Coastal Explorations 2023 saw students from 2 secondary schools in North Tyneside exploring the North East coastline, together with musician Ceitidh Mac, theatre director Abigail Lawson, and visual artist Millie Avis, as well as professional historians and musicians.
It is a multi-layer project in which Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 students work together to create a professional standard, large format, live performance.
Over seven months, students take part in fortnightly workshops exploring the history, geology, politics and people of the Northumbrian coastline. Some of these workshops take place in different locations along the coast, including Lindisfarne, Seahouses, the LV50 lightsthip in Blyth, and Newcastle city centre.
Inspired by their expeditions, the students create live performances which share the stories they uncover. In 2023, they focused on the concept of chains: chains manufactured in Newcastle for the slave trade; chains that tie fishing boats to the shore; chains that anchor lightships to the sea bed; and the metaphorical chain that connects the mainland to Holy Island, whenever the tide is out.
All of these experiences, and more besides, feed into the creation of a live multi-media performance, which featured music, visuals, theatre, and spoken word. Their performance took place at the Common Room in Newcastle City Centre – a suitably grand and historic destination that has long been at the heart of Newcastle’s heritage.