Tyne, originally produced as part of Live Theatre’s 40th birthday celebrations will return to the region next year when it will be performed both north and south of the river, at The Customs House in South Shields and Newcastle Theatre Royal in February and March.
Written by Michael Chaplin and presented in partnership with Port of Tyne, the play had a successful sell out run at Live Theatre this June and July and formed a key part of the Festival of the North East. The 2014 version of Tyne is a Live Theatre production in association with Newcastle Theatre Royal and presented in partnership with Port of Tyne. The play will be updated to include references to each of its new venues, both of which have strong links to the trading heritage of the river.
Journeying in time and space along the banks of the river, Tyne maps the epic history, atmosphere and soul of the mighty river in story, music and images. The play dramatises extracts from Michael’s book Tyne View, written as writer-in-residence for the Port of Tyne, woven together with stories from some of the greatest writers of the North East who have collaborated with Live Theatre since it began in 1973, including Tom Hadaway, Julia Darling, Alan Plater and Sid Chaplin.
Tyne also features live music inspired by the river compiled by the show’s musical director, Kathryn Tickell, including from Sting’s most recent album, The Last Ship, songs written by Jimmy Nail and Alex Glasgow. Other traditional folk songs connected to the river adapted and arranged for the play by Kathryn are sung and performed with live musical accompaniment by the cast.
Jim Beirne, Chief Executive of Live Theatre said:
“Tyne was so popular with audiences when it was at Live Theatre this summer we were delighted that we could work in partnership with Newcastle Theatre Royal and Port of Tyne to bring it back next year, and be seen both north and south of the river. We are pleased it will be seen by audiences at the Customs House, right on the edge of the River Tyne itself.“
Michael Chaplin, writer of Tyne said:
"I am delighted by the return of Tyne, a play that occupies a place close to my heart, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing it in two other iconic Tyneside theatres - the magnificent Theatre Royal, and most fittingly, the Customs House in South Shields, a few yards from the river."
Philip Bernays, Chief Executive of Newcastle Theatre Royal said:
“I was quite blown away when I saw Tyne at Live Theatre in the summer; it was both hugely entertaining and delicately powerful, a very enjoyable evening. It is therefore a delight to be building on the long standing friendships and partnerships we have with Live Theatre and welcoming Tyne to the top of the north bank and the Theatre Royal.“
Andrew Moffat, Chief Executive Officer at Port of Tyne, said:
“We are very proud that our writer-in-residence Michael Chaplin produced the book that inspired his brilliant play that so beautifully depicts the life and times of the river, and delighted that we can help give many more people the chance to see it.“
Ray Spencer, Executive Director, The Customs House added:
“I have admired Live Theatre’s work since they toured in an old ambulance with two planks and a passion. So I am delighted to welcome Tyne to the Customs House and its really befitting that Port of Tyne should be making it possible as they have shipping things up and down the Tyne for over 150 years. A perfect partnership which will bring this wonderfully evocative play to a whole new audience.“
The story follows siblings Mark and Kate who trace their father’s story and life along the river’s edge and their encounters with people and tales linked to the river.
The play features stories of real people who live and work along the river that the play’s writer Michael Chaplin met on his walk along the river Tyne in 2011 whilst researching his book Tyne View, which forms the basis of the play. These include Drag Milton (birth name Dragisa Milutinovic) a Serbian refugee who worked for 15 years as a miner at Clara Vale Pit, Phil Lynch the hydrographer for Port of Tyne, Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah and former Live Theatre board member and the ex-deputy vice chancellor of Newcastle University, Paul Younger. Other characters who appear in the play are Josef Korzienowski, a sailor who set sail from the Tyne, and later wrote Heart of Darkness under the name Joseph Conrad, writer Daniel Defoe who wrote Robinson Crusoe in Gateshead and South Shields sailor Albert Edward Edwards who was drowned in an Arctic convoy during the Second World War.
Tyne features many of the original cast from its sell out run at Live Theatre in summer 2013. Confirmed for the 2014 version of Tyne are Paul Dodds who has appeared extensively at the National Theatre and actors Zoe Lambert, Jane Holman, Phil Corbitt and Zita Frith who have all made regular appearances at Live Theatre.
Tyne can be seen at the Customs House, South Shields from Wednesday 26 February to Saturday 1 March 2014, for tickets and information please see www.customshouse.co.uk or ring 0191 454 1234 and at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 4 to Saturday 8 March 2014, for tickets and information please see www.theatreroyal.co.uk or ring 08448 11 21 21.
In 2013 Live Theatre celebrates 40 years of making plays, with its anniversary year supported by Port of Tyne. Live Theatre’s 40th year programme has included many leading actors returning to the Theatre to perform in White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Iranian writer, Nassim Soleimanpour, Live Witness promenade performances around Live Theatre’s buildings, sell out runs of Captain Amazing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Tyne, Wet House by emerging writer Paddy Campbell and Lee Hall’s Cooking with Elvis at Live Theatre and a successful national tour by Bill Kenwright of The Pitmen Painters. For more information on Live Theatre see www.live.org.uk.