Sunday, 25 September 2016

Preview: Being An Ultimate Warrior at South Shields Customs House

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New Play Helps Fight for Theatre’s Survival

Being An Ultimate Warrior
South Shields Customs House
Thursday 13th October 2016

North East play Being An Ultimate Warrior has joined the battle to help Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre (  beat closure. The brand new play by South Shields writer & producer Wayne Miller will offer all profits made from the show to Alphabetti’s survival fund.

At the end of August the theatre’s Artistic Director Ali Pritchard announced the venue would face closure, stating on Facebook I've really not wanted to post a status like this but Alphabetti Theatre is facing closure, since opening we have had the odds stacked against us. I started Alphabetti to create a platform for emerging and experienced artists in the North East to experiment and evolve. Something Ali and his team have achieved with much success, from the critically acclaimed play The Frights to the many Write Back events offering local writers a place to preview their new works and ideas.

Upon reading the closure announcement Wayne like many others in the North East theatre scene felt like one of their children was being taken away. It has been a place nurtured by them and has become like one of their own. He said: “Reading that was a big blow, It’s a place where I have socialised, performed and had my work given a chance to evolve. So I was truly gutted by Ali’s announcement.”

Having performed as part of Cranked Anvils Shakespeare Season at the venue, he knew he wanted to get involved and offer his support, but how? What could he offer?

“I attended their first fund raising event and gave what money I could, but I felt that wasn't enough, I could do more. So that's when I thought about using my new play as a chance to gather some support” he added.

So that was it, he decided all profits for Being An Ultimate Warrior would go towards Alphabetti’s survival fund.

Being An Ultimate Warrior is Wayne’s fourth full length play after his critically acclaimed Big Trilogy. The play is the story of Karl, a life-long wrestling fan struggling with a life changing event. To help him, he looks back through his life growing up watching the in-ring battles, all while dealing with real life battles. Filled with laughter and tears, his journey reveals what it takes to be a real Ultimate Warrior!

This play will première at The Customs House in South Shields next month on Thursday 13th October before touring the North East in 2017. Ticket Price: £12 Standard £9 Friends
Tickets are available in person or by phone from the box office: 0191 454 1234 or online from

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Preview: Professor Robert Winston at Whitley Bay Playhouse

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Professor Robert Winston

'Modifying Humans: Where does genetics stop?'

Whitley Bay Playhouse

Monday 26th September 2016 at 7 pm

History shows that humans are obsessed with their genes. Does the sequencing of the human genome really herald a new opportunity for medicine or is there a darker side that we ignore? Moreover, humans have continuously attempted to favour certain characteristics that have been regarded as ‘desirable’. The history of eugenics, from the Supreme Court in the US to the camps in Nazi-occupied Europe, is a prominent stain on the scientific record. IVF treatments now mean we can treat apparently hopeless sterility, help 65 year-olds to conceive, store eggs and embryos in the deep freeze for several hundred years, and screen embryos for serious genetic disorders before a pregnancy has even really begun.

And advances in gene technology mean that we can not only select embryos for ‘desirable’ characteristics but we can now modify genes of animals with remarkable ease; so possibly very soon we may be able to enhance humans by genetic modification. Will ethical considerations prevent us from the next step - manufacturing stronger, more gifted and very intelligent children?  Or will our imperfect knowledge of how our abilities are inherited mean that they there are some major surprises in store?

Tickets costing £16 are available now from the Box Office open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10.30am – 2.30pm plus until show start on event days. Tickets can also be purchased on the booking hotline 0844 248 1588* or online at

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

Preview: Dickens in Darlington launched by Darlington Civic Theatre

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Dickens in Darlington launched 
by Darlington Civic Theatre

Darlington Civic Theatre has launched Dickens in Darlington, a series of events telling the story of the strong connections Charles Dickens had to Darlington and to the world of theatre, music hall and the railways. Dickens in Darlington will include performances, workshops, talks, a book club, storytelling and an exhibition in Crown Street Art Gallery at Darlington’s Crown Street Library from Saturday 1 October through to Wednesday 21 December.

The Dickens in Darlington Exhibition will run from October 1 to November 3 in the Crown Street Gallery at Darlington’s Crown Street Library. The free exhibition will include images form the Charles Dickens Museum, a reconstruction of Dickens’ famous reading desk, footage from an early Dickens film as well as the display of an amazing dolls’ house based on Dickens’ home in Doughty Street, London, which is now the Charles Dickens Museum.

Join actor and storyteller Chris Connaughton on Saturday 8 October as he performs two spooky tales from the pen of Charles Dickens – a master of suspense. Chris will read The Signal-Man, an eerie tale of a railway worker haunted by a ghostly figure on the rail and The Trial for Murder, a ghost story with a chilling twist. The readings will take place at 2pm and 7pm in the Crown Street Art Gallery.

Tickets are £5 with discounts at £2.50 with a recommended age of 8+.

On Monday 17 October at 1.30pm Margaret Watson tells the fascinating story of how she made a lifelong dream come true, by creating and owning a dolls’ house – a 1:12 scale model of 48 Doughty Street, the London home of Charles Dickens, now the Charles Dickens Museum. The dolls’ house will be on permanent display throughout the Dickens in Darlington exhibition.

For avid readers there will be a book group on Tuesday 25 October with two sessions at 1.30pm and 7pm in the Crown Street Art Gallery. Here you will be able to discuss Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. The book group is intended to complement the community production of A Tale of Two Cities taking place in the Dolphin Centre in November and are open to people who have purchased a ticket for the production. Free copies of the book can be provided.

The Forum on Borough Road will be the venue for a showing of the classic Dickens tale Great Expectations on Monday 3 October at 8pm. Darlington Civic Theatre and Darlington Film Club will present a showing of the 1946 film directed by David Lean and starring John Mills, Valerie Hobson and Jean Simmons. Tickets are priced £3 and are available by emailing

The community cast production of A Tale of Two Cities will run on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November in Central Hall, the Dolphin Centre in Darlington. In partnership with the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, this will be a promenade performance where the audience will follow, on foot, all of the action between the two cities of London and Paris (seating will be available for people if required). Dickens considered A Tale of Two Cities to be the best story he had ever written. Interweaving one family’s intensely personal drama with the terror and chaos of the French Revolution, it is an epic story of love, sacrifice and redemption amidst horrific violence and world changing events. This thrilling new adaptation by Mike Poulton will feature a community cast of 30 actors alongside a professional production team led by directing rising star, Eduard Lewis. Tickets* are £18, discounts £16, under 16s £10.

In the final run up to Christmas, what better way to spend an evening than listening to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – devised and performed by Chris Connaughton. Chris presents a thrilling, funny and imaginative re-telling of what is arguably Charles Dickens’ most popular tale, all in the atmospheric setting of St Cuthbert’s Church in Darlington on Wednesday 21 December at 7pm.

Join Tiny Tim, The Ghost of Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, and a trio of memorable ghosts as tight-fisted miser Scrooge learns kindness and generosity and fills his heart with the true spirit of Christmas. Chris will end the evening with a seasonal episode from The Pickwick Papers, (Mr Pickwick on the ice) and maybe even some carolling to send you on your way. Tickets are £10, under 16s £5 – recommended age 8+.

To book or for further information on any of the Dickens in Darlington events contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit
*Includes £1 restoration levy

Preview: Dean Strang & Jerry Buting at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

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Dean Strang & Jerry Buting: A Conversation on Making a Murderer
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Wednesday 25th January 2017

Tyne Theatre & Opera House are thrilled to announce a highly anticipated new show for January 2017.

Following the overwhelming success of their UK tour this year with numerous sold-out venues, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, defence attorneys for Steven Avery in the Netflix docuseries Making A Murderer, return to the UK in January 2017 for several very special dates, including Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House.

The live tour showcases an evening of conversation with these two compelling figures featured in the docuseries. Buting and Strang will participate in a moderated discussion regarding the operations of the criminal justice system in the United States and abroad, as well as the broader implications of the Steven Avery case. The night will also feature a Q&A portion for audience members to address questions directly to Strang and Buting.

Making A Murderer debuted in December 2015 and showcases Avery and his multiple alleged criminal cases, particularly the 2005 murder case of Teresa Halbach. Avery was convicted in March 2007 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Theatre Director Joanne Johnson says: “We are honoured to host this greatly anticipated discussion between these two key figures from Making A Murderer - it will no doubt be an absolutely fascinating evening. This is an incredible opportunity for Tyne Theatre & Opera House, with 2017s programme quickly filling up with incredible shows.”

Dean Strang Biography
Dean Strang practices in Madison, Wisconsin, as a shareholder in StrangBradley, LLC. He was Wisconsin’s first Federal Defender and has argued in the United States Supreme Court, five federal circuits, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Mr. Strang has been an adjunct professor at both the University of Wisconsin Law School and Marquette University Law School, and is a lecturer in legal history for the University of Wisconsin, Division of Continuing Studies. He is the author of several law review articles. His first book is WORSE THAN THE DEVIL: ANARCHISTS, CLARENCE DARROW, AND JUSTICE IN A TIME OF TERROR (U. Wisconsin Press 2013; rev. ed. 2016). His second book, about the mass trial of IWW members in federal court in 1918, will be published in 2018.
Jerry Buting Biography

Jerome F. Buting is a shareholder in the Brookfield, Wisconsin law firm of Buting, Williams & Stilling, S.C. He received his undergraduate degree in Forensic Studies from Indiana University and his law degree from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. He is a past director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a past president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and chair of the Wisconsin State Bar Criminal Law Section from 2005 to 2007. His present private practice is entirely criminal defense, both trials and appeals. He has defended the citizen accused in many serious high profile trial cases, including the Steven Avery case as shown in the Netflix documentary, “Making a Murderer” and he obtained the reversal of convictions in State of Wisconsin v. Ted Oswald and State of Wisconsin v. Ralph Armstrong (reversing a 25 year old murder conviction). He lectures nationwide and is frequently sought after for his knowledge in the use of expert witnesses and DNA evidence.

For more information visit the tour’s pages on Twitter and Facebook.


Tickets from £28.50 (plus booking fees when booking online and over the phone)
The Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office is open 10am-3:30pm Monday to Friday and event days. Tickets available now from
Booking and Information Line: 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)
(Under 14s to be accompanied by an adult)

Preview: Make Do and Mend Tour at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

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Make Do and Mend Tour
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Thursday 29th - Friday 30th September 2016
A visually compelling and moving new play; three poignant local stories of women who have suffered and survived the trauma of Domestic Abuse.
Reflecting on childhood, motherhood and marriage, Make Do and Mend is a powerful production, telling real life stories of County Durham women who have suffered and survived the trauma of Domestic Abuse. Written in verbatim format, it invites the audience to experience first-hand, three poignant local stories, in a visually compelling and moving production.
Audiences have described the work as a “Visual and clever representation, an innovative way to communicate and resonate with people.”
Feedback from the preview performances of Make Do and Mend, to audiences in Newcastle and the European Parliament in Brussels, confirmed that this play has value for those affected by Domestic Abuse as an "empowering" reminder "of courage and hope and that there is a way out."
But it is also a valuable reminder that we are all responsible for bringing an end to this insidious crime; 87% of our preview audience said they would be “more likely to offer to help somebody they suspected was experiencing Domestic Abuse as a result of watching our play”.
The Women’s Voices Project (managed by Changing Relations) was set up in 2014 after the successful Durham Women Rising events in 2013, to give voice to local women and challenge the prevalence of violence perpetrated against them. They have since organised and delivered a number of creative events aimed at empowering women through participatory arts and enabling women survivors of Domestic Abuse across County Durham to shape a performance representative of their experiences.
Women they have worked with have described how important it was to feel that they “were being listened to.” This powerful performance aims to highlight the true extent of DA and its impact on victims and families and encourage our local communities to challenge unacceptable behaviours. They are confident that the result the production is sharing with you now is important, beautiful and true and that it will help more people seek support themselves as well as choosing to offer support to those who need it.
As well as touring to Arts venues and Schools, the company are working with Gentoo Housing in Sunderland and Northumbria University to trial the performance with a drama-based workshop as a training tool for health professionals and housing officers. They believe it has great potential to offer valuable insights into Domestic Abuse.
The producers are immensely grateful to the Big Lottery’s Awards for All programme, County Durham Community Foundation and Arts Council England and they’d like to extend our gratitude to the women and staff of Stanley’s Just For Women Centre for giving them the opportunity to take our work to the next level.

If you or someone you know would benefit from attending a women only performance see the website for details.
Check out the full 2016 Tour schedule by visiting: 

When: Thursday 29th and Friday 30th September 2016
Show Begins: 7.30pm
Tickets: £7 Full Price / £5 Concession (Student, OAP, Artist, Unwaged) BOOK ONLINE HERE
Where: Alphabetti Theatre, The Basement, 18 New Bridge Street West, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AW
Age Recommendation: 13+ (under 16's must be accompanied by an adult)

Friday, 23 September 2016

Preview: Wytch at Newcastle Castle Keep

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Newcastle Castle Keep
Friday 14th October to Monday  31st October 2016

This October, one of the most mysterious and sinister parts of Newcastle’s history will be exposed inside the fortress that gives the city its name. The makers of ‘Hitler’s Headquarters’, Twenty Seven Live, have teamed up with critically acclaimed writer Lee Mattinson (Crocodiles, The Royal Exchange, Season Ticket, Northern Stage) to present ‘Wytch’: a theatrical event taking place at Newcastle Castle Keep.

By the 17th century, the Castle had outgrown its defensive purpose and was being used as a gaol for the county of Northumberland. Twenty Seven Live will present their performances in the Great Hall of the historic building. Beneath the audience’s feet lies the Castle’s basement where some of the accused ‘witches’ were imprisoned in the 17th century before their trials.

On 21st August, 1650, fourteen women and one man – condemned as “the children of Satan” – were hanged on the Town Moor: the largest mass execution for witchcraft in English history. This came towards the end of an era of paranoia, hysteria and fraud, triggered by the English Civil War.

The witch trials of Newcastle were some of the most notable in the country, and parallels can easily be drawn with the later Salem Witch Trials in the U.S. State of Massachusetts.

Learning Officer at Newcastle Castle, David Silk, explains: “Newcastle had suffered a turbulent decade with plague, and being besieged by the Scots in 1644. This all culminated in a craze for witch-finding in 1649 and 1650. We are very excited to have Twenty Seven Live bring to life the grisly past of our town, and that of one of the darkest chapters in the Castle’s history.”

The witches have more recently been in the local News, when their remains were dug up in the graveyard of St Andrews Church on Newgate Street in 2008, reminding the people of Newcastle of these women and their unnerving deaths almost four hundred years ago.

‘WYTCH’ by Mattinson takes place outside the usual operating hours of the Keep, which is the oldest surviving landmark in the city, and this production will shine a light on some of the unfortunate characters that were imprisoned within its walls.

“Wytch has been unlike any other project I've worked on. I'm usually faced with a blank page on which I can write whatever my heart desires. But with Wytch, came the responsibility to dramatise the very real executions of very real people with little more than a list of names to hand. It explores a climate of paralysing paranoia that lay hidden in the city's history all along and the baffling reality that the world not once hung witches but also wizards.”


Wytch runs from Friday 14th October until Monday  31st October 2016 at 7:30pm (with no shows on the 16th, 20th, 22nd, 29th and 30th)

Tickets are £15, with £12.50 concessions and go on sale on the 5th September at 7pm.

See  to purchase, or for videos, links and more information.