The QT

Friday 19 July 2024

Culture digest

A round up of stories from the North East’s cultural scene which have been on our radar this week… and which we think should be on yours

Autumn tour for Love It If We Beat Them

Following a successful run at Live Theatre as part of Live Theatre’s 50th birthday celebrations in 2023, Rob Ward’s play, Love It If We Beat Them is returning to stages across the North East later this year.

Directed by Bex Bowsher, the critically acclaimed drama about football, politics and love is set against the backdrop of Newcastle United’s dramatic 1995/6 Premiere League season when the Toon nearly won under Kevin Keegan as Tony Blair’s New Labour prepared for victory.

David Nellist will reprise his role of ex-miner Len; Jessica Johnson will return as Len’s passionate charity worker wife, Jean; Eve Tucker will be back as New Labour darling, Victoria; and new cast member Daniel Watson will debut as down on his luck miner, Michael.

David Nellist as Len and Jessica Johnson as Jean in Love It If We Beat Them at Live Theatre

Rob Ward said: “At its heart, Love It If We Beat Them examines the impact of tribalism on our identity, both in terms of politics and football. It is an exploration of the political landscape of the North and how it has evolved over the decades, a look at the internal battles that have ravaged the Labour Party since its inception and a study of family and loss. It also captures the spirit of one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever seasons.

“In a General Election year, there is no better time to take this production on the road. We can’t wait to share this universal story with audiences in towns and cities across the North of England, where football is a way of life.”

The tour will kick off at Live Theatre on September 10 where it will stay until September 28 before setting off around venues across the North East and wider North of England. Visit the Live Theatre website for more details.

Election comedy night gets our vote

A quartet of North East comedians will be coming together at The Stand Newcastle on Tuesday (June 18) to remind audiences why it’s important to get out, stand up and make their vote count.

Newcastle comic, Gavin Webster
VOTE! Newcastle’s Gavin Webster will stand up at The Stand Newcastle

Gavin Webster, Si Beckwith, John Scott and Nicola Mantalios will all take to the popular comedy club’s stage in the city centre for Laugh? I nearly voted to give their unique takes on the current state of politics ahead of the upcoming General Election on July 4.

Tickets are available from The Stand website.

Newcastle Fringe makes the cut for 2024

A feast of touring performing arts is on the menu for audiences this summer as the Newcastle Fringe Festival returns with its biggest line-up yet.

Running from July 16-27, the burgeoning event takes over five venues in the city and will bring more than 50 artists from all over the North East and wider UK to their stages.

Amy Matthews is one of more than 50 performers coming to Newcastle Fringe

Alphabetti Theatre serves as the Festival hub with other city centre venues being Prohibition Cabaret Bar and Dance City and The Old Coal Yard and the Cumberland Arms in the Ouseburn also signing on to play host to performances.

Comedy, cabaret, theatre, music, dance and mischief are all promised by an eclectic programme, which you can view in full via the Newcastle Fringe Festival website.

Tickets for all events are now on sale.

The Alnwick Garden Trust gets a continued royal thumbs up

King Charles has expressed his intention to continue his patronage of The Alnwick Garden Trust.

The Northumberland charity is among 830 organisations which have been retained by His Majesty — who has visited The Alnwick Garden a number of times — and Queen Camilla or redistributed among other members of the royal family.

King Charles and the Duchess of Northumberland at The Alnwick Garden in 2018

During his 2018 visit, King Charles shared his admiration for Northumberland and The Alnwick Garden, saying: “For me coming here to Northumberland, which is such a special county, all I can say is it makes me unbelievably proud just to see what you’re all doing and the way in which you help to keep this county so very special. 

“This remarkable place and this garden, of which I’ve been a patron now for quite a long time, I know this whole operation here has made a huge difference to the whole area, so I also wanted to pay my compliments to the Duchess for what she does.”

Two evenings with Jill Halfpenny and a good book

North East actress Jill Halfpenny has booked a pair of North East dates on her book tour to promote her memoir, A Life Reimagined.

Framed by two tragic events — the sudden death of her father when she was four and the loss of her partner Matt in cruelly similar circumstances in 2017 — the former Byker Grove actress who has gone on to forge a successful stage and screen career explores dealing with grief as a child in comparison to dealing with loss as an adult and mother.

Jill will first spend an evening with an audience in the Biscuit Factory’s Biscuit Room on June 17, then on June 21, there will be another chance to see her in conversation at Stockton Central Library as part of the Crossing the Tees Festival.

Look out for Sam Wonfor’s interview with Jill in next week’s edition of The QT

‘Madchester’ icons set to fill the floor on Wearside

Indie rock band, Inspiral Carpets have booked an outdoor date in Sunderland as part of their UK tour.

The band, who clocked up 11 UK Top 40 songs and three UK Top 10 albums between 1990 and 1995 with songs like This Is How It Feels, I Want You, Saturn 5 and She Comes In

The Fall will play in The Fire Station’s Parade Ground on August 9 as part of the venue’s Summer Parties series.

Inspiral Carpets are flying into The Fire Station this summer. Credit: Bazza Mills

Their tour follows an eight-year break since the band last took to the stage following the tragic loss of their close friend and drummer, Craig Gill.

Speaking about the tour, the band emphasised the celebratory nature of the live shows, giving fans a chance to sing along to their favourite hits and commemorate the life of Craig.

Singer Stephen Holt said: “We know this will be an emotional journey for a lot of people, not least Craig’s family. We hope you’ll join us as we celebrate some of the music we created, and which has brought so much joy to people over the last 35 years. We have never played in Sunderland before, so we are massively looking forward to the show.”

Tamsin Austin, venue director at The Fire Station, said: “Inspiral Carpets are a hugely important band and part of a defining era for indie dance music. They were part of the essential soundtrack to the late 80s, early 90s and we know that their show as part of our Summer Parties season is going be a blast back to that second summer of love in Manchester.”

Tickets, which are already selling fast, are available from The Fire Station website.

Fancy some merch, Pet?

Merchandise from the recent anniversary concerts marking 40 years since Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was introduced to the world has gone on general sale.

New and original artwork by Scott Tyrrell graces t-shirts, tote bags, poster prints and the souvenir programme — all honouring the ‘Magnificent Seven’ of Dennis, Oz, Neville, Barry, Moxey, Wayne and Bomber.

One of Scott Tyrrell’s designs for the 40th anniversary of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

Two sell out crowds packed into Newcastle City Hall to hear the cast and crew from the beloved series recount tales from the various international building sites which had played host to their adventures over fiver series between 1983 and 2004.

To see what’s on offer, visit the website.

Students dig in at Auckland Castle

A team of 100 students and experts are in the middle of a three-week-long archaeological dig at Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland.

Archaeologists from Durham University and The Auckland Project are preparing to uncover the lost house built by infamous Parliamentarian and Puritan Sir Arthur Haselrig who owned Auckland Castle during the middle of the 17th century.  

John Castling during a previous dig at The Auckland Project. Credit: The Auckland Project

John Castling, archaeology curator at The Auckland Project said: “This excavation will give us an exciting view of the 1650s — the most dramatic of decades in Auckland Castle’s history.

“It also promises us a glimpse at an alternative timeline for the site and for northern England, had the course of history been different. What if the monarchy hadn’t been reinstated and Sir Arthur Haselrig was able to live in the house he erected? This dig will cast a light on that point in past where history almost, but didn’t quite, change its course.” 

Visitors to Auckland Castle will be able to see the work as it progresses from a viewing platform and chat to the students.

Previous digs at the Castle have features on the BBC’s Dig For Britain

Emmerdale star will be alright Jack in Sunderland this Christmas

The Sunderland Empire has announced its leading man for this year’s pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Emmerdale’s Matthew Wolfenden — who has also done a turn in Elf the Musical — will be bringing a ‘giant’ helping of festive fun to Wearside, taking the role of Jack.

The Emmerdale star will join Sunderland Empire stalwarts Miss Rory and Tom Whalley in panto this year

Matthew, best known for playing David Metcalfe in the ITV soap, said: “I am thrilled to be playing Jack in the iconic Jack and the Beanstalk this Christmas. Where better to spend Christmas than at the Sunderland Empire, one of the most beautiful theatres in the land.”

Matthew will be joining Empire panto fixtures (and favourites),  Miss Rory as Dame Rorina Trott and funny man Tom Whalley as Silly Simon, both returning for a fifth year.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs at Sunderland Empire from December 13 to January 5, 2025. Visit the website for tickets.

Dads go free this Father’s Day at Life

If you’re still looking for ways to make this Father’s Day a bit special, the Life Science Centre in Newcastle is offering free entry to dads on Sunday (June 16).

As long as they’re with a full-paying child (you can’t just rock up and prove you’re a dad by producing a recent family photo), dads can enjoy all of the city centre attraction’s charms without having to pay a penny.

Fun for dads at Life is free this Father’s Day

Current highlights for visitors include a guided tour of the night sky in the planetarium; a new live science show looking at the local inventions that changed the world; a new outdoor marketplace for little ones; and the experiment zone where you can combine chemicals to make some fizzy concoctions.

There’s also the chance to give yourself a run out as a weather presenter. Look out Michael Fish!

Details at the Life website – use code FATHERSDAY to get the special dad discount at the checkout.

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