Good Venue Guide 34: NEWCASTLE PLAYHOUSE

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Date of birth: 1970.

Brief history: vague, even to its press officers who, despite working in the building, seem to know very little about it. A gift of pounds 100,000 from an anonymous donor to Newcastle University provided the foundations for the Playhouse project in 1962. Architect William Whitfield suggested the funds be used to build a unit for experimental theatre at the University and in 1969, planning permission was given. The theatre was completed using additional private funds and officially opened with a production of Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair on 28 November 1970. The theatre then began a tumultuous period of different managers, closures, sit-ins, upheavals, and tussles with the University over funds. It was rescued in 1992 by the Northern Stage Company's Artistic Director Alan Lyddiard.

The building: won the Civic Award for Architecture in 1972. But the Playhouse has since suffered from a lack of rehearsal space, no workshop space, poor disabled access and crumbling facilities. Financial wranglings between the Playhouse and its landlord, the University, have continued to force the Northern Stage to consider other venues.

Identity: cross-fertilisation of local and international performance; home to the Northern Stage, whose productions premiere here before touring. The company also brings the best new contemporary performance from around the world to the Playhouse: Peter Brook, Ninagawa, Alain Platel and Robert Lepage have all appeared here.

Current events: Lorca Fiesta! Expect flamenco, theatre, poetry, tapas, films, music, parties and passion. Tickets pounds 6-pounds 8. All bookings on 0191 230 5151.

Recommended seats: Middle of the fifth row. Most first nights have a two tickets for the price of one.

Getting there: 200 yards north of the Haymarket Metro station.

Where to meet: Foyer bar.

Cost of a glass of wine: pounds 1.50.

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