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

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Image: This Endless Sea by Chloe Smith

Taking place at venues in Gateshead from Friday 3rd-Sunday 5th May, GIFT provides audiences with a vast array of creative experiences, including performances, talks and workshops. From big ideas and themes to intimate performative forays, the beauty of GIFT lies in its variety. “I’m always keen to encourage artists to use GIFT as a space to try out new ideas, or do something a bit differently,” organiser Kate Craddock explains. “I am drawn to artists who are interested in connecting with audiences and participants and making new connections through the festival.” While the ‘international’ in the event’s title is an important facet, Kate explains that local performers are also key to its success. “By platforming local artists in GIFT, they have the opportunity to try things out in a supportive environment. I think this is a hugely important part of what GIFT does – it brings artists together to share their practice and make new connections.”

Here, Kate offers up some of the major highlights for this year’s event.


We are kicking off the first full day on Friday 3rd May with a workshop from Sung Im Her, an extraordinary choreographer and dancer at the top of their game, called Moving Cloud (for theatre). The workshop will focus on exploring Sung Im’s techniques as a movement director – something they are in high demand for at the moment.

On Saturday 4th May, amazing dance artist Akeim Touissant Buck is leading a Beatmotion Practice workshop – a chance to play and improvise vocally and physically. Also on Saturday 4th, award-winning show The Talent by Action Hero and Deborah Pearson is a one-woman tour de force by performer Gemma Paintin, and will be BSL interpreted by the brilliant local BSL interpreter and performer Faye Alvi.

Throughout the three days of the festival, a group of local participants aged 60+ will be rehearsing with returning artists (and festival favourites) Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas for the final show of the festival, aptly titled The Beginning. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the participants get involved as the chorus for the show, as well as the new connections and friendships that will be made over the three days. Greg Wohead will present the final version of In Floods, which had its first outing as a Work In Progress performance as part of GIFT online in 2020. Since then Greg has undertaken a residency with GIFT to develop their ideas, and I can’t wait for audiences to experience this surprising show on the opening night.

Scott Turnbull and Tessa Parr are hosting our Little GIFT workshop for family audiences where kids will have the chance to get creative with overhead projectors, and felt tip pens and create their own Teeny-Tiny-Cinema experience. Also, Ziza Ngabonziza Patrick is sharing a new work in progress performance – the first 45 minutes of a stunning durational piece at an early stage of development in the gorgeous setting of St Mary’s Heritage Centre.

For those who are up for a more intimate encounter, I strongly recommend Manual, Je Suisse (or not) and This Endless Sea – all of which will transport you to another world, and are guaranteed to make you see the world around you in a very different light. 

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