A Christmas Carol opens at Northern Stage on 1 December. Everyone knows Scrooge in Dickens’ classic tale of ghosts, greed and goodwill, but a new initiative at Northern Stage is less bah humbug and more the spirit of Christmas.

This week, the whole of Byker Primary School saw a performance of A Christmas Carol as part of Northern Stage’s Pay It Forward initiative which offers tickets, workshop places and bursaries for young people, providing creative, fun experiences for disadvantaged local children and young people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to take part in the arts.

Last year, 800 children attended a free event at Northern Stage thanks to the generosity of local companies in the run up to Christmas.  Northern Stage hopes its new Pay It Forward initiative offering disadvantaged children free places on workshops as well as tickets to shows, will attract even more support from local businesses as well as individuals who want to make a donation this Christmas. 

Theatre can help raise young people’s aspirations, increase confidence and improve self-esteem.  Executive Director Kate Denby explains, “Newcastle is a vibrant centre for culture but, unfortunately, not every young person is able to take part in the activities that are on offer. As a registered charity, Northern Stage needs to raise funds to continue the work we do, especially for children and young people who want to attend workshops, events and shows at the theatre but need extra financial support to do so.  So Pay It Forward is a way for the generosity of local audiences and companies to help more children experience the arts and develop their creative talent.”

Nick Figgis will play Scrooge. Nick grew up in Newcastle and says he has his drama teacher at Heaton Manor School to thank for getting into acting. He has been in War Horse in the West End, Deep Blue Sea at the National Theatre, Dog Boy at Manchester Royal Exchange, and Bouncers at York Theatre Royal. TV includes Casualty, Skins, Byker Grove and Our Friends in the North.  He is also a resident actor with Actors for Human Rights.  Nick said, "Involvement in the arts can enrich our lives.  It can broaden our horizons, expand our imagination and help us to keep dreaming.  It's shocking that in 2018 we still have massive inequality in access to theatre. No child should be excluded from the spaces where we tell stories about who we are, all children should be encouraged to explore their creativity.  I'm so pleased that Northern stage is taking an active role in tackling this problem with help from generous local businesses and members of the public.”

To spark a potentially life-changing journey for a young person, donations can be made online at www.northernstage.co.uk/donate, at the box office – either in person or over the phone, and donations will be collected at performances of A Christmas Carol.