Sunday, 22 January 2017

Preview: Each Piece at Newcastle Live Theatre

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Cast announced for dementia drama

Each Piece
Newcastle Live Theatre
Friday 27th - Saturday 28th January 2017

“You know, next time we meet?  I won’t know you… I won’t even remember saying this.”
With over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025, award-winning writer-director and Northumbria University lecturer Steve Gilroy has put dementia under the spotlight for his latest drama Each Piece, which will be at Live Theatre on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 January at 8pm.
A talented cast of local actors, Chris Connel (Close The Coalhouse Door, The Pitmen Painters), Helen Embleton (Motherland, The Prize), Jess Johnston (Key Change, Anti-Gravity), Pete Peverly (The Tempest, The Bobby Thompson Story) and Laura Norton (Nativities, Faith & Cold Reading), who is on a break from her role as Kerry Wyatt in Emmerdale, will bring to life the real-life experiences of those whose lives have been dramatically impacted by dementia.
While carrying out research for Each Piece, Steve interviewed over a dozen people who visit Age UK Sunderland’s Essence Service, which was set up to provide space and support for those recently diagnosed with dementia and their loved ones and carers, to ensure they can have the best quality of life for as long as possible. 
As writer and director Steve Gilroy explains: “Each Piece is the culmination of a year of research and a chance for audiences to gain a deeper understanding of how life can dramatically change for people diagnosed with dementia.  People spoke with such honesty about their experiences, sharing amazing personal stories about their lives and relationships.  These are a collection of stories about memories; some reveal true hardship, but alongside compassion, resilience and laughter.”

Steve has joined forces with Newcastle born singer-songwriter Richard Dawson who will be providing the music for the show.  His 2014 album Nothing Important, which contains just four songs, was awarded five stars and described by The Guardian as “an extraordinary record: a strange reconfiguration of English folk traditions”. 
Following each performance there will be a free post-show talk hosted by Steve Gilroy.  This will be a chance to hear directly from some of the people whose stories are shared in Each Piece as well as professionals from within the field.

Each Piece is presented by Northumbria University, where Steve is a Principal Lecturer within Performing Arts, as part of an exciting and innovative three-year partnership with Live Theatre that seeks to create cultural collaborations that connect with the people of the North East, enhance teaching and learning, inspire new research, and connect academic research with the world of professional theatre. 
This will be a script in hand performance.
Each Piece will take place in Live Theatre’s main theatre on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 January at 8p. Tickets are £8 and £6 concessions.  For more information about Live Theatre visit and to find out more about studying Performing Arts at Northumbria University go to:
Friday 27 & Saturday 28 January
Post Show Talks
Each Piece writer and director Steve Gilroy hosts a discussion after each performance with people involved in the making of the play. Followed by a Question and Answer session.
FREE, booking essential
Suitable for Artsmark visits.

Preview: DREAM WIFE at Newcastle Cluny 2

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Newcastle Cluny 2
Monday 23rd January 2017

“Icelandic-Brightonian three-piece with the attitude of New York punks and pizazz of disco queens.” The Guardian

“…one of the most exciting young groups in the country.”London In Stereo

Queens of noise…” – The Quietus

Dream Wife are excited to announce that they will be support for Sleigh Bells on the London and Manchester dates of their February 2017 European tour. Preceding these shows, Dream Wife will also be headlining DIY Magazine’s Hello 2017 tour. Commencing with a free show at London’s Old Blue Last on January 17th before heading around the UK, with supports from the best local bands each city has to offer.

Full list of shows below, tickets for all shows are available booking fee free via Dice FM.

17/01/17 Old Blue Last, London* (FREE)
18/01/17 Green Door Store, Brighton*
19/01/17 Crofters Rights, Bristol
20/01/17 Buyers Club, Liverpool*
21/01/17 Headrow House, Leeds*
23/01/17 Cluny 2, Newcastle*
24/01/17 Night and Day, Manchester*
21/02/17 Gorilla, Manchester+
22/02/17 Electric Ballroom, London+

*DIY Hello 2017 Tour
+ with Sleigh Bells

2016 has seen Dream Wife quickly become one of the foremost up-and-coming bands in the UK. Following the release of their debut EP earlier this year on Cannibal Hymns they subsequently signed to Lucky Number and garnered support from the likes of Radio One, 6 Music and Beats1, as well as a reputation for an exhilarating live show. Dream Wife recently shared new track ‘FUU’ (feat. Fever Dream) which i-D Magazine described as “something special” and also sold out London’s Moth Club for a special Halloween themed show.

2017 is shaping up to be just as exciting with DIY and London In Stereo both tipping Dream Wife as ones to watch for the year and following the UK dates early next year, the band will head stateside in March to make their US live debut at SXSW festival. Dream Wife will, of course, also be bringing you new music in 2017!

Dream Wife are: Rakel Mjöll (lead vocals), Alice Go (guitar and vocals) and Bella Podpadec (bass and vocals).

EP01 and FUU are out now, links: iTunes, Spotify and Rough Trade.


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Preview: JOANA SERRAT at Newcastle Cluny 2

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JOANA SERRAT Brings Enchanting Folk-Pop to UK for 2017 Live Dates
Newcastle Cluny 2
Sunday 29th January 2017

'Cross the Verge' - Out Now on Loose Music

the spectre of Joanna Newsom hangs heavy on her breathy vocal – evokes the sweeping alt-country of Lambchop. Gorgeous.” - NME

Touring her acclaimed 2016 LP 'Cross The Verge', JOANA SERRAT returns to the UK for a series of dates early in 2017.

Calling in at the Poppy & Pint in Nottingham on 24th January, Joana will take in a total of 7 dates across the UK before making her way to the Broadcast in Glasgow as part of the annual Celtic Connections event (30th Jan). Full dates and details listed below.

Cross The Verge, just as its name promises, shows us another side of Joana Serrat, who so enchanted audiences on her 2014 album Dear Great Canyon. On Cross The Verge, her third album, Joana lays bare all the cracks, inconsistencies and fears that come with life, with the album revealing itself to be an especially beautiful tribute to the acknowledgment of loss and the acceptance of the uncertain.

To record this album, Joana Serrat travelled from her home in Vic, near Barcelona, to Montreal, Canada to team up with producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, The Barr Brothers) in his analogue studio, The Hotel2Tango. In the recording process Joana was joined by the likes of Gavin Gardiner (The Wooden Sky), Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano, City & Colour, Cowboy Junkies) and the acclaimed Canadian auto harpist and vocalist Basia Bulat. Elsewhere, Neil Halstead (Slowdive, Mojave 3) and Ryan Boldt (The Deep Dark Woods) joined Joana in two duets from two different approaches; the shimmering pop of Cloudy Heart and the wrought Americana of Black Lake.

Howard Bilerman’s approach results in Cross The Verge feeling like a natural progression and a show of real maturity. Her ability to never waste a lyric or syllable where something need be said and never miss an opportunity to breathe life into a song’s darker corners, illustrates her creative growth. Cross The Verge is a beguiling collection of songs that move with great ease between the precious evanescence of Lonely Heart Reverb, Oh, Winter Come or Flags, and the vigorous guitar sound that predominates in Desert Valley, Tug of War, and the moving Black Lake. There’s elegance in the trotting Americana rhythms of Saskatoon (Break of Dawn), I Follow You, Child and the crystalline Cloudy Heart.

2016 also witnessed a return to Primavera Sound Festival for Joana, with the festival’s El Segell del Primavera label releasing the album in Spain. Loose were quick to sign her up for the rest of the world, thereby providing Joana with her dream home for her unique talents.

24 Jan - NOTTINGHAM, Poppy & Pint
25 Jan - LONDON, The Islington
26 Jan - EXETER, Phoenix
27 Jan - BEXHILL, Albatross Club
28 Jan - MANCHESTER, Fred's Ale House
29 Jan - NEWCASTLE, The Cluny 2
30 Jan - GLASGOW, Broadcast (Celtic Connections)
9 Feb -  AMSTERDAM, Bitterzoet *
10 Feb - HAMBURG, Knust *
11 Feb - BERLIN, Privat Club *
12 Feb - MUNICH, Amphere *
13 Feb - COLOGNE, Blue Shell *
15 Feb - BRUSSELS, Botanique *
16 Feb - PARIS, Divan Du Monde *
17 Feb - BREDA, Mezz
18 Feb - AMSTERDAM, Helemaal
19 Feb - EINDHOVEN, Cafe Wilhelmina
13-19 Mar - SXSW, TX
* with The Handsome Family

On The Web:  

Preview: Banff Mountain Film Festival - Whitley Bay Playhouse

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Banff Mountain Film Festival Tour is Returning Bigger than Ever!

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Thursday 9th & Friday 10th March 2017

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is back in the UK and Ireland for 2017, with more screenings and more action than ever before.

Featuring an evening of exhilarating adventure films, the tour kicks off in Brighton on 25 January and finishes in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, on 17 May, with nearly 100 screenings at over 50 venues along the way.

“It’s fantastic to be back with our biggest tour yet – a reflection of the enormous appetite for adventure that UK and Irish audiences have,” says Tour Director Nell Teasdale.

“The Banff Tour is more than a series of exhilarating film nights. Each screening offers a real sense of community, bringing together people with a wide range of outdoor passions. And we guarantee that viewers will leave with new enthusiasm and inspiration for their own adventures too!”

The short films, starring the world’s top adventurers on exciting journeys in mind-blowing destinations, are selected from hundreds of films entered into the prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival held every year in the Canadian Rockies.

The UK and Ireland tour has two different programmes of films to choose from, each lasting about 2½ hours, with free prize giveaways at each screening. The tour is part of the wider Banff World Tour, which travels the globe each year, visiting nearly 50 countries and reaching more than 400,000 people worldwide. 

The full film programme will be announced in early January. Programme highlights will include:

When four middle-aged working British mums announced they wanted to row the Atlantic Ocean, their families thought they had lost their minds. The epic ocean expedition they were about to embark upon, would change their lives forever.

Eighteen years after a terrible accident left him partially paralyzed, British climber Paul Pritchard returns to the Totem Pole in Tasmania to find out if he has recovered enough to finish the climb. 

Tickets: £13.50, £12 (conc. & Groups 6+). *2 Night Ticket* £24, £21 (conc. & Groups 6+).

Tickets are available 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: Empty Nesters’ Club at Durham Gala Theatre

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The Empty Nesters’ Club
Durham Gala Theatre
Monday 6th & Tuesday 7th February 2017

The Empty Nesters’ Club, a brand new play by BAFTA Award-winning playwright John Godber, visits Gala Theatre on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 February as part of a UK tour, following its premiere at Theatre Royal Wakefield.

Produced by The John Godber Company and Theatre Royal Wakefield, and directed by Godber, The Empty Nesters’ Club offers a humorous yet poignant look at the pain of the ‘empty nest’ and what befalls parents after the children have outgrown the family home.

Newly bereft mum Vicky Barret, whose daughter has recently left for university in London, prepares for the inaugural meeting of her new support group – the titular Empty Nesters’ Club – by reflecting on the upheaval of letting go of her not-so-little girl.

Expect stories of empty bedrooms, freshers flu, boyfriends, long goodbyes, motorway service stations and trips to Ikea; and how Vicky fought back to be the woman she is today: exhausted!               

This hilarious yet touching new play which will strike a chord with any parents whose children have flown the nest, or anyone who endured the upheaval of leaving the family home!

The Empty Nesters’ Club opens at the Gala Theatre on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 February at 7.30pm. For more information or to book tickets book online at, call the box office on 03000 266 600 or visit the venue in person.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Preview: Dressing Room at South Shields Customs House

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TV Legends star in New Comedy Show

The Dressing Room
South Shields Customs House
Thursday 19th January 2017

Legendary comedians Cannon and Ball are heading to a north-east theatre this week.

The pair will appear in The Dressing Room, a play penned by Bobby Ball himself, at The Customs House on Thursday 19th January.

The hilarious comedy is set behind-the-scenes at a run-down theatre and sees Bobby and his fellow comedian Tommy Cannon involved in the crazy goings-on of compère Stu Francis and fellow comic Johnnie Casson.

Bobby said: “I am really excited about doing the play and working with such great people and I am sure the audience will love it. It is part variety and part play so I like to call it a playriety.

“The audience get to watch each star perform their own variety act as well as see the things that happen backstage that an audience don’t usually see, the gossip, what we think of the audience, how we think the show is going…and lots more.

The Dressing Room combines sitcom with variety and comedy. Part play, part variety show – a whole night of great entertainment. The show has won standing ovations and promises to have you laughing in the aisles.

Tommy and Bobby shot to fame in the late 1970s and are best known for their comedy variety show The Cannon and Ball Show which lasted for nine years on ITV until 1988. In 2005 they had a stint in the jungle on TV’s I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here and more recently BBC’s sitcom Not Going Out. Bobby has also starred in six series of Sky’s Mount Pleasant.

Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer said: “We’re delighted to welcome Cannon and Ball and the rest of the cast to The Customs House. We’re sure they’ll bring a first-class show which will have the audience laughing from start to finish.”

The Dressing Room is at The Customs House on Thursday. Tickets are £20 and are available from The Customs House box office on 0191 454 1234 or by visiting

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Preview: CHOPPING CHILLIES at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

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Theatre Tours International presents
Written & Performed by Clair Whitefield
Directed by Guy Masterson
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Thursday 19th – Saturday 21st January 7.30pm       
A hit at Edinburgh 2016: From Kerala to Camden, an epic, mystical tale of love, loss and soul-food.

A cobbler and a cook concoct a delicious transcontinental enchantment as tragedy and chance entwine. Katie dreams of curries and chapattis; Ajna, of holy souls and reincarnation... A delightful, poetic, magical yarn that conjoins the spirit of India with the heart of London.

Directed by Olivier Award winner (for 'Morecambe') Guy Masterson.

"An extraordinary, humbling story of love, family, loss, grief, new beginnings and unexpected friendships. A delicious, appetising, spicy feast of a show!" (EdinburghGude, 2016)

"the imprint lasts long after the performance ends." (Three Weeks, 2016)

The venue is located at
The Basement,
18 New Bridge Street West,
Newcastle upon Tyne
(Tip to find the entrance - look for the blue gates by the NCP car park entrance)

Phone 0191 261 5906
This is a Pay What You Feel performance. To reserve tickets see website:
The amazing the Curry Rolls serving in the bar during the entire run.
**** THE LIST 01/09/16
Claire Whitefield's Chopping Chilies first appeared in 2015's Free Fringe:
now under the direction of Guy Masterson, the play has added new levels of theatricality with lighting, sound effects and music. Yet the heart of the play remains Whitefield's charming performance and well-crafted script.
A martial artist, suffering grief at the loss of his family in a tragic accident, inherits a shoe repair shop, moves overseas and uses his knowledge of the body's pressure points to alter his customer's footwear, posture, confidence and ultimately their lives. Powerless to repair his own life, he finds himself challenged only when a young, dreadlocked hipster opens up a cafe next door, and begins making food that reminds him of his lost family and the country he left behind.
The play features stories within stories, and a variety of colourful characters who speak in verse, a nod to Whitefield's background in poetry. The plot is fast moving, with a dense layer of foreshadowing and symmetry but the simple premise sweeps up the audience with its charm.
Perhaps its most intriguing point is the refusal to become a stereotypical love story, ignoring romance in favour of exploring ideas about neighbours and friendship. It also looks at how the things people create influence those that come into contact with them. Leaving the theatre after Whitefield's energetic performance, you may find yourself looking at your own shoes and wondering how they are affecting your own course of life. (Graeme McNee - The List - 01/09/16)

"Higly Recommended" FRINGE REVIEW 25/08/16
A sohlo show, written and performed by Clair Whitfield and directed by Guy Masterson, which is a mix of prose and storytelling, physical theatre and character performance weaving London and India in a tale of fate, friendship and personal transformation.
This is a tale set mainly in Camden where Ajna, an Indian martial arts teacher from Kerala, unexpectedly inherits a cobbler's shop due to the death of an uncle. New to the metropolis Ajna quickly learns the cobbler's art and sets about trying to help those with whom he comes into contact with by engineering slithers of insole to work some kind of magic on the meridians in the feet and thus bring about life changes in the wearer of the repaired shoes. Katie, the other main character of the piece, open's a pop-up Indian delicatessen next door and Anja becomes her food taster and adviser on the exacting science of Keralan food preparation processes and technique. The ensuing friendship, as well as a number of other minor characters that appear passim, is the main emotional meat of the piece as they connect to each other in unexpected ways. As an out-of-towner with a rather traumatic history, Ajna is somewhat comparable to the lone cowboy of Western movies who, due to his own story, can never take root in town but nevertheless is a source of transformation for those around him and is himself transformed.
It is delivered by Whitfield with much gusto and panache and I found her prose and rhyme to be sophisticated and very pleasing, and her physical delivery via her postures and quasi-dance enactments was not overplayed. The delivery was word perfect with not a single slip.
It is an enthralling tale, full of charm and atmosphere, well executed with great enthusiasm by Whitfield - and a few laughs along the way too. (Leslie Lane - - 25/08/16)

***** EDINBURGH GUIDE 11/08/16
Standing centre stage, Clair Whitefield, wearing a simple red T shirt and loose blue trousers, begins to tell us an extraordinary, humbling story of love, family, loss, grief, new beginnings and unexpected friendships.
From the first line, we are drawn into a traveller's tale from India to London. We begin on Parliament Hill in the early morning before the dog walkers arrive; beside the trees you will observe a Kalari master practicing the sacred martial art, a ritual of flowing kicks and sticks to represent power, respect and balance.
This is Ajna Jan, who has arrived from Kerala to take over his late uncle's cobbler's shop in Camden. He has left behind the colour and chaos, tuk tuks and street vendors to experience the black tunnel of the Northern Line en route to 75 Camden Street.
But he is no ordinary cobbler, repairing battered shoes. The kindly, quiet Ajna is a spiritual gentleman who is able to combine the ancient art of reflexology to refresh and energise the tired souls of his customers with magical results.
Clair is a masterly mime artist and actress, who, with graceful movement, brings to life with meticulous detail the various characters, from lawyers to young lovers, who visit the shop.
Next door, Katy, just back from a gap year in India has opened her Kerala café - and Ajna is of course quick to offer his expertise as a taster of her pakoras and samosas; the enticing description of fragrant coconut, lime, Kashmiri chillies and banana leaves is so pungent you actually believe that Madhur Jaffrey is sizzling the spices on stage.
Written as a richly imaginative poetry-play, the lyrical language is reminiscent in its gentle humour and emotional insight of T S Eliot's The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. It is beautifully directed by Guy Masterson, like a choreographed dance with just sound effects and lighting to create a real sense of being taken on this journey from Cochin to Camden.
This is storytelling at its most simple and most enlightening and rather like the memoir and film, Eat Pray Love, explores issues of nationality, language, faith and culture. Ultimately it is about the joy of cooking and sharing good food which brings people together, the true meaning of companionship. Chopping Chillies is a delicious, appetising, spicy feast of a show. (Vivien Devlin - Edinburgh Guide 11/08/16)

**** TV BOMB 18/08/16
There's no doubt about it, Clair Whitefield is the Real Thing. A poet-turned-playwright, Chopping Chillies is her first play, and this is its second outing at the Fringe, having been seen and subsequently picked up by renowned producer-director, Guy Masterson, in 2015. This polished, newly-directed production is therefore an amalgamation of Whitefield's passion and Masterson's experience, and it shows.
The premise is simple enough: We, the audience, are treated to the gentle unravelling of the unlikely yet compellingly believable tale of Ajna Jan, a martial arts Master in Kerala, who becomes a cobbler in Camden following the death of his family. Next door to his little shop, a young woman named Katie opens an Indian restaurant and, while Ajna is helping strangers through pressure points on the soles of their shoes, he also helps Katie, more overtly, with the 'soul' of her food. This is no contrived love affair, but a low-key, organic friendship as panacea to pain. Rarely has a character's journey been related with such subtlety *and* pathos.
Alone on the practically bare stage, Whitefield plays all the parts, beginning with Ajna himself. At times, she immerses herself fully into the here and now of the story, so that we are incontrovertibly transported to that moment through Whitefield's voice, her mannerisms, her very body. At others, she is the narrator, reverting to the third person and the past tense, which controverts the standard format of a 'play', and yet serves as counterpoint to the 'present' scenes, pushing them into vivid relief, wherein all the senses waken. We can smell Katie's spices, and we can taste her chillies. As for Ajna Jan, we can taste his tears.
It is difficult to determine whether Chopping Chillies truly challenges the boundaries of theatre-writing, or whether it is simply a more theatrical presentation of a piece of beautiful prose. Whitefield herself calls it a 'poetry-play', and her performance poetry origins are certainly in evidence. However, Masterson states in the programme notes that, "Great theatre should be a tempest of energy, illuminated by flashes of blinding communication" and "it should be an experience that no other medium can provide". The former description encapsulates this performance perfectly and, whilst the script would no doubt work well enough on the radio or printed in a book, there is no substitution for the live experience of witnessing - and sharing - this tale around a stage. It is, after all, our modern equivalent of the campfire.
Whitefield is undoubtedly an accomplished wordsmith of lyrical sensibilities, and ultimately, her pairing with Masterson is a hit. Together, they convey the universal power of storytelling with a feather-light touch, which nevertheless hits home when it needs to. However, a huge part of the magic comes from Whitefield herself. She is a performer of unconscious but captivating charm. Chopping Chillies is a thoroughly engrossing way to spend an hour. (Laura Ingram - TV Bomb 18/08/16)