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Culture Awards 2009: Performance of the Year

THE Sancho Plan say The Black Page is the company’s first true interactive short film … and "by far our most ambitious project to date".

Winner: Cassop and Coal

THIS performance from Tin Arts revealed the tremendous impact coal has had on the lives of local people and communities.

Based on research and inquiries collated from interviews with individuals, families and historians connected to the past, present and future of coal, the company worked in association with Jane Arnfield, Imogen Cloet and Katie Doherty to create a moving narrative for the production’s promenading audience.

Seven stories were woven through seven locations within Cassop village, in County Durham.

Journeying from the public house to the school and across the land of the old pit heap, it was designed to allow provoking thoughts and images to rise in the imagination of its audience as the story of coal took them forward, marking the achievements, desolation and desire for transformation.

The 75-minute performances ran over three dates in December – in all weathers.

Tellingly, audiences turned out in force despite the temperatures to experience what was on offer. Tin Arts’ Martin Wilson says: "We are very excited about being shortlisted and never imagined that we would get such great recognition!

"It is testament to the hard work and trust shown to the production team by the Cassop and Quarrington Hill communities who were our inspiration and equal collaborators.

"We were delighted to be a part of a year of outstanding culture across the North East.

"We look forward to this high quality continuing through 2010 with even more groundbreaking events and performances in our region.

"We are now looking forward to leading one of 10 plays which form part of the Durham Mysteries, to be performed in venues across Durham at the end of May."

Finalist: The Black Page

THE Sancho Plan say The Black Page is the company’s first true interactive short film … and "by far our most ambitious project to date".

Combining quality musical and visual design, The Black Page was a new entertainment experience.

This involved a live onstage band controlling – in real-time – a cast of on-screen animated musical characters for the pleasure of an audience at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema.

The short film told the tale of a lost wanderer who stumbles into a surreal desert landscape, and learns that the door home can only be opened by an unusual guardian.

The Sancho Plan’s Ed Cookson says: "The Black Page has been a performance we’ve been working towards through most of the last decade.

"This nomination is especially important to us as we have always regarded The Black Page as the first chapter of a longer, immersive experience.

"For us the future of live performance is an exciting place. As the music and film industries are being forced to evolve, we embrace the opportunities this presents."

Finalist: The Beautiful Journey

T@HE story of The Beautiful Journey was set in the not-so-distant future. The ambitious, outdoor, promenade production which told it was set on the banks of the Tyne, against a backdrop of Wallsend’s shipbuilding heritage and within a stone’s throw of the communities, which helped to shape the detail of the ambitious project’s narrative.

Over 10 days, audiences were invited to immerse themselves in a purpose- built shanty town on the island of Kalypso. The island’s namesake was a mythical queen, whose painted smile and forced happy demeanour failed to mask the heartache of a lost son, the fear of the future and a broken relationship with her sister.

Emma Gibson, of Cornwall-based company Wildworks, said: "We are all absolutely thrilled to be nominated.

"We have such great fond memories of our time spent in the North East."

Carol Bell, head of culture and major events at Newcastle/Gateshead Initiative, says: "The Beautiful Journey was a example of a fantastic collaboration to create moving, innovative and exciting work that was truly routed in the local community.

"The resulting outdoor promenade performance on the banks of the River Tyne has created new memories for those who experienced it."

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