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One week to go- a digital, lockdown celebration of global contemporary theatre and performance

Press release

Contact: Kate Redway, /07984 450 765



One week to go- a digital, lockdown celebration of global contemporary theatre and performance not to be missed.

The digitally reimagined edition of this year’s Gateshead International Festival of Theatre, (GIFT) kicks off in one week’s time, from Friday 1- Sunday 3 May, with a packed programme of theatre, performance and interactive events from top global artists.

Audiences can tune in, from their own homes, to three days of UK and world premiere shows and performances, creative workshop collaborations, fun family activities and stimulating talks and debates on pressing modern day issues.

(L-R: Luca Rutherford, credit Luke Waddington, and Sophie Woolley, credit Helen Murray)

With new works created especially for GIFT’s lockdown festival edition, the international artist line-up includes Jonathan Burrows, Matteo Fargion, Wendy Houstoun,Tania El Khoury, Sophie Woolley, Greg Wohead, Jamal Gerald, Atresbandes, with Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas, Action Hero and Oliver Zahn. The artist-led festival aims to connect self-isolating audiences and artists, celebrate contemporary art and performance, and provide a welcoming creative space for anyone keen to join in with the weekend’s activities.

Replicating a physical festival-feel, shows are streamed live; audiences can share ideas and views in open events and meet and relax in virtual social gatherings, including a post-show cocktail party. Artists will be creating pieces, solving performance practice problems and building networks, as usual, in intimate digital workshops. All events take place on and audiences can save a seat by booking digital tickets, with a Pay What You Decide, Just Giving donation to support the festival.

GIFT Festival Director, Kate Craddock, said:

Artists have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes, in these unprecedented circumstances, to create and present one-off shows and events that will capture imaginations, fire-up creativity and give global audiences a brief moment in time to share emotions and conversations and not feel our social distance so acutely.

“There’s a bit of something for everyone in the programme, from late night dazzlers of shows and post-show chats, to early morning thinking sessions, downloadable pieces that can be enjoyed in bite-sized moments of peace and exercise, and energetic family activities to keep kids busy long enough for parents to grab a well deserved cuppa.We hope you can join us from home this year, to make important creative memories that will last well beyond this pandemic.”

Newly announced highlights of GIFT’s digital, lockdown edition include:

  • The world premiere of German theatre-maker, Oliver Zahn’s, digital work, IN PRAISE OF FORGETTING: PART 2 which uses a vast ethnographic sound archive to document the period after WWII, when Germany lost the vast eastern european territories it had colonized over several hundred years and millions of German refugees had to be integrated into West- and East German society. This innovative piece by the returning GIFT artist, supported by the Goethe-Institut London, examines the promises and pitfalls of techniques and practices of social forgetting, using a period of history largely expelled from national memory as a starting point (Sunday 3 May, 9pm).

  • A new funny, solo show by artist Sophie WoolleyAugmented, sharing her personal story about the joy and conflict of becoming ‘hearing’ again after 22 years of progressive deafness. Exploring the impact of her ‘activation’ on her sense of self and closest relationships, the subtitled piece considers the transformative power of technology and whether Sophie’s experience can be a blueprint for the future of humanity? (Saturday 2 May, 4pm).

  • Jamal Gerald’s festival-closing Idol, a Sunday night instagram intervention featuring extracts and music from his daring and unapologetic examination of religion, pop culture and Black representation. Get your incense lit and hands cleansed with this late night ritualistic piece (Sunday 3 May, 10pm, hosted from artist instagram accounts- starting on @jamiboii and moving to @parisselektra).

  • For audiences who aren’t able to sit down to watch events live, a UK premiere available to download in bite-sized portions over the weekend is The North Sea: A (radio) play in three pints, which unravels a couple’s love affair- from first clumsy pub encounter to a magical and surprising meeting decades later. This collaboration between Norwegian writer Nick Hegreberg and a stellar team of creatives from North East England is performed by local actors Brian Lonsdale and Karen Traynor, directed by Northern Stage Associate Director Mark Calvert, with sound design by Nick John Williams. Audiences are encouraged to listen to a new episode (or pint) each day of the festival, for the full, pub-feel experience.

  • GIFTed Conversation: A lively facilitated session hosted by Newcastle-based artist Rosa Postlethwaite, which invites university students and recent graduates to come together to share thoughts and experiences of this year’s GIFT programme and festival. An open and welcoming opportunity to make new connections, exchange ideas and share solutions to performance practice challenges, GIFTed is the yearly festival strand that specifically supports students and new graduates (Sunday 3 May, 5pm).

Night-time shows worth staying up for include Friday’s headliner, the UK online premiere of a collaboration between Catalan company ATRESBANDES and duo Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas, IT DON’T WORRY ME, a funny, spiralling interrogation of the tension between art and political correctness (Friday 1 May, 8pm). This is followed by Saturday night show Elision, where Icelandic artist Gudrun Soley Sigurdardottir recreates a tropical scene for the senses, with full audience participation, in an exploration of national identity and how to stay warm, journeying across autobiography, pop culture and ice in its many forms (Saturday 2 May, 7pm).

In innovative durational pieces, presented over an endurance-testing series of hours, Greg Wohead and three other UK-based artists, will improvise a performance from sunrise to sunset in their respective homes, entitled Crack of Dawn (Saturday 2 May, from 5.30am to 8.26pm) and artists Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse of Action Hero will present a deep listening music experience RadiOh Europa. This is a 24 hour, live pan-European broadcast of strangers voices singing about love, desire, heartbreak, hope and longing (Saturday 2 May, 9pm until Sunday 3 May, 9pm).

GIFT’s digital edition also includes a Little GIFT House Party, which invites families and children to enjoy hours of fun games and challenges, at their own pace, from home. Run by family-focused company Chalk, activities include crafting workshops, a catwalk show, and a PAN-DEMIC band, all using only handy household items.

For full GIFT 2020 event listings, please visit here and join in all the GIFT conversation @GIFTfest.

Festival launch press release, here.


Notes to editor:

About GIFT:

Founded by Kate Craddock, GIFT was first established in 2011 to provide a platform for performance work which is not normally programmed in the region, and to offer professional development for contemporary theatre makers. GIFT serves as a creative and cultural response to the ongoing redevelopment of Gateshead, with activities connecting the regenerated Gateshead Quayside with the more commercially redeveloped town centre. It is the only festival dedicated to contemporary theatre in the North East. Organisers and participants see it as an important opportunity to bring high quality cultural activity to the area and to offer a showcase for North East artists.



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