Category: Performance

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Poetry Corner

The watermelon

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

When we were young they just went to waste, a bit too exotic for council-estate tastes. From the tropics to the suburbs via Bookless & Co. we loved lifting them up and letting them go, smashing to the ground the sound made us smile, ruby entrails smeared on faces TISWAS style. Sitting on the doorstep […]

Ladyboys of Bangkok at Middlesbrough Theatre

Katie Maughan

The Ladyboys of Bangkok graced Middlesbrough Theatre on 12 July for an exciting night of music and glamour during their Flight of Fantasy 2021 tour. Due to social distancing, the show was split into multiple performances over a few nights. Audiences remained socially distanced and were required to wear masks. It was a different experience […]

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 […]

Dear Gareth

Anne Greaves

Dear Gareth, I’m not a fanatical football fan, I got into it fairly heavily during Euro 1996 and afterwards, then gradually lost interest again, partly because of all the money to be honest and then other things just took over. But every time a big competition comes round you find yourself getting interested again, and […]

Happy birthday North East Bylines!

Scott Hunter

One shrewd editorial policy at the outset set the tone which was that, while those involved in setting up the project shared an interest in politics, Bylines was interested in everything. No boundaries were set on the scope of its content. As a result, Bylines publishes a range of material much more diverse than any regional newspaper: poetry, international affairs, profiles of local sporting legends, it’s all in there.

Boris Shaftoe: a patriotic North East song

Kim Sanderson

Boris Shaftoe’s all at sea Silver shekels promised me; Red wall bribed for all to see Now watch Boris shaft ’em! — CHORUS: Boris Shaftoe’s far from fair, Lies behind his yellow hair, Corona-land for ever mair, Bloody Boris Shaftoe! — Boris Shaftoe’s conscience’s slim, Shame about the rest of him; Population kept in trim, […]

Poetry Corner


Harry Gallagher

‘Sweetheart’, he called me. Clicked his fingers like the snap of something deep inside my head.   And when I got to his side, he asided, Alright darlin’? Smiling slyly at his mates who looked a bit shamefaced.   And he ordered his drinks with his practised leer and dangled a note to pay for […]


Quo vadis

Ursula Troche

I’ve now got Indefinite
Leave to Remain!
What are you
leave or remain?
I mean what do you think
Leaver or Remainer
what’s left, what remains?

The Two Fridas in Ushaw, County Durham

Jane Neville

“We are just bursting with anticipation and excitement with the prospect of bringing The Two Fridas to such a breath-taking array of cultural venues this Summer starting off with Ushaw: Historic House, Chapels & Gardens.”

Poetry Corner


Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Remembered rhymes whispered on winds,
with tradition and superstition skimmed,
Morality forged in iron-aged bones,
where Smithys extract swords from stones.

#WeDemandBetter rally at Grey’s Monument

North East Bylines

“When Brexit is done or undone, we all have to live together and individual friendship and experience will always triumph over politics… I hope.the right wing will always be better at playing the divide and conquer game; we need to trump that with what we’re good at. Friendship.”


This land

Ursula Troche

Here I am, with my sordid status symbol, settled status, now set in my place and this land that isn’t mine   this land is your land, it isn’t my land, in Cumbria and all over the island from the Epping Forest to the North Sea Waters this land wasn’t made for all of us, […]

Poetry Corner

Ribbon of dreams

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Scalloped pink-velvet rises,
Dolby surrounds and amplifies
Widescreen expands,
the trailers begin,
children prattle,
folks shuffle,
couples conjoin in love-seats,
and the stranger in C7 is not alone.

Home Time with Wideyed in County Durham

Julie Ward

Home Time is the collective’s latest community photography project, bringing together images of life in lockdown from across County Durham, captured on disposable cameras by a diverse range of people, some of whom live in care homes. The results of this crowd-sourced project are now being exhibited in large-scale format on exterior walls of public venues. This is nothing if not innovative!


Raiders of the Lost Ark: 40 years on

Phil Coghill

Ford does not play Indiana (or Indy as his friends call him) as an invincible superman. He gets hurt, is physically outmatched by his opponents, and barely gets out of some situations by the skin of his teeth. Indy is also far from a clear-cut hero.

Live Theatre is re-opening in September

Daisy Windsor

“Being able to open our doors again to audiences is a truly emotional moment. Live Theatre is so much more than just a building. It’s a place where people share stories that matter to them and connect with one another. It’s people that make this theatre what it is, and that is why it is so important to be able to get Back to Live.”

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.

Matt Vickers, an exhibition centre and ‘levelling up’

Scott Hunter

The basic idea that this region should take a more active role in the arts is, of course, a good one, but it’s not at all clear whether Matt Vickers has any idea about how to go about doing that. You just can’t help but wonder if the announcement is intended to do something other promote this manifestly unrealistic plan. Perhaps the real intention is simply to promote Matt Vickers.


The beauty pageant: breaking stigma and stereotypes

Jessica Ingham

When you think of beauty pageants you might think of ball gowns, glitz, and glamour. You might think of a competition like ‘Miss World’ in bygone days. You might think of the objectification of women. However, good or bad, the beauty pageant and the beauty queen are still something that are very much alive nowadays.
I recently had the opportunity of interviewing Harriotte Lane, Miss International UK 2019/2020 and it was interesting to hear what she had to say.
Harriotte is the only contestant to have won the crown in three divisions. She is also the only coach to hold this record.
Tell us about yourself?
Harriotte told me that she has been competing in pageants for eight years. It is her sole passion. She is a full time pageant coach and is dedicated to helping others achieve their dreams.
She said: “ I love being a pageant girl and have been blessed with so many opportunities to travel the globe such as the Miss International Global finals which were held in Japan. I have also been to Indonesia and America through the pageant systems alone.”
Let’s talk platforms.
Harriet’s passion is evident.
“My platform centres around pageantry and inspiring others to reach their potential. I wanted to create a community for girls getting into pageantry and support them on their journey where they can grow and learn new things.
“I have had a community for over seven years on my social media and started by doing one off coaching… The Crown Coach was born in 2019… I have really invested into my community and pageants and wanted to bring these together to help others.
What is Crown Camp and how can it help when preparing a pageant?
“Even if you are not taking part in a pageant the experience is so beneficial for everyone/ It caters for people 12+ and is an amazing opportunity to make friends and gain confidence. I have camps for different ages depending on which division for example Teen and Miss.
“The camp is designed to build up your confidence and gain valuable coaching as well as getting to experience and learn what pageants are all about. It is also a way for girls from different pageant systems to learn about each other and prepare without the added stress of the competition. Its sort of like a dress rehearsal before you step on the stage for real.
“Crown camp is a two-night stay in a beautiful mansion, on arrival you receive an amazing goody bag filled with crown coach merchandise. Throughout the experience you also have the opportunity to have a photo shoot with one of the best pageant photographers in the industry, Charlotte Clemmie.
“During the two days stay we also host a Pink Party where it is totally pink themed, and everyone dresses up to match the theme. This year we have even got a pink themed room. We also host a PJ party.”
Tell us about the good and the bad?
“I think when you are starting out the most daunting thing can be the fear of how you are going to be treated and all the preparation that comes with being a contestant.
“I want to put your mind at ease by letting you know pageants are based on sisterhood and empowerment. All the girls are super supportive. You literally make friends for life. You are going to gain confidence, experience and life skills as well as being exposed to amazing opportunities. There is no negativity.
“In my experience the best things about pageants are the opportunities to travel… I have also been able to step into modelling and presenting through being an ambassador for Miss International. I have made lifelong friends and dare say I have a friend in every part of the world. It is truly amazing.
“I have also had some big names sponsor me such as BMW and was given a beautiful car that was branded with my name and title. I was sponsored by Naz, an amazing designer, who has created some of the most beautiful ball gowns that I and other queens have worn.”
Harriotte’s advice is to never give up… Be persistent and follow your dreams. She advises everyone to prepare and research so that they can succeed.
Is it all glitz and glam?
The girls, women and men who compete in these pageants work hard all year-round fundraising, running campaigns, modelling, presenting, creating awareness alongside their normal jobs and hobbies. They demonstrate their dedication and showcase all their achievements while promoting a healthy active lifestyle.
Pageant opportunities
Pageants are broken into divisions and many people can be crowned at the grand finals. These typically include Miss, Mrs, Ms, Little Miss, Miss Pre-Teen and so on. This means individuals of all ages can be given the opportunity to shine and gain sponsorship from celebrities, fashion designers and more.
This also allows people from different backgrounds to come together and compete nationally. Every year someone gets to take home a crown to their hometown or city. This is a tremendous achievement and contestants are often featured in local, regional, and national newspapers; and when the opportunity arises even international. Many queens have gone on to have successful careers in parliament, government, fashion, business and have become role models and ambassadors making a real difference in their community.
Inspiration and empowerment
Many contestants have come from backgrounds where they have been abused or exploited. They can use this as their platform to create awareness and help others who have suffered similar traumas. They are very inspirational people.
There is also a wonderful community that can be found in every pageant system. This means endless support and friendship. Most queens feel as though they create and maintain lifelong friendships and bonds that fill them with confidence. Empowerment is one of the main things someone can take from a pageant.
Pageants for everyone
There are pageants for everyone whether that be tattoo fanatics, plus size, male, and children. There are transgender females who have won competitions too.

Women in a ‘man’s world’
When beauty pageants where first starting, they were traditionally looking for physical attributes from their contestants. At that time women were seen as objects of desire and men had the money to fund these events. As women have broken their silence and gained more responsibility in a ‘mans world’, we have developed careers, businesses and overall, our dreams that were shunned for centuries. We are allowed to be individual and daring and pageants are a clear example of women developing over the past century alone.
In a world where people are developing and working on themselves like never in history, pageants can shape the way for women who are trying to make it in the world. It is a chance to showcase achievements and gain help in any ventures to improve their career and passions. We celebrate change and growth. Pageants are about empowerment, success and beauty with a purpose. ”

Animating Hexham: stories and memories

North East Bylines

Inspired by Hexham’s heritage and funded by Historic England, Animating Hexham aims to discover stories and evoke memories of the town’s high streets and buildings collected by Northumberland Archives and Hexham Libraries to inspire animations and conversations.

Poetry Corner

The Beekeeper

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Together, to gather
whenever the weather
rises seven degrees
the voracious bees
leaze merry the meadow
in glorious glissando.

Poetry Corner

We are each other

Harry Gallagher

We need a brother of the blues; come blow your horn, light a fuse beneath the tinder of our fickle lie-down-and-take-it, ever-so-humble, bowing, scraping days.   We need Sister Rosetta to rasp and wake us better, shake our crumbling foundations, hold us up to a mirror, come deliver us from ourselves.   We need to […]

Poetry Corner

The Durham Dom

Kim Sanderson

One murky morn the Tories went
A-fishing’ in the sewer;
An’ catched a fish upon their heuk,
They thowt leuk’t very queer.

Party city: memorable moments in the Toon

Peter Benson

I enjoyed my scenic walking route to the hotel on the Gateshead quayside close to the Baltic. The shops pubs and restaurants were all busy and everywhere signs of life and vitality were evident. The scenes reminded me of pre- lockdown days.


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.


South Shields singer, Jen Stevens: new single

Yvonne Wancke

Jen Stevens is a talented and perceptive singer and songwriter who has just released a new single, She sleeps, which features poetry by her late mother who died in 2012. Everything about the song, the lyrics and the production testifies to the truth that the ‘folk of Shields’ really are an amazing, special and artistic people.