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GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre

International Festival returns to Gateshead

'The Gymnast' at GIFT 2011 (image courtesy of Richard Kenworthy)
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GIFT is a new annual international theatre festival that takes place in and around Gateshead town centre. It was founded in 2011 by Festival Director Kate Craddock, who lectures in Performing Arts at Northumbria University. The first GIFT ran as a pilot event over a May bank holiday weekend, and the next GIFT is planned to take place between 4 and 6 May 2012.

GIFT provides a host of opportunities for students to get involved in the festival as volunteers, performers, artist hosts and much more. Last year’s event involved many students and graduates from Performing Arts at Northumbria University.

We spoke to Kate about her ambition for the project and she told us, “Following the success of the pilot, the plan is to grow GIFT into a festival of international significance and plans are already underway to realise this ambition. For GIFT 2012, there will be performances by companies from as far away as Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Ireland and from various corners of the UK. Alongside the programme of performances, there will be a series of workshops and discussions to get involved in and students will be very much involved in both the planning and event itself.”

One of those involved last year was David Tute, a graduate from Performing Arts and a member of the School of Arts and Social Sciences Graduate fellowship scheme, David commented, “GIFT was a pleasure to be part of, and this was all down to the warmth and camaraderie of the people involved. It was a delight to see so many ‘creatives’ giving so much enthusiasm and love into a special weekend of collective performance work. And here’s to more of the same in the coming years!”

The wheels are already in motion for this year’s festival. Before the main GIFT event in May there will be two GIFT events taking place in and around the region. In February Kate will be bringing together some of the most exciting performance makers from across the region for an evening of new work at Northern Stage; and in March, the artist a smith will be performing his one man show all that is solid melts into air at Live Theatre as he is working towards the launch of his new show Commonwealth for GIFT 2012.

Student engagement with the community through events such as this develops skills in their professional practice and employability which are key themes in Northumbria’s curriculum. With this in mind there is also a dedicated new educational strand of GIFT, called GIFTed which will bring together current students and recent graduates working in contemporary performance, from University courses across the country and internationally.

GIFTed will showcase six new productions from current students or recent graduates alongside the main festival programme of work. It will offer a series of workshops and discussions with established artists and practitioners in the field and will bring together postgraduate students from across the country in a GIFTed symposium, provoking ideas and discussions around notions of ‘Gift’ within contemporary performance practice.

This will showcase the breadth of work created from performance degrees and aims to cultivate intercultural relations and offer space for conversations across language barriers. It also aims to provide opportunity for networking and professional development for the GIFTed participants within the professional and broader context of GIFT.

For more information on all of these events and opportunities, visit www.giftfestival.co.uk

For more information on Performing Arts courses please visit www.northumbria.ac.uk/courses

Date posted: February 15, 2012

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