Four plays in one go as theatre company returns

Northumberland Touring Theatre production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring  Nigel Collins and Eleanor Dennison.
Northumberland Touring Theatre production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring Nigel Collins and Eleanor Dennison.

Audiences can be entertained by four plays in one night in the latest production at Morpeth Town Hall.

Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) will take over the town centre venue on Saturday to present 4 Thoughts, Myth, Music, Mayhem and Mirth.

The show features four very different plays by new Northern writers.

NTC Tour Manager Hilary Burns said: “Our forthcoming production features the work of four new writers and will be performed by six actors, portraying life in all its guises.

“It is a great evening’s entertainment — a roller-coaster ride of emotions and laughter.”

The company has been going for 35 years, performing in village and town halls, community centres and pubs across Northumberland and Durham, as well as taking productions on the road to venues as far afield as Wick in the north of Scotland and Warwickshire.

It is the eighth successive year the group will have performed in Morpeth, thanks to support from the Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT).

Ms Burns said: “Our philosophy is to take theatre to places where local people rarely get the chance to enjoy a love show on their own doorsteps.

“The reward is when people come up to us at the end of a show, like one farmer did recently, and said it was the first time he had been to a live theatre production. He said he had enjoyed the experience so much that he could not believe he had not done so before.

“Because of cutbacks in funding and grants, it is a struggle to continue doing what we do so the support we have received over the years from the Greater Morpeth Development Trust in enabling us to stage productions in Morpeth has been greatly appreciated.”

The trust is hoping for a full house for the latest production to help demonstrate public support for Morpeth to have a dedicated arts and cultural venue.

As reported by the Herald last week, the trust is facilitating a HeART of Morpeth study, in partnership with Morpeth Town Council, the Friends of Morpeth Museum and the Queen’s Hall Hexham, to explore the potential for a heritage and arts centre.

A consultant is due to be appointed to look into the options, feasibility and finances for providing a theatre, museum, workspace facilities, meeting, conference and lecture rooms, a cafe, bar, shop, and exhibition space in a dedicated venue in or close to the town centre.

GMDT Arts and Cultural Director Frank Rescigno said that live theatre productions by both professional and amateur groups would be a key use for such a facility, with hopes that it would accommodate audiences of up to 250 people.

He said: “If the idea is to get off the ground, we would have to demonstrate that there is support and a demand for such a venue, and audiences coming along to support events already taking place in the town, such as this NTC production, would help us do that.

“It is very important that local people continue to support these performances, as well as other cultural events, so that we are able to go on bringing professional theatre to Morpeth. The support we get will be a vital part in determining the viability of an arts and cultural centre in Morpeth.

“We are looking for a good audience because we want to show how important live theatre is to Morpeth.”

The NTC show takes place at the Town Hall on Saturday, at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £8, available in advance from Morpeth Chantry Tourist Information Centre, or on the door on the night.