Live theatre returns to Sunderland, South Tyneside and Northumberland - here's the diary dates

Corinne Kilvington of Theatre Space North EastCorinne Kilvington of Theatre Space North East
Corinne Kilvington of Theatre Space North East
It’s been a huge miss on the cultural landscape, but finally live theatre can return as the country eases out of lockdown.

Sunderland-based Theatre Space North East, who’ve built up a strong following over the years thanks to their Shakespeare in the park performances, are the first in the area to announce their return to the stage.

With the help of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), the group will be one of the first to return when they stage a touring production and a regional premiere of a new play.

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Wild East by April de Angelis will be toured throughout the area in a specially-constructed outdoor ‘office pod’ in the play’s first appearance onstage outside of London with dates in Sunderland, South Tyneside and Northumberland later this month.

Rehearsals are underway in SunderlandRehearsals are underway in Sunderland
Rehearsals are underway in Sunderland

Charting the story of Frank and what can only be described as the job interview from hell, the production comes off the back of the company’s well received, socially distanced winter show Hansel & Gretel.

Theatre Space’s £50,000 CRF award will fund three part time positions, working remotely and at the company’s Borough Road base in Sunniside, Sunderland, and will help the company to stage this tour and an additional tour in early 2021, as well as helping to develop more online learning for schools,

youth groups and community organisations, so more people can gain from the magic of live theatre.

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The company’s artistic director Corinne Kilvington has been calling for the government to step in to save the industry that collectively contributes over £100bn to the UK economy every year.

The company will be staging Wild EastThe company will be staging Wild East
The company will be staging Wild East

She said: “The UK’s creative industries are the lifeblood of the nation and it was the talents of creatives that saw the country through the darkest days of lockdown. The Cultural Recovery Fund will hopefully ensure that we protect our most precious cultural assets both here in the region and around the country.

"We fought tooth and nail to bring culture to back Sunderland from the moment we were able to do so safely and this award of £50,000 will help us to continue to innovate, delight audiences and support the wonderful creative industry we have here in the North East.”

Speaking about the latest production, which is aimed at a more adult audience, she said: “We’ve become renowned for our unique take on Shakespeare and our family friendly festive shows, so getting the opportunity to work on April de Angelis’ Wild East, with its dark themes and seriously hard-hitting drama has been a real treat. "

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The tour will take in some quirky outdoor spaces, allowing the return of live theatre before larger indoor venues can reopen.

To comply with strict COVID policies, a limited number of tickets, bookable in household bubbles of six or less are available each night, with stringent protocols introduced for cast and crew to make sure everyone can safely enjoy a much-needed spot of theatre.

The tour will be at The Bike Garden, Newcastle on May 20; St Andrew’s Church, Sunderland on May 21; Gateshead Older People’s Association on May 22; Lambton Park, Durham, on May 26; Moor House Adventure Centre, Houghton, on May 27; Jarrow Hall on May 28 and The Garden Station, Hexham, on May 29. Tickets from

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