process of producing and touring dance work.”

Supported by The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation the consortium’s collective ambition is to make a world class piece of work with national significance, made in the North East.

Helen Green, Head of Performance at Sunderland Culture added “We are delighted to be part of the ‘MITNE’ regional partnership and to have jointly commissioned a new dance production from rising choreographer, Mathieu Geffré, for the region. We are very excited to be opening the city’s new venue, The Fire Station, later in the year and thrilled to be able to host the premiere of The Monocle which promises to be a highly original and entertaining dance performance.”

Susan Coffer, Centre Manager at The Witham said “Mathieu Geffré’s concept for The Monocle is highly original. This will be more than a dance work, it will be a total experience for the audience from the moment they enter the venue. I can’t wait to be part of the world he’ll create, to be drawn into the atmosphere, to be emersed in his story-telling.”

Rendez-Vous Dance’s The Monocle will begin creation between May 2021 – January 2022, with a tour taking place in Spring 2022.