What to expect from outdoor spectacle which will open Sunderland's Fire Station

Preparations are in full swing for a large-scale live performance which will provide a red hot opening night for The Fire Station.

Wednesday, 8th November 2017, 9:11 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 11:30 pm
Rebecca Pedlow with workshop participants
Rebecca Pedlow with workshop participants

Although The Engine Room pub has already pulled its first pint, on November 23 the rest of the new £3.5m arts and culture hub, including dance studios and a heritage centre, will be launched in style with an outdoor spectacular, which has been give a new name of Fireflight.

The performance is the culmination of a £120,000, six-month project that re-interprets the legend of the Lambton Worm. It will be delivered by respected outdoor theatre company Periplum, who were co-commissioned by the Cultural Spring and Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust.

More than 200 local people will be involved with at least 100 performing in the opening event, which will take place outside The Fire Station at about 6pm on November 23, the same evening as the city’s Christmas lights switch on in Keel Square.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Community workshops started weeks ago in preparation for Fireflight, led by Periplum’s three delivery partners – Live Theatre, Dance City and Sunderland Music Hub.

Rebecca Pedlow, lead manager for the music hub, said: “It’s great to be working with our delivery partners and a company of Periplum’s reputation. Some of the participants are older than what we’re used to, but that’s been interesting too – it’s extended our remit and we’ve had to adapt to how we’d normally deliver sessions. We’re looking at creating some new songs with a real Sunderland feel to them and we’re working with people like Marty Longstaff from The Lake Poets to do this. About 25 people among the people attending the workshops have expressed an interest in singing so we should have a good-sized choir – although we still have room for more if anyone would like to join us.

“We’re also thinking about a soundscape for the whole performance and during the workshop sessions we’ve been asking participants to think about what Sunderland sounds like to them. That was their homework and they came up with sounds like the cries of seagulls. It would be great to add these into the performance to give it the sound of Sunderland.”

Fireflight is expected to attract an audience of up to 1,500 people.

After pop star Pixie Lott has helped switch on the city’s Christmas lights, and Periplum’s Fireflight performance has marked the opening of The Fire Station, there will be a third element of the evening’s entertainment on November 23. The Fire Finale will begin at 6.40pm in front of The Fire Station and feature local dancers and a five-minute long pyrotechnic display.

Thirty dancers, who have been in rehearsals with regional dance agency Dance City for several weeks, will perform as the pyrotechnic show begins. It’s a taster of what’s to come from Dance City who will have a base within The Fire Station.

Emma Horsman, Project Director at the Cultural Spring, said: “Our three delivery partners have been working well with Periplum on Fireflight and excitement is building about what they are producing together.”


In total, the launch performance will last about 30 minutes and although it will be free, it will be ticketed.

Information about tickets for Fireflight will be provided on www.theculturalspring.org.uk) and The Fire Station (www.macq.org.uk) a fortnight before the event.