Autumn 2018: Janine Birkett, Grace Kirby, Sue McCormick and Stephen Tomlin toured in the Tyne valley and Dumfries giving intimate readings of ghost stories penned by some of the greatest writers of the genre, from Edith Nesbit and Elizabeth Gaskell to Muriel Spark, Chaz Brenchley and Muriel Gray. The Wall by prize winning Scots author Kate Clanchy, a contemporary tale of love & reconciliation set on Hadrian’s Wall, linked all the venues.

We sold out at The Vault, Hexham & at The Hearth Arts Centre Horsley, with near full houses at the Lit & Phil, Newcastle, Theatre Royal Dumfries & The Sill National Park Centre.

The company will return with a further mix of classic and modern ghost stories to all these fabulous venues, alongside a bunch of exciting new ones, next Autumn ….Watch this space for tour details nearer the time!

2018 Readers and Stories

The Vault readers: Grace Kirby & Stephen Tomlin (above). Stories: The Deadly Space Between by Chaz Brenchley, Man Size in Marble by Edith Nesbit and The Wall by Kate Clanchy.

Stephen Tomlin For the last 46 years since qualifying as a teacher from the Central School of Speech & Drama, Stephen has worked extensively as an actor in a wide range of roles for television, theatre and audio as well as being a director, writer and role player. Based in Lancaster for most of his long career, Stephen also produced promenade Shakespeare, ghost story readings and Christmas productions at Lancaster Castle under the demi-paradise banner between 2000 – 2016. He now lives in the Northumberland National Park with his partner, the artist & illustrator Kim Lewis. www.stephentomlin.co.uk

The Sill readers: Grace Kirby (above) and Stephen Tomlin. Stories: The Old Nurses Story by Elizabeth Gaskell, Another Pair of Hands by Muriel Spark and The Wall by Kate Clanchy

Grace Kirby has been an actor, director and teacher for over 30 years, working in film, theatre, and television. Notable stage credits include Communicado’s Fringe First award-winning Carmen: The Play and performing alongside the legendary Stanley Baxter in one of his equally legendary Edinburgh pantos. More recently, she worked with Hexham’s Théâtre Sans Frontières on the research and development phase of a new production based on Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Lit & Phil and The Hearth Janine Birkett (above) and Stephen Tomlin. Stories: The Deadly Space Between by Chaz Brenchley, Man Size in Marble by Edith Nesbit & The Wall by Kate Clanchy

Janine Birkett was born in Northumberland and raised in Newcastle. She spent her early career touring with Northumberland Theatre Company, going on to perform with Northern Stage Ensemble and at Theatre by the Lake; the New Vic and Stephen Joseph Theatre. In the 1990’s she was Byker Grove parent, Maggie Watson for three series; and played Jenny Elliot, Billy’s Mam, in the film Billy Elliot. Other TV and film appearances include: Poppy Shakespeare, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Holby City, The Royal, Inspector George Gently, and, most recently, Coronation Street. BBC Radio drama includes the long-running series My Uncle Freddie, in which she played Aunty Bella; and the Jarrow March play, A Woman’s Walk. In the last four years Janine has also added around 40 audio-books to her CV including several by Vera author, Ann Cleeves. www.janinebirkett.co.uk

Dumfries Theatre Royal Readers: Sue McCormick (below) and Stephen Tomlin. A Halloween night’s celebration of modern and contemporary work from some of Scotland’s finest female writers. Front Row Rider by Muriel Gray and Kate Clanchy’s The Wall  are followed by a double bill of darkly comic stories by Muriel Spark (1918 – 2006) to mark the centenary of her birth – The Executor and Another Pair of Hands. 

Sue McCormick is a long standing D-P associate director and actor now based in Moniaive, Dumfrieshire. Sue has worked in theatres nationwide, including Royal Exchange, Library, Palace and Opera House in Manchester, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Chipping Norton Theatre, Oldham Coliseum, Bristol Old Vic, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, The New Vic Stoke and The Dukes Lancaster. She has also toured extensively with Northern Broadsides and Hull Truck Theatre. TV includes Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Holby City, Casualty and Where the Heart Is. She has recorded several plays and features for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Learning Online. Sue also works as a theatre director and playwright. www.suemccormick.net