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Actors to perform new play from their own homes

PARTS of a new play are to be performed by a group of Wearside actors – from their own homes!

Back in January – before the first lockdown – Sunderland Culture commissioned north east playwright Scott Young to create a new community play.

Work on the play, Pursuers of the Future, has continued despite the restrictions imposed during the global Covid pandemic.

“We’ve been developing the script and working with our cast of about 20 community actors and now we’re at a stage where we want to share where we’re up to and get some feedback to further shape Scott’s work,” explained Corinne Kilvington, of Theatre Space North East, who is both producing and directing Pursuers of the Future.

“We’ve been working in twos or threes, but on Sunday, October 22 at 7pm we’re putting together sections of the second draft with all of the actors performing from their individual homes and linked online.

“We’re inviting anyone who would like to join us to do so, and would love to hear their feedback – what’s great and what could be improved. That feedback will help inform the last draft of the play,” she added.

The play is based on a mix of myth and folklore, as well as conversations with the people of Sunderland.

“There are two threads to it: there is an intimate portrayal of a Sunderland family, their thoughts and tribulations, and then there is a more epic tale involving the Lambton Worm. It’s about Sunderland’s past, present and future,” said Corinne.

The Sunderland Culture commission was for a playwright to work with local residents and community groups to write a new play based on their hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future of the city. The play’s premiere was to be an outdoor performance in September.

“Obviously we’ve had to work round some pretty tricky restrictions, but we’ve managed and the cast have been great. The company we’ve put together responded to a call-out and is a great mix of people. Sunderland College students are also involved after lecturer Lauren Robinson asked to be involved and we now have some of the college’s HND and A-level students taking part too,” said Corinne.

Corinne ran workshops at the college and at the University of Sunderland: “The workshops helped us get the piece on its feet as there were some areas we just couldn’t do online – for instance when everyone is talking over each other, which is difficult to do virtually.”

The first 16 pages of the script and extracts from later sections of the play will be shared on Sunday, November 22, read live by the community cast.

“This is the first time I’ve worked with Scott, but he’s a talented young writer and it’s been super fun working on this project with him. It’ a great script with some large, Greek-chorus style set pieces and then beautifully observed, intimate family moments.

“Doing this online is going to be nerve-wracking and exciting; terrifying and brilliant, but it’s amazing what technology can do. I’d never even heard of Zoom last year and here we are producing a play on it!” said Corinne

“The tech also gives an audience the opportunity to ask questions, leave comments and feedback on the piece to help us structure the final draft,” she added.

To see the live streaming of sections of Pursuers of the Future, go to Sunderland Culture’s Facebook page on Sunday at 7pm.