A shining reopening for Live Theatre

Published: 18 August 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Kema Sikazwe in Shine Credit: Richard Kenworthy
Kema Sikazwe in Shine Credit: Richard Kenworthy
Kema Sikazwe in Shine Credit: Richard Kenworthy
Kema Sikazwe in Shine Credit: Richard Kenworthy
Kema Sikazwe in Shine Credit: Richard Kenworthy

After being closed since March 2020, Newcastle’s Live Theatre will reopen with a revival of Kema Sikazwe’s 2019 hit show Shine, which will run 2–18 September.

“Bringing Shine back is important as I don’t think we finished telling the story back in 2019,” Silazwe said, “and it feels so much more relevant now. It’s about celebrating difference and keeping your head when your world is exploding around you—something everyone can relate to right now.”

Live's Interim Executive Producer Graeme Thompson, who directs the production, added, “this is Kema’s story and experience, but it’s also a story for our times and for us all. It’s a story of extraordinary challenge but with a positive message. We don’t have enough of those in the world right now.”

At three years old, Sikazwe moved with his family from Zambia to Newcastle’s West End. Drawing on his experiences growing up there, dealing with bullying and mental health problems, the singer-songwriter and actor (I, Daniel Blake on film and Wolfblood, The Dumping Ground, Beowulf and Vera on TV) explores his story and struggles through music, spoken word and acting. Inspired by his mother’s singing while growing up, he writes songs which delve into his own journey and aim to inspire others to believe in themselves in the face of hardship.

Since the success of Shine in Newcastle and Edinburgh, he was commissioned by the BBC World Service to present a three-part radio documentary series called Finders Keepers about the looting and return of ancient artefacts as well as appearing in shows on ITV and Netflix, which are due to air in 2022. He also delivers songwriting workshops, going into schools, youth projects and the community, teaching others how to use music as an outlet and build their confidence.