Author: Peter Lathan

Peter Lathan first appeared on stage in a school play at the age of 13 in 1956 when he played Marion in Sean O’Casey’s Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy. He first directed a play – Chekhov’s The Anniversary – in 1966. He has been involved in theatre ever since. He has taught Drama in schools, youth theatres and stage schools, whilst also running drama classes for recovering addicts and adults with severe learning disabilities. He has written more than 35 plays and directed over 70 from site-specific Shakespeare to touring pantos, from new writing to classic plays, from Theatre in Education to corporate productions. He is the author of It’s Behind You: The Story of Panto. He has been, variously, artistic director of theatre company KG Productions (2000 – 2016), chairman of the board of the Wearabout Theatre Company of Sunderland, and a Trustee of the Customs House in South Shields (9 years) and of No Limits Theatre Company, a professional company for adults with a learning disability In 2001 he founded the online British Theatre Guide which he edited for 11 years. He remains its North East editor.

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Covid and me: another two days

Peter Lathan

Day 501, Friday, 16 July, 2021 – Where Has the Time Gone? Look through my Journal entries for the last couple of months and what do you see? My usual ramblings and meanderings? I’ve been a bit more testy than usual, perhaps? Probably. But really, not much different, eh? The mixture as before? TV, writing […]

Research? Can’t be bothered

Peter Lathan

I had this idea for an article for NE Bylines and so I started giving it some thought. After a while, though, I realised it was going to take a lot of research and that I couldn’t be bothered, so I dropped it. That’s one of the benefits of being retired and a pensioner, you […]

The unfinished play in South Shields

Peter Lathan

In 2012 I was asked to direct a revival on my first play ever to get a professional outing (on tour in 1975, no less!), a version of The Mysteries, as a community production for the Customs House in South Shields. It featured amateur actors and choir with a professional production team and we performed […]

JournalPART 4

Covid and me: a year of shielding

Peter Lathan

Day 369, Saturday, 6 March, 2021 : A most unwelcome anniversary of shielding    One year to the day since my self-isolation/shielding/incarceration/call it what you will began. Could anyone in early March 2020 have imagined that we would be in a third lockdown a whole twelve months later? Could anyone have conceived what lockdown would mean for […]

JournalPART 3

Covid and me as 2021 begins

Peter Lathan

Day 305, Friday, 1 January, 2021 : New Year 2021 It was midnight, the last midnight of 2020, and Covid 19, clothed in black drab, mystic, horrible, spoke. “You don’t think I’m going to go quietly, do you? That I’ll just scuttle off before a flurry of fireworks and the singing of Auld Lang Syne? […]

JournalPART 2

Covid and me: Christmas ‘celebration’ and tiers

Peter Lathan

In the North East we, of course, will be in Tier 3, whilst London, whose rates are rising while ours are falling, will be in Tier 2. Of course. Well, we are in the north and London is London and must therefore be better than us. Even if it isn’t.

JournalPART 1

Covid and me: some highs and lows

Peter Lathan

Somebody asked me what are the top three places I would go to once my incarceration is finished. That’s easy. I’d head for the bar at Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle, the bar at Live Theatre, also in Newcastle, and the bar at the Customs House in South Shields. Not for the drink — I’ve got plenty of wine and single malt at home — but for the company and conversation of like-minded theatre-lovers. For I have missed all that so much.

Opinion

What is the point of peas?

Peter Lathan

You may by now have reached the conclusion that I am not a fan of the pea. ‘Tis true, I’m not. A childhood in which tins of Marrowfat Peas were always to be found in the kitchen did not enamour them to me.

Opinion

Writing a diary entry: 3 June 2021

Peter Lathan

You’d have thought that, as it now seems that we are emerging from the abyss of Covid-19 and the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is perceptively brightening, and with the government aiming to loosen all restrictions on 21 June, my mind would be reacting with greater positivity, with a surge of energy, greater hope and optimism.

Social media: an improvement on the letters page?

Peter Lathan

Now, however, we have the internet and the outlets open to them have multiplied enormously, for there are not only comment sections on every news story published by every media outlet but there are groups of all kinds which invite – nay, beg for! – contributions from Joe and Josephine Public

BREAKINGTheatre

Big panto takeover: North East and beyond

Peter Lathan

One of the biggest international producers of Musical Theatre, Crossroads Live which has offices in Los Angeles, London and Sydney, has announced the acquisition of Qdos Pantomimes.

Escape by TV

Peter Lathan

It’s like comfort food, I suppose. It’s safe, doesn’t create any anxiety, and that’s what you want in what are anxious times.

Opinion

Is England racist?

Peter Lathan

Of course it is, and it’s not something new. On the contrary, it goes back a long time. Look at the early 20th century and the common use of that dismissive phrase “Johnny Foreigner” who had better learn his place or we’ll teach him what it is, probably by giving him a good kicking. And […]

Opinion

We talk too much

Peter Lathan

We live in a society in which all opinions are treated as being equally valid, in which ignorance of a subject is thought to be no bar to having an opinion on it, in which facts are what someone chooses to believe rather than something that has objective reality, in which everyone knows everything about everything and believes that everyone else knows nothing about anything.

Theatre

Culture Recovery Fund grants (round 2)

Peter Lathan

Arts Council England has announced 2,272 grants totalling £261,582,823 to arts organisations to help them recover from the ravages of the pandemic. Distribution across England w

Opinion

No more shielding

Peter Lathan

Will the streets, parks and other open spaces be filled with released detainees celebrating their re-acquired freedom, running and singing and dancing in glee? Will there be parties and will joy be unconfined? Will bliss reign and the Kingdom of Heaven appear among the people of England?

North East People

Getting old: the reality

Peter Lathan

Or I’m sitting and suddenly realise that for the last five, ten, fifteen or even more minutes, I haven’t been there. My lungs had continued to inflate and deflate, my heart to beat, my blood to circulate, my stomach acids to carry out their natural alchemy, but I hadn’t been there. No mental activity of any kind. A body functioning but a mind stilled.

The memories that make me me

Peter Lathan

I’m standing below High Force on the River Tees, looking up at the most impressive waterfall in the North of England. It’s in full spate, crashing down both sides. I’ve followed the river down from Cow Green Reservoir, alongside the water as it races down Cauldron Snout, and I’m on my way to Middleton-in-Teesdale. A great riverside walk.

A tale of two cousins

Peter Lathan

In 1989 my Uncle Jack (only known as Jack in Sunderland; it was John down south) died and Alan inherited some family papers which inspired what he described as a “dormant interest” and he set about inquiring into the family history. He searched through parish records, census returns, even visited graveyards and gradually drew together, not just a family tree but details of the lives of our Dent ancestors.

An isolated Christmas

Peter Lathan

t’s going to be seven-ish at the earliest before I’m ready to eat again. I always find Christmas Pudding too heavy, so perhaps a classic Panettone (dried fruit rather than the chocolate variety) would make a good replacement. I had considered making a Panettone bread and butter pudding but I think I’ll have it with custard. Not very Italian, I know, but I love custard and as I’m cooking for me and me alone, custard it shall be!

For your entertainment!

Peter Lathan

The company – five actors and me – met up at 8am, shared themselves between the van and the one car (the producers would only pay expenses for one car) and off we went. By 9am we’re getting the set, costumes, sound system and everything else necessary into the venue, then we fit it all up and at 10am the show goes up. It comes down at 12 noon, when we take down, get out and drive to the next venue, which was Darlington. We get in, fit up, the show goes up at 2pm, comes down at 4pm, when we take down, get out and drive to the third venue, which just happened to be in Prudhoe.

I miss panto

Peter Lathan

It was out of the Harlequinade that pantomime developed, with all the character types we know today – but no Dame! She came into panto from the English tradition of women not being allowed to appear on stage. Her first appearance was not in panto at all but in the Mystery Plays of the 15th and 16th centuries. I always think that the first panto Dame was Mrs Noah from the Noah and the Flood story of The Mysteries.

A writer in Covid times

Peter Lathan

There’s very little happening in theatre – but just wait five minutes for that could change at any time as the government keeps changing its mind, knee-jerking to everything that catches our masters’ attention – so news and reviews are very thin on the ground, and as for writing new plays…