Reasons to be Cheerful: STREAMING, VIRTUAL VIEWING, PARTICIPATION & MORE | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Eliot Smith Dance’s Poppy

Welcome to another edition of Reasons to be Cheerful! I’m happy to report that there’s LOTS to be thankful for this month, and plenty to keep you entertained while you’re at home. If you’d like to be featured in a future edition please get in touch via email: [email protected]

Among the many things we’re missing is a lazy weekend stroll around an art gallery or museum, particularly on rainy days. The region’s galleries and art spaces are adapting with aplomb to the current situation (in fact, many had virtual viewing options way before this all kicked off) and we highly recommend kicking back with a cuppa and checking out some of the weird and wonderful collections at Great North Museum: Hancock, where you can get access to their biology and ethnographic stores; get your dose of arty goodness with a jaunt around Laing Art Gallery’s rooms; keep the kids amused via Google Arts & Culture’s virtual tour of Discovery Museum; and there’s a host of interesting artefacts to discover in Tyne & Wear Museums & Archives’ online stores; view the landscapes and culture of North East England as documented by Side Gallery’s Amber Collective; explore several of the exhibitions at BALTIC’s website, including Abel Rodriguez, Imran Perretta, Judy Chicago and more; the Biscuit Factory’s collection is also available to browse (and buy) online; John and Dorothy Cornish, the son and daughter-in-law of painter Norman Cornish, create a virtual gallery tour of the exhibition at Barnard Castle’s Bowes Museum; the collections from Middlesbrough’s MIMA gallery are available to view online; and Shieldfield Art Works are currently displaying work created by members of their Painting For Fun group on their website.

Looking to brush up on your artistic knowledge during lockdown? Look no further than a recent blog post courtesy of Hatton Gallery’s Keeper of Art Lizzie Jacklin, who has pulled together an eye-opening list of intriguing artworks by female artists that reside within the Hatton’s permanent collection. It’s a diverse and interesting list!

Create some artistic masterpieces of your own thanks to a variety of classes and studio events now hosted online. Top amongst these recently has been Newcastle-based Chilli Studios’ live interactive workshops programme, where you can learn about everything from gardening to art journaling, creative writing and self-care, plus create ceramic artwork, watercolours and much more. Also worth checking out is North Tyneside Art Studio, who host regular online tutorials via their Facebook page on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; North East artist Emily Carter is delivering drawing tutorials, and offering craft and painting tips on her Facebook page; while Gateshead’s Shipley Art Gallery are hosting a new art challenge every week inspired by their collection, with the results posted on their website and social media pages.

For youngsters (or the young at heart), Life Science Centre are offering a host of science experiments and other fun activities to enjoy at home via their social media pages, with videos also shared via their YouTube channel. Try making your own slime, a tin foil boat or launch a milk bottle rocket. Adults may also enjoy their ‘make wine glasses sing’ video, which means you’re legitimately allowed to drink while educating your children.

There’s more ways to stay creative with the family thanks to Fully Booked Theatre’s interactive dance theatre shows. Every weekday at noon they post a Fully Booked Challenge via Instagram, which families can take on together.

If you’ve a hankering to watch something other than Netflix or the rolling news horror cycle, train your beady eyes on theatre company Open Clasp’s production Key Change. Devised alongside women in HMP Low Newton to tour to male prisons, the critically-acclaimed work presents an illuminating portrait of women in prison.

We reported on the Coronavirus Theatre Club last month, and it’s still going strong with a host of videos on their YouTube page and livestreams every Sunday from 7pm via Twitter. Expect to see actors performing monologues and pieces produced by talented writers and directors while in lockdown.

Eliot Smith Dance continue their digital performances and workshops throughout May. This month marks 75 years since VE day, so ESD’s performance of Poppy – a retrospective and abstract look at war, inspired by the flower – is timely indeed. View it online via their website on Friday 8th May from 6pm. You can also enjoy ballet, contemporary and Kathak dance classes for a variety of skill levels.

Northern Stage continue their podcast series with new releases featuring cabaret artist Melody Sproates, who talks about their work on stage; plus a conversation with The House of Love, the creative force behind the BonBons Cabaret.

A diverse range of radio shows are coming out of Star & Shadow Cinema’s Mixlr station at the moment, providing unique diversions for those missing the collective’s irreverent mix of entertainment. Expect art and music chat, stories, poetry, plays and much more. See their website for the rundown of shows and listen online at Mixlr.

If you’re in need of a laugh The Stand Comedy Club can offer you the remedy via their live streams every Saturday night from 8.30pm. Their Saturday Night At The Stand streams so far have seen performances from the likes of Mark Thomas, Josie Long, Dave Johns, Zoe Lyons and many more, so you can be assured of a top-class rib-tickling. You can also support the venue by buying vouchers for a future visit, becoming a member or simply by donating a few quid.

As Newcastle’s only dedicated comedy club, it’s clear just how much The Stand Comedy Club means to comics as well as punters, as evidenced in this superbly funny and star-studded video put together in support of The Stand by local comic Lee Kyle. He’s pulled together over 50 comedians who each take a line from Gavin Webster’s classic comedy routine about pandas.

Newcastle’s comedy improv troupe The Suggestibles are on hand to help light up your Friday nights with their #carryonimprovising shows where pretty much anything can happen! Tune in via their Facebook or Twitter feeds from 10pm-midnight.

Sunderland comic Matt Reed is one of the region’s funniest; a reliable and hilarious MC and relatable, cheeky comic, he’s currently amusing himself (and many others) via his Twitter feed, compiling regular clips of hilarious scenes from films, cannily entitled Box Office Fakings.

If you’re missing your local band fix, look no further than champions of North East music Nick Roberts and Rianne Thompson, on BBC Radio Newcastle and BBC Tees respectively, whose weekly BBC Introducing shows will keep you informed and entertained on every Saturday night from 8pm.

DJ Stagger Lee is also continuing to broadcast from home, with a Lazy Sunday With Stagger Lee show on Twitch every Sunday until The Awfulness is over (4pm-6pm every week except the last Sunday of the month which starts at 2pm). There are also occasional impromptu evening broadcasts, mostly when he’s been drinking, so keep an eye on his website for details.

Now that we’ve all got to grips with streaming technology, there’s no end of places you can go to seek out live entertainment practically every night of the week. Some of the best include Lindisfarne Lockdown, where the festival organisers collate streams and live performances on their Facebook page from some of the artists due to play the festival in September; the incredibly popular Live Jam @ Lockdown page has seen dozens of acts perform throughout April via their Facebook page, and with donations being collected for the NHS we’re sure they’ll continue throughout lockdown; and Stockton’s Georgian Theatre, who continue their Saturday night livestream shows with performances from Jake Radio from Be Quiet. Shout Loud! (9th May) and Charlotte Grayson (16th May).

Following a successful month of fundraising for the NHS in April, Come Together NE are continuing the good work with another weekend of livestreamed performances. Taking place from Friday 8th-Sunday 10th May, this time they’ll be raising money for local venues including Little Buildings, The Cumberland Arms, Independent in Sunderland, Ziggy’s in South Shields, Alfie & Fin’s Gin Bar in Tynemouth and The Tavern in Blyth. Check out their Facebook event for more information.

Lend a helping hand to Ouseburn indie venue Little Buildings who no sooner opened the doors of their brand new venue before they had to shut them again. To raise some much-needed funds, they’re offering up bootleg recordings of some of the venue’s most iconic nights via Bandcamp; performances have the tendency to be noisy and a bit scrappy, but utterly loveable, much like the venue itself.

Join in with a singalong thanks to the tuneful folks at Beccy Owen’s Couch Choir every Sunday morning and early evening via her Facebook page; you can also join in with the Pop Choir Project Lockdown, hosted by Cornshed Sisters’ Jennie Brewis and Liz Corney, with regular singalong sessions via Zoom.

OK, admit it, you’ve tried hosting a family quiz via Zoom and endured sibling cheating and pissed parents humouring you for your efforts (just me?!). Now you’ve had a try, why not let the experts take over, and join in a proper quiz hosted by people who actually know what they’re doing. There’s squillions of them on social media, but we highly recommend you check out the quizzes hosted by the dapper folks from Prohibition Cabaret Bar (Wednesdays); the notoriously tricky Free Trade Inn virtual quiz (Wednesdays); the perennially cool Zerox bar host a Tuesday quiz with different themes, so far it’s been music and movies; Stockton’s Storytellers have reprised their popular pub quiz via their Facebook page; and Darlington Hippodrome get in on the action with a multitude of themed rounds.



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