WEEKLY ROUND-UP (02.10.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Project Dictator

Every week we pull together some of the best events taking place across the region, from music and theatre, to comedy, art and film. Read more on these, and other events, in the October issue of NARC. magazine – out now in print and online.

Gaslighting is modern slang which is currently defining a large chunk of youth culture’s growing understanding of what it means to be in an unhealthy environment with someone. A term related to manipulation, power play and psychological abuse. But what is the real-life consequence to this insidious behaviour? In a thought-provoking new exhibition by The Sunderland Indie at Arts Centre Washington, this is exactly what is being explored in the works of artists, writers and activists who have experienced it. Artist and climate activist Helen Redfern’s work draws from her personal experience of a high profile trial, in which she was unable to speak her truth before the jury. Prominently, artist Barrie West examines gaslighting historically and politically, focusing on its presence in relationships during the Second World War. The exhibition invites visitors to learn about its subtlety and vindictive nature, bringing an understanding of how gaslighting impacts individuals and society as a whole.
Tuesday 3rd October-Saturday 11th November @ Arts Centre Washington

Project Dictator
Totalitarianism, military coups, populism and clowns – you’ll find them all in Project Dictator. While you might question how exactly you tackle such heavy themes through the medium of clowning, Project Dictator’s audiences are in good hands with award-winning theatre company Rhum + Clay.
Aiming to turn the spotlight on the realities of the world we live in, Project Dictator (Or Why Democracy is Overrated and I Don’t Miss It At All) was inspired by conversations with artists living under authoritarian regimes around the world. A razor sharp, no-holds barred interrogation of the world we live in, the production urges us to consider what part we play in the game.
Tuesday 3rd October @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

VC Pines
On the back of a very warmly received set at Glastonbury, Jack Mercer – aka Violet Coloured Pines – takes his debut record, MRI, out on the road. Rich and scattershot, MRI takes cues from the likes of Beck and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, with a decidedly Anglophilic twist, rooted very much in 2023. The record’s title references Jack’s temporal lobe epilepsy, which has naturally coloured the life experiences he documents on the record, and he hopes that the record will be empowering for those struggling with neurological conditions in musical and creative spheres. 
Tuesday 3rd October @ Zerox, Newcastle 

The Comedy Cup
The region’s finest comedians go head-to-head to compete for the Howay The Laughs trophy. The event is hosted by Gavin Webster who will put the comics through their paces until a champion is decided.
Tuesday 3rd October @ The Stand, Newcastle

En Attendant Ana
Tyneside promoters Wandering Oak are bringing French indie evocateurs En Attendant Ana to the Cumby for a special evening of exquisite jangle pop in support of the Parisian quintet’s third album, Principia, which was released in February this year.
With nods to French pop (both current and classic) and the group’s continued penchant for 90s British indie pop, band leader and principal songwriter Margaux Bouchaudon’s voice anchors many of the songs on Principia. However, it is the group’s genre defining guitar sound, for fans of The Cardigans and Alvvays, that makes them stand out. On Principia Margaux questions our perception of others and the one they have of us, all with a slightly raised eyebrow and garnished with distinctive French harmonies, gentle sonic experimenting and a healthy dollop of brass.
Support comes from Glasgow’s Sulka, formed in 2017 as a bedroom indie folk project firmly rooted in the DIY ethos and aesthetic, while opening the evening will be a rare outing for Sarah Suri and Duncan Lloyd’s project Nano Kino (plus added Tom English from Maximo Park on the night) with their ethereal euphoria.

Wednesday 4th October @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

Image: En Attendant Ana by Arno Muller

Lucy Beaumont
Lucy Beaumont, who you may know as the writer and star of Meet The Richardsons, is so much more than the hysterically ditzy caricature of herself that features in the show. With over a decade of award winning material and mounting critical acclaim, Lucy Beaumont is a creative force to be reckoned with. The Northern comic has built a career on merging her astute observations with a sense of the ridiculous, absurd and bizarre. 
Mixing tales of married life (she’s married to fellow comedian John Richardson), parenthood and her Hull upbringing, Lucy’s comedy is as home-grown and authentic as it is hilarious, as through  Beaumont’s performative confusion and naivety, you are expertly directed through the highs and lows of life. The Trouble And Strife is Lucy Beaumont’s latest tour, which will be performed at Durham’s Gala Theatre on Wednesday 4th, Middlesbrough Town Hall on Wednesday 11th October and Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Thursday 2nd November. Billed as the comic “letting loose and letting slip on her roller-coaster life”, this tell-all performance will peel back each of the comedian’s carefully crafted layers and let us in to Beaumont’s surrealistic world view. 
From Wednesday 4th October @ Various venues

BFI London Film Festival
Tyneside Cinema screens a selection of highlights from the BFI London Film Festival, featuring movies created by filmmakers from all around the world. Highlights include Oscar winning director Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, Andrew Haigh’s emotional portrait of relationships All Of Us Strangers, and Baloji’s magical realist drama Omen.
Wednesday 4th-Sunday 15th October @ Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle

The Cold Buffet
Nothing creates a dread in me like the words ‘family get-together.’ Rising star Elijah Young has created an epic comedy that embodies this very feeling in The Cold Buffet. Set in the North East, we will attend a wake, a wedding and a birthday party with an impressive cast who have a notable array of theatre and TV credits between them. Ellis McCarthy is played by Nick Blakely (whose theatre and TV credits include a UK theatre tour of Brideshead Revisited and ITV’s Belgravia) who over the course of five years makes tense small talk with his family in various function rooms, eating his true feelings and washing them down with, you guessed it – cold buffet. Jane Holman plays the passive-aggressive grandma (is there any other kind?), Jim Kitson plays Ellis’ dad David, with Beth Fletcher as Max and the role of Ayeesha is played by Amara Karan, who you can currently see on Netflix in sci-fi thriller, T.I.M.
The Cold Buffet is the centrepiece of Live Theatre’s 50th anniversary season and if you take pleasure in the awkward tension of others and often fantasise about cutting family ties, then this is one family get-together you might actually enjoy.
Thursday 5th-Saturday 28th October @ Live Theatre, Newcastle

Image: Howay The Lasses

Howay the Lasses
There are scores of lockdown projects that are best left firmly in the past, but Howay The Lasses is certainly not one of them. Born in the midst of the COVID-19 chaos in 2021, this show sees singer and accordionist Annie Ball, father and daughter singer-songwriter combination Gareth and Bronwen Davies-Jones, and cellist Katie Tertell bring the stories of our lesser-known regional heroines to life. This group certainly doesn’t discriminate. With ballads that reveal a range of obscure perspectives, from collier to footballer, academic to engineer, Howay The Lasses is a fitting tribute to the women who built our great region. It’s sure to leave you swelling with pride (and eager to dig into your family tree to find out more about your own lasses of yore). Don’t miss it!
Thursday 5th October @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead

Queer Prom
Navii Media and Sister Shack present a Queer Prom for all. With a Studio 54 theme, expect a night of cabaret performers, market stalls, crafts, raffles, vegan Pick ‘n’ Mix station, sensory toys and calming activities from The Midnight Commune, plus a mini Bend & Shake to end the evening.
Saturday 7th October @ Tyne Bank Brewery, Newcastle

Kuchu Cabaret
An intimate night of performance in solidarity with the Ugandan Kuchu people, who face a new law criminalising homosexuality, with all money going to the Ugandan LGBTQ+ emergency fund. Performers include Beccy Owen with Hush Club, providing an improvised, durational, sound healing treat and Blossom Offering’s Queer multi-artform collaboration exploring poetry, sound and movement.
Saturday 7th October @ Claypath Deli, Durham

Nation of Language
New York outfit Nation of Language have attracted increasing attention thanks to their danceable new wave and post-punk sound. Expect Kraut-punk grooves, bouncing basslines and a distinct shoegaze influence to their synth-powered sound. Support comes from excitable glam goth group Walt Disco.
Saturday 7th October @ Boiler Shop, Newcastle

Beyond Caring
The theatre has often been regarded as the cradle of political and social expression, and in an age where the elderly seem to be more and more neglected, it is most definitely time for their experience within care homes to be enshrined within theatre.
It can be all too easy to ignore the elderly and those who care for them, as care homes are haunting illustrations of how no money can buy or change time, and how nobody can cheat death. The play Beyond Caring “shines a light on often hilarious and hard-hitting experiences and asks crucial questions about ageing, identity and adult care provision”, as described by the playwright, Christina Castling, who continued: “We’re delighted that Beyond Caring will help facilitate crucial conversations about the wellbeing of care home staff. We hope the play will have a lasting impact on audiences, whilst demonstrating how the arts can play a meaningful role in encouraging debate around timely issues.”
The play, directed by Jonluke McKie, will be performed at venues across the North East between Saturday 7th October-Sunday 5th November, and will be a witty yet heartfelt illustration of ageing and the tales of those who care for the old. Watching it should be of paramount importance, not only to understand a key component of human life, but also of the UK’s care system.
Check their website for full listings.
Saturday 7th October-Sunday 5th November @ Various venues

Star & Shadow Cinema Fundraiser
Like most of our vital cultural lifelines, the Star & Shadow Cinema is sustained predominantly from funds raised by loyal supporters, and also from incredible events, such as the glorious sonic banquet of a fundraiser which boasts an incredible line-up of some phenomenal local gems.
Spearheading the line-up are the inimitable and iconic duo Badger, whose brilliantly eclectic and singular bangers have seen them gain some well-deserved recognition from DIY titans Sleaford Mods, who recently hand-picked them to support on their recent UK Grim tour. Also performing are the chameleonic Waves Of Dread, the fledgling desert rock of ZUDZ, local songwriting legend Nev Clay, newbies Marginal Gains, the darkwave stylings of Holy Braille and Steff Mundi.
Saturday 7th October @ Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

. Picture © Tom Banks 2022

Image: The Forest Dream by Tom Banks

The Forest Dream
The Forest Dream presents a wondrous tale inspired by the true story of The Forest Man of India. Woven around the forest man Jadav’s relationship with the mystical Aranyani, the Goddess of forests, this multi-dance style theatre work aims to highlight the urgency of climatic trauma that is befalling us due to selfish acts like deforestation and rampant industrialisation. Jadav invites you to be a part of his tribe and his world on one of the largest river islands in the sometimes ferocious Brahmputra river. He invites you to be a part of what he so desperately seeks.
Choreographer Payal Ramchandani is a Kuchipudi dancer based in Newcastle with 27 years of experience in this South Indian classical dance form. Her work balances tradition and modernity, exploring identity, the present and the future, evoking strong emotions and challenging audiences to look into the ramifications of their actions. As the clock ticks irreversibly, Ramchandani’s work is an urgent plea to course-correct ourselves by holding up a mirror to the current and the next generation.
Saturday 7th October @ Dance City, Newcastle & Sunday 22nd October @ Seaton Delaval Hall

Brown Horse
Although incongruously named, Norwich’s Brown Horse make a sublime sound indeed. Taking influence from artists like Uncle Tupelo, Big Thief and Lucinda Williams, the six-piece mix guitar-driven 90s alt. rock with the folk and country sounds of the 70s, resulting in sweet guitar solos and heartbreaking songcraft.
Sunday 8th October @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

100 People
An exhibition which brings together many personal items to create an eclectic portrait that represents the diversity of people who inhabit the neighbourhood of Shieldfield, seeking to co-create a complicated and multi-voiced portrait of place, touching on the neighbourhood’s past, present and imagined futures. A film screening also takes place at Star & Shadow Cinema on 1st November.
Sunday 8th October-Friday 24th November @ Shieldfield Art Works, Newcastle

John Robins
You may know John Robins as the winner of the Edinburgh Comedy awards in 2017, or from his sold out national tours. You may know him as the award winning radio host of his Channel 5 radio show with Elis James, or as the devout Queen fanatic who interviews Brian May. Or you may not know him at all.
John Robins is an incredibly prolific comedian who garners rave reviews at every turn, with TV appearances on every comedy show going, he has amassed a career built on sharp, erudite routines that teeter on the verge of cathartic honesty. His latest tour, Howl, may be his most honest show to date. As a reaction to a myriad of years piling on top of each other, Howl is billed as “not about mental health, but the show is mental health. In all it’s rage, joy, tears, anxiety and humour.” 
Expect brutal honesty and openness from Robins as he tackles his struggles and strifes, the mounting and daunting list of issues that grow and grow. Turning the spotlight on his own hardships, insecurities, angers and shortcomings, it is rare to see a performer this vulnerable in their material, and he excels in his delivery of interesting, engaging and candid material.
Tuesday 10th October @ Gala Theatre, Durham & Saturday 21st October @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle

What would happen if women took the lead in discussing the lofty political issues of the day? And what would happen if that was injected with a dose of magical realism?
In Phantasmagoria, in the hours before a live TV debate, a young activist and a spokesperson for the ruling party meet in an isolated house in a forest with the intention of having some much-needed calm conversation. Shortlisted for The Hindu Playwright Award 2019, the play paints broad, yet strongly relatable strokes of political thought, and appears in the beginning to be pretty straightforward. Till the phantom creeps in, exiting and re-entering, changing form and size, even as the characters discuss their fears and aspirations and navigate clashes of opinion. For the forest is haunted by the spectre of a wild leopard, once caged within the crumbling house, but now free to roam and terrorise at will – but only some can see the beast and hear him roar.
As crowds gather demanding to attend the debate, mounting paranoia and horror collide in an explosive unravelling of political convictions and personal histories. Are you ready to enter into conversation?
Tuesday 10th-Thursday 12th October @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

How does social media influence our lives? Do you believe the things you see online? Can we ever truly be ourselves in a culture where everyone is scrutinising our every move? Following Crystal and Carleen, two friends with a hefty social media obsession, FLIP! aims to answer the questions we don’t want to ask ourselves. Exploring the uncomfortable truths that lie beneath the personas we build online, FLIP! is bitingly satirical and promises to have you questioning your own relationship with social media apps and the deceptively easy route to fame and money they offer.
The latest play from critically-acclaimed writer Rachael Ofori, FLIP! begins a UK tour after opening at Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre. With new social media platforms emerging all the time, (are you using X? Or is it Threads?) and all the associated pressure to perform, to shape your life into a brand identity, FLIP! is sure to make you think about what it is we’re all chasing online.
Tuesday 10th-Saturday 28th October @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle

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