WITH lumps of coal lavishly presented alongside more staple elements of gourmet dining, palates of the great and the good of the region’s arts world were broadened by an intriguing menu last night.
Guests at Newcastle’s Northern Stage’s annual fundraising dinner were treated to pieces of edible coal together with roasted cod and wood pigeon.
The novelty cuisine was put together with more than half an eye on the theatre’s spring season blockbuster.
A revival of Alan Plater’s classic play Close the Coalhouse Door will take up residency at the Northern Stage in the spring.
And when Nina Ritson, development assistant at the venue, found the recipe for the coal which is made with Rice Krispies, marshmallows and black food colouring, it was decided the coal would be left on tables as a favour for the 150 guests.
“I do tend to have strange ideas but this one seems to have been one of my best,” said Nina.
“I came across a recipe for edible coal so I went home and made some and brought them into work. Everyone liked them and we decided it was a quirky way of getting people thinking about our next big event.”
The Olympic-themed dining space on Stage 1 was designed by local artist Lucy Crimmens.
Muted tones of the five colours of the Olympic rings were represented on the spacious tables, all of which featured inspiring messages like “achieving your best” and “aspiring for greatness”.
Lucy, originally from Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, said she had taken much of her inspiration from Olympics posters designed by Tracey Emin and Martin Creed.
“I was really inspired by some of the posters,” said Lucy.
“Tracey Emin’s poster was on the Paralympics and said ‘you inspire me with your determination and I love you’.
“One of the things that makes tonight so special is that it’s the only night of the year that anyone gets to eat dinner on the stage.”
The staircase used in Northern Stage’s Christmas production of The Glass Stage was again on show last night. Lucy said it appeared like it “was floating” on ribbons bursting around the stage.
“I really like the way the posters were inspired by the Olympics but they’re not literal at all, I hope that came across in my design,” she said.
Erica Whyman, the chief executive of Northern Stage, said the unusual addition to last night’s menu was an ideal way of promoting spring’s performances of the Plater classic.
She said: “The edible coal was a fun way of telling people about Close the Coalhouse Door that promises to be one of the must-see events of 2012.”
The musical made its Newcastle debut over four decades ago. Alan Plater died in 2010 and local writer Lee Hall is working with director Samuel West on a new ending for the drama.
It will be developed to include the miners’ strike of the 1980s and will focus on the determined characteristics of the struggle encountered by many Northern families.
The play, which is a co-production with Live Theatre, will take to Stage 1 at the venue from April 15 until May 5 before touring the UK. Visit www.northernstage.co.uk for ticket details.