A Viking longship magically appearing from under the water, huge battle scenes and the poignant Christmas Truce of 1914 – Kynren – An Epic Tale of England is a history show like no other.
This live-action spectacular takes the audience on a breath-taking odyssey through 2,000 years of myth, legend and history.
But while it is staged in Bishop Auckland, County Durham – many miles from north Northumberland – Kynren truly has a region-wide appeal.
This stunning show focuses on aspects of the North East’s proud past and heritage, such as mining and its railways.
There’s also a dramatic scene of a Viking raid on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
And among the 1,000-strong team of volunteer cast and crew are some enthusiastic Northumberland residents, who are making the long trip to rehearse and perform.
But for them, the journeys to Bishop Auckland have all been worth while, and they are excited for the 17-show run, which starts this Saturday.
For Morgan Armstrong, from Cramlington, the chance to be part of this epic production has been unforgettable.
The 13-year-old plays numerous parts in the show, including a Viking, and it took her a day to learn all of the impressive dance routines.
She said: “It is a great experience and I love it. I have made lots of new friends and I love history.
“My friends are going to come and see it. They are really excited.
Then there’s the Doyles, also from Cramlington. For them, taking part in Kynren is a family affair.
Louise Doyle is taking part for the second year, along with her loved ones.
She decided she wanted to be part of Kynren after being in the audience in 2016 – Kynren’s debut year – and was blown away by it.
She said: “I saw on Facebook that someone was going to the show and we decided to go.
“We had no idea what we were coming it, but I thought it was the most amazing thing.
“I then got an email, asking about volunteering, and because I’m impulsive, we volunteered.
“My 69-year-old mum is in it, my son has been in it, and my daughter and her friend are in it. For the 2018 show, we got involved last September and then this year’s rehearsals stared in January.
“The hardest bit is the drive – that’s where the commitment is, but it’s so worth it.`
“It makes me cry sometimes, because I have got connection with Bishop Auckland. There is something quite magical about it. I never been involved or seen anything like it. The miners’ scene is the most beautiful thing.”
Her daughter Ava, 11, said: “It’s really exciting. I enjoy the miners’ gala.”
Ava also loves the community spirit which comes from being part of the volunteer team and she added that it is fun to meet new people.
Ava’s friend, Lili Maddison-Taylor, 12, is in the show for the first time.
She said: “It’s really cool. It’s overwhelming. I like the jousting scene because I like the horses.”
Her dad, Phil Taylor, from Cramlington, also decided to get involved. But unlike his daughter, Phil is not on the stage, instead he is helping out behind the scenes and is involved with props.
He said: “It’s totally different to what I was expecting – there’s more involvement and I really feel part of the Kynren family.
“Rather than sit in the car park waiting for Lili, I thought I would get involved.
“It’s really interesting, getting to see parts that the audience doesn’t see. And to see the enjoyment on the faces of Lili and her friend Ava is magical.”
It certainly is an amazing experience, but being behind the scenes does have its challenge.
Phil added: “It can get a bit frantic, especially with the knights when they are given their flaming drums and then their helmets and banners, but it’s great and the crew have been so welcoming.”
The volunteers are very much at the heart of Kynren.
Ranging in age from five to 85, the cast and crew of volunteers engage in a complex and robust set of training programmes with highly-skilled performance industry specialists, to deliver the skills needed to produce world-class entertainment.
Their fine efforts were recognised when they received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
So what exactly is Kynren? The name echoes the Anglo Saxon word cynren meaning ‘generation, kindred, family’.
It’s fitting, as the 90-minute show explores history though the generations and the stories of the past which have helped to shape who we are today.
This year is the third instalment of the production and the 2018 show features new scenes, new characters and daring and fiery new stunts.
Set against the magnificent backdrop of Auckland Castle, Kynren boasts state-of-the-art special effects, amazing fireworks and evocative orchestral music.
This year, Kynren will be In Remembrance, with the world-class spectacular marking two very special centenaries, the First World War Armistice – a moment laced with poppies and poignancy – and the Suffragette Movement winning the vote for women.
New scenes will witness a Second World War commemoration of the Royal Air Force, and also include rousing moments of modern history, such as Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation and England winning the 1966 World Cup – every era stamping its mark for all generations.
Breath-taking effects fill the performance and new giant waterjet ballet sequences, amazing pyrotechnics and lighting projections will leave audiences transfixed, while bold new stunts will see horses jumping over fire and dragging a Roman along the ground at speed.
New features also include an animal croft and blacksmiths for visitors to enjoy before the show begins.
Kynren – An Epic Tale of England was launched in 2016.
Performed every summer on a 7.5-acre stage – the scale of five football pitches – the action-packed production includes magnificent horses and a menagerie of other starring animals, and is played out in front of an 8,000-seat amphitheatre known as the Tribune.
The world class show is brought to life with magnificent sets, mass choreography, combat, stunts, horsemanship, stunning pyrotechnics and amazing special effects, including water jets and state-of-the-art video projections.
Award-winning composer Nathan Stornetta has worked alongside film score master Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, The Dark Knight Rises, Pirates of the Caribbean), and has created Kynren’s epic soundtrack, that evokes drama and excitement.
The dialogue itself features the distinctive tones of Kevin Whately, best known for his roles in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Inspector Morse and Lewis.
Kynren – An Epic Tale of England is produced by Eleven Arches, a registered charity whose objective is to produce a world class historical show, underpinned by a foundation of an innovative and engaging arts, education and community development programme.
Since its opening performance, Kynren is on track to bring half a million visitors to the North East by 2020.
Its visitors come from outside the North East, from all over the UK and all over the world, from the USA to China, from South Africa to the Middle East.
For more information, and show dates, visit www.kynren.com