Northern Stage announces Edfringe 2017 programme

Peter Lathan

Newcastle’s Northern Stage has announced its Edinburgh Fringe 2017 programme at Summerhall in partnership with Hull Truck, the Royal Exchange in Manchester and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.

Transgender artist Kate O’Donnell challenges the idea that genitals equal gender in You’ve Changed, a new show about the ups and downs of transitioning. “This is the first time I have brought a show to Edinburgh as a trans woman,” she says. “Last time I was there I was a drag queen called Angel Valentine.”

Graeae and Royal Exchange Theatre present Cosmic Scallies, a two-hander on class, friendship and welfare poverty from the company that produced 2015 Fringe hit The Solid Life of Sugar Water. Set in ‘Skem’, a working-class north-west town brimming with underinvestment, this is the debut of poet, stand-up comedian and writer Jackie Hagan and is informed by her first-hand knowledge of life as a disabled person growing up in the forgotten-town of Skelmersdale, Lancashire. It is directed by Amit Sharma.

Selina Thompson’s new show salt. is part of her wider body of work looking at Black British identity. “Last year,” she explains, “I got on a cargo ship and, with the support of 200 crowdfunders, retraced the transatlantic slave triangle to investigate how it has impacted our lives today. This show is the story I brought back from that journey. I want to take it to Edinburgh because it is politically urgent, and is that rare thing, a show that contains a piece of my soul, which I want to share.” salt. is also part of the 2017 British Council Showcase.

The Believers Are But Brothers is an interactive new work merging stories of extremism, fantasy, reality and the digital age to examine a crisis in masculinity from writer, director and performer Javaad Alipoor, who explained, “I noticed that the propaganda pictures and the way online activists pushed forward the views of groups like ISIS seemed very far from the way that the media had been talking about them; their aesthetic and language was all about Game Of Thrones, Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty.

"What drew me in was the feeling that a lot of the most ’extreme’ political views, that we usually feel are quite far away from us, can be instantly accessed through mobile 'phones and laptops. As someone who grew up Muslim, I wanted to refract and retell these stories in the context that I think is crucial: that of a generation of young men undergoing a crisis of masculinity and meaning, and seeking a two-dimensional fantasy version of themselves to give their lives meaning.”

A fast-paced, raucous performance from Hodgkiss Award-winners Powder Keg, Morale Is High (Since We Gave Up Hope) is an up-to-the-minute show for our times of political uncertainty. It weaves together time travel, narratives and songs performed live on guitar to explore the effects of popular culture, political policy and inane day-to-day actions on who we choose to vote for.

Going Viral Fringe First Award-winner Daniel Bye returns with Instructions for Border Crossing—a political thriller as unstable as the world it describes.

“Borders are the most pressing issue of the last couple of years,” Bye said. “The migrant crisis has led to a lot of spilled ink on all sides of the debate. The show explores what we can really do in the face of such a huge and complex issue—and why most of us do nothing. This show represents a huge leap forward in the kind of experimental interactive storytelling I’ve been exploring and I can’t wait to share it.”

Developed with mental health charity Mind and supported by the Royal Shakespeare Company, North East company The Letter Room will première No Miracles Here—a musical tale of depression and a 1930s-inspired dance marathon with a Northern Soul.

Multiple Fringe First Award-winning duo RashDash return with their 2016 hit Two Man Show —a playful performance on masculinity, gender and language.

The Mayers Ensemble and West Yorkshire Playhouse present What If I Told You, directed by multi-Fringe First winner Chris Goode. Fringe first-timer Pauline Mayers is used to people making assumptions about her based on her gender, background and skin colour; it’s been happening all of her life. She invites her audience to spend an hour playing together to challenge boundaries, personal histories, gender and skin colour, carefully balancing dance and theatre and dispensing with traditional barriers between performer and audiences.

Finally there will be a special one-off rehearsed reading of Status—a new show from the multiple Fringe First Award-winning team that created Confirmation: written and performed by Chris Thorpe (Unlimited Theatre, Third Angel) developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin (The TEAM). Status will première at Edinburgh 2018 and tour from spring 2019.

All productions run at Summerhall from 5 to 26 August, except Morale Is High (Since We Gave Up Hope) (5 to 20), Two Man Show (21 to 26), What If I Told You? (11 to 26 but not 14 and 21) and Status (one performance only on 23 at 10AM). Except for Status, there will be no performances on Wednesdays.