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National Theatre to stop at Sunderland's Fire Station as epic production of Homer's Odyssey journeys around England

The world-renowned National Theatre is bringing a prestigious production to Sunderland.

Thursday, 21st April 2022, 11:41 am

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In collaboration with Sunderland Culture and Empire Theatre, the NT is creating a multi-location nationwide production of The Odyssey produced in partnership with local communities, theatres and artists across the UK in 2023.

The NT was founded by Laurence Olivier in 1963 and the production is part of a 60th anniversary programme. The show will draw on the talents of hundreds of community members and professional artists from across the country.

Homer’s epic story will be re-imagined with local community companies as a universal story of resilience, loss, healing and hope.

The Fire Station is to stage a National Theatre production. Picture by David Allan.

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The Odyssey will be told in four episodes across the country in Spring 2023, culminating with a fifth and final episode on the NT’s Olivier stage in London in August 2023.

Sunderland Culture will produce the fourth episode on 29-30 April, to be written by North East playwright Lindsay Rodden and performed at The Fire Station. Annie Rigby directs.

Sunderland Empire’s senior creative learning manager, Anthony Hope, will work with a range of local community groups. More than 20 Sunderland performers will take to the stage, with some of them performing at the NT finale in August 2023.

The Odyssey will be performed at The Fire Station. Picture by David Allan.

Marie Nixon, general manager at the Empire, said: “Sunderland Empire are proud to be working in partnership once again with the National Theatre and Sunderland Culture for this imaginative adaptation of The Odyssey.

“This exciting national project represents the scale of Sunderland’s artistic ambition and will create opportunities for a cast of community members to shine in a truly important production.

“With such a phenomenal writer and director on board too, we’re excited to get started, and to bring the legend of this mythic adventure on the high seas to Sunderland’s shores.”

Tamsin Austin, venue director at The Fire Station, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with the National Theatre and our neighbours Sunderland Empire on such a landmark project.

Playwright Lindsay Rodden.

“The Odyssey will give local people an amazing opportunity to be a part of a major national production and with Lindsay and Annie’s involvement, quality is assured.

“The episode we’ve been given is called Island of the Sun and is based on the myths of Scylla and Charybdis and The Cattle of Helios.”