Theatre performances to pop up around Sunderland

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THE curtain is being raised on a new season of theatre which brings the stage to people’s doorsteps.

The first season of Sunderland Stages saw theatre, dance and spoken word performed at venues across Sunderland and Washington including North Shore, in St Peter’s and the Bonded Warehouse, off High Street East.

Now it’s been announced that the project will run again with even more unusual performance venues taking part in the initiative to bring theatre to the masses.

Highlights of the season, which will run from January 31 to May 29, will include a storytelling session in a mini bus at Roker seafront, a Weekend Rockstars event featuring local talent Hyde and Beast at North Shore, and an interactive theatrical pub quiz at The Dun Cow in High Street West.

Kathryn Brame, marketing assistant for Sunderland Stages, said: “We had a good response to the first season, but it’s a new initiative and we need to get the message out there.

“Ballet Lorent at North Shore was very popular, as were the kids shows, which were magical, beautiful shows. For some children it was their first experience of theatre. And that’s what this initiative is about: it’s about being inclusive.”

Sunderland Stages is the brainchild of Helen Green, creative director at Arts Centre Washington, with the aim of sparking a performance arts renaissance in Sunderland.

She said: “Over the past five years since I came to Arts Centre Washington and introduced a performance programme we have steadily developed a reputation for really high quality theatre that is often funny, musical or quirky but that most importantly is relevant to the lives of people in our community today.

“Our growing audience visit from all over the region. However, we felt that a number of factors such as poor public transport links were making it difficult for Sunderland residents from over the other side of the A19 from Washington to visit us.

“So we decided to take Mohammed to the mountain.”

The Sunderland Stages Spring Programme

•January 31 - Landscapes at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

For children aged 4-11 and their families. Take a magical journey through four different worlds and meet the animals that live there in this performance full of visual effects and lifelike puppets.

•February 25 - Jumping Puddles at Royalty Theatre and at Arts Centre Washington on February 26.

Two sisters at war suddenly find their world turned upside down. 
•February 28 - Up in the Attic at The Royalty Theatre

For children aged three to six and their families. Join three children on an unforgettable bedtime adventure.

•March 12 - Broke at Arts Centre Washington.

Question: Sally is British and broke. If Britain owes over £900 billion in National debt and Sally has been on minimum wage for most of her working life with the interest on her debt being equal to her monthly outgoings, then who is more broke, Britain or Sally?

•March 26 - Odyssey at Arts Centre Washington.

Theatre Ad Infinitum reinvent the timeless Greek myth. One actor. One hour. One man’s epic quest to reunite with his family and seek his bloody revenge.

•April 7 - Pop-Up Flashback at Sunderland City Library and Arts Centre, Fawcett Street.

For children aged five and over and their families. Sebastian’s memories aren’t like everyone else’s. He remembers troll kings and mermaid queens, deep sea diving super heroes and city smashing dinosaurs. But there’s only one memory that takes particular pride of place. It is of the very special gift that his Dad bought him.

•April 21 - Cape Wrath at 
Roker Seafront

A heartfelt, moving, intimate story, told to an audience of just 14 at a time in a stationary minibus, by storyteller Alexander Kelly.

•April 28 - Back Down at Sunderland College Visual and Performing Arts Building, Bede Campus

Luke, Zia and Tommy have known each other for forever. With Luke about to leave for university it’s time for one last adventure together, they set off on a camping trip to conquer Snowdon. But when their jaunt takes an unexpected turn they are forced to face up to the reality of why they needed the trip in the first place.

•May 1 - We Can Be Heroes at Bonded Warehouse

This is a show about facing your fears and becoming a super hero. Teens Patrick and Mark spend their days dodging school bullies and dreaming of escape from their small town home. Then they meet Mr Smith – a real-life super hero, with his own costume and canine sidekick.

•May 15 - The Rise and Fall of a Northern Star at Independent, Holmeside

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll - Tracy Star wanted it all! Seeking to escape the drudgery of her day-to-day life in 1980s Manchester, she sought to make something of herself in the burgeoning male dominated Madchester music scene.

•May 21 - Not Quite a Pub Quiz at The Dun Cow