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THE LAST SHIP HOME TO THE NORTH EAST OF ENGLAND28 Aug 2014

Inspired by and set in Sting's hometown of Wallsend, The Last Ship tells a universal story.

 

Drawn from his childhood growing up beside the Swan Hunters shipyard, The Last Ship is very personal to Sting yet also echoes the experiences of those working in shipyards along the Wear, Clyde, Mersey or any Northern port, as well as post-industrial communities the world over. The play was originally work-shopped with local musicians and actors at Newcastle's Live Theatre - ahead of its upcoming Broadway debut - but for Sting, it was never in doubt that the songs of The Last Ship should be performed for a North East audience.

The musician said:  "‘The Last Ship' is a musical allegory set in Wallsend, the town where I was born and raised. The demise of industry - not only in shipyards like Tyneside and Gdansk, but also great manufacturing centres like Detroit - has been well documented and the effect of that demise on the identity and future of local communities particularly resonates with me.  I'm very much looking forward to bringing these songs and stories home."

Sting will be joined onstage at the Sage next April by many of the region's best loved musicians including fiddle and Northumbrian pipe player Kathryn Tickell and The Wilson Family from Billingham, Co. Durham.

The Last Ship's homecoming has generated great excitement and support from partners, particularly relating to the North East's shipbuilding heritage. Leading the support is Cunard, the international cruiseline company, who commissioned many of their greatest ships from the Swan Hunter ship yard in Wallsend.   

Peter Shanks, CEO of Cunard Line, said:

"This is a brilliant show and these are songs that go to the heart of our country's shipbuilding industries, and reflect our own proud relationship with the North East. This great heritage saw ships like the Mauretania built at Swan Hunter on the Tyne and then serve Cunard for many proud years".

Norma Redfearn, North Tyneside's Elected Mayor, said:

"We are pleased that the shipbuilding tradition of the area has been recognised by Sting with The Last Ship. We are very proud of him.  He is a credit to North Tyneside and these performances highlight the great history of our borough and the Swan Hunter yard, which is so important to the people of Wallsend and the wider area. We are working hard to ensure the iconic Swans site continues to generate work for our residents and leads the way in innovation - just as the Swan Hunter shipyard did - so we can develop our advanced manufacturing sector and help secure the future of our young people."

In benefitting the Sage Gateshead's 10th Birthday Appeal, proceeds raised from both performances will ensure that its vital work in the region will continue.

Jane Robinson, Chief Executive of Gateshead Council, said:

"The success of the 10th Birthday Appeal will contribute to the long-term sustainability of this great cultural venue. We are really grateful to Sting for his fantastic support. As well as being a world-class performance venue, Sage Gateshead provides education and inclusion programmes throughout the North East of England for marginalised young people, vulnerable older people and more - building their skills and abilities, and providing them with a place they can ‘belong' through music.

Andrew Moffat, Port of Tyne Chief Executive Officer, said: "A story celebrating our shipbuilding heritage seemed a good match for the Port of Tyne and we are delighted to help bring the show to many people in the region and to support Sage Gateshead in its tenth anniversary year."

Anthony Sargent, General Director of Sage Gateshead, said:

‘We're honoured that Sting has chosen to bring The Last Ship to Sage Gateshead. His support for our 10 th birthday appeal means that our work across the region, helping people to improve their lives through musical education, can continue. For the past ten years, these programmes have benefitted everyone from marginalised young people struggling with their studies through to older people looking for a social group. The generosity of Sting, and our kind suuporters, will help even more people as Sage Gateshead enters its second decade'.

Sting added:  "The North East has a great creative atmosphere and legacy. The Sage sits proudly at its cultural heart and I'm always happy to support it."

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