Stage to screen

AT the height of the Arab Spring last year, a theatre team of six from North Tyneside travelled to the Middle East to live and work with young Palestinian refugees in a Beirut refugee camp.

The result was the production of a play, Croak, the King and a Change in the Weather about the downfall of a ruling tyrant.

The play – a fable – opened to critical acclaim in Theatre Monnot, Beirut, and struck a chord with its Arab audiences before its Palestinian cast travelled to the UK to give ten performances in four theatres in three separate cities.

One venue was The Saville Exchange, North Shields.

The story of that remarkable project, from first rehearsals in the Shatila camp, through the play’s production, and its 3,000-mile journey, is told in a documentary film, Shatila Theatre to be shown at The Sage Gateshead, on Monday (March 5) at 7.45pm.

Made by Primate Productions of Whitley Bay, the documentary was nominated for the recent Royal Television Society Northern Awards.

“It is a film about a cultural triumph against the odds, about a piece of theatre in many ways mirroring the Middle East’s current seismic events, and about young people normally forgotten in the squalor of a refugee camp, allowed to show their creative potential,” said the play’s author Peter Mortimer.

Also on the programme is the live show, I Married the Angel of the North, a fusion of contemporary north east poetry dance and music, commissioned by Theatre Monnot as a curtain raiser for the Palestinian play, and performed by Peter Mortimer and the Cullercoats duo The Creels.

The piece has never been seen outside Lebanon.

This year two North Tyneside Street artists, Faye Oliver and Anthony Downie, will be working with the young people of Shatila, decorating both the Beirut camp, but later parts of central Whitley Bay.

Tickets for Monday’s event are £10 and £8 on (0191) 443 4661 or online at