Hall sings praise of theatres

An award-winning playwright has praised local facilities such as Blyth’s Phoenix Theatre.

Lee Hall, famous for works such as The Pitmen Painters and Billy Elliot, said they were the ‘lifeblood of the theatrical tradition’.

He was speaking ahead of a return to the south east Northumberland in September with a production of Cooking With Elvis.

He said: “Community theatres are the lifeblood of our theatrical tradition. I think it’s incredible that we have theatres like the Phoenix.

“Theatre should be for everybody. Some of the best evenings I’ve spent have been in community theatres.

“There is a very long tradition of amateur theatre which feeds into our incredible theatrical culture.

“It really is something we should be very proud of. It’s a tradition that’s virtually unique to the British Isles.”

Cooking With Elvis is a comedy based in the North East about an amateur Elvis impersonator who is paralysed in a car crash, from which his wife and daughter are forced to cope with the challenging aftermath.

Hall added: “It’s amazing to me that Cooking With Elvis still works. I think there are lots of reasons. The music, the rudeness and, of course, that it’s funny.

“I grew up in a tradition of popular theatre where the aim was to make ‘a good night out’.

“A good night in my opinion is where you challenge, move, provoke and even shock your audience – but you also entertain them.

“Theatre should be for everybody, but so much theatre only really appeals to a middle class audience.

“I want to make theatre where anybody can come and find something for them.

“I think Cooking With Elvis has loads to entertain people.”

Cooking With Elvis is at The Phoenix Theatre from September 2 to 5.

Contact (01670) 367228 for tickets, priced £12.50 and £11.50 concessions.