NEWS Onstage: Online digital theatre festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: The Boy & The Seahorse

While venues remain closed, creativity still abounds. Writers, theatre makers, actors and performing arts groups are discovering fresh, innovative ways to create theatre shorts and longer productions while they and their audiences stay at home.

Onstage: Online is a digital theatre festival aimed at celebrating creativity during the lockdown. Although Gala Theatre and the Assembly Rooms Theatre, which is the main venue used by Durham University’s Student Theatre, have temporarily closed, both teams are determined to continue to provide a platform for local theatre makers to showcase their work, while also promoting the mental health benefits creativity can bring.

I know the team at the Gala Theatre are really enjoying working with our partners at Durham University, and I can’t wait to see what theatrical gems the project produces,” enthuses Counsellor Joy Allen, cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism. “It is well known that watching theatre and engaging in the arts can be incredibly beneficial to our mental health and well-being, and finding things that lift our spirits is especially important right now.”

From Thursday 11thSunday 14th June, live sessions will be streamed each day on the Gala Theatre’s YouTube channel, along with scheduled pre-recorded content, showcasing County Durham talent to a global audience of all ages. Kate Barton, head of student theatre at Durham University explains: “We want to programme the best of the North East and appeal to a wide range of audiences and ages.”

When the festival is over, sharing the joy will continue: the videos will remain available for people to enjoy on both the Gala Theatre and Durham University’s YouTube channels. Performers include Interbang Productions, whose The Boy and the Seahorse show has been inspired by County Durham’s past; Durham University alumni Sophie Wright, who presents her show Sugarcoated, a one-woman comedy about Sophie’s awkward teenage years; Gala favourite Laura Lonsdale’s series of monologues are inspired by pop songs; while Silk Street Production’s Next Round centres around a tale of three friends dealing with grief.

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