Support from Northern Stage

Published: 17 May 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Azula Credit: PicturesbyBish
Steven Blackshaw
Allison Davies Credit: Angela Carrington, The Bigger Picture Agency
Jenni Winter Credit: Joe Hayden
Sam Bell

In early 2020, Northern Stage announced that it would be supporting six North East companies and individual theatre-makers as part of its NORTH programme. Then, of course, along came the pandemic and theatre was effectively put on hold for more than twelve months. Now NS has announced that its NORTH cohort for this year will be those who missed out last year.

They are:

BRASH, who describe themselves as “a bold, educational theatre company for young people that strives to make sex and relationships education relevant, empowering, and unafraid. Making work for both educational settings and for professional theatre venues.” All their work, they tell us, is a direct response to the needs and issues expressed by young people in their face-to-face work with them.

Lerato Mncube (Azula) is a Performer and Afro Artist working in Dance and Circus, mostly known for her 'Waist and Booty Bounce' dance style. She is constantly developing her art form through her passion for traditional Afro and Booty dance and her work explores sensuality, feminine energy, strength and vulnerability.

Steven Blackshaw creates light-hearted, socially driven solo work. He also works with The Six Twenty as project coordinator and is a regular performer in their seasonal cult comedy sketch show, Mixtape. He has coordinated several major projects for The Six Twenty, including I Made You A Playlist (online virtual tour), Club Six Twenty (Alphabetti Theatre), Redcoat (Live Theatre), and Fans (2018 UK tour). His recent performance work includes Mixtape (The Six Twenty), Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Speakeasy), The Little Maid Who Danced to Every Mood (Northumberland Theatre Co.),and Spoon Theory (Live Theatre).

Allison Davies is writer from Northumberland with experience of theatre, film and audio. She’s had many adventures in China, India and Nepal, where every person she met had a story to tell, and on late nights in wild places she made pen portraits as a reminder that she’d lived this life and heard these tales. Then she began turning them into scripts. She is interested in multi-cultural and unheard stories and in exploring the connections between us. Her work has been described as passionate, poetic, engaging and ultimately hopeful. She is currently working on a range of projects for stage, screen and audio, including Tiny Fragments of Beautiful Light, which she will develop during her time as part of NORTH, in collaboration with Director Karen Traynor. Her work includes Three Shorts, Suffragette and How Did I Get to This Point? for Alphabetti. She has a physical disability and is neuro-divergent, which brings its own particular challenges and rewards.

Jenni Winter is an applied theatre-maker, cabaret singer and actress. She runs drama classes for young people in the West End of Newcastle, and performs monthly cabarets as “Musical Theatre Cabaret”. These originally played at Northern Stage and Prohibition Cabaret Bar, providing a platform for local musical theatre performers, and over the last year have become livestreamed shows. As an actress, she has performed in London’s West End, internationally, on tour and in regional theatre. She has worked as a pit musician and teacher of acting and musical theatre in drama schools and conservatoires. She is also a musical director and has MD’d at theatres including the Royal Lyceum, the Actors Centre, on tour and in Newcastle at Northern Stage (The Snow Queen, 2002) and the Tyne Theatre and Opera House (Little Shop of Horrors). She performs with improvised musical comedy groups, creates outdoor children’s theatre.

Sam Bell in her own words: an actor who also likes to dabble in a bit of writing. She recently finished R&D on a new show, Sam Stands Up, that interweaves storytelling, interactive theatre and stand-up comedy. She now expects to take the stand-up world by storm. She’s currently working with a group of performers she met at East 15 Acting School developing a film noir-themed comedy in which she plays the Chanteuse. The show is set to go on tour in 2022. She now expects to take the film noir world by storm. Sam’s also been creating work with an all-women’s writing group based in the North East. They’ve mainly been writing comedy sketches. She now expects to take the comedy sketch world by storm. In summary, Sam likes theatre and comedy and has great expectations.