A flaming speakeasy, political poetry and shadow puppets will take over city locations for a programme which aims to bring theatre to the masses.
As part of this season’s Sunderland Stages line-up, a host of locations, including Pop Recs, Independent, the Museum and Winter Gardens and a top secret location, will host a series of one-off shows.
Launched this week with a performance at Arts Centre Washington of Putting the Band Together - a part-gig, part-spoken word show about lapsed musicians - the autumn/winter season will run until December with performances in theatre, dance and spoken word.
After a successful programme last year, the new series sees a city location set on fire with a roaring 1920’s production of Faust by Southpaw Dance Company.
In true speakeasy fashion, it’s being held at a top secret location, which will be revealed to the audience shortly before the performance.
Helen Green, Sunderland Stages programme director, said: “Our first Sunderland Stage programme in 2014-15 was a pilot and proved very successful so we decided to apply for funding again.
“The Arts Council England have been very supportive of Sunderland at the minute with arts projects that are good enough and we were delighted that they chose to fund us again. We’ve taken on board what we learnt from the pilot and plan to run it for 16 months launching with this, our autumn season.
“The aim is to stage theatre in unexpected places and to bring more variety to the cultural offering, bringing theatre, dance and artists to the city that don’t usually come here because, at present, there isn’t a venue that can hold them. We have large productions that come to the Empire and then your small scale productions, but nothing in between at the minute.
“They’re artists who usually perform at Stockton and then carry on up the A1 to Newcastle and Edinburgh, so it’s about bringing them here. The artists can work collaboratively and gain skills, but the most important thing is raising engagement with people in Sunderland. This is theatre for them.
“Sometimes people feel uneasy about theatre and feel it’s not for them, but maybe they’ll come to see a show about music at Pop Recs and they’ll feel more comfortable about trying other things.”
•Tickets, priced from £5 to £12, for Sunderland Stages, a joint initiative between Arts Centre Washington, Arts Centre Washington, Sunderland University, Sunderland College and MAC Trust, are available from Tel. 0191 561 3456 or online at www.sunderlandstages.co.uk
Sunderland Stages Autumn/Winter Programme
•Fans, October 1 at 7.30pm at Pop Recs, Stockton Road.
Theatre meets gig. Fans is an eclectic mix of stories told through raucous live music, stand-up comedy and verbatim theatre. Based on people’s love affair with music, Fans fuses together fan confessions (and some not so true stories) with scripted drama.
•Thrive, October 5 at 7.30pm at CitySpace Studio, Sunderland University
Created especially for young people, Thrive delve’s into the lives and minds of three young people as their world gets turned upside down.
•Bookish, October 11 at 7.30pm at Independent, Holmeside
Take your pick of five mini shows in a comedic and musical portrayal of these books in Bookish: The Dairy Book of Family Cookery; Ginger-My Story – The Autobiography of Ginger Rogers; Tales of The Unexpected – Roald Dahl; Remains Of The Day – Kazuo Ishiguro and How to Analyse People – Brian Masters
•Faust, October 19 at 7.30pm at secret location.
Literally setting this top secret location on fire, Faust presents a unique fusion of world-class breaking combined with Lindy Hop, Charleston and swinging big band that taps into the spirit of gangsters, bootleggers, gamblers, flappers and hep cats.
•Sponge, October 25 at 11am and 2pm at Sunderland City Library, Fawcett Street.
Roll, squeeze and pop yourself through a new kind of family dance show, set to a 1970s influenced music. Suitable for babies of six months and children up to four years.
•Swan Canaries, November 4 at 7.30pm at The Royalty Theatre
It’s June 1918 and Polly Barton is starting work at a national shell-filling factory with the heroic Canary Girls, so called for the TNT that turns their skin yellow. This warm hearted, physical theatre piece, is based on real life events and the biggest explosion this country has ever known. As these women help the boys at the ‘Front’, it’s not only the war but a disturbing family secret that threatens the new life they have forged.
•What I Learned from Johnny Bevan, November 18 at 7.30pm at Sunderland College, Bede Campus
A funny and poignant poetic monologue about the British relationship between class and politics, told through one extraordinary friendship.
•Silver Moon, December 4 at 1pm and 3pm at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens
An enchanting Christmas story for children and families, this snowy masked performance presents the beautiful relationship grandparents have with their grandchildren and how imagination, not toys can forge a friendship. Using live music and shadow puppetry, this play promotes creativity through recycled objects to show an alternative non-commercial Christmas.