Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wired Up for Experience

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wired Up for Experience

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sam Wonfor

When the curtain goes up at Live Theatre in Newcastle on Friday night, Paul James will begin to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

It's time for the fifth Live Lines Festival and the director of Live's Youth Theatre says the butterflies still haunt him.

"You would think that after five years I would be more relaxed but it fills me with fear every time," he laughs. "But we could never stop doing them now because the people involved and the audiences enjoy the whole experience too much."

The performances which will fill Friday and Saturday evening will be the result of 11 days of solid and rather hectic work by 80 participants from Live Theatre's education and outreach programmes and will make up two thirds of the festival.

For the past week or so, four varying pieces of theatre - devised by the participants - and five comedy intermissions which will provide a bridge from short play to short play, have been written and frantically rehearsed in the run-up to opening night.

The participants are people from all age groups and backgrounds - representing the wide range of projects and individuals which are involved in the Youth Theatre, Live Wires for the over-50s and the community programmes.

It is this eclectic line-up which is the joy of Live Lines, according to Paul.

"The groups are all used to working with people in their own age range throughout the year and this is the one opportunity we get to mix it up. It's fascinating to watch everyone interacting and learning from each other.

"We give them a few days to get to know one another, then they're straight into working bloody hard for the next week. They literally have to start from scratch and I don't mind admitting it always astounds me how it all comes together in time."

This year's festival is called Crowded. Paul explains: "We try to make each year different. Last year we did a play in a week and this year we've decided to explore ideas about the relationship between the crowd and the individual, which can be very inclusive and also very exclusive at the same time.

"It's amazing to see how much people learn from the Live Lines experience. …

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