Culture podcast project showcases North East writing talent

7 THE RICH culture of North Tyneside will be captured in a series of audio podcasts when writers come together to record their work at several iconic venues.
Writer and audio producer Rachel Cochrane, who runs spoken word website listenupnorth.com, will showcase the work of the region’s talented writers when she brings to life stories of local people, events and artefacts via her Culture Bites project.
The podcasts will be recorded at four well-loved venues throughout North Tyneside: St Mary’s Lighthouse; The Old Low Light in North Shields, Segedunum in Wallsend, and Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House.
The project, which has been funded by the Arts Council and North Tyneside Council, will give people the opportunity to listen online to the podcasts or via a portable listening post, which will be going on tour across North Tyneside.
Rachel, of Stocksfield, Northumberland, will be running writing workshops at Segedunum to create some of the content – whether its poetry, drama or letters – for the podcasts, which she wants to see reflect North Tyneside’s rich heritage.
Said Rachel, who has so far produced more than 200 recordings from more than 70 writers:
“There’s a tremendous amount of writing talent in the North East and the Culture Bites project gives them the opportunity for their work to be heard.
“North Tyneside has some fantastic venues and a rich and colourful history and I wanted to showcase that through the podcasts. Once they’re recorded, they’ll be available for everyone to listen to.”
Eddie Darke, North Tyneside Council Cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism said: “This unique project celebrates the wealth of culture and history found throughout North Tyneside. It’s great to see our places and buildings inspiring local writers, and I’m looking forward to hearing the stories they have created.”
One of the first recordings was at the atmospheric Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House and also featured a live performance of the radio play, Figureheads, by Noreen Rees. The play, performed by actors Penny Lamport, Mary Pickin, Karen Traynor, Ann Ridley and Ray Moore, was inspired by four wrecked ships’ wooden figureheads, which were found in the watch house’s museum.
Whitley Bay writer Noreen said: “It was quite surprising when we recorded the play in the watch house that out of an audience of 80, only 10 had been there before. This project is as much about the venues and ensuring they’re celebrated as it is about the writing.”
There has also been a recording of short stories and poetry, created by Victoria Watson’s Elementary Writers group and inspired by Whitley Bay and St Mary’s Lighthouse. One of the pieces was a letter to a sweetheart from a Russian soldier on St Mary’s Island as a place for cholera isolation.
At the Old Low Light in North Shields, there will be a recording of stories real and imagined from a ladies group who meet regularly at The Old Low Light. And at Segedunum, there will be a creative writing workshops on March 17, themed around the unveiling of the new Centurion statue as well as soundbites captured from walkers and children.
The podcasts will be released in April and available through listenupnorth.com and the listenupnorth channels on iTunes and Stitcher as well as via the portable listening post.

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