Made in the North East

I’ve already mentioned the “mini-explosion” of in-house productions at the Customs House in its 25th year but is has to be said that otherwise 2019 was a little disappointing in terms of the producing theatres actually producing on the scale they have in previous years.

Take Live Theatre, for example. This year, it produced one new production (Shine), one co-pro (Approaching Empty) and one revival (Clear White Light), together with one night of new short plays (10 Minutes to…), a one-night-only production (Locker Room Talk) and six short new plays (Elevator Festival), each playing for one night, compared to four full-length in-house productions and one co-production in 2016.

The picture was similar at Northern Stage with only the Young Company’s Where Do We Belong?, training company NORTH’s Hound of the Baskervilles and, of course, Christmas show The Snow Queen not being a co-production. This compares to 2016 when there were five in-house (including the Christmas show) and three co-productions.

Durham’s Gala Theatre continued with its policy of producing two in-house shows a year, Teechers by John Godber and a co-production of Lord of the Flies with Durham University Theatre and Unfolding Theatre.

Working quietly in the background, as it were, has been Queen’s Hall Arts in Hexham which has been co-producing with a number of companies on shows which have gone on to tour across the region and even beyond. Most significant (and already mentioned) has been the link with Durham-based Elysium Theatre Company as well as Consett’s Mad Alice Theatre Company which is currently touring its QHA commission for children and families, Rose and Robin.

ARC Stockton, which pioneered the “Pay What You Feel” scheme in the region, continues to encourage and present new writing by programming it and supporting it in many ways.