Northern Stage New Season Launch

Last night was the launch for Northern Stage’s spring season – one that both celebrates its 50th birthday (hey, NS, we’re nearly the same age!) and marks the final season for outgoing Artistic Director Lorne Campbell, who is heading off to National Theatre Wales.Campbell talked movingly about his relationship with Northern Stage, and about how the theme of this season – which both plays homage to the theatre’s past and looks to its future – is hope. He also talked about the theatre’s ongoing mission to be a vital part of its community (both in Barras Bridge, and Byker) and about the thriving Youth Programme. Creatives from several of the shows were in attendance to talk about what was coming, and music was courtesy of The Young ‘uns, whose show The Ballad Of Johnny Longstaff will be Campbell’s last before leaving.As usual, there’s a great mix of big and small shows, and something to accommodate all tastes. Ballad… is based on a true story of a Stockton man who went from hunger marches to fighting the fascists in Spain, and looks to be a great production. Other highlights include The Talented Mr Ripley, which comes in March, and the Northern Stage Curious Monkey co-production Here, a show set in a Byker library that looks at Byker’s diverse community, and which sounds fascinating (and pleasingly nerdy about books and stories).I Think We Are Alone, co-directed by Kathy Burke, also sounds like it might be my thing, and two shows I am really excited about are Shandyland, the story of a young working class woman and the pub she was born in, and Chris Bush’s Faustus: That Damned Woman, which I am keen to see if for no other reason than to finally get the taste of that bloody Jamie Lloyd production out of my mouth.Other big shows include an adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s Quality Street, which is directed by Laurie Sansom, Richard Cameron’s The Glee Club, and (another!) new take on The War of the Worlds, all of which look potentially interesting. To prove that whole ‘something for all tastes’ thing, there’s also The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson – a show that sounds like pretty much Everything I Do Not Like and which I will be giving a very wide berth.Smaller shows – or ones with shorter runs – include Blkdog, Ladykiller, and Raising Shame, a show about menstruation and poverty. LGBTQ+ work includes the Northern Stage is Curious night in June, Bonbons Cabaret, and a double bill of Space: A Herstory and *Gender Not Included, which I reviewed when it was at Alphabetti and which is on at the Vaults festival, also.There’s also comedy, including from local boy done good Lee Ridley (Lost Voice Guy), and the Delightful Sausage, plenty of dance (including Northern Ballet’s Three Short Ballets and Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Black Waters), poetry and, of course, a ton of stuff for kids, with shows like Dig!, which is aimed at the very young, and Northern Ballet’s Little Red Riding Hood, a production specially for children. There’s also a strong showing from Northern Stage’s Youth Programme, with a couple of representatives speaking movingly on stage.The night was also used to announce some of the Autumn season: a big new co-production of Gatsby (and a gala evening to go with it), The Invisible Man, a play about working class heroine Red Ellen, and the Christmas show, The Sorceror’s Apprentice.Afterwards, I managed to chat to a load of local theatre types in the bar, including a bunch of fascinating theatre women who all have projects bubbling away and it did, dare I say it, make me feel a little bit hopeful…

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