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The new season in Hexham

Published: 17 August 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Hexham’s Queen’s Hall Arts has announced its season of theatre, dance, music, comedy and visual arts from September to December 2019.

The venue’s Artistic Director commented, “at the Queen’s Hall, we know that we must remain relevant in a changing world but also provide certainty and great entertainment. We are always reviewing and renewing our programme, but most importantly ensuring that we bring the very best quality performances to Hexham.”

Theatrical highlights are:

In and Out of Chekhov’s Shorts

(16 September) Performed by a company of five and featuring original live music and ensemble storytelling, this is a romp through some of the best of Chekhov’s short stories including The Lady with the Little Dog, The Chemist’s Wife, At a Summer Villa, An Avenger and The Bear. These stories hold a mirror up to the half-comic, half-painful experience of love and relationships and create a world in which the tender and the grotesque are inextricably linked.

Woke

(18 September in the Green Room) Hip-Hop and feminism are on a collision course and Testament reckons he’s the guy to sort it out. After all, he’s a rapper and World Record Holding Beatboxer. Then his daughter is born and suddenly he’s not so sure. So what will he discover as he starts to unpick his own prejudices?

This Is Not a Wedding

(19 September) Gracefool Collective invites you to the non-wedding event of the year and look at marriage through the eyes of four defiant brides attempting to maintain their dignity, please everyone and no one as they boldly wade through a minefield of tradition, conformity and expectation.

Only Fools and Boycie

(24 September) an intimate evening with John Challis, best known as Boycie in BBC1's Only Fools and Horses, who will be spilling the beans about co-stars like Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst and friends and fellow performers like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Oliver Reed and George Best. He’ll also recall tales from his time in Dr Who, Coronation Street and other TV classics.

Love Songs

(27 September) Baby Love Productions presents NE playwright Tom Kelly’s Love Songs. On a '60s tribute tour, two singers try to escape the past. “There’s a place for us”, says the song, but is it true for Vicki and Gary?

Build a Rocket

(30 September) Yasmin is a bright 16-year-old from a small seaside town. In an instant, her world is turned upside down when she becomes pregnant with her son, Jack. Suddenly, her life isn't sandcastles, arcades, and donkey rides. Abandoned by both the father of her child and her alcoholic mother, Yasmin faces one of life's great challenges completely alone—but can the thing which threatens to ruin her life actually be the thing which saves her?

Terror from the Skies

(1 & 2 October) It’s a warm summer’s day in the local graveyard. Jake and Hasan are skipping school and shooting the breeze while Sheila and Joanne are tracing a shared history among the headstones. In the distance, a light aircraft draws ever closer. Unknown to all of them, terror is lurking in the sky.

The Storm

(5 October) James Wilton Dance presents The Storm, in which acrobatics, break-dancing, martial arts and contact work fuse.

Alex and Eliza

(9 October) As a girl, she lived through the death and destruction of the 1947 partition between India and Pakistan, but now Zubair’s grandmother is like everyone else’s grandmother: old and wrinkly, slow in speech and speed. The separation, isolation and loss of that time are a distant memory. She had lived in the same house on the same street for 40 years of her life. Nothing out of the ordinary. Until she gets on a plane to visit Zubair, seven seas afar.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

(12 October) “A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen…”

Charles Baskerville is dead and a terrifying beast is rumoured to stalk the moors around the remote Baskerville mansion. When Sherlock Holmes sends Doctor Watson to investigate, Watson finds himself surrounded by dense fog and a community steeped in folklore, legend and rumour, where the line between reality and myth is no longer clear. How can a rational man trust his own eyes when confronted with the impossible? (A Northern Stage production.)

Playland

(16 & 17 October in the Green Room) A new production of Athol Fugard’s classic South African play by Elysium Theatre Company.

South Africa, New Year’s Eve 1989: a new country is about to born. On a run-down funfair somewhere in the wilderness, two men confront each other, one white, one black, both with blood on their hands. As night draws in, each must face what they have done and work out their lives through their own journey of truth and reconciliation.

The Man Who Planted Trees

(19 October at 2:00) A French shepherd sets out with his dog to plant a forest and transform a barren wasteland. As war rages across Europe, their young forest comes under threat.

Puppet State Theatre's blend of comedy, puppetry and storytelling with sensory effects, creating scents, wind and rain delivers a story that shows us the difference one man (and his dog) can make to the world. (Read the BTG review.)

Is This a Dagger? The Story of Macbeth

(21 October at 11:30 & 1:30) Scottish storyteller Andy Cannon takes audiences on a thousand-year journey from fact to fiction and back again in his telling of Shakespeare’s classic tale of foul and fortune, murder and deceit. He distils the essence of this epic play into a one-man, one-hour version, making it appealing for audiences young and old.

No Man’s Land

(22 & 23 October) In Harold Pinter's play, a chance meeting between two elderly writers in a North London pub leads to an alcohol-fuelled night of reminiscences and verbal sparring. Hirst, a wealthy recluse, invites Spooner, a down-at-heel poet, to his Hampstead townhouse for a nightcap. As the shadows lengthen and the whisky flows, their stories become more elaborate and improbable, until the arrival of two younger men forces events to take an unexpected turn.

Romeo and Juliet

(24 October) Critics’ Circle Award winning company Ballet Cymru’s version.

Dorian

(26 October) Proper Job Theatre Company and Andrew McMillan's contemporary retelling of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, exploring male vanity, gym culture, masculinity and body dysmorphia. In a society where gender is becoming fluid, how do men deal with the airbrushing, catfishing and online beautification?

Sky

(28 October at 11:00 & 2:00) From Theater Minsk for age 2–4. Jump onto a soft cloud and feel the wind whirling and whispering as two dancers make the space around you twist and turn. Everything is changing. Look up or move a little closer, you may catch a glimpse if a shape, a figure or someone in the sky. Everything is in motion in this piece of dance theatre for the very young.

When Did You Stop Dancing?

(6 November at Hexham Library) A solo performance exploring contemporary ideas about women’s voices and mental health. Through a true story from 1518, the audience is taken on a journey to explore ideas which are just as relevant today, leading us through outrage, sadness and laughter.

Stick Man

(11 & 12 November at various times)

What starts off as a morning jog becomes quite the misadventure for Stick Man: a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him and he even ends up on a fire. How will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree? An adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s story full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves.

Pulse

(13 November) Two different shows: one for children and young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and a relaxed version for all. Full details of each are on the Queens Hall web site.

Shackleton's Carpenter

(14 November) Shackleton's Endurance sank in Antarctica leaving him and his crew of 27 stranded. McNish, a brilliant carpenter and shipwright, defied Shackleton, but went all the way with him and played an vital role in ensuring all 28 were saved, but, for all his bravery and ingenuity, he was one of the very few who were never awarded the Polar Medal.

His health impaired by the experience, he emigrated to New Zealand where his condition worsened and he could no longer work. Now, alone and destitute, one still night on the dockside, he challenges The Boss one last time. In his fevered mind, he relives the Endurance expedition, pitting himself against Shackleton and plagued by the ghosts of his past.

Oscillate

(17 November) A tap dance experience from Old Kent Road, choreographed by Avalon Rathgeb and Dre Torres, that explores human interaction and the effects of miscommunication in relationships.

The Life of Reilly

(19 November) A play about autistic Reilly and his family and how the dynamics of the family changes with Reilly's diagnosis—the trials and the triumphs.

The Three Bears at Christmas

(11, 12, 16 & 19 December at various times) The Three Bears are preparing for winter and, of course, Christmas. A colourful whirlwind on the edge of the forest threatens to knock over their Christmas tree, eat their Christmas puddings and fall asleep in their beds, Goldilocks! This is the story as you've never heard it before. (Read the BTG review.)

A Viking Christmas

(13–28 December at various times) Produced by Queen’s Hall Arts and written by North East playwright Gary Kitching, this is a magical, mythical tale from the frozen land of the Nordic Kings, evil wizards and the Great Warriors of the Kingdom of Northumbria.

Join Lotte, a brave little girl, on her midwinter's adventure as she travels through the ice-covered kingdom of perilous, mystical places and mysterious beings, to the land of high castles and dark places, to the home of the Red Caps and the scary All-Father.

The Suggestibles Impro Pantso

(17 December) Famous NE impro group The Suggestibles returns with their ever-popular improvised pantomime.