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Culture Awards 2010: Performance of the Year

GATESHEAD-based Unfolding Theatre asked 100 local people the question: if you could build your own palace, what would it be?

WINNER: Building Palaces

GATESHEAD-based Unfolding Theatre asked 100 local people the question: if you could build your own palace, what would it be?

Their answers – and those of a collection of performance artists – informed, illustrated and shaped a series of stunning promenade performances in The Stephenson Works, Newcastle, where Robert Stephenson built his world-changing Locomotion.

Singer/songwriter Beccy Owen, percussionist Brendan Murphy and actors Jane Arnfield, Alex Elliott and Pady O’Connor were among the performers who invited audiences into their palaces of dreams and entertained them while they were there.

Annie Rigby, artistic director, said: “We’re delighted that Building Palaces has been shortlisted for ‘Performance of the Year’.

“It has topped off a fantastic launch year for Unfolding Theatre, bringing together an incredible team to make Building Palaces, presenting the show to sell-out audiences, working with award-winning children’s writer David Almond on Noah and the Fludd and developing beautiful community projects, such as our art installation exploring recovery from addiction, Let Me Tell You. We’re just about to begin work on our next show, Best in the World, for which we’ll be interviewing world champions and gold medallists. Thank you to everyone who has supported our work so far. It’s been an amazing journey, and we’re looking forward to everything that comes next.”

FINALIST: The Miners’ Hymns

COMMISSIONED by BRASS: Durham International Festival and produced by Forma Arts and Media, The Miners’ Hymns was a spectacular, poignant and moving collaboration celebrating the social and cultural heritage of the North East region through archive film footage and contemporary brass music.

It was the collaborative work of American filmmaker Bill Morrison and Icelandic composer Johann Johansson, weaving together news, documentary and industry footage of brass and mining heritage in the North East region and setting it to a hauntingly melodic score which took inspiration from the region’s rich brass music culture.

The film premiered at Durham Cathedral as part of BRASS, with Johansson’s composition performed live by an ensemble of players from Chester-le-Street NASUWT Riverside Band and classically trained musicians led by Icelandic conductor Gudni Franzson.

Forma’s David Metcalfe said: "Forma is delighted that The Miners’ Hymns has been shortlisted. The project was made possible through the collaboration of many people including the NASUWT Riverside Brass Band, the Northern Regional Film and Television Archive, Amber Films, and Dave Douglass – a former miner. This project was an original commission for BRASS 2010 and would not have been possible without the support of Durham County Council Arts Development Team, Culture 10, the Arts Council, the BFI, Northern Film and Media and Durham Cathedral staff."

FINALIST: Apples @ Northern Stage and Middlesbrough Empire

BASED on the debut novel by Middlesbrough-born Richard Milward, Apples was an onstage-telling of an adolescent love story involving pills and poppers, underage sex, extreme violence, joy and humour.

The theatrical adaptation debuted at the unusual venue of nightclub Middlesbrough Empire – a setting for some of the action in the story – before making its way to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it enjoyed a successful and much-acclaimed run.

The hard-hitting production, starring Scott Turnbull as Adam and Therase Neve as Eve, then returned to Northern Stage in Newcastle for more North East performances.

Director John Retallack from Company of Angels said: "We’re delighted to be given this recognition for our work.

"We were all very proud of Apples and the audience response throughout the North East and the UK was wonderfully positive."

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