INTERVIEW: The Georgian Theatre Reopens | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Nel Unlit

Unless you’ve got a crystal ball stashed away or happen to have precognitive powers akin to Nostradamus (and if you do, a little heads up would’ve been good), you’ll be as in the dark as pretty much everyone else about what’s coming our way over the next six months. Some things though, are a given; we’ll still be craving the ‘old ways’ when it comes to performance and live shows.

How can we circumvent, or at least come to terms with, these obstacles to our passions? Tees Music Alliance have come up with (at least part of) the answer: diversification and adaptation are key. Along with their venue, Stockton’s Georgian Theatre, reopening their hallowed doors to live performance this month, they have exclusively revealed details of a brand new way music fans can connect with what they love most, and they’ve taken their cues from the leftfield…

At the start of lockdown, TMA realised that when live music did eventually return, it would be under tightly controlled audience numbers. This would significantly affect the viability of a lot of gigs – especially our own and those of other Tees-based promoters that we regularly work with. We needed to find a way to generate income over and above the limited tickets that we’d all be able to sell.” Explains TMA’s chief exec Paul Burns. “The way forward seemed to lay in the sporting world, where pay per view events are commonplace – but distinctly not so within live music.” Cue a partnership with Digital City at Teesside University, who conducted extensive research and development to produce an easy to operate yet high quality streaming service which would enable the Tees Promoter Group – a group of like-minded promoters who have been working together for several years – the ability to host socially-distanced live shows, and provide a safe and secure livestream for those watching at home. “We know that there’s nothing to replace the thrill of live music up close and in your face. But until we can return to those days, streaming is a genuine solution. This won’t be a smart phone streaming wobbly video through social media though – it’s a top notch audio/visual offer designed to bring the spirit of live gigs to online devices.”

The last few months have been hard on people physically, mentally and financially but hopefully The Georgian Theatre can become an escape from that for a short period of time

It’s hoped the pay-per-view service will be ready before Christmas, but until then The Georgian Theatre will throw open their doors for some real-life shows. “It feels like forever since we last had a gig at The Georgian Theatre and a room full of happy faces, but finally we have gigs back!” Says programming and operations manager Chris Cobain. Returning to the venue this month will be live comedy courtesy of Shoe Cake Comedy Club (Friday 9th); promoters Get Hip! welcome Leeds’ pop garage punks Nervous Twitch and local psych band Thee Strawberry Mynde (Saturday 10th); North Yorkshire’s finest alt. hip-hop band Ceiling Demons will perform alongside indie pop punks Salsola (Friday 16th); Hurworth songwriter Jodie Nicholson performs on Friday 30th and Penetration frontwoman Pauline Murray brings her solo show to the stage on Saturday 31st; and an evening with harmonious ensemble Nel Unlit will be one to look forward to on Saturday 7th November.

Even with the current restrictions we can try to put those smiles back on people’s faces. The last few months have been hard on people physically, mentally and financially but hopefully The Georgian Theatre can become an escape from that for a short period of time.”

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