When it comes to theatre season checklists (I got loads of stationery for Christmas), it has to be said that Northern Stage's springtime offering is simply ticktastic.
There’s top drawer drama and dance on the main stage; a host of new work by some of the country’s most inspiring
companies; a spanking new series of residencies for Stage Two; and a melting pot programme of fringe performances, spoken word and scratch nights inked in for the intimate confines of Stage 3.
Yep, it seems in spring 2015, you can’t move for the kind of bold, innovative and top quality work audiences have come to expect at the Newcastle venue.
Kicking off the season in North East-soaked style will be A Night Extraordinary on February 4. A special Gala event celebrating some of the region’s best talent, the evening will include performances from Mark Benton (Waterloo Road), Charlie Hardwick (Emmerdale) and Vicky Elliot (Hebburn) alongside new and emerging performers.
As well as aiming to provide a thoroughly lovely evening of entertainment which makes us all proud to be from here, the performance will also raise funds to continue Northern Stage’s work supporting and developing young theatre-makers locally. Later in the month (February 23–28), the critically acclaimed Birdsong, written by Rachel Wagstaff based on the world famous novel by Sebastian Faulks, was seen by over 130,000 people in 2013 and 2014.
Faulks was thrilled the show had been revived to tour again, marking the centenary of the First World War, saying: “Both Rachel and I want this to be the definitive version of Birdsong on stage. The audience watch it and think, ‘thank God I have never undergone all of this’.
“These experiences are far outside the lives of most people but there is something about the way the production works which makes people identify and think, ‘it could be me..’.”
Later in the season (April 29-May 16), Northern Stage artistic director Lorne Campbell will direct Cyrano de Bergerac in a new production based on Anthony Burgess’ translation of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play.
“This is a play of true scale, and Royal & Derngate and Northern Stage collaborating again in this way allows us both to create something this ambitious for our stages,” Lorne says.
“It is a remarkable play in a remarkable version. An epic and profoundly human love story about the greatness and weakness that lives in all of us.”
Alongside the professional cast, the Cyrano ensemble will made up of six emerging actors from NORTH 2015 - a professional development programme for young theatre-makers to develop their skills and build a career.
Taking a step backwards, calendar-wise (March 10-14), following the success of Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Filter return to Northern Stage with their trademarkfusion of performance with integrated live music and sound in a radical re-creation of Macbeth.
Rewind a little further (February 26-28) and there’s a treat in store for fans of the unconventional in the form of Unfolding Theatre’s 2014 Edinburgh Fringe hit, Lands of Glass, which sees live music played on specially created glass instruments bringing best-selling Italian novelist Alessandro Baricco’s work to life.
Improbable Theatre explore what happens when they meet experts in their field from outside the world of theatre on stage in The Still from February 6-7; and the genre-defying Clod Ensemble come to Northern Stage for the first time with The Red Chair on March 24 and 25 - an ‘intimate show with an original dark fairy tale at its heart’.
Shifting the focus to dance, we have the experimental A Lyrical Dance Concert on February 24 and 25; Wim Vendekeybus’s thrilling, dangerous and playful show Ultima Vez: What the Body Does Not Remember (March 17-18); and Phoenix Dance Theatre return with Shadows on May 28, offering an exhilarating mixed programme including a double bill by renowned choreographer, Christopher Bruce CBE.
For families with children aged six and up, Theatre Alibi’s I Believe in Unicorns (April 16-18) is a spellbinding tale about the power of stories to transform our lives from Michael Morpurgo.
For younger children, Big Red Bath (May 7-9) promises to be a quirky, vibrant and humorous adaptation for two to five year olds of Julia Jarman’s popular children’s picture book.
Spoken word shows include Confirmation (March 23-24 March), Chris Thorpe and Rachel Chavkin’s award-wining 2014 Edinburgh
Fringe show about the gulfs we can’t talk across; Standby for Tape Back-Up (March 10-11) Ross Sutherland’s one man show compiled from found footage; Jack Bennett asks ‘Isn’t it daft that we ask teenagers to make really big decisions about their lives?’ in Too Much Too Young (February 10-11); and Crick Crack Club return with grown up fairy tales in Where the Bear Sleeps on May 13.
There will also be a new residency scheme which will see some of the region’s most exciting artists and companies supported in the creation of new work, while Northern Stage’s collaboration with Northumbria University final year BA (hons) Performance, Scriptwriting and Drama students will see performances f Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Idomeneus directed by Rebecca Frecknall, and More Light by Bryony Lavery alongside free script readings, presentations and a public symposium asking Do Young People Really Need Drama? (May 20-23).
If you’re totally greedy, Mark Thomas brings Cuckooed on February 20; there’s poetry with Radikal Words’ Great Northern
Slam (April 8); scratch nights First in 3 (March 5 and May 7) and Young People’s First in 3 (February 18).
And if all that doesn’t put a spring in your step, I can’t help you.
For full details or to book tickets visit www.northernstage.co.uk or call 0191 230 5151.