Change at the top at NTC

Published: 16 January 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Artistic Director Gillian Hambleton is retiring from Northumberland Theatre Company at the end of this month.

She joined the company as AD in 1990 from Cheltenham Everyman where she was Guest Director and directed These Things Do Happen by Stewart Howson, winner of the LWT Plays on Stage Awards, and shortlisted for the TMA Martini Awards for Best Tour.

Prior to that, she spent two years as Artistic Director of Leeds TIE, one of the leading companies creating challenging, educational theatre work for young people in the country, with an international reputation. Mike Kenny, one of the UK's most popular writers of plays for young people, was part of the company for many years.

During her time at NTC, the company has become one of the foremost small-scale touring companies in the country, touring theatre of the highest quality to rural village and community venues, not just in the NE and Scotland but much further south, and has won an LWT Plays on Stage Award, Nominations for Best Tour in the TMA / Martini Awards and for Best Play in the Tyne Tees / Northern Electric Awards and she herself has won The Northern Electric Artists Award for an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the Arts in the Region.

NTC has also been an important part of early career development for young NE actors through its InterACT scheme, a kind of apprenticeship offering paid on-the-job training. This Hambleton-inspired idea, which began in 2003, came to an end in 2012 when the company lost its Arts Council NPO status.

In spite of that loss, she and the company have managed to raise sufficient support and project funding to continue touring and even to move from NTC’s original home at Alnwick Playhouse to the Dovecot Centre in Amble where, this year, in addition to the Christmas touring show, they produced Amble’s first ever professional panto.

Taking over the reins will be NTC’s Assistant AD, Louis Roberts.

There will be a party to celebrate her time at NTC at 7:00 on Saturday 1 February at the Dovecot Centre where the band The Baghdaddies will perform. Anyone who has a connection with Gillian Hambleton or the company is invited to come along.

“Gill has done a lot for so many people over the years,” Roberts said, “and it'd be nice to give her the send-off she deserves. Just bring a bottle of your choice!” To RSVP to this invitation or to contribute towards a present, e-mail [email protected].