Newcastle as part of Freedom City 2017: a year-long affair celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. receiving his honorary degree from Newcastle University.
Since the 16th of January (Martin Luther King Day in the US) the city has seen public lectures, many of which have been held at the University, and various music and theatrical performances as part of the programme. An important aspect has also been working with local schools to educate young people on the issues of war, poverty, and racism, which King spoke of in his passionate acceptance speech in King’s Hall in 1967.
'Freedom on the Tyne's final performance is the first ever event of its kind'
Five dramas inspired by key events in the civil rights timeline will be acted out in various locations across the city on Sunday 29th of October. Although inspired by King’s role in the fight for black civil rights, director Tim Supple has chosen to reenact international events dealing with a variety of issues. Besides the events of Selma in 1965, struggles for equality and justice from South Africa, Manchester, and India will be reenacted alongside a more local story; the Jarrow March.
The Jarrow March performance will feature the workers who marched from the Tyneside to London in 1936 to petition the government to bring employment back to the Jarrow area.
They will also be joined by anti-racist, anti-war, women’s rights and LGBT groups with their own banners and songs, making this historic march especially relevant today.
In an interview with The Courier, Tim Supple spoke about selecting the events for the five dramas: “I was thinking about struggles that involved single days when extreme things happened. The reason I wanted that was because this is a single day so I thought that would make it dramatically sharp. All these events had single moments that were very terrible and had a big impact upon those struggles.”
Local people are being encouraged to get involved, with a local cast of hundreds taking part. Public workshops for those looking to join the cast are taking place in the coming weeks, including student-specific workshops at the University Sports Centre on the Wednesdays leading up to the event.
Tim Supple told The Courier that they wanted the day “to be a big public event for people to be in, to stimulate greater cross-community connection and celebrate the growing multiculturalism in Newcastle.”
On working with the cast, he said: “You get to meet very interesting people. You get to meet lots of people who are very different. They’re not all actors, they’re from different walks of life, different ages, different communities. “It's such an interesting, unexpected, inspiring process.”
The dramas will overlap throughout Sunday afternoon and evening. Audiences can watch events from start to end or show up at any moment.
In addition to local theatres, the city will be used as a stage. Freedom on the Tyne’s final performance on the Tyne Bridge is the first ever event of its kind to take place there, closing the day by celebrating the positive changes achieved in the fight for equality and justic