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New season springs into action at Northern Stage

Northern Stage's new season explores our attempts to shape and understand the world. Sam Wonfor ponders on the programme

Headlong's Spring Awakening play comes to Northern Stage this year
Headlong's Spring Awakening play comes to Northern Stage this year

As we enter a New Year, a time of hope and possibility but also of resolution and determination, we are delighted to announce a season of work that examines our world, our time and asks some vital questions about how we might be and what we might strive for in the vast and sometimes inexplicable world.”

Those are the words of Northern Stage’s new artistic director, Lorne Campbell, and I think that is what you call setting your stall out.

“From Brian Friel’s classic tale of love and language, Translations, through the ever incendiary transgressive Tiger Lillies and original re-imaginings of The Rite of Spring and Spring Awakenings, to our own premiere of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, this is a season of the human being trying to shape and understand the world,” he continues, putting some meat on the bones of his season mission statement.

But let’s venture a little more into the nitty gritty of the programme shall we?

First up is anarchic opera trio The Tiger Lillies who are offering a twisted take on one of theatre’s most seductive creations in Lulu - A Murder Ballad (February 26 to March 1). Inspired by a combination of film Pandora’s Box and Berg’s opera Lulu, the production offers a whole new cycle of songs.

Next up is The Table (March 4-6), the critically acclaimed show from the makers of Low Life, Madam Butterfly, 1984 and puppet directors for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. This will be followed by comedian Daniel Bye’s How to Occupy An Oil Rig (march 11-13), which is sure to be a firm favourite with audiences and critics alike if his 2013 run at Northern Stage’s Edinburgh venue, St Stephen’s is anything to go by.

Blind Summit's The Table will be at Northern Stage in March
Blind Summit's The Table will be at Northern Stage in March
 

Fast forward to April and we’ll see Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre bringing Michael Keegan-Dolan’s thrilling dance theatre double bill set to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring & Petrushka (April 4-5) after critical acclaim at Sadler’s Wells.

Meanwhile for younger audiences and their families, Dogs Don’t Do Ballet (April 10-12) is a hilarious story brought to life using puppets, music and dazzling comedy.

The spring season will also see some of the country’s best-known companies return to the region to present new work, including Refugee Boy (March 18-22) from West Yorkshire Playhouse, which sees Benjamin Zephaniah’s inspiring and moving story adapted by award-winning poet, playwright and performer Lemn Sissay; English Touring Theatre’s Translations (March 24-29); and Headlong’s re-telling of Wedekind’s classic text Spring Awakening (May 20–24) by Anya Reiss, winner of both the Evening Standard and the Critics’ Circle Awards for Most Promising Playwright.

Following the success of Blue Remembered Hills (2013) and Close the Coalhouse Door (2012), Northern Stage will, for 2014, present the first UK touring production of Joseph Heller’s classic novel, Catch-22 (April 19 to May 10)

Lorne says, “We are very excited to be producing Catch-22 directed by the wonderful Rachel Chavkin. We expect this to be a landmark production of Heller’s classic text.”

After its run in Newcastle, the show goes on an eight-week national tour, bringing a little bit of the Northern Stage spirit to the rest of the country.

As part of the company’s on-going commitment to supporting and development new talent, 2014 also sees the second intake of NORTH. Eight exceptional performing arts graduates from the North East will learn how to fundraise, finance and market their work in the future. NORTH14’s first production comes to Northern Stage in March.

For full details of the programme, visit www.northernstage.co.uk

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