Inspired by a book by William Feaver, the play brings to life the rather wonderful, true and yet little-known story of The Ashington Group – miners from Northumberland who became celebrated painters.
The tale tells of how in 1934, the group hired a professor to teach an art appreciation class in the evenings. Under the guidance of their inspiring and intuitive teacher, the pitmen rapidly abandoned theory in favour of practice and began to paint. Within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collections; but every day they worked, as before, down the mine.
This is a thought-provoking drama which takes a humorous, deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics.
The Pitmen Painters was named Best Play at the 2008 Evening Standard Awards, and has been met with rapturous reviews. It is a co-production between Live Theatre Newcastle and the National Theatre, with direction by Max Roberts, design by Gary McCann, lighting by Douglas Kuhrt and sound by Martin Hodgson.
Lee Hall rose to fame when he wrote the screenplay for Billy Elliot and adapted it for the West End in 2005, winning an Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Billy Elliot opened on Broadway in November 2008. His plays also include Spoonface Steinberg, Cooking with Elvis and an adaptation of Herman Heijerman’s The Good Hope for the National Theatre.
The production features a number of actors from the worlds of stage, small screen and film, but nearly all have some association with the North East – in particular local boy David Whitaker, now one of the region’s leading actors, and Lisa McGrillis, who regularly performs with The Suggestibles comedy group.
Tickets are priced £8.50 - £27.00 and can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or online at theatreroyal.co.uk but availability is limited.