Sunderland students create play inspired by Tall Ships Races

Fiona Walker, Alex Armstrong, Catherine Black, David Frith and Mahri Smith
Fiona Walker, Alex Armstrong, Catherine Black, David Frith and Mahri Smith

Stories of Sunderland’s past, present and future will dock on stage as part of this year’s Tall Ships celebrations.

Five Performing Arts students from the University of Sunderland have created a new play for the stage called Mackems Through Time which focuses on stories which have helped to shape Wearside’s rich cultural, social and industrial heritage.

The city has been handpicked as the start port for the 2018 Tall Ships Races, with the university’s St Peter’s Campus expected to be a key viewing point for many visitors. It’s also the location of the students’ new 30-minute production.

Taking place over three days (July 11, 12, 13,) Mackems Through Time is a celebration of the city, inspired by voices across the area throughout history, from the folklore surrounding the Lambton Worm, the heydays of shipbuilding on the Wear to working on the production line at Nissan.

The students, who graduate this summer, have spent several months researching content for the performance outside of their own academic studies, which will be used to enhance their own CVs.

Adelle Hulsmeier, senior lecturer in Drama and Performing Arts, explained: “As part of our drama club, and aligning ourselves to the Tall Ships, the students came up with the idea that they would be inspired by voices from around the area throughout history, looking at lots of different stories in terms of what is the best about the city, and where the regeneration is coming from, what has put us on the map.

“It’s not chronological, as the play focuses on the discovery of a book of Sunderland, and we have a narrator at each point while the students physically project and react to the story around them.”