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Northern Stage unveils its spring 2022 season

The new season includes Claudia Rankine's The White Card and Caroline Bird's Red Ellen

Natalie Ibu
© Christopher Owens

Artistic Director Natalie Ibu has confirmed plans for Northern Stage's 2022 season.

Highlights for next year include the UK and European premiere of Claudia Rankine's The White Card and the premiere of Caroline Bird's Red Ellen, which was recently shortlisted for the 2021 George Devine Award.

The White Card is set to run from 29 April to 14 May and will be directed by Ibu. The play, which was written in 2019 prior to the murder of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, poses the question: can society progress when whiteness remains invisible? It follows the interactions between a talented Black artist and a rich, privileged white couple.

Ibu commented: "Claudia Rankine is an amazing thinker and writer and, as a Black woman, she has given me a language for my own experiences. The White Card is a really courageous and clever debate/play about the privilege of whiteness and the consuming of black trauma as art. Choosing to direct it feels like a provocation - to this building, this sector, this place. Northern Stage is a place to debate ideas, so I'm delighted that we can introduce an internationally renowned writer to the North East."

Co-produced by Birmingham Rep, Leeds Playhouse and Soho Theatre, in association with HOME Manchester, the production will tour to London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham following its Newcastle run.

Red Ellen will be staged from 25 March to 9 April and directed by Wils Wilson. Bird's new drama shines a spotlight on revolutionary Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson, who played an important role in Churchill's cabinet, led the Jarrow Crusade and fought to rescue Jewish refugees in Nazi Germany.

Bird said: "I've been living with Ellen Wilkinson in my head for about six years now. Ellen was a complex person by anyone's standards and she never stopped, but despite her herculean efforts, she is largely forgotten by history. The irony, of course, about ‘forgotten women of history' is invariably the facts of their lives turn out to be acutely memorable: they're not forgotten because they're forgettable. And I can honestly say, after writing this play, Ellen has done the impossible: she has given me back a glimmer of faith in politics. We need politicians like Ellen... and we also need to look after them, and support them. She failed at so many things, and yet she was a total, stonking, miraculous, life-affirming, bloody wonderful triumph. A bright and particular star. I hope that some of Ellen's light can still reach us all the way down here, and that this play might reignite a spark or two."

The piece is a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse and Royal Lyceum Theatre and is set to tour to Edinburgh, Nottingham and York after its Newcastle premiere.

Other productions in the Northern Stage season include a brand new adaptation of H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic The Invisible Man. Written by Philip Correia and directed by Anna Girvan, the play runs from 1 to 19 February before touring across the North of England. The cast includes Izzy Ions, Jack Fairley, Kate Okello and Daniel Watson.

Lindsay Rodden's new play HERE will be staged from 4 to 12 March in a co-production with Theatre of Sanctuary Curious Monkey and Newcastle University. Set in the Byker estate in the east end of Newcastle, the piece explores notions of "finding sanctuary in the unlikeliest of places."

Visiting productions include Woke by Apphia Campbell and Meredith Yarbrough (10 to 11 February), Nessah Muthy's How To Save The Planet When You're A Young Carer and Broke (18 March), Michele Lee's Rice (1 to 2 April), Samuel Bailey's Sorry you're not a winner (5 to 9 April), Majid Mehdizadeh's Y'MAM (25 to 26 March), and Snatched by Melissa Johns (21 to 22 June).

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