The historic Old Well Theatre is being readied for a performance of Lee Hall’s drama The Pitmen Painters in September.
And directors Jim McConnell and Norma Fears are waiting to hear from those eager to tread the boards for the first time in over a year.
Auditions and readings will be held via Zoom and scripts can be posted out to interested thespians.
Norma explained that the play tells the true story of a group of miners in the north east of England in the 1930s.
She said: “Eager to further their knowledge under the guidance of the Workers’ Educational Association (they had already completed Evolutionary Biology), and unable to find a tutor for Economics they engaged a tutor, Robert Lyon, to teach them about Art Appreciation.”
And in Robert Lyon’s words: “It was perfectly clear that these men had decided views on what they did not want the class to be.
“They did not want to be told what was the correct thing to look for in a work of art but to see for themselves why this should be correct; in other words, they wanted a way, if possible, of seeing for themselves.”
And Norma added: “So began a unique and revolutionary experiment in learning to appreciate art by “doing art”.
“It led to national and international recognition, visits by famous artists of the day, articles in The Listener and on BBC radio.
“Throughout, the men remained miners.
“This powerful, poignant and humorous play takes us on that journey.”
The live action on stage will be accompanied by images of the group’s work, classical artwork and scenes from the time which will be projected above the actors throughout the play.
Characters include: George Brown – colliery joiner and a union man;
Oliver Kilbourn – perhaps the most gifted of the Ashington Group;
Jimmy Floyd – a miner and a member of the group; Young Lad – fictional character, unemployed and a reminder of the time the play is set; Harry Wilson – group member, World War I survivor, a socialist, dental mechanic; Robert Lyon – their teacher; Susan Parks – fictional character, hopeful artist; Helen Sutherland – wealthy art collector and friend to the group; and Ben Nicholson – a struggling artist at the time of the play.
Anyone interested but perhaps worried about getting involved in covid times is urged to contact either Jim on 07980460168 or 01683 220799 or email [email protected], or Norma on 07804656167 or 01683 220367 or email [email protected]