Play Hard

What’s on in March across the North East

Think live kitchen discos and inspirational true stories, Strictly Come Dancing superstars and a city under the stars, musical parodies, open studios, science fairs and even a knitting cabaret…

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 10.03.2022




Saturday 19th March

The Cluny, Newcastle

Local sibling duo ZELA have created a dark and imaginative brand of attitude-laced electro-pop. Think Charli XCX meets Big Black Delta, with a hint of Doja Cat and Baby Queen. You could use some of their music to soundtrack an erratic midnight drive after ditching your ex, and some other of their tracks to soundtrack that golden honeymoon phase of a new romance.


Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Thursday 24th March

O2 City Hall, Newcastle

Sophie’s Instagram Live Kitchen Discos during lockdown were a means of virtual escapism for many – and became weekly moments of united sequined catharsis for the hundreds of thousands tuning in.

Now, Sophie brings these shows to life – bringing all the camp and frivolity of her original show, plus tracks from her latest album, Songs From The Kitchen Disco.




Amelia Coburn

Friday 1st April

Arts Centre, Washington

This is a welcome return to Arts Centre Washington for BBC Radio Young Folk Awards Nominee Amelia Coburn.

Amelia is a truly stunning solo performer, who bears comparisons to Kate Bush and Nick Drake with beguiling original folk and jazz-influenced songs, and has cemented her reputation as a leading light in the world of all things ukulele. With a debut album of original material on the horizon, this is possibly a last chance to catch her in a truly intimate setting.




Jersey Boys

Tuesday 22nd March – Saturday 2nd April

Sunderland Empire  

The smash hit stage sensation, Jersey Boys, has won 65 major awards and has been seen by over 27 million people worldwide.

They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard and the radio just couldn’t get enough of it. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story – a story that has made them an international sensation all over again…



Red Ellen

Friday 25th March – Saturday 9th April

Northern Stage, Newcastle

This remarkable new play tells the inspiring and epic story of Ellen Wilkinson, Labour MP – who was forever on the right side of history, forever on the wrong side of life.

Caught between revolutionary and parliamentary politics, Ellen fights with an unstoppable, reckless energy for a better world. Running into the likes of Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway, she battled to save Jewish refugees in Nazi Germany, campaigned for Britain to aid the fight against Franco’s Fascists in Spain and led 200 workers in the Jarrow Crusade.




Wor Bella

Monday 28th March

Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham

When men were called up in 1916 after slaughter in the trenches, women flooded into the munitions factories and saved the war effort. Despite their dangerous jobs and long hours, these heroic “munitionettes” also played football to raise money for wartime charities.

Wor Bella is the story of Blyth Spartans Ladies’ remarkable munitionettes’ cup victory in May 1918 and their free-scoring superstar, Bell Reay.




Johannes Radebe: Freedom

Sunday 20th March

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

TV dancing sensation and international champion Johannes Radebe is known for making a splash with his explosive routines on Strictly Come Dancing – and his debut tour, Freedom, will be no exception.


Liberdade Presents: Engage

Friday 25th March

Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle

Head to GCT for an evening of inclusive dance and physical theatre produced by Liberdade – the organisation that runs the theatre. They’ll be presenting a selection of pieces, offering an exciting opportunity to engage with this vibrant cultural organisation which supports artists of all ages with a learning disability and autism to develop dance and physical theatre.




Northern Ballet: Pinocchio

Saturday 26th March 

The Maltings, Berwick

An original retelling of the classic children’s story, Pinocchio is the perfect opportunity for your little ones to enjoy live ballet, music and theatre.

With sell-out performances and a string of hugely successful CBeebies TV adaptations, Northern Ballet’s productions for children are not to be missed.




Ouseburn Open Studios

Saturday 19th – Sunday 20th March

Venues across Ouseburn, Newcastle

The Ouseburn Valley is the creative heart of Newcastle. Ouseburn Open Studios sees cultural venues open their doors, offering a rare chance to catch a glimpse into the working world of artists and designer-makers.

Expect a huge variety of affordable and original work to buy – from paintings and prints to ceramics, sculpture, jewellery and furniture, there’s sure to be something to suit everyone’s taste.


The Ignorant Art School

Saturday 19th March – Saturday 21st May

Hatton Gallery, Newcastle

This interactive exhibition and series of events, discussions, workshops and performances examine art education and who it serves.

Repurposing equality as a practice rather than an ideal, The Ignorant Art School examines the histories and future possibilities of art education and celebrates feminist activist bell hooks’ declaration of ‘education as the practice of freedom’ by building communities of resistance and care.




Stitch In Time: A Knitting Cabaret

Tuesday 29th March

Alnwick Playhouse  

This delightful afternoon of needlepoint and music – with a scintillating selection of the lost knitting songs of WWI and WWII from Canada, Britain, America and France – will have toes tapping and needles clicking in no time.

A Stitch in Time has been performed across the world, from Luxembourg to Edinburgh, Khartoum to Saskatoon. Audiences are encouraged to bring their own knitting (or crochet) and stitch along.




Matt Forde 

Thursday 17th March

Alnwick Playhouse

There are wallies everywhere – and half of them are running the country. The other half are trying to. Matt Forde (Spitting Image, Have I Got News For You, The Last Leg, The Royal Variety Performance) lashes out right, left and centre. And chucks in some funny voices, too.



Gill Sims The Stand Newcastle

Friends – The Musical Parody

Thursday 31st March

Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle

Friends! The Musical Parody celebrates and pokes fun at the wacky misadventures of the group of 20-something pals we love from the hit TV show, as they navigate the pitfalls of work, life and love in 1990’s Manhattan.

This is a fabulous good-hearted romp through our favourite moments from the hit TV show in an uncensored, hilarious, fast-paced, music-filled production. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll Unagi. With friends like these, who needs television? PIVOT!




Gill Sims

Sunday 3rd April

The Stand, Newcastle

Gill Sims is the author of the bestselling Why Mummy? series of books and the woman behind the hugely popular ‘Peter and Jane’ Facebook page.

Gill will be joined by Jo Middleton – creator of Slummy Single Mummy – and, together, they will take a hilarious look at the changing face of motherhood, as children grow from toddlers to teenagers, relationships, the highs and lows of the school gate, unexpected bodily fluids and much more!




North of the Tyne: Under the Stars

Thursday 10th – Sunday 13th March

Venues across Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside

This free, outdoor festival of projection, magic and storytelling will show off our region in a dazzling new light, as spectacular projections play out across iconic buildings and streets – all inspired by the diversity, beauty, heritage, landscape and people of the North of the Tyne.


Science Weekend 2022

Saturday 12th – Sunday 13th March

Beamish Museum

Beamish Museum have got a jam-packed weekend of interactive science-based activities in store for all ages this weekend, as well as a special International Women’s Day celebration which explores the role women have played in the world of science over the years.




IWD Makers Market

Sunday 13th March

The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

The Georgian Theatre will be celebrating International Women’s Day this weekend by bringing together some of the best local, female artists crafters and female-owned independent businesses under one roof in their IWD Makers Market. It’s a great opportunity to treat the lovely ladies in your own life, too.


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