The Highlights Rural Touring Scheme has announced its spring season of shows.
From February to June, village halls across Northumberland will throw open their doors to a mixed programme of productions from some of the UK’s best touring companies.
Instead of a long round trip to the theatre, performances will be brought right into the heart of the villages, making sure that rural audiences don’t miss out on great shows.
Audiences can enjoy a wide range of work, including topical plays, anarchic romps, classic works, stand-up poetry, music, dance and children’s shows.
Acclaimed plays from award-winning companies appear alongside new writing and Edinburgh Fringe hits.
Music comes from around the world and down through the decades in what is quite possibly the scheme’s most varied concert menu to date.
For younger audiences there are several delightful and gently educational children’s shows.
And the season draws to a close in June with a performance and residency in Hexham with one of the UK’s premier dance companies, Phoenix Dance.
This season’s theatre productions put women centre stage as the amazing lives of exceptional individuals are explored in three new plays.
Black Is The Colour Of My Voice is inspired by the journey of jazz singer and activist Nina Simone.
Eglantyne puts the spotlight on the visionary life of human rights pioneer and founder of Save the Children Eglantyne Jebb, and Joan and Jimmy tells the fascinating story of ‘the mother of modern theatre’ Joan Littlewood and her partner.
Stand-up poet Kate Fox returns with Where There’s Muck There’s Bras – an inspiring stand-up poetry show that explores true stories of extraordinary women in the North.
And Edinburgh Fringe hit Unmythable is back with an all-female cast.
Other highlights include a brilliant new adaptation of the 19th century Swedish play Miss Julie from Theatre By The Lake, a performance from ‘one of the most entertaining British-based exponents of global music’ She’Koyokh, and a visit from Diyet and The Love Soldiers from Canada’s Yukon Territory.
In all, 27 performances of 17 different shows can be seen in 16 village halls across Northumberland, including for the first time Tarset Village Hall, which will be bringing productions to communities in one of the farthest-flung corners of the county.
Highlights works in partnership with a network of village halls and community venues across Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham to provide professional performances from national touring companies and an annual contemporary craft tour each autumn.
The scheme supports voluntary promoters in more than 70 rural halls.
It extends cultural opportunities to some of the most far-flung parts of the North, with subsidised shows in the village halls offering a social and intimate alternative to traditional arts venues.
Highlights is part of a national network of more than 25 rural touring schemes in England and Wales, under the umbrella of the National Rural Touring Forum.
The scheme is supported and developed in association with the county councils of Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland, South Lakeland District Council, The National Rural Touring Forum and is an NPO client of Arts Council England.
The initiative receives sponsorship from Reeds Printers of Penrith.
For more information about the various productions being staged this coming season, and when and where they will be performed, visit the website www.highlightsnorth.co.uk