One of the (many) reasons I was drawn to Northern Stage was its commitment to talent development. Since 2013, Northern Stage has led NORTH – a programme focused on supporting the independent sector in the North East. It has been committed to responding to the needs of the sector, serving the wider ecology and complementing the development opportunities provided by our colleagues in education, independent companies and cultural venues in the region.

Because of this, it – naturally - evolved over time to support resident NORTH companies to create new pieces of work, help actors develop their practice and encouraged local artists to showcase on national and international stages. The programme also provided employment opportunities taking new homegrown work out to the region and beyond as well as bringing our artist community together at NORTH Festival.

It was always planned that, in 2020, we would rethink and redesign our talent development activity for the future and that has become even more necessary after the year we’ve all had. The impact of the pandemic on artists, together with gaining and losing key artistic personnel in the building presents an opportunity for pause.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not still committed to providing talent development opportunities whilst we do that rethinking and redesigning. In fact, talent development is a crucial strand of my first year programme: THIS IS US. Because artists, makers and arts professionals are us too. THIS IS US is for you too.

The 2021 talent development programme is focused on deep listening, opening up our artistic processes through open calls and open processes and connecting local artists with the work we make and the ways we make it.

We started the year with a region-wide online Devoted and Disgruntled about the future of talent development and are following that up with a series of discipline specific
roundtables about what artists need to survive and thrive (writers and producers there is still space for you to join). These conversations, together with the 20 minute So Good to Zoom You conversations I’m having every day for a whole year, help paint the picture and tell the narrative of artistry in the region (there are slots available in August if you want to book). And what a rich, colourful and textured picture it is.

I want to make work for the North East, with the North East and our open call opportunities are essential in helping me deliver on that vision. We met 83 actors during the Open Auditions in May and, so far, have recruited our Sound Designer on ROAD and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice through a North East open call. In fact, it’s been such a pleasure recognising that most of the Creative Team on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice have benefited from previous talent development opportunities at Northern Stage and are now taking their rightful space in Stage 1. Casting calls for performers for ROAD and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice have just closed but you can now apply to be my Assistant Director on ROAD (closing date 30 July).

For ROAD, we’re trialling a new programme called COME IN. During rehearsals, you’ll be able to book a seat in my rehearsal room every Thursday and we’ll be running an open session every day of technical rehearsals. You’ll be hosted by the ROAD Assistant Director who will be on hand to ask questions and share insight into the process.

I want to pull you closer to me and Northern Stage so each show will also have a ticket and workshop offer where you can see the show and engage with the creatives who made the show and spend time in their practice.

I’ll be hosting you for interval drinks as part of INTERVAL – one performance per show where you can book your special Creative Team discounted tickets as usual but also join me for a drink at the interval to talk about the work. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the shows. NE Culture Social – born in the pandemic – will be moving to in person in the near future.

And whilst we do this, we’re thinking about the future, developing directors in the region as part of New Directors NORTH (closing date 12 July), hosting a Resident Assistant Director  for 18 months in a joint residency with Live Theatre and recruiting a new vital role – Artistic Associate (closing date 28 July)– who will join me in making real my vision that Northern Stage is a building informed and transformed by the region so that we are an essential part of everyone’s lives making vital pieces of culture for the Newcastle of today and tomorrow. If you’re excited about what we’ve set out here and you’re hungry for culture to step up then please apply.

This is for you, too.

Natalie x

At a Glance

Closing date for New Directions North 12 July
Closing date for Artistic Associate role 28 July
Closing date for ROAD Assistant Director Applications 30 July
COME IN: access to ROAD rehearsals 9, 16, 23 & 30 Sept
COME IN: access to ROAD tech sessions 4 - 8 Oct
North East Culture Social TBC

Interval Drinks with Natalie

The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff 15 Sept
Road 19 Oct
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice 3 Dec

Workshops with Creative Team

The Young ‘Uns – The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff 17 Sept
Natalie Ibu - Road 12 Oct
Kitchen Zoo – The Three Bears 28 Oct
Maria Crocker – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice 3 Dec