Putting the Band Back Together - Northern Stage
Touring is fun and touring is hard. How true the words my colleague and Northern Stage’s Artistic Director, Lorne Campbell, said while accepting the Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre at last year’s UK Theatre Awards.
I’m sure anyone who has experienced the dizzying highs and exhausting lows of touring will agree with him. So why do we do it? Why are my team currently whizzing up and down the east coast on trains between Newcastle and Edinburgh supporting nine artists at this year’s fringe?
For me, seeing artists grow and mature as a result of our support is what makes all the hard work worth it. To witness the development of an artist like Daniel Bye, who first performed in Edinburgh with THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING in 2012, and went on to be a winner of the Scotsman Fringe First Award for GOING VIRAL three years later, has been incredibly rewarding.
Our touring work extends well beyond Edinburgh though, and talent development is an integral part of the work we do. It was the realisation of our fantastically varied work in this field that prompted us to apply for the award in the first place.
Over the course of a year Northern Stage subsidised a venue in Edinburgh and invested in the touring aspirations of independent artists, trained a graduate company of young actors from the north east who created and toured a regional schools production of ANIMAL FARM, and created and toured a mid-scale production of GET CARTER, to venues from Glasgow Citizens to Nuffield Southampton. Small but mighty you might call us.
My team see it all as just another day at the theatre. But I felt it was important, both internally and externally, that what we achieve through touring is recognised as something really quite special. Northerners aren’t always great at shouting about our achievements. So to accept a bit of external validation from industry colleagues for our work has certainly helped us as an organisation take a little more pride in what we do, and to be even more ambitious and adventurous.
The awards themselves were a wonderfully celebratory event that my team and I really enjoyed being part of. When we returned to Newcastle we gathered the whole company together to congratulate them on the win. Literally everyone at Northern Stage, from the Box Office staff to producers to the tech team, contribute to our touring achievements and the award belongs to them.
While everyone is caught up in the busyness of their day-to-day jobs, it’s important to take the time to recognise our achievements, and if you can do so with a glass of champagne, even better.
Submissions are now open for the 2017 UK Theatre Awards. The deadline to submit your nominations is 31 August 2017.
The awards are open to UK Theatre members working in both the commercial and subsidised sectors of the performing arts.
UK Theatre members can submit nomination applications for several award categories, including the Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre.
Find out more here.