Above buzzy tapas bar Laurels Whitley Bay, Laurels Theatre is a wee place to tell big stories and where everyone on the NE coast will be going to see the most exciting work before it breaks the big time.
Partnered with the amazing tapas and bar downstairs, this venue offers a chilled out accessible space to bring live theatre, visual arts and comedy together. Founded by award-winning theatre producer Jamie Eastlake and writer and filmmaker Stephen Robertson, Laurels aims to provide a hub for artists and tapas lovers alike.
It’s named after and in honour of Stan Laurel, whose father ran theatres on the Northeast coast, where he first read the boards. It’s been a rollercoaster to get to the opening of Laurels: when Theatre N16 Ltd was founded in 2015 it was designed with a simple premise – no frills, no hire fees and loads of support.
Over 300 productions came through its doors across three different venues with the company forming a producing arm (Eastlake Productions) whose shows included the Olivier award winning Flesh and Bone at Soho Theatre.
However, the company was plagued with challenges including losing two different leases and the sad passing of their Executive Producer. With 40k of debt and many bills to pay, Jamie Eastlake fought on determined to uphold the N16 model and support the artists he cared about. And, even with a worldwide pandemic, he did it!
Working several jobs Eastlake knew he wanted to reinvent the company to not rely on other people’s buildings. In September 2020, he opened Laurences in Blythe – a little Geordie and Mexican tapas bar with different artists performing on its small stage every Friday and Saturday. And now, Laurels heralds the start of his new full-time theatre space.
Opening Laurels’ first season is critically acclaimed Geordie artist Serena Ramsey (New Diorama Theatre’s emerging Artist of 2019) with Waxa Belta Helta Skelta (14th – 24th September) – a solo show offering a surreal look at abandonment, cults and Mammy issues. Combining live soundscapes, playful storytelling, dark humour and experimental electro-music for support, this absurd true story engulfs us in the explosive world of one Geordie girl with a missing mum.
Ramsey brings emotions to the stage that will resonate heavily with anyone who has ever experienced loss, love and the need for answers. With her unique brand of comedic storytelling, drawing on cabaret and drag background the audience will leave laughing, crying and craving a sausage roll.