Northern Stage: the next steps

Published: 17 July 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

The ghost light at Northern Stage
Northern Stage is "Missing Live Theatre" Credit: Kit Haigh

Just hours before the government announced that properly COVID-secured indoor performances can go ahead from 1 August, Newcastle’s Northern Stage announced its plans for the near future.

"There is still some way to go until we can put shows on in the theatre,” said Executive Director Kate Denby. “As a producing theatre, we need to consider how long it takes to make a show from scratch—from writing, through to casting, rehearsing, choreographing, creating the music, building sets and making costumes in our workshops—and that's all before it even makes it onto the stage when our technical teams work their magic. So we have made the difficult decision to postpone our autumn productions, but we remain absolutely committed to making these shows and look forward to continuing to work with our brilliant creative teams and freelancers to bring them to life."

Red Ellen, a new play from Caroline Bird telling the story of Jarrow MP Ellen Wilkinson, a Northern Stage, Nottingham Playhouse & Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh production, will première in Newcastle in spring 2022 before touring and will be directed by Wils Wilson (Twelfth Night).

The Invisible Man, adapted by Philip Correia (Hyem at Theatre 503) and directed by Anna Girvan (Our Country's Good at the Tobacco Factory Theatres), will be part of Northern Stage's NORTH programme to support and develop new talent in the North East of England and will open in Newcastle in 2021 before touring.

Maria Aberg ([BLANK], The White Devil) will direct a new production of Gatsby in a Bristol Old Vic, Northern Stage, English Touring Theatre, Royal & Derngate, Northampton, Oxford Playhouse, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre production, which will tour in autumn 2021.

The cancelled spring touring productions, including HERE and Shandyland, will be rescheduled, with details announced later.

Christmas, in the form of The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Kitchen Zoo's new Christmas show for under-5s The Hey Diddle Diddle Christmas Spectacular!, will both be postponed.

But, explains Northern Stage Associate Director Mark Calvert, “the creative teams behind Northern Stage's two festive productions have joined forces to try to save Christmas. We are working on a brand new, feelgood festive show for everyone to enjoy this December—a magical theatre experience for the whole family that can be enjoyed in a safe and socially distanced way. It won't be the same as we're used to, and it may or may not take place at Northern Stage, but it will be something special.

“We've still got a lot of details to work out, and all of this is dependent on government guidance, but we will keep you posted with more details as soon as we can...”

The new show will be written by Laura Lindow (War of the Worlds at Northern Stage) and devised with Kitchen Zoo (The Three Bears at Christmas at Northern Stage) and the creative team behind The Snow Queen, A Christmas Carol, James and the Giant Peach and Alice in Wonderland.”