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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 

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