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Photo: RADIOH EUROPA by ACTION HERO ©JMA Photography

Missing contemporary theatre? Need a bit of inspiration in these bleak times? Then you’ll be pleased to know that Gateshead International Festival of Theatre, (GIFT) announces a fully digital, thought-provoking programme of contemporary theatre, dance, talks and workshops from Friday 1st- Sunday 3rd May. The event features real-time performances from over 30 artists in real-time via giftfestival.co.uk, with tickets going on sale on Friday 10th April.

The festival, now in its tenth year, looks to entertain as well as inspire and to also reaffirm the importance of art and culture during the COVID 19 pandemic. It features exciting UK premieres and an eclectic programme exploring human connection, surveillance, resilience through crisis and international identity as it transports global artists and audiences at home on sensory journeys to various virtual locations.

Some of the highlights of this year’s event include the UK premiere of It Don’t Worry Me, which examines the tension between art and political correctness and an online premiere of Crack Of Dawn – Greg Wohead’s improvised sunrise to sunset performance with four artists performing at the same time in different locations.  Also taking place is RadiOh Europa, a 24 hour international homage to love, featuring songs from North East artists including Ross Millard of The Futureheads and actor Charlie Hardwick, As Far as Isolation Goes (Online),  Lebanese artists Tania El Khoury and Basel Zaraa’s thought-provoking performance installation of one man’s detention centre inhumanity and World Premiere of Music For Lectures/ Get Lost, a deeply moving podcast that invites artists to deliver a talk, alongside band accompaniment. 

Other highlights include Elison, a live performance piece exploring national identity by Icelandic artist Gudrun Soley Sigurdardottir, Two scratch performances (SQUAWK and In Floods) by UK theatre-makers Luca Rutherford and Greg Wohead and Intimate live performance installation ships-ov-fool, by writer-performer-artist and former Sage Gateshead summer studio resident, gobscure international.

There’s also plenty of interactive shows; events and workshops as well as an opportunity to air and share views in lively talks and debates as well as enjoying drinks and chats with artists in GIFT’s virtual post-show festival bar, from their own kitchens. Families can take a break from entertaining children with a fun-filled, Little GIFT House Party, offering hours of games and activities and the creative use of household items, run by family-focused company Chalk.

GIFT Festival Director, Kate Craddock, adds: “Amidst the devastating and hugely uncertain times that we face, we’re delighted to still be able to deliver GIFT as a digital experience for artists and audiences this May. Packed with new and experimental shows, sensory installations, practitioner workshops, provocative talks and plenty of fun social events, we aim to make GIFT as powerful as ever and celebrate our tenth edition in style. 

“The festival was created to remove barriers between artists and audiences, nurture creative communities and have fun together in the process. It gives a crucial platform to otherwise underrepresented North East contemporary artists and shares big ideas and creative responses to Gateshead, as a site of regeneration and transition. This year, more than ever before, we’re using GIFT’s spirit and energy as a vehicle for artistic communities, and the millions of people impacted by this pandemic, to come together, to inspire and encourage each other, maintain vital artistic conversations and champion our human resilience and creativity. 

“To keep the buzz of an ephemeral real-time festival, events will be presented with their usual scheduled starts, audiences will have digital tickets and can enjoy after-show virtual drinks and chats in the festival bar. We’d love to see you this May for a very special GIFT 2020.”

Full event listings can be found here and audiences can make a pay what you decide donation to support this year’s festival here.

IT DON’T WORRY ME by ATRESBANDES, Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas.
©Berta Vicente/Richard Perryman

 

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