What’s on at Northern Stage? BARBARA HODGSON previews the new season
NORTHERN spirit captures the mood of a Newcastle theatre’s new spring season which features the return of North East classic Close the Coalhouse Door.
The new production of Alan Plater’s 44-year-old play, which sees Newcastle writer Lee Hall team up with actor-director Samuel West, is a highlight of the newly-announced Northern Stage season.
In a co-production with Live Theatre which is being billed as the theatre event of 2012, Hall, author of such stage successes as The Pitmen Painters and Billy Elliot, is writing a new ending and a new song for the musical drama which celebrates the spirit and determination of Northern miners.
When Close the Coalhouse Door made its debut in 1968, it was an instant hit with audiences who connected with the history of strikes and ensuing victories and disappointments in a tale based on short stories by Sid Chaplin and featuring songs by Alex Glasgow.
Its creators are all now dead and it’s falling to Hall – who will be working closely with West, star of film Howards End and current ITV1 fantasy drama series Eternal Law – to revisit their work and include the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.
He said: “This is a very important play and Samuel’s involvement ensures that this will be an explosive and thrilling piece of theatre.”
West added: “Above all, I want it to be a good night out for the people of Newcastle. It’s an honour to be working in this great city on the work of one of our best-loved writers.”
Their joint production is to preview on April 13 at Northern Stage where it will run until May 5 before heading off on a national tour.
Its run follows an energetic start to the spring season which launches this evening with Radikal Works, a poetry performance showcase starring Kate Fox and Ray Antrobus with music by Simma, and goes on to feature both local and international talent in a mix of drama, comedy, contemporary dance, children’s shows and physical theatre.
And the latter will certainly feature, alongside dazzling visuals such as floating scenes, in Missing from March 8-10, a bizarre tale about a missing girl and research into human souls by theatre company Gecko which often uses physicality, such as mime, dance and clowning, in place of words.