GIFT returns between 28th-30th April 2017, featuring a variety of performances, workshops and discussions from some of the most exciting theatre makers from across the UK and Europe. GIFT celebrates contemporary theatre and provides a fantastic opportunity for audiences to see international performances that they would not see anywhere else in the region.
Priding itself as the North East’s only dedicated contemporary theatre festival, GIFT 2017 will showcase performances from nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. GIFT was first established in 2011 to provide a platform for work which is not normally programmed in the region, and to offer professional development for contemporary theatre makers.
GIFT serves as a creative and cultural response to the on-going redevelopment of Gateshead, with activities connecting the regenerated Gateshead Quayside with the more commercially redeveloped town centre. With 3 days of activities spread across Gateshead, GIFT 2017 crosses cultural and interdisciplinary boundaries, with performances spanning gig-theatre, contemporary dance, live art, cabaret, site-specific performance and physical theatre.
GIFT will include performances, workshops, parties and opportunities for discussion and debate, giving artists a chance to showcase their own work within an international theatre festival context. GIFT 2017 performance highlights include the UK premiere of Possibilities that Disappear before a Landscape by El Conde de Torrefiel from Barcelona who are one of the most innovative companies to be emerging from Spain in recent years. Glasgow’s Julia Taudevin described as ‘one of the most exciting forces in Scottish theatre’ will present her widely acclaimed guerilla gig-theatre show Blow Off described as ‘a dynamite hour of sexual politics’ (Guardian). To close the festival this year, GIFT has teamed up with BE Festival (Birmingham) to host the Best of BE FESTIVAL tour which will feature 3 award winning shows by artists from Switzerland, Italy and Germany.
GIFT was originally founded in response to a gap in experimental and international performance programming in the region. Organisers and participants see it as an important opportunity to bring high quality cultural activity to the area and to offer a showcase for North East artists. GIFT takes place in unexpected locations and venues in and around Gateshead including Caedmon Hall at Gateshead Central Library, St. Mary’s Heritage Centre, The Central, Prohibition Bar, and as a first for GIFT, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
GIFTed: GIFTed is the strand of GIFT that celebrates the work of students and recent graduates within the main festival programme, and offers networking and professional development opportunities for its participants. This year there will be a special GIFTed late night ‘lip-synch’ cabaret at The Central featuring several new performers from Northumbria University, hosted by Bonnie and the Bonnettes, a theatre company formed by a group of Northumbria University’s MA Theatre and Performance students.
Little GIFT is the strand of GIFT that reaches out to the very youngest of audiences, and this year GIFT has joined forces with North East early years innovators Chalk to create NOISE LAB, a pop-up experimental noise making space at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. At Noise Lab young children and their grown ups will play with innovative musical instruments and sound making devices to create amazing soundscapes that will be recorded and mixed by a sound artist.
Get involved at GIFT: As well as workshops and networking opportunities, there will be a free lunchtime discussion each day of the festival held at Prohibition Bar. These conversations will offer an opportunity to hear from some of the programmed artists, as well as hear about other initiatives from across the UK including Yorkshire’s Stand and Be Counted Theatre Company who will offer a performative talk about how performance work can do more to engage and support asylum seekers and refugees locally and nationally (Sunday 30th, 1pm).
Festival Director Kate Craddock said: “GIFT offers a unique opportunity for artists and audiences to come together in a festival environment, where a real sense of community is formed over the 3 days. Since GIFT was founded in 2011, I have seen so many new opportunities and networks open up for the participating artists, and I have seen audiences more willing to take risks with the theatre they go and see. It is such a joy being able to bring such amazing contemporary theatre makers from across the UK and Europe and to programme these artists alongside emerging North East theatre makers, and then to see how they come together through the festival.”