The Cinder Path performance workshop in South Shields

Sunday 19 April 2015

After many weeks of writing, and meetings with director and producer Jackie Fielding and Gareth Hunter, today we presented a script-in-hand workshop of the latest draft of The Cinder Path.

An invited audience came to the Seafarers Mission building, on the South Shields docks, to see eight actors (including myself) bring to life some of the scenes from the play, and then give feedback afterwards.

Emily Craig, for the Northern Echo, writes:

THE fascinating journey to bring The Cinder Path by South Shields’ Dame Catherine Cookson to the stage has begun.

Founder and artistic director of Ion Productions Gareth Hunter is bringing a decade of experience to bear on the latest, and first, cast to venture down the stage route to re-visit the tale of 1978 tale of young farmer’s boy Charlie MacFell, who is under the thumb of his controlling father. When something terrible happens to Charlie’s father, he is forced to keep a dark secret to save a friendship. The young man is destined to marry another farmer’s daughter, Victoria Chapman, but her younger sister, Nellie, is secretly in love with Charlie. Joining the Army to fight in the First World War might be one way out of Charlie’s problems, but the past returns to haunt him.

What better way to remind the region of Cookson’s charismatic books than launch a workshop to a selected audience involving the cast of James Hedley (Charlie), Lawrence Neale (Ginger/Hal Chapman), Paul Dunn (Edward MacFell), Sarah Boulter (Nellie/Mrs Dimple), Jessica Johnson (Polly/ Florence Chapman), Christina Dawson (Victoria Chapman) and Dean Logan (Arthur).

Cleverly, the talented array of actors performed a selection of scenes without giving too much away of the plot.  Stripped back in style, the chapel of the Mission to Seafarer at Mill Dam made an appealing backdrop for cast members in casual clothes.  The performance was instantly engaging and the decision to show scenes adapted from the early part of the novel left the audience wanting to know what happens to Charlie – and who he ends up with.

The final production will be staged at The Customs House in September 2015.

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