Park strife for Roker Romeo and his Juliet

A previous production of The Tempest at Barnes Park
A previous production of The Tempest at Barnes Park
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Roker Romeos can pick up some courting tips when the world’s greatest love story comes to a city park.

Star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet will be brought to life in all their tragic glory at Roker Park for the annual Plays in the Parks series.

Previous production of Macbeth in Roker Park

Previous production of Macbeth in Roker Park

For the fifth year running, Sunderland-based Theatre Space North East will be taking over city parks for a series of plays, which invite audiences to follow the troupe around the parks as they play out the classic tales.

This year the roving storytellers will pay homage to The Bard, in the 400th anniversary of his death, by performing Romeo and Juliet in Roker Park next month and comedy The Taming of the Shrew in Barnes Park in August. They’ll also be aiming to enthrall young audience members with productions of George and the Dragon in Mowbray Park.

Corinne Kilvington, artistic director of the community interest company, said: “We’re really excited to be doing our fifth year in the parks. We’ve got an incredible cast and they are ready to create the best season yet.

“We’ll be using places in the parks you might not even know were there and beautiful costumes to bring the plays to life. It’ll be the best season yet.”

Crowds by Durham Photography

Crowds by Durham Photography

For the first time, the company will also be staging the Shakespearean plays at Alnwick Castle.

Corinne added: “Theatre Space has always prided itself on introducing new audiences to Shakespeare’s work through accessible and immersive performances. We are delighted to be producing two of William Shakespeare’s most iconic works in a year of celebration of The Bard’s timeless storytelling.”

As well as well-known tales, the company will perform George and the Dragon, a new twist on the timeless tale which has been specially-commissioned and written for the season by Sunderland writer David Farn.

Over the years, Theatre Space North East, which also works with schools and community groups, has racked up a number of awards, including a WOW 24/7 Excellence Award in 2014 for its production of The Tempest.

A major supporter of the Sunderland 2021 City of Culture bid, the company is renovating an industrial unit in Nile Street, Sunniside, to turn it into a culture hub and rehearsal space, due to open later this year.

No tickets are required for Sunderland performances, just turn up. Performances are free, but there is a suggested donation of £10 to cover costs. Tickets for Romeo and Juliet will be available via the Alnwick Castle website. Performances of George and the Dragon at Alnwick Castle are included with the General Admission to the castle.

Plays in the Parks

•Romeo & Juliet

July 14-17 at 7pm: Roker Park

August 9-10 at 7pm: Alnwick Castle

•George and the Dragon

July 30 at 5pm: Mowbray Park

July 31 at 11am, 2pm and 5.30pm: Mowbray Park

August 6-11 at noon and 2pm: Alnwick Castle

•The Taming of the Shrew

August 25-28 at 6.30pm: Barnes Park