Sunderland drama students to take over arts venue

University of Sunderland drama students to perform at Arts Centre Washington.
University of Sunderland drama students to perform at Arts Centre Washington.
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Drama students are preparing to step into the spotlight for their annual take over of a top arts venue.

Budding thespians from Sunderland University will be staging a series of critically-acclaimed plays throughout May at Arts Centre Washington as part of the annual arts festival Sunfest.

Organised by the university’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, Sunfest, now in its fifth year, sees students take over the venue for a whole month to bring to life work by some of the UK’s greatest playwrights.

Graeme Thompson, dean of Arts, Design and Media at the University of Sunderland, said: “Sunfest gives our students the experience of planning, producing and performing shows for a paying audience. It’s an invaluable experience and a tremendous platform to showcase their skills.

“I am grateful to our friends at Arts Centre Washington for providing this unique opportunity for our students.”

Helen Green, creative director at Arts Centre Washington said: “At Arts Centre Washington we are passionate about working with young people; supporting new and emerging talent in Sunderland and the development of high quality theatre experiences for all.

“We are therefore delighted to be able to merge all three of these priorities in the Sunfest partnership with the University of Sunderland. Arts Centre Washington’s growing reputation for original and innovative theatre makes it an ideal base for the drama students where they can gain a real insight into the workings of a small-scale touring venue.”

There are a number of thought-provoking plays including works by William Shakespeare, Sean O’Casey, William Wycherley and others. Performances will include:

•The Drunks on May 5 and 7. Taking place in a small rural town in Russia, Ilya, a shell shocked soldier returns home after serving on the frontline only to unwittingly becomes a pawn in an extraordinary power struggle.

•Juno and the Paycock on May 12 and 13. In this modern classic, playwright Sean O’Casey mixes drama and pathos with robust humour as he creates a vivid depiction of Irish working-class life during a bloody civil war.

•The Plough and the Stars on May 14. Sean O’Casey’s masterpiece paints a vivid portrait of a city and a nation in turmoil during the Easter Rising in Dublin 1916.

•The Country Wife on May 19 and 21. A play reflective of a new era —the Restoration— which followed an eleven-year period of harsh Puritanical rule under Oliver Cromwell, by William Wycherley. 

•King Lear by Shakespeare on May 26.

•The Tempest by Shakespeare on May 28.

Sunfest runs at Arts Centre Washington from May 5-28.Tickets for all performances are £7.50 / £6 (concessions )/ £5 (NUS) and start at 7.30pm.

To book or for more information visit www.artscentrewashington.co.uk or contact the centre on Tel. 561 3455