The curtain is set to rise on a new online theatre festival by the Gala Theatre and Durham University. Here's how performing arts groups can get involved...

An online theatre festival aimed at celebrating creativity during the lockdown will showcase County Durham talent to a global audience this June.

The Gala Theatre has teamed up with Durham University for Onstage: Online, a digital festival that will bring together a series of theatre shorts and longer productions created while the UK stays at home.

Theatre companies and performing arts groups in the county are being invited to apply for the festival, with funding and mentoring available to those selected.

Onstage: Online will take place from Thursday 11 June – Sunday 14 June and will see live sessions streamed each day on the Gala Theatre’s YouTube channel, along with scheduled pre-recorded content. The videos will also be shared on social media and will remain available for people to enjoy when the festival is over on both the Gala Theatre and Durham University’s YouTube channels.

In line with Government guidance, the Gala Theatre, which is owned by Durham County Council, and the Assembly Rooms Theatre, which is the main venue used by Durham University’s Durham Student Theatre, have temporarily closed to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

However, both teams are determined to continue to provide a platform for local theatre-makers to showcase their work, while also promoting the mental health benefits creativity can bring.

Cllr Joy Allen, the council’s Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “Onstage: Online is a wonderful opportunity to use our time in lockdown to be creative, while also celebrating what a great place County Durham is with people around the world.

“It is well known that watching theatre and engaging in the arts can be incredibly beneficial to our mental health and wellbeing, and finding things that lift our spirits is especially important right now.

“I know the team at the Gala Theatre is really enjoying working with our partners at Durham University, and I can’t wait to see what theatrical gems the project produces.”

Kate Barton, head of student theatre at Durham University, said: “We are thrilled to be running a joint festival bringing creativity from Durham to the world.

“We want to programme the best of the North East and appeal to a wide range of audiences and ages and are particularly interested in work that will appeal to a family audience, though all applications will be considered.”

Theatre companies with projects selected for the festival will receive up to £250 to help create their production and a dedicated slot in the event programme. Emerging theatre companies can also take advantage of free mentoring.

The deadline for applications is Monday 11 May. For more information or to request an application form, contact Kate Barton on 0191 334 4316 or email [email protected].

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