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our leading theatre companies in the North have announced a unique collaboration to support young people to develop their playwriting skills. The project will focus on reaching young people in places that have often been overlooked, inspiring them to explore and reflect on their experience of growing up in their hometowns. The ambition is to create a bold new programme of touring work that represents the hopes, frustrations and imaginations of a diverse group of new writers growing up in the region.

Life in a Northern Town has been created by Northern BroadsidesBarnsley CivicBlackpool Grand Theatre and The Customs House (South Shields) and is supported by Arts Council England.  

Young people aged 14 – 29 will work with their local theatre partners through workshops, a writing residency, peer to peer learning, mentoring and masterclasses. The focus of the programme will be on how the places we live make us who we are and how to transform those experiences into bold, accessible theatre. It will be shaped by Manchester playwright Chris Thorpe, working with each partner venue on the delivery of the programme and acting as mentor and dramaturg.

Life in a Northern Town is free to join.  

Artistic Director and CEO of Northern Broadsides, Laurie Sansom, said:  

“We want to hear what life is like for young people growing up across the north, creating a platform with our partners in Barnsley, Blackpool and South Shields to champion voices from places that perhaps have been overlooked. As a national touring company based in Halifax, we are passionate about how theatre can connect people and hope this programme will result in a bold programme of touring work by a generation of new writers from across the region that reflects how their hometown has shaped them.”

Anthony Baker, CEO at Barnsley Civic, said: 

“We are absolutely thrilled to be part of this exciting collaboration. This project is about sharing the stories of our communities and celebrating life in the North. Everyone’s story is important, especially those of our young people. We believe in the power of theatre to bridge gaps, foster understanding, and pave the way for a more inclusive future and this project gives us the chance to connect, learn, and appreciate each other’s lives. We’re proud to be part of Life in a Northern Town and provide opportunities for young writers to explore and reflect on their experiences and share their stories about life in the North.”

Adam Knight, Chief Executive at Blackpool Grand Theatre, said: 

“We’re delighted to be working with Northern Broadsides and partner venues in Barnsley and South Shields on this exciting and ambitious project. We’re proud to be creating more stories for more people and for opportunities like this to ensure the work presented on our stages is reflective of the diverse experiences of living in Blackpool and Lancashire today. This ground-breaking new project will encourage young writers to give voice to that ambition as we share stories and experiences across the north of England, supported and mentored by established playwrights, and creating new pathways for future talent and the development of main stage work.”

Fiona Martin, Deputy Director at The Customs House, said:  

“The Customs House is honoured to be able to develop the voices of marginalised emerging writers from the North East with Life in a Northern Town. Partnering with Northern Broadsides, Barnsley Civic and Blackpool Grand on a project which elevates aspirations will be so validating for the creatives involved. We’re looking forward to learning and collaborating with our esteemed cultural partners.”

To apply email [email protected]




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