FEATURE: FESTIVE SHOWS | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: The Emperor’s New Clothes rehearsals at Northern Stage, Hannah Goudie Hunter by Von Fox PromotionS

Live Theatre’s festive offering is a perfect example of what they do best; supporting up and coming writers and giving them a valuable outlet via their Live Wired virtual platform. 5 Plays Of Christmas is a spirited selection box of online short plays from the coolest new writing talent, with the plays being developed, rehearsed, performed and filmed behind closed doors and available to view online for free from mid-December. The five writers who contribute to the programme – Olu Alakija, Mandi Chivasa, Ellen McNally, Benjamin Storey and Sarah Tarbit – have already taken part in the theatre’s recent 10 Minutes To…Call Home series of shorts. The theatre give a sneak peek into what to expect: “Martin Maxwell is reliving the time he killed Christmas. A missed bus has consequences for the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future. Danny is in an elf costume while Joe just got arrested and Agnes sits in a quiet living room, sun on her face and the cold at her door. Meanwhile on a beach in Newbiggin, a giant whale is washed ashore.”

There’s more alternative performance at The Stand Comedy Club, as Hal Branson, Sammy Dobson, Lee Kyle and Hannah Walker reprise their Cinderella & The Beanstalk panto, available to watch for free via YouTube from Sunday 20th December-Sunday 17th January, which promises laughter and daftness for all ages. There’s also an adult version of the story which will be broadcast on Boxing Day at 8.30pm, so set a reminder! Keep an eye out for more online action from the venue too.

If it’s a festive soundtrack you’re after, look no further than Darlington collective Tracks, who present their Hark! The Sound of Christmas via their Facebook and YouTube pages on Sunday 20th December. A celebration of Christmas music and spoken word, host Fran Harvey and will welcome festive music performed by The Bookshop Band, Benjamin Amos and Oui Bee, plus specially commissioned work from local writer and performer Lisette Auton, animation from artist Andrew McAdam and readings of A Christmas Carol and festive poems. The event is accompanied by their ‘gig in a box’ initiative, which features a programme with original artwork and lyrics so audience members can sing along, a mince pie, a Hark! branded pencil and a Christmas decoration. Earlier in the month, on Saturday 12th December, Tracks’ BIG Little Gigs present a family Christmas at home, featuring silly sing-along and storytelling courtesy of the Christmas Witches (aka Sarah Wilson and Fran Harvey), and also accompanied by ‘gig in a box’ goodies.

Champions of imaginative and creative events, Stellar Projects move their annual outdoor Nightfall event online from Thursday 3rd-Thursday 10th December. In The Stars Guide You Home, families are invited to immerse themselves in an enchanting starry online world, meet wonderful characters and discover stories that come to life in the dark.

Alphabetti Theatre’s delightful sounding online offering takes place on Saturday 12th December in the form of a beautifully animated play, Holy & Ivan, by Christina Berriman Dawson and Richard Dawson, which features a dog who needs a knee replacement. All of their online shows from this year are also still available to watch or listen to on their website, and their Christmas show Love From (originally planned as a physical show) will now go online just before the big day.

Gosforth Civic Theatre’s ‘in real life’ Christmas programme will feature a beautiful winter-themed puppet show for families, In A Nutshell; a heart-warming tale of growing up and letting go, taking place at the venue (fingers crossed!) from Monday 21st-Wednesday 23rd and Monday 28th-Wednesday 30th December.

Northern Stage team up with Kitchen Zoo for their brand new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic folktale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, streaming online from Saturday 12th-Thursday 31st December. The production has been adapted by award-winning playwright Laura Lindow and directed by Mark Calvert, who tells us more: “The Emperor’s New Clothes has to be the biggest con ever pulled in the history of story-telling. Two inept chancers – think Laurel and Hardy or the wet bandits from the classic Christmas film Home Alone – manage to convince an Emperor to go out in their ‘all together’, exposing them in more ways than one. We feel it’s a story so packed full of ridiculous moments, that to call it farce would be too tame.”

Also taking place online, Durham’s Gala Theatre premiere a specially filmed comedy thriller featuring characters from pantos past, who team up to take on Rupert von Rottenchops. The new adventure series will kick off on their website from Monday 14th December.

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