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Preview: A Wondrous Place at Northern Stage

Four new plays by young writers from Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and Manchester join forces under the banner A Wondrous Place

Four new plays by young writers from Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and Manchester join forces under the banner A Wondrous Place tonight at Northern Stage.

All these cities are routinely described as northern – particularly by people from parts of the country routinely described as southern.

But it’s a long drive from Newcastle to Liverpool so what links them or sets them apart?

Northern Spirit was an exploration of the modern notion of “northernness” initiated by former Northern Stage boss Erica Whyman as part of the Newcastle theatre company’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 2010. And this evening of drama is the latest manifestation of Northern Spirit.

It comes courtesy of New Writing North and a theatre company in each of the four cities.

The four writers for the four plays, which are performed by four actors, were each challenged to celebrate their home city and maybe counter the “it’s grim up north” cliche.

A Wondrous Place opened in Liverpool and comes to Newcastle from Sheffield before finally heading to Manchester.

The Newcastle play is called What Space Between and it was written by Alison Carr, who works at the People’s Theatre and whose work has been staged at the National Theatre and heard on BBC Radio 4.

Alison explains: “It’s about a girl who moves from Gateshead to Newcastle and it’s about home and belonging.

“Although it’s not exactly far between Newcastle and Gateshead in terms of distance, there’s a strong sense of place and knowing where you come from.”

Alison says the block of flats known as the Dunston Rocket, which was recently demolished, figures in the play.

“It was great to see the play in Liverpool and to see the others for the first time because we wrote them separately and didn’t collaborate in any way.

“It was interesting to see the common themes and the things specific to each play.

“Inevitably the play set in the home city has a different vibe to it.”

Each of the actors takes the lead in a different play so Cathryn Beaumont will play Alison’s leading lady for What Space Between.

A Wondrous Place is part of the Festival of the North East and runs at Northern Stage from tonight until Thursday at 8pm. Tickets: 0191 230 5151.

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