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Which Floor Please? The Elevator Festival at Live Theatre, Newcastle

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

We are accustomed to a jolly good music festival in the UK; you can’t get through the British summertime without some of the biggest musical artists in the world entertaining our small island. But as the years have gone by, other arts have earned their rightful place in the festival market, especially after Latitude launched in 2006.

Finding one solely devoted to theatre is rare, but their presence is growing somewhat. Take, for instance, what Live Theatre in Newcastle gloriously does with the Elevator Festival. Now in its fifth year, Elevator paves the way for emerging theatre-makers enabling them to present new pieces to live audiences. This works on multiple levels for all involved, with the building feeling alive and full of promise and anticipation.

Nurturing a seed, the bursary allows much-needed exploration and provides the freedom to focus on what matters: creativity. Conversations are made; networks are grown. In their early stages, the pieces of work offer a glimpse of what they could be, with the audience feedback very much valued and welcomed.

Getting Away With It and Dawn

This year, the festival takes place between March 11th and 21st, and sees many new works from North East based writers, all providing variety and freshness. Hoping to tackle real issues and taking a few risks, Ed Edwards’ Getting Away With It takes us back to 1981, where two individuals engage in very different military operations in Belfast and Manchester, posing the question: how are they connected?

Last Seen Bensham Road and Redcoat

A certain generation has a real affinity with the destination Butlins and happily spent summer holidays as kings and queens of the chalet. Lewis Joblin used this inspiration to create the entertaining Redcoat, whereby the rouge entertainer has an off day, telling Barney the Dinosaur to piss off, and what's worse, in front of a group of eager children.

Last Seen Bensham Road is an intriguing one-woman play that tackles the complexities of motherhood, with an added twist. Following the success of her short play Familiar, Sam Neale explores everyday life authentically and deeply for her first full-length play. As savvy working mothers, Sam role shares the part of Tanya with Louise Dearden, hoping that this model can be utilised more for actresses in the industry.

Add to the list Dawn, Snatched, Magic Bus, and Faster Than Bolt, and you have yourself an Elevator Festival. Supporting local talent has never been easier and vital to keep the industry developing in our region. This can also often be the start of something magical: Christina Berriman Dawson, featured last year, became an associate artist, resulting in her piece produced fully. Children of the Night owns its space in Live’s programming and is the talk of the town, showing that small streams make large rivers.

Supporting mothers further, there are two free workshops from Sam Neale and Holly Gallagher focussing on creative writing. All levels are more than welcome, and if babies and children need to come by, that is fine too. They will take place On Wednesday March 11th and Friday 13th at the theatre from 10:30 – 12 pm. Contact the Live Theatre for more details and information about other workshops.

Article by Beverley Knight

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