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Preview: Summer Of Shakespeare with As You Like It and Julius Caesar in Sunderland

Theatre Space North East’s

Summer Of Shakespeare 2024

July – As You Like It (Lindisfarne, Ad 793) by Kenneth Cavander 

August – Julius Caesar (Monkwearmouth Colliery, 1984) by Shishir Kurup

In association with Play On Shakespeare, Arts Council England, UKSPF via Sunderland City Council and The Barbour Foundation The Bard: There’s a time and a place...

Two bold, localised, shakespeare adaptations are to be staged this summer across the north east, vividly re-set to depict pivotal moments in the area’s history.

Theatre Space's award-winning Summer of Shakespeare is back and set to wow audiences with two productions that will see plays given Anglo-Saxon/Viking and Miners Strike overhauls with epic retellings of Shakespeare classics As You Like It and Julius Caesar involving 30+ professional artists, 7 trainees, and a community ensemble of up to 50 people. This year will also see performances at Durham Fringe Festival for the first time, Jarrow Hall’s refurbished grandstand area in the heart of their Anglo-Saxon village, and at St. Peter’s Anglo-Saxon church in Monkwearmouth, which celebrates its 1350th anniversary this year. And speaking of anniversaries, August’s Julius Caesar production at Seventeen Nineteen (Holy Trinity Church) in Sunderland will depict the industrial action that connected, fractured, and shaped communities in the area 40 years ago this year.

As You Like It (Lindisfarne, AD 793) a modern verse translation by David Ivers 

Ousted from their homes, a faithful group of Anglo-Saxons take refuge in Arden Forest as a new barbaric Viking regime begins to take root in Northumberland. Meanwhile, Rosalind is banished by new ruler Frederick, whilst Orlando, on hearing of a plot to kill him, also flees to the safety of the trees, where a clash of colourful characters causes the story to take some unexpected twists and turns.

Cue laughter, love, and confusion as Arden Forest bursts into life this summer in an As You Like It unlike any other.

Visiting: St. Peter’s Church, Sunderland (19-21 July 2024) - 7pm 

Jarrow Hall, Jarrow (23 July 2024) - 7pm 

Palace Green (outside Durham Cathedral), Durham (24-26 July 2024) - 4pm 

Julius Caesar  (Monkwearmouth Colliery, 1984) a modern verse translation by Shishir Kurup

Fresh from leading a striking workforce to victory - by standing firm in the face of immense pressure from above to return to work at Monkwearmouth Colliery to undertake essential maintenance – the streets are ringing with Caesar’s name.

But not everyone is in a position to celebrate: families are starving, anger is rife, futures are at stake...and desperate times sometimes call for desperate action. Deception, betrayal and socio-political unrest reach boiling point this summer – 40 years on since the cataclysmic industrial movement that changed the lives of so many in the region forever.

Visiting: Seventeen Nineteen, Sunderland (15-18 August 2024) - 7.30pm

These modern verse translations maintain the mastery of the original whilst artistically updating the most unfamiliar language, making it sympathetic to the modern ear, as part of a long-standing relationship with Oregon's Play On Shakespeare. Partnerships with Arts Council England, UKSPF via Sunderland City Council and The Barbour Foundation are also helping make this ‘Summer of Shakespeare’ Theatre Space’s most adventurous yet, as artistic director Corinne Kilvington, who will direct the season, reflects:  “It’s been an incredible journey. Over 11 years, Plays in the Parks has grown into Theatre Space’s Summer of Shakespeare (one of the largest seasonal employers of theatre-makers in the area) and this year...we’re off on tour! Sunderland audiences have always embraced our summer season, and we cannot wait to welcome South Tyneside and Durham audiences with open arms! It really is shaping up into something special and, of course, we are ever-thankful to every one of our partners for making what we do, possible.”

The project will also see community and schools workshops that will explore the themes of both productions, with local well-being and handicraft groups working together to build set elements and banners to be used in the productions, in a sizeable collaboration that promises to entertain audiences of all ages in the summer of 2024.

Producer, Jamie Brown, thinks this year's productions are set to capture the imagination, as well as having something to say about the world today: “Each production this year has been given a specific time and place, evoking a rich and unique part of North-East history that still has so much to say about the world we live in right now - because persecution and displacement of people made the area what it is today, as did the socio-political and industrial action that still burns bright in the memories of so many – and we feel these two plays are the perfect vehicles to shine a light on that this summer in a bold and profound way.”


Tickets for As You Like It and Julius Caesar are available now from, where you can find information relating to specific performances and venues – or even sign up to be part of the performing community cast.

Available from our affiliate Waterstones:

Straight Acting: The Many Queer Lives of William Shakespeare by Will Tosh

Was Shakespeare gay? The answer is both simpler and more complex than you might think . . .

Shakespeare's work was profoundly influenced by the queer culture of his time - much of it totally integrated into mainstream society. From a relentless schooling in Latin and Greek homoeroticism, to a less formal education on the streets and in smoky taverns, from the gender-bending of the early comedies to the astonishingly queer literary scene that nurtured Shakespeare's sonnets, this is a story of artistic development and of personal crisis.

Straight Acting is a surprising portrait of Shakespeare's queer lives - his own and those in his plays and poems. It is a journey back in time and through Shakespeare's England, revealing a culture that both endorsed and supressed same-sex desire. It is a call to stop making Shakespeare act straight and to recognise how queerness powerfully shaped the life and career of the world's most famous playwright.

Fluent and witty . . . confident . . . highly readable . . . Tosh's ambition is to present this rich material to a general readership, imagined here as consisting of the thousands of passionate enthusiasts who flock to the Globe each year, expecting to be educated and entertained in equal measure. It's an expectation that he meets magnificently - Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

Available from Waterstones: LINK 


Preview: Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Ursula to give her take on what really happened under the sea...

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch

Newcastle Theatre Royal 

Tuesday 2 – Thursday 4 July 2024

Fresh from a complete sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe and an audience favourite when it played at Northern Stage in 2022, Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch, is set to visit Newcastle Theatre Royal this week.

Join everyone’s favourite Disney Diva, Ursula, as she gives her take on what really happened all those years ago under the sea. With an original hot pop soundtrack and trademark filthy humour, it’s time to take the plunge and dive into this year’s hottest night out. 

Shawna Hamic (Orange is the New Black; 1776 on Broadway) will lead the cast of the critically acclaimed musical parody as Ursula, opposite Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK star River Medway as Ariel. They are joined by Thomas Lowe (Triton), Allie Dart (Sebastian), Jamie Mawson (Eric), Julian Capolei (Grimsby) and Corrina Buchan, Jack Gray, Jamie McKillop and Milly Willows in the ensemble.

Cruella told her side of the story, and Maleficent’s had her moment. Now the legendary queer queen Ursula is ready to spill, in this tell-all tale of sex, sorcery and suckers. With a new script and production, the latest version of this hit show is bigger, bolder and sexier than ever before.

Presented by Laura Elmes for Wildpark Entertainment with The Vaults and Dianne Roberts, the smash-hit show is written by Robyn Grant (who also directs) and Daniel Foxx, with music, arrangements and orchestrations by Tim Gilvin. The musical features set, costume and puppet design by Abby Clarke, choreography by Melody Sinclair, additional orchestrations by Nikki Davison and Joe Davison for Auburn Jam, musical supervision and direction by Arlene McNaught, lighting design by Adam King, sound design by Lucy Baker, Oscar Thompson and Will Thompson, flying and effects by John Maddox for Suspended Illusions.

Make-up design by Maya Lewis, intimacy and fight direction by Claire Llewellyn for RC-Annie, production management by Titch Gosling, assistant direction by Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, costume supervision by Sian Clare and puppets built by Aled Williams. The band is completed by Dejeanté Hinks on guitar and Becky Slater on drums.

Photo: Pamela Raith


Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Tuesday 2 – Thursday 4 July 2024. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

Available from our affiliate Townsend Music:

Paul Heaton

The Mighty Several - Pre- order on Clear Vinyl !

Paul Heaton will release a brand new solo album ‘The Mighty Several’ on 11 th October featuring new single ‘Fish ‘n’ Chip Supper’ (out now). Produced by legendary producer Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds and recorded at Blueprint Studios in Salford, ‘The Mighty Several’ features 12 new original songs, performed by Paul and his band + a number of special guest singers including Heaton’s regular live vocalist Rianne Downey as well as Yvonne Shelton and Danny Muldoon (all of whom are pictured on the album sleeve alongside Paul).

News: Props, prints and programmes wanted for history of North East comedy exhibition

Props, prints and programmes wanted for history of North East comedy exhibition

Not only Sid James died in Sunderland

Newcastle Bottleworks

Saturday 13 - Sunday 14 July 2024

Local people are being asked to rummage in their attics for artefacts from the history of North East comedy to go on display as part of an exhibition of the region’s hilarity heritage. 

Props, prints, programmes, tickets and costumes are wanted for a showcase of comic curios from over century of North East laughter - alongside historic and iconic items dating back to Victorian music halls and original memorabilia from the earliest days of Viz –taking place as part of this summer’s Ouseburn Festival.

Waves O'Shave

Contributors also have the option to donate or lend their items to the Discovery Museum’s regional archive or as part of a first step towards a planned museum showcasing the rich history of comedy of the North East.

Not only Sid James died in Sunderland is being run by comedy co-operative Felt Nowt at the Bottleworks in Newcastle on July 13th and 14th and will tell the history of local comedy, including:

●      The jester who was replaced by a monkey

●      The TWO local comedians with links to the Beatles

●      The comedian who was sentenced to death for being gay

●      The human anvil

●      The giant who lies in an unmarked grave

●      The North East links to the Lincoln assassination


The exhibition will also seek to record attendees’ memories of North Eastern comedy to create an aural history of comic entertainment in the region. 

Wee Georgie Wood

Felt Nowt is a non-profit co-operative run by local comedians to build and promote regional comedy and comedic talent and to take comedy into communities which might not otherwise have access to it. The event has been developed in partnership with the Tyne & Wear Archives and the Discovery Museum.

Comedian Lee Kyle said: “Felt Nowt is all about creating opportunities for the present and future of North East comedy, but we have a responsibility to preserve its past too. We all know Bobby Thompson, Sarah Millican and Rowan Atkinson but lesser-known figures like Wavis O’Shave, Ella Retford and Wee Georgie Wood also played a vital role in the cultural history of our region and it’s equally vital that we preserve and recognise their contribution.

Lee Kyle

“It’s about personal history as much as regional history – if you have a family member who contributed to North East comedy in any way, even as an audience member, this is the opportunity to preserve and showcase that contribution to the cultural life of our area forever.

“We’d also like people to tell stories of seeing comedy or meeting comedians, local comedians, the more obscure the better. We’re after posters, flyers, articles, programmes, letters, tickets... anything honestly!”


“Not only Sid James died in Sunderland” takes place at the Bottleworks on July 13th and 14th as part of the Ouseburn Festival – event link

Preview: John Partridge - Dancing Man at Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Newcastle, get ready for Dancing man! John Partridge brings his first solo UK tour to the Tyne Theatre

John Partridge - Dancing Man

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Thursday 13th March 2025

John goes on the road from January 2025, just a few days after completing his debut directorial role at The Capitol Horsham with Jack and the Beanstalk. John created Dancing Man to take audiences back to his roots – to show people what hard work and determination can help you achieve. After appearing in over 20 West End shows and numerous musical tours, John is ready to share his personal journey to becoming one of the West End’s very best leading men. 

John says “I’ve been so fortunate in my career. People know me for many things! From soap to reality TV, from the west end to the east end. As my mother used to say…your eyes are bigger than your belly, she was right but I’m still hungry! Which is why I’m going out on the road solo at 53! At heart I’m a song and dance man. It’s where I started my career at 16 on the West End stage in ALW CATS and it’s my first love. This show is my love letter to everything musical, my family and my audience who have given me so much over the last 5 decades. As I sing in the show…I wanna be a Dancin’ Man…while I can!”

Visiting over 20 regional venues across the country, the show will join the Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle on Thursday 13th March 2025.

Tickets available from the theatre box office and from our affiliate Eventim UK: LINK

 Available from our affiliates Waterstones:

There's No Taste Like Home (Hardback)

John Partridge


There's No Taste Like Home tells the remarkable story of John's life in food and his emotional journey of grief and recovery through cooking, with every dish inspired by a personal memory, and each punctuated with stunning photography. It is cookbook with real difference and emotion - born out of his winning MasterChef menu that was inspired by his mother who he had recently lost to Alzheimer's.

During the year leading up the MasterChef final John learnt to reconnect with his past, to grieve and to heal through cooking. There's No Taste Like Home is a collection of heart-warming, fuss-free and budget-conscious recipes that each promise to deliver a simultaneous sense of nostalgia and comfort. From easy Breakfast Doughnuts to fun Fish & Chip Tacos to a showstopping Black Forest Gateaux there really is something to satisfy every palette and suit all occasions no matter your skillset or budget.

John has created this wonderful collection of recipes, drawing on all his favourite memories of food, menus and cooking, adding his own unique and creative twist to each dish.

Link to Waterstones Website: LINK

Preview: Pretty Vacant at Darlington Hippodrome

Kevin Kennedy returns to Darlington Hippodrome

Pretty Vacant

Darlington Hippodrome

Saturday 25 January 2025

Kevin Kennedy joins riotous new tour bringing iconic punk songs to life at Darlington Hippodrome in January 2025 with Pretty Vacant – The Story of Punk and New Wave.

Bringing to life iconic punk songs and legends is the riotous new show Pretty Vacant, heading on tour this winter across the UK and Ireland! Joining the previously announced show as the Narrator is Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy. Taking audiences on a nostalgic journey from the beginnings of punk in the 1970s, to later movements in the 80s and 90s, this high energy, punk rock show tells the story of a music genre that changed the world for the first time ever. 

Kevin Kennedy, who was in Paris Valentinos with Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke, who later formed The Smiths – brings his real-world band experience to this epic punk show. Kennedy is best known for his role as Curly Watts in Coronation Street, and his stage career including We Will Rock You and Rock of Ages on the West End and the show’s recent visit to Darlington Hippodrome.

Kevin Kennedy comments, “I’m so excited to be joining the cast of Pretty Vacant. When punk exploded on the scene in 1977, it truly was a revolution it changed our music, our fashion and every aspect of the arts! I witnessed it all… Let’s do it again… together.”

Pretty Vacant will see Punk and New Wave hits, attitude and fashion brought to the stage by a talented cast of musicians, singers and dancers on a punk journey that will thrill audiences, from original punk fans to audiences new to the genre. Pretty Vacant will feature hits originally performed by The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Blondie, The Damned, Ramones, Buzzcocks, The Undertones, The Police, The Jam, Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Pretenders, Joy Division, The Stranglers and many more.


Pretty Vacant comes to Darlington Hippodrome Saturday 25 January, 2025. For more information or to book visit or call the Box Office on 01325 405405.

Available from our affiliates Townsend Music:

NOW That's What I Call Punk & New Wave 4-Disc

NOW Music proudly presents NOW That’s What I Call Punk & New Wave - a collection encapsulating the spirit of the times, and of the movement that changed the course of mainstream pop music.

89 tracks across 4 CDs, present the era’s most iconic artists, including The Clash, Blondie, Ramones, U2, Buzzcocks, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Adam & The Ants, The Jam and The Cure.

‘London Calling’ by The Clash, The Undertones’ breakthrough hit ‘Teenage Kicks’, and Buzzcocks ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)’, kick off the first disc - alongside classics from The Stranglers, Siouxsie And The Banshees and Ramones.

Link to Townsend Music Website

Available from our affiliates Waterstones:

Punk 45: The Singles Cover Art of Punk 1976-80

Jon Savage (editor), Stuart Baker (editor), Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream) (foreword)

This book is a revelatory guide to hundreds and hundreds of original 7” record cover sleeve designs – visual artefacts found at the heart of the most radical and anarchistic musical movement of the 20th century.

As well as the encyclopaedic visual imagery featured inside, the book also includes interviews with a number of significant figures in punk music: artists and groups including Richard Hell, Martin Moscrop (A Certain Ratio), Richard H Kirk (Cabaret Voltaire), Glenn Branca and David Thomas (Pere Ubu); record label owners including Seymour Stein (Sire Records), Geoff Travis (Rough Trade), Roger Armstrong (Chiswick), Martin Mills (Beggars Banquet), Dave Robinson (Stiff Records), David Brown (Dangerhouse); and the celebrated designers involved in creating punk’s original iconic imagery – Peter Saville (Factory Records), Gee Vaucher (Crass Records), Jamie Reid (Sex Pistols), Gee Vaucher (Crass Records) and Dennis Morris (Public Image Limited).

Link to Watersones


Preview: Carol Vorderman Live! at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Carol Vorderman Live!

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Friday 27 September 2024

Carol Vorderman Live! sees Carol take to the road visiting eleven towns and cities, including Newcastle, in September 2024.

This rousing and interactive shows is coming to Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Friday 27th September 2024 in celebration of her upcoming book.

In recent years, Carol Vorderman has become an unlikely hero on the frontline of political campaigning – shifting from popular television personality to leading frontline activist with a passionate determination to hold the government to account. Carol has utilised her enormous and ever-growing social media following to call-out corruption and incompetence in British politics, and earlier this year joined LBC to host her own Sunday afternoon show.

With her characteristic outspoken personality and irrepressible sense of humour, the show will explore the intricate web of influence responsible for our nation's condition. Carol will reveal how ‘an old bird with an iPhone’ helped expose the ineptitude and lies at the heart of the establishment, and, with an election looming, how we can all find our voice and stand up for what we believe in. Audiences can also expect to join in a lively Q&A and some quick-fire mental arithmetic!

About Carol

Born in 1960, Carol Vorderman grew up in a single parent family in poverty in North Wales with her sister, brother and her beloved mum, Jean. As a free school meals child in a comprehensive, she became the first from North Wales to go to the University of Cambridge when she was just 17 years old. Since childhood, Carol has had a passion for everything mathematical and her skill with numbers secured her a role on Countdown in 1982, the show that cemented her position as one of the most successful and popular female presenters in British TV history. Carol currently hosts a weekly radio show on LBC, the Pride of Britain Awards and is known for her political activism. She was awarded an MBE in 2000 for her services to broadcasting.


Her brand-new book will be published in hardback, ebook and audiobook on 12 September 2024 by Headline. Each ticket includes a copy of the hardback book.

Tickets are available from the theatre box office and our affiliates Eventim:

Preview: Gerry & Sewell at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Football fever kicks off at Newcastle Theatre Royal

A Laurels Theatre, Eastlake Productions and Newcastle Theatre Royal co-production in association with Live Theatre

Gerry & Sewell

Newcastle Theatre Royal 

Wednesday 2 – Saturday 5 October 2024 

Following sell-out runs at Laurels Theatre in Whitely Bay and Live Theatre, the smash-hit North East tale of two Geordie lads desperate to get their hands on a pair of converted Newcastle United season tickets has been promoted to the city’s premier stage.

Gerry & Sewell, Oliver award-winning Jamie Eastlake’s adaptation based on Jonathan Tulloch’s novel The Season Ticket and the cult Geordie film Purely Belter kicks off a week-long run at Newcastle Theatre Royal in October.

The football-fanatic production enjoyed two sell-out runs at Laurels Theatre in 2022 before becoming the first full production to transfer to the stage at Live Theatre in November 2023 where the tale of two down-and-out fans who’ll do anything to see their beloved Toon enthralled audiences during an 11-night residency. Review our review of the Live Theatre run HERE.

For the winning team of writer/director Jamie Eastlake and cast members Dean Logan and Jack Robertson who will be reprising their roles as the wayward Gerry and Sewell, the opportunity to take to the stage at the iconic Grey Street venue is a dream come true and is set to be their biggest professional gig to date.

Jamie Eastlake said; “Opportunities don’t come much bigger and better than this; the chance to recreate the story of Gerry & Sewell – a true Tyneside tale – on stage at one of the leading theatres not only in the North East region, but the country, is something which only comes along once in a lifetime.”

He added: “The reaction to the lads’ story has been unbelievable and following the success of Gerry & Sewell during its previous runs, we can’t wait to share their tale once again and turn Newcastle Theatre Royal into a sea of black and white.”

Gerry & Sewell follows the fortunes of two Gateshead lads who have nothing but a dream of securing season tickets to follow their beloved Newcastle United. But after years of living in austerity and seeing their football club shelled out by a cockney bloke who sells sports tat, life is a struggle. Until they decide they’re getting those season tickets. And now they’ve got their mission, nowt is gonna stand in their way. Whey, apart from maybe a few radgie charvers, the social and the odd madcap scrap merchant. 

Casting auditions are set to take place in the coming weeks and Wor Flags will once again be bringing the spirit of St James’ Park with a vibrant rainbow of black and white.

Marianne Locatori, chief executive of Newcastle Theatre Royal said: “Our region is rich in storytelling and ensuring that these local narratives are represented in our programme and performed on our stage is incredibly important. We are delighted that we have the opportunity to work creatively alongside Jamie and the team to showcase this fabulous tale which is deeply rooted in the North East.”

She added: “Earlier this year, we announced our first co-production in more than a decade and hot on the heels of Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of), we’re thrilled that we will can now further supporting amazing local talent the region has to offer and grow and nurture cultural creativity in the North East.”


Gerry & Sewell plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Wednesday 2 – Saturday 5 October 2024 Tickets are on sale to the general public from Mon 1 July at 10am and can be purchased at or by calling 0191 232 7010.