Peter Lathan

North East Editor

Peter Lathan's first experience of theatre was at the age of 13 in 1956 when he played Marion in Sean O'Casey's Cock-a-Doodle Dandy, a school production in an all-boys school.

Since then, he has been deeply involved in all aspects of theatre. He directed his first production (a Chekhov one-acter, The Anniversary) while at university in 1966 and, as a playwright, his first play to be performed professionally (The Passion, a version of the medieval Mystery Plays) was produced in 1975.

He has directed more than 70 productions with school and youth groups and professional companies. Since the turn of the century most of his directing work has been with KG Productions, a company he founded in 1999. Work with KG has included theatre-in-education, corporate productions, new writing (the company commissioned, produced and toured novelist Chaz Brenchley's first play A Cold Coming) and touring pantos. In 2009, he was invited by the Customs House, South Shields to direct an open-air, site-specific version of The Tempest, the first in an annual summer Shakespeare in the Park event using an ensemble of some of the region's leading professional actors and in 2010 he directed Romeo and Juliet.

Most recently, he wrote and directed three Customs House community plays which featured a large amateur cast and musicians and a professional creative / production team. He also devised and directed small-scale touring productions of themed Shakespeare compilations.

He has written more than 30 plays, including a full-length musical, a number of pantos, touring TIE shows and corporate work for a wide variety of clients. He was commissioned to write and direct The South Tyneside Story for the Millennium Dome. His plays have been produced throughout the UK, and in the US, Germany and India.

Other writing includes It's Behind You: The Story of Panto (New Holland Publishers 2003). Between 1968 and 1980, he was a regular contributor to The Stage, Cabaret and Variety Revue and Musicians Only and had a two-year spell as theatre correspondent for BBC Radio Newcastle.

He taught drama in schools and with youth theatres, and has also done drama work with recovering addicts, adults with severe learning disabilities and run a two-year drama course for adults under the auspices of a local Adult and Community Learning department.

He has served on arts-related council committees; has done PR, front of house management and lighting design for the St David's Arts Festival as well as having appeared there as an actor and director; has done a range of drama workshops in primary and secondary schools and undertaken consultancy work, specifying equipment and design for school theatres and drama studios.

In recent years, under the auspices of South Tyneside Council, he ran an introductory course for would-be playwrights.

In 2016, he retired from directing but continued to write plays.

In the '70s, he was Chair of the board of management of the Wearabout Theatre Company, a professional company in Sunderland. From 2000 to 2009, he was a Trustee of the Customs House and from 2010 until 2017 was a Trustee of No Limits Theatre Company, a professional company for performers with a learning disability.

From 1997 to 2001, he was employed by (New York) to run a web site on British Theatre and set up the British Theatre Guide in 2001. He stepped down as editor in January 2012 but continued to act as North East editor until his death on 9 April 2022.




The cover of Frank Ifield's "I Remember You"

Remembrance of theatre past (10–11): panto in Sunderland

Peter Lathan looks back at a career in theatre which stretches back to the 1960s. This instalment features the stars of many pantos at the Sunderland Empire, plus some stories about panto chorus boys.
Slade at the Empire (composite of two pics)

Remembrance of theatre past (7–9): when punks came to Sunderland

Peter Lathan looks back at a career in theatre which stretches back to the 1960s. This instalment features the night the punks came to Sunderland Empire, a rather odd photo job and a few Green Room conversations.
Coronavirus Theatre Club

Let’s not confuse theatres with Theatre

Peter Lathan responds to the suggestion that theatres may not be able to re-open until 2021.
The NYT (NE) production of Henry V

Remembrance of theatre past (4–6): National Youth Theatre, ballerinas and footballers

Peter Lathan looks back at a career in theatre which stretches back to the 1960s. This instalment focuses on his time at Sunderland Empire and features the National Youth Theatre, a major failure as a photographer and a “contest” between ballerinas and footballers.
A modern photo of Sunderland Empire

Remembrance of theatre past (1–3): stories from Sunderland Empire

Peter Lathan looks back at a career in theatre which stretches back to the 1960s. This first instalment comprises three stories from his time at Sunderland Empire.
The interior of Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle

Lamentations of an isolated theatrical

Peter Lathan explores how well (or otherwise) he is living with isolation.
The Courtyard of Durham Castle

A Great Night Out: How I learned to love Shakespeare (at age 14)

Peter Lathan reveals how Shakespeare suddenly stopped being boring for him when he was 14.
Passionate People. Passionate Places.

The best of North East theatre in 2019 (according to me)

NE editor Peter Lathan selects his “best of…” in the North East for 2019.
Passionate People. Passionate Places.

North East theatre in 2019 – a review

NE editor Peter Lathan looks back over a year of theatre in the North East, from Teesside in the south to the Scottish Border in the north, and from the coast in the east to the Pennines in the west.
From The Child’s Christmas by Evelyn Sharp (1906)

North East pantos & Christmas shows 2019–2020

A listing of all the 2019–2020 professional pantos and Christmas shows in the North East, with dates, times, prices and where to buy tickets.

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