INTERVIEW: MAKE HOPE POSSIBLE | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Hope for me is a kind of energy, it’s the way of getting you out of bed, to give you the clarity and passion to do something, to fight for good things and goodness.”

Jack McNamara, Live Theatre’s new Artistic Director, has thought a lot about hope. Having programmed and taken creative lead on the upcoming Make Hope Possible festival – which runs at Live Theatre from Friday 1st-Sunday 3rd July – he recognises that true hope runs far deeper than a happy, smiley positivity.

Hope is an effort, it doesn’t come easy. It’s something we need, not in a deluded way, but in a genuine way. In this context, hope is seen as a radical notion, not a passive one.”

The implication of Make Hope Possible is that hope sometimes feels impossible. Why is now the right time to be presenting this series of performances and workshops? “There’s plenty to despair about; there always has been and sadly, there always will be,” explains Jack. “We’ve had a particularly foundation-shaking kind of time, haven’t we?” He goes on to talk about COVID, war, the actions of politicians and the climate, concluding: “It’s a frightening time for so many people. There’s a lot to feel bleak about.” The projects over this weekend are not specifically about these ‘headline topics’ however, but rather look deeper in a conceptual way at what underpins them – how we think about race and sexuality, about our relationship as a regional city to London, about society and how it can be reshaped to make the world better, brighter and kinder.

Hope is an effort, it doesn’t come easy. It’s something we need, not in a deluded way, but in a genuine way

And then, there’s the climate. Love Letters For A Liveable Future (Saturday 2nd at 11am) is a Metis Arts workshop, bringing together environmental activists, artists and academics, harnessing people’s ability and power to make change and equipping artists in the region. Aware that this one weekend is “just a slice”, Jack continues: “I’m really passionate about programming future festivals focussed entirely on climate, entirely on very specific areas. At Live, we have lots of amazing spaces, a democratic theatre space, lots of outdoor space…it’s a great environment for bringing people together to debate and explore ideas.”

So what can the arts, and theatre in particular, bring to these huge topics of our time? “Art has the ability to manipulate in a positive way…a way of drawing people into a different kind of consciousness. Throughout the festival programme, there’s a playfulness because we’re a theatre, we’re not just a forum for lectures. We add a bit of spice to things. These are provocative works in their ideas but aesthetically, we’re making them very beautiful and lovely to experience.”

He gives the example of how the animated reading on the Saturday evening by actor Toby Jones of Alex Niven’s ground-breaking manifesto New Model Island is paired with music from Newcastle-based electronic folk innovator Me Lost Me, so that “the heavy ideas and concepts will be beautifully lifted by the rich soundscape of sound and music and songs.”

Jack McNamara is looking for curious audiences – writers, thinkers, makers, changemakers – to come together to explore, playfully and seriously, how we can make big changes that bring back hope to the world. This is a festival about how things aren’t working but how they can work. So bring your curiosity of mind, your ideas and concepts. Stick around to chat. Let hope change you.

Make Hope Possible runs at Live Theatre from Friday 1st-Sunday 3rd July. See the website for the full line-up.

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