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The front facade of Northern Stage with the word 'Welcome' in the window

Our Story

The University Theatre opened on the Newcastle University campus in 1970. In the late 1980s the Northern Stage performance company, who had been resident at the theatre before a temporary move, returned to the University site, renamed as Newcastle Playhouse and Gulbenkian Studio, home of Northern Stage.

During the 1990s Artistic Director Alan Lyddiard developed Northern Stage as an ensemble of actors in the mould of the great European theatres. He cemented the company’s reputation for innovation and international work by inviting leading theatre-makers like Lev Dody (Maly Theatre) and Robert Lepage to make work with the ensemble.

In 2004 Newcastle Playhouse and the Gulbenkian Studio closed for major refurbishment work. In the preceding years several of the other companies resident at Newcastle Playhouse, such as Dance City and Northern Sinfonia, had moved into their own purpose built buildings. The decision was taken to amalgamate the venue (Newcastle Playhouse) and resident theatre company (Northern Stage) into one organisation, to serve Newcastle and the North East as a permanent home for mid-scale theatre.

In 2006 the building reopened its doors under a new name, Northern Stage, and a new Artistic Director, Erica Whyman. During her tenure Erica pioneered new models of artist development and showcasing, establishing the innovative Northern Stage at the Edinburgh Festival and NORTH programmes.

In 2013 Lorne Campbell was appointed as Artistic Director. He strengthened the reputation of Northern Stage as an industry leader, increasing the number of in-house productions and co-productions, expanding artist development and creating a new fringe venue, Stage 3.

In Autumn 2020, Northern Stage appointed Natalie Ibu as Artistic Director. Natalie’s vision is to make Northern Stage a building informed and transformed by the region so that company is an essential part of everyone’s lives, making vital pieces of culture for the North East of today and tomorrow.

Natalie joined in the middle of a pandemic and has hit the ground running with a commitment to meeting audiences where they are. Her first season had three strands: Can We Come In?, Out On The Toon, and Housewarming. Taking audiences on a journey from your home, into the city and then back to our beloved building.

The 2022 season, This is Now  invited artists and audiences to join a year long conversation about who we are and who we want to be; to think deeply about the important questions of our time, and to find refuge in coming together to imagine our way through the world we live in, right now.

Artistic Director Natalie Ibu © Christopher Owens