Elevating new writing at Live

Peter Lathan

Live Theatre’s Live Lab Elevator festival of new writing returns to the Newcastle venue for a second year, running from 21 to 25 February, showcasing “the best new theatre from the North East and beyond.” Young companies will present new work in the early stages of development and there will be talks and workshops by some of the UK’s leading writers and directors as they share their experiences of making new theatre.

Wednesday 22 and Friday 24 will see performances of two new hour-long plays:

  • Parklife by Mhairi Ledgerwood, directed by Melanie Rashbrooke and presented by The Six Twenty, follows Victoria who now lives on a “21st Century Noah’s Ark” whilst Earth is under water.

    “We’re really excited to work on a new hour-long version of ParkLife for Live Lab Elevator,” said Melanie Rashbrooke, “and to bring it back to Live Theatre where it began as a ten-minute short play in 2014 as part of 10 Minutes to… Save the World. The festival gives us a chance to hear what people think at an early stage and help us shape the plays future development.”

  • Sex with Robots and Other Devices is a new play by Nessah Muthy (Gastronauts, Royal Court Theatre), exploring the normality of using advanced technology in our day to day love lives, and the moral implications that come with being able to buy whatever you desire the most. This play has been specifically developed for this year’s festival by Live Lab 2016 bursary winner Cloakroom Theatre.

    “We have been presented with an invaluable opportunity through winning the Live Lab 2016 bursary, where we received £2000 as well as space and support to develop new work,” said Helen Matravers, Co-Producer at Cloakroom Theatre. “We are delighted and incredibly excited to be presenting our work in the North East for the first time.”

Work-in-Progress on Thursday 23 will feature extracts from four new plays:

  • Scrambled, by 2016 Live Lab Associate Artists Plane Paper Theatre, follows two sisters as they embark on an emotional and physical journey together that they had never imagined.

  • In Preservation by Louise Taylor, a graduate of Live Theatre’s Introduction to Playwriting course, we join Polly on New Year’s Eve in a high-rise flat as she is searching for a ghost she hopes will bring her family together.

  • Unlabelled Political Project is writer Luca Rutherford’s latest initiative about politics following on from her acclaimed first solo show Learning How To Die.

  • One more short extract is still to be added to the line-up.

On Saturday 25 at 4PM and 6PM, audiences of just 12 people are being invited to embark on a sensory adventure in complete darkness in Blackout, presented by last year’s Live Lab Bursary winners, fanSHEN (Lists for the End of Time). The company will also be leading a workshop exploring the process of making sensory theatre at 2PM that day.

On Tuesday at 7:30, there will be a panel discussion on Writing Political Theatre. An industry panel hosted by Live Theatre’s Literary Manager Gez Casey discusses how to theatrically capture political debate in a chaotic, media driven, post-truth 21st century. Gez is joined by Vinay Patel, writer of True Brits (Bush Theatre and Edinburgh Festival Fringe) and Murdered by My Father (BBC3 and BBC1), Max Roberts, Artistic Director of Live Theatre and Lindsay Rodden, Writer in Residence at Live Theatre. It will be followed by a Q&A session. This is free but advanced booking is essential.

There will be a Director’s Masterclass on Staging Text at 11AM which considers how a director approaches a new play for the first time? There are many approaches to directing plays and Live Theatre has been home to most of them. In this participatory workshop Steve Marmion, Artistic Director of the Soho Theatre, will show how a director works with text, how (s)he forms ideas and translates them to the stage.