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GIFT Festival Returns Bringing International Theatre to Gateshead

Dates: Friday 3rd - Sunday 5 May 2024 Gateshead, UK

Photo credits: MANUAL by Adam Kinner & Christopher Willes (David Wong), The Talent by Action Hero (Ana Viotti), je suisse or not by Collettivo Treppenwitz / Camilla Parina (Camilla Parina)

GIFT Festival Returns Bringing International Theatre to Gateshead

Dates: Friday 3rd - Sunday 5 May 2024 Gateshead, UK

GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre, North East England's premiere platform for contemporary theatre, returns this May with a vibrant programme of live performances, immersive installations, creative workshops and thought-provoking discussions. This year's festival promises a unique and unforgettable experience across Gateshead town centre and beyond. Experience international artists alongside local talents, forging a truly diverse and enriching experience. As Festival Founder and Director, Kate Craddock shares: 

“This year's festival feels like something of a homecoming. We've been on a remarkable journey since 2020, forging deep connections with a number of incredible artists whose visions are finally coming into fruition in our programme this year. GIFT 2024 isn't just a series of performances; but it's a tapestry woven from shared creative aspirations, creating the space for a temporary festival community to come together. We are the North East’s main platform for international, contemporary and experimental practices – but we're also a catalyst for collaboration, sparking dialogues between artists and audiences from across the North East and beyond. To witness these artistic seeds blossom on our stages, in our streets, and even in people's homes promises an experience unlike any other. This is an invitation to be part of something truly extraordinary."

Programme Announcements 

This Endless Sea by Chloë Smith  

Throughout the festival, audiences are invited to take a walk along the Tyne to Dunston Staiths to experience the beauty and tranquillity of This Endless Sea, a six screen film installation, housed inside a specially designed coastal shelter, exploring grief and the sea. This is an intimate experience for only one or two people (or a small family) at a time, and the work creates space for people to gently reflect on their own experiences of grief and loss. Artist Chloë Smith will be hosting two drop-in Grief Cafes in the lead up to the festival at The Staiths Cafe - an informal space to come together with others and reflect on experiences of grief. More details coming soon.

 je suisse (or not) by Collettivo Treppenwitz / Camilla Parini (Switzerland) Experience a personal tapestry of memories, family and identity with renowned Swiss artist Camilla Parini. je suisse (or not) invites audiences on a one-of-a-kind journey. Through fragmented photographs, playful storytelling, and a surprising polar bear encounter, Camilla explores the complex threads that weave our sense of self. 

Are we defined by our memories? Where do we truly belong? je suisse (or not) delves into these questions with humour, vulnerability and a touch of the fantastical. This intimate exploration takes place multiple times per day and is for one audience member to experience at a time. 

Navis by Ziza Ngabonziza Patrick

This performance is an extract from a new durational piece by Ziza called Navis. In this part of the work, Ziza invites you to engage with the complexity of the body examining its inherent information, including grief, traumas and joy. They encourage you to embark on an inward journey to decontextualise narratives, to identify common patterns from personal yet universal experiences. This exploration aims to help us discover new possibilities and imagine a world where individuals can assert and see themselves, take up space and own their voice. 

Born in Rwanda, Ziza is a contemporary art practitioner currently based in London and Newcastle. Their practice engages with mediums of performance, installation, sound, video, movement and vocal techniques. They create a variety of work that explore various themes related to their ever-changing world around them. 

MANUAL by Adam Kinner & Christopher Willes Following a residency with GIFT in October 2023, Adam Kinner and Christopher Willes return to Gateshead to present their immersive performance experience for one audience member at a time - MANUAL.

MANUAL is a performance that takes place in a public library, during library open hours - and for GIFT this will be presented at Gateshead Central Library and the Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library. The clandestine performance uses the act of listening and reading together in public to stage a surprisingly intimate and immersive experience, transforming the library into a place of heightened awareness and connection.

Montreal based Adam and Christopher will work with a local performer in the lead up to the festival, weaving them into the work as a third performer.

Evening performances Each night of the festival, audiences will be invited to the stunning setting of  Caedmon Hall at Gateshead Central Library for a different performance each night presented by some of the most exciting artists working in contemporary theatre today. All of the artists in the evening programme are no stranger to GIFT, having been part of previous festivals, and generated a fan base with GIFT audiences over a number of years.

In Floods by Greg Wohead

On Friday 3rd May, Greg Wohead presents In Floods, a new show that takes the form of a live screenplay reading in which Greg fictionalises himself. Drawing from an interest in the act of crying and his experience returning to rural America for his grandparents’ back-to-back funerals, he leans into TV tropes, plays fast and loose with the truth and deals recklessly with his memories.

With In Floods, Greg asks himself: can you go home again and who are you when you get there? What makes us, breaks us or sustains us as life gets more and more absurd? The responses to these questions play out through blinding light, total darkness, wild anecdotes, out of body experiences and lumps in the throat.

The Talent by Action Hero On Saturday 4th May, Action Hero returns to GIFT with their must-see award winning show The Talent, which questions the nature of reality and the legacy we leave behind.Imagine: A woman, alone in a small sound booth, her voice weaving a tapestry of characters, emotions and worlds. She is a voice over artist. She is a chameleon, morphing into anything the audience desires – from computer game characters to a soothing meditation guide. But who is she truly? And what dark secrets lurk beneath the surface of her vocal talents? Is she a powerful creator, shaping narratives with her voice? Or is she a puppet, controlled by the unseen forces that demand her talents? 

The Talent is a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition, asking us to consider the value of our voices and the stories we choose to tell.

The Beginning by Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas

Bert & Nasi return to GIFT on Sunday 5th May with their new performance The Beginning. In The Beginning, Bert and Nasi dance beginnings, attempting to find the right way for them to start. Some last a long time, some a second. They move in relation to the audience, each other and a chorus of 15 older participants who are watching them begin over and over again. 

If you are aged over 60 and are interested in taking part in workshops and getting involved as a participant performer in The Beginning, please email

Workshops and Panel Discussions Learn new skills and deepen your understanding of contemporary performance  approaches through participatory workshops led by established artists including a workshop exploring movement direction for theatre with renowned choreographer Sung Im Her (South Korea). 

Moving Cloud for theatre makers  - a movement direction workshop with Sung Im Her

In Moving Cloud (for theatre), Sung Im will share their own approach to movement direction -  working from personal movement research related with text, they will explore how to develop movement with character, how to develop different dynamics with text, and ask how does a character move?

Sung Im Her’s approach to movement is playful and open. The class also involves working in pairs with touch, resistance and dialogue to give feedback into the body and offer different choices of response.

Sung Im Her (Seoul, South-Korea, 1976) studied contemporary dance at Hansung University (KR) as well as P.A.R.T.S. (BE), the acclaimed contemporary dance school led by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. As a performer, Sung Im Her worked in the UK, Korea, Belgium, France and Germany with Jan Fabre/Troubleyn, Les Ballets C de la B, Alias, Needcompany, and Abattoir Fermé. As a choreographer, she created her own (sometimes collaborative) dance pieces in the UK, Belgium, Germany and Korea, among which ‘Philia’, ‘En-trance’, ‘Tuning’, ‘You Are Okay!’, ‘Nutcrusher’, ‘W.A.Y (We Are You)’, ‘W.A.Y (re-work)’, ‘The I of the beholder’ and ‘Time in Between Time’. Currently, Sung Im Her lives and works in London (UK), creating new work at the crossroads of contemporary dance, (physical) theatre and performance. Little GIFT

2024 sees the return of Little GIFT - the strand of GIFT that focuses on our youngest audiences. This year’s Little GIFT welcomes artists Scott Turnbull and Tessa Parr to Gateshead for a Teeny Tiny Cinema workshop. Combining felt tip pens, puppetry, and storytelling- Teeny Tiny Cinema invites family groups to work in pairs to create their own teeny-tiny scenes from teeny tiny films on a not so teeny tiny overhead projector. Recommended for those aged 7+ and their families. Beatmotion Practice Workshop with Akeim Toussaint Buck

Join Akeim Toussaint Buck in sharing his Beatmotion Practice, an approach of improvisation and play using voice/vocality and movement. A simple and sophisticated, fun tool for choreography and character exploration. We invite an array of people with little to no experience or/and professional level to come play with us in this visceral approach of making and expressing. Bringing movement improvisation and vocal improvisation together to challenge and innovate current modalities of performance art. Deconstructing words into syllabic forms, creating improv compositions with vocal scores and seeking a deeper understanding of movement dynamics whilst communicating with vocal sound. This leads into creating accompaniment and sound effects for our dance, learning the: motor, counter, interlocker game and more. Inviting an acute listening and connecting with fellow performers to create orchestral musicality in both our dance and sound, unearthing new dynamics to play with.

Akeim Toussaint Buck is a multifaceted performer and maker, born in Jamaica and raised in England. Graduating from Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 2014, Toussaint Buck has been involved in many cross disciplinary projects working with a range of artists and communities from around the world. His focus as a maker is to combine expressive skills such as: dance, poetry, beat-box, singing and acting to deliver experiences that move people. The work aims to challenge, enlighten and entertain the spectator and participant. Audiences are not just observers; they are implicit in the experience.

Panel Discussions

Throughout the festival there will be opportunities to hear from programmed artists in a series of panel discussions and conversations.

Contemporary Choreographers in Conversation - moving beyond the moves

With Sung Im Her, Akeim Toussaint Buck and Ziza Ngabonziza Patrick

This panel discussion will bring together an extraordinary group of artists/choreographers who are all involved in GIFT 2024 in a conversation about the expansive nature of their practice - working beyond choreography and dance - to hear how they are embracing interdisciplinarity and other disciplines in their practice.

Going it alone - Making performance for one audience member at a time

Join the artists behind Manual and Je Suisse (or not) for an insightful conversation into the creative decisions and approaches they each adopt when creating performance work for one audience member at a time.


Local choreographer Gillie Kleiman will offer a conversation about their performance work friend, a performance for local, non-professional dancers to present in their own homes to an audience of only their own friends. Gillie is currently collaborating with 5 Gateshead residents to develop this playful and intimate performance, and this will be a chance to hear from Gillie and some of the participants involved about their experiences.


Experience the festival your way with multiple ticketing options including a festival pass, giving you access to all festival events, a ‘Pay What You Decide’ option and free, live-streamed panel discussions. 

Festival tickets options: 

  • GIFT Festival Pass: Enjoy access to all events for £50 (limited number of earlybird £40 passes available in March). 

  • Individual performance tickets: Range from £12 to £8.

  • Workshops: £5 each.

  • Free panel discussions: streamed live online.

  • Pay What You Decide option: available for all events.

This is just a taste of this year’s GIFT with more programme announcements to follow thourghout March along with tickets going on sale!

@GIFTfestival #GIFTfestival 



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