INTERVIEW: Daniel Bye | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Theatre-maker Daniel Bye has a busy month ahead. As part of his residency at Northern Stage, he’ll not only be previewing his upcoming Edinburgh Fringe show, Going Viral, but he’ll also be poking fun at current affairs in The Six O’clock News, alongside Gary Kitching, Victoria Gibson, Torent Theatre and Matt Howdon.

“Sometimes we’re representing what the news isn’t,” explains the ARC Stockton Associate Artist, who will be overseeing a version of his show for the eleventh or twelfth time (he’s lost count) on Friday 3rd July. “There’s always something big happening somewhere in the world, but that’s not necessarily what’s in the papers.”

The format is simple: Daniel guides a group of local performers as they assemble a bang-up-to-date piece of theatre over an intensive three day period. “Sometimes it’s certainly easier than others! The last one was on election day so we didn’t have to worry about there being some news. Of course, a lot of things are considered newsworthy even though they don’t seem like news. There’s always some utter bullshit…like something in the Daily Mail about how to make the perfect cream scone, or something about someone off the telly who tripped over a manhole cover…just absolutely preposterous non-stories!”

The artists he works alongside, picked on an application basis, usually have a burgeoning connection with the venue already. “They’re usually very early in their careers, having made maybe one show or needing the support to get their first one off the ground.” At the time of going to print, the guest artists for Newcastle are yet to be confirmed but we are told some are already making quite a name for themselves in the North East.

“Some news stories, let’s face it, are quite bleak – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a light-hearted take on them,” Daniel says.

The main reason Daniel is in Newcastle is to develop Going Viral; Northern Stage will be supporting him as he prepares the show for two nights of previews on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th July. Envisioning a fictional disease enveloping the globe, it sticks with Daniel’s unique, trademark blend of storytelling, comedy and ‘performance lecture’: “There’s a section where I talk about the chemical composition of tears and another where I explain how a virus works, using liquorice all-sorts!

“Some news stories, let’s face it, are quite bleak – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a light-hearted take on them”

“It’s also about other things that spread, like ideas and panic,” he says. “There’s obviously the pun in the title, which refers to how things spread across the internet, and that’s an aspect of it as well. I suppose what connects all these different things are the ways in which human beings are connected to each other in the contemporary world; so fundamentally it’s about the world we live in now, ways in which we’re connected to each other and the ways in which some people have an easier and more comfortable life because of the imbalance in those connections.”

Presenting us with one piece dealing with a terrifying possible future, and another set in the here and now, the two shows are setting out to entertain as well as inform, with their sharp social commentaries. There should be plenty to keep us theatre-goers on our toes then, as well as Daniel on his.

Newcastle’s Northern Stage hosts The Six O’clock News on Friday 3rd July and Going Viral on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th July.

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