Amateur theatre festival to make its debut at Arts Centre Washington

Actors, left to right, Amanda Chapman, Gordon Bond, Caroline Chapman, Joanne Mclernon, Calum Price, Angela Chard, and Angus Goudie on stage at Arts Centre Washington.
Actors, left to right, Amanda Chapman, Gordon Bond, Caroline Chapman, Joanne Mclernon, Calum Price, Angela Chard, and Angus Goudie on stage at Arts Centre Washington.

All the world’s a stage for amateur thespians as they gear up for a festival first.

Next week sees the staging of the first Durham & Sunderland One Act Festival.

Taking place at Arts Centre Washington from March 7-10, it’s a spin-off from the national All England Theatre Festival.

A host of amateur drama groups will enter the festival with a professional adjudicator deciding who should go on to the regional final.

This new festival is being organised and sponsored by Alan Godfrey MBE, who for several years has been an actor and producer with Durham Dramatic Society.

Among the seven groups taking part is Washington’s own theatre group, who will be presenting a specially written piece, Remembrance Night, by Marie Lovell and John Cairns, while Durham Dramatic Society will be staging a two-hander, Grannies, by Jean McConnell.

Alan himself will be producing Night Watches, a play by the Durham-born author Allan Monkhouse.

Other productions include new plays by local authors Tom Casling, Chris Masters and Lee Stewart, all competing for a New Writing Award, while the long established Durham Shakespeare Group will be staging Julius Caesar Part I.

Alan said: “I am absolutely delighted with the response to this new festival from local theatre groups as it is high time the North East was fully represented in the All England Theatre Festival.

“Hopefully it won’t be too many years before one of our groups carries off the national trophy – if they don’t do it this year.”

Matthew Blyth, audience development officer from Arts Centre Washington, said: “We are absolutely delighted to host the very first Durham and Sunderland One Act Festival here at Arts Centre Washington.

“Amateur theatre is an integral part to our cultural landscape and I’m often amazed by the level and dedication, ingenuity and talent that is show by members of these groups. It’s also fantastic to see so many pieces of new writing in the festival.”

l Tickets are £5 a night from Tel. 0191 561 3455.

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