Why witches are visiting a Sunderland park

Theatre Space North East rehearsing for Macbeth in Roker Park, Sunderland.
Theatre Space North East rehearsing for Macbeth in Roker Park, Sunderland.
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HUBBLE, bubble, toil and trouble - a troupe of actors is hoping to bewitch a city park.

Award-winning Theatre Space North East is gearing up to bring the tragic tale of Macbeth to life for visitors to Roker Park.

They’ll be encouraging the audience to follow them around the park as they perform the play’s iconic scenes at locations including the bandstand, playpark and the bridge.

“The idea is that someone could come to the park, turn the corner and find themselves in the Battle of Dunsinane,” explained Corinne Kilvington, artistic director.

“We’ve been attracting a lot of attention while we’ve been rehearsing which proves that what we’re doing is worth doing. It’s about making theatre accessible for people.”

Macbeth, which runs from Thursday until Saturday, will kick off the group’s summer season that will see them perform King Arthur’s Adventures in Mowbray Park on July 31, August 1 and 2 and Shakespeare’s As You Like It in Barnes Park on August 21, 22 and 23.

The group’s production of The Tempest in Barnes Park last year, which attracted hundreds of audience members, won the Wow 24/7 Excellence Award for Performance of the Year.

Corinne said the group is striving to make Shakespeare and other theatre accessible to all.

“We’ve held plays in Barnes Park for a couple of years, but we’ve developed this year,” she explained. “We want to keep Barnes Park for lighter, romance productions, Roker Park for dramatic plays and Mowbray Park for family plays. It suits the terrain of those places.”

She added: “We get a great reaction from people, there are people who come along intentionally and then those who happen to be in the park who end up watching. You have men come up at the end and say ‘that was great, but how do I explain to my wife how a 20 minute dog walk turned into two hours?’”

Tom Potts, from Roker, will be playing the role of Macduff in this week’s production.

“It’s great to be able to perform Shakespeare on my door step,” he said. “We can’t wait to perform it for people.”

Helen Bowie from Hastings Hill, who has performed in past Theatre Space North East productions, will perform as one of the play’s infamous witches.

“The reaction you get from the audience is absolutely fantastic,” she said. “The best are the teenagers who you would never think would be interested in Shakespeare who end up stopping and watching you.

“Shakespeare can be boring in schools, but this really brings it to life for people.”

n Macbeth will be staged in Roker Park on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Meet at the beach entrance at 7pm. The performance is free, but the company suggests a donation of £7.