“Spectacular” live performance to open Fire Station

Peter Lathan

The Fire Station, Sunderland’s new cultural venue, will be opened with a “spectacular” performance from outdoor theatre specialists Periplum in November. The mixture of movement, music and drama is expected to attract an audience of between 1,500 and 2,000 people when the show is presented outside of and around The Fire Station in High Street West.

The project will also involve Live Theatre, Dance City and Sunderland Music Education Hub (SMEH) who will have a presence inside the Fire Station.

“Our project will be based on a Sunderland dragon,” said Periplum’s Artistic Director Claire Raftery, “and will be a modern take on the legend of the Lambton Worm. We see the dragon as a symbol of regeneration and reawakening, which is really what the new Fire Station and cultural quarter are about too.

“We’re already working closely with Live Theatre, Dance City and SMEH—we’ll give them a brief based on the narrative we’re developing and then will be checking in with them to see how they’re working with their specific community groups. It will all then come together for the one-off performance.

“We’re hoping to weave in local stories and characters into the narrative, so will be speaking to lots of Sunderland people to hear their stories. The show will be a celebration of Sunderland, its people, its history—and its future. A show delivered with, and for, and about the people of the city.”

The £120,000 project has been commissioned by The Cultural Spring and Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and funding has come from the Cultural Spring, MAC Trust, the Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts scheme and smaller grants from Nexus, Sunderland BID and Gentoo.

“We were thrilled at the standard of entry into the commissioning process,” said Helen Green, the Director of the Fire Station, “but Periplum’s ideas and enthusiasm stood out. They’ve created some magical experiences wherever they’ve worked and I’m absolutely convinced that their opening event for The Fire Station will be a special performance that will live long in the memory.

“It’s the sort of large-scale event that Sunderland could expect to see a lot more if we win the 2021 City of Culture bid.

“The Fire Station, The Dun Cow, The Peacock and the soon-to-be-built new auditorium will take Sunderland’s artistic and cultural community a step forward and it’s right that we celebrate our new hub properly.”

Emma Horsman, Project Director at the Cultural Spring, added, “we’re hugely excited by what Periplum have planned—it will be a fantastic evening and a suitable climax to months of workshops and rehearsals in our Cultural Spring wards. Periplum have a much-deserved reputation for their work around the world and we’re delighted to be working with them on this project.”

Participants of all ages to take part in the event are being sought. The event will have dance and theatre elements and volunteers will be part of a large-scale performance, working alongside professionals. Local keen dancers and performers who would like to be involved in the opening event or even to volunteer should e-mail michael.barrass@theculturalspring.org.uk.