June 2020

Stories From the Sticks a Lockdown Podcast
24 June 2020

Stories from the Sticks – A Lockdown Podcast by Scratchworks Theatre

Scratchworks Theatre has toured theatre shows to isolated communities across Devon for many years and the theatre-makers have met many wonderful characters along the way. City-dwellers themselves, Laura, Siân and Alice have always appreciated being welcomed into remote villages to hear stories of love, history, local myth and community spirit.

“We’ve heard some amazing tales from people in villages across Devon. Lockdown has turned everything upside down – we can’t perform in these communities right now – so instead we’re providing a platform to share their stories with the wider world.”

Laura Doble, Scratchworks Theatre

A ‘The Time Is Now’ commissioned piece, Stories From the Sticks is a podcast that will bring unheard stories from remote villages in the South West. The first episode features Eddy from Dolton, a well-known character who moved to North Devon 37 years ago. A retired plumber, he recalls carnivals, jubilee celebrations, motorbikes, stuffed-dog doorstops and the time Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones made him a cup of tea.

As Scratchworks say: “Dolton is a no-nonsense ‘get the job done’ kind of place with a cheeky smile you can’t help but find infectious.”

The interviews are interwoven with original music by Jack Dean plus narration and singing in Scratchworks’ signature style giving a distinctly theatrical feel to the podcast.

Listen to the trailer

The first episode will be available on Acast, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Deezer and Pocket Casts from 29 June!

The company are also keen to receive creative responses from listeners:

“We’re hoping these podcasts will inspire others to get creative too. People can send in responses in any format – drawings, photos, music, short films – and we’ll share them on the Scratchworks and Exeter Northcott websites.”

22 June 2020

When All This Is Over – A Lockdown Anthem by Thomas Johnson

An Exeter Northcott #TheTimeIsNow commission

Drawn from reflections on lockdown from people across the South West, When All This Is Over is sung by people across the region who have never met.

More than 50 people responded to an open call to take part in the project, either by writing about their experiences of lockdown to inspire the lyrics or by joining the virtual choir and singing the anthem.

Composer and musician Thomas Johnson created the lyrics, wrote the music and then mixed the videos and voices together to create a joyful yet powerful anthem depicting this unique time.

“For me it’s been a really moving experience. People’s lyrical suggestions gave me an insight into a collective human experience that I could never have guessed at by myself. The singing was a joy to watch and listen to, and compiling all the videos together was rather emotional and hugely enjoyable.”
– Thomas Johnson

When Exeter Northcott re-opens, the choir will come together to sing the anthem live on stage marking a special moment when audiences and performers can meet for a live experience once more.

Burn the Curtain These Three Worlds
15 June 2020

Adventure story takes readers on unique journey around Exeter

These Three Worlds is an online adventure story that takes readers on a unique journey through Exeter. As with the popular ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books the quest is set in the first chapter and then the reader decides which page to turn to and their preferred destination. They must navigate their way through the city encountering strange characters, mysterious goings-on and an ever-growing network of secret routes through the story.

Aimed at ages 9+ and inspired by Google Streetview and what3worldmaps, These Three Worlds continues to take new directions as readers are invited to write their own scene for the story, tagging locations around Exeter and revealing new perspectives on once-familiar landmarks.

‘Lockdown has turned many things upside down. Things that were ‘normal’ now seem strange and the outside world is loaded with mystery. We wanted to find a game that would embrace this sense of the unusual and find a way for both young people and adults to use their imagination and create new adventures.’

Joe Hancock, Burn The Curtain.

These Three Worlds is created by Exeter based company Burn The Curtain and is one of Exeter Northcott’s The Time is Now commissions.

Play the game

Add your story


12 June 2020

Project announcement: A creative collaboration with WCCEH on LGBTQ+ loneliness and history

Following an initial seed phase in which three artists were granted funding to think about loneliness, theatre and performance alongside scholars at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, we are excited to announce the direction that this collaboration will take.

Working closely with the Centre and with Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, the acclaimed playwright and activist Natalie McGrath will create an original piece of work for production, drawing in part on creative exchanges with Centre researchers and LGBTQ+ people with lived experiences of loneliness and isolation.

Conceived before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, one aim of the work was to think critically about the loss of hard won social and emotional spaces which LGBTQ+ people have created to share with one another. Running deeper than this present, dislocating moment are stories and histories which reverberate through queer experiences of isolation, quarantine and distance in 2020.

As Natalie put it:

“Working with Drs Fred Cooper and Charlotte Jones from the University of Exeter’s Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health on the subject of loneliness, in partnership with Exeter Northcott Theatre, is an exciting new direction for my work as a playwright and socially engaged artist.  LGBTQ+ stories have historically been erased or silenced due to hatred, ignorance and prejudice, whilst structural legislation and lack of rights have caused harm to many lives.  This opportunity to explore some of the pivotal moments in LGBTQ+ history through the lens of loneliness will enable an exciting new play to emerge for an ensemble of LGBTQ+ performers in the future life of the project.”

For Fred and Charlotte, this project goes much further than simply engaging new audiences with academic research that has already been done. Fred had the following to say about the importance of the project for his own work, and why Natalie’s ideas stood out:

“A significant aspect of what we want to do is to push back against ways of working which create artificial hierarchies between university academics and the people they collaborate with. Natalie is not here to ‘translate’ our research into something more accessible, she is here to determine an agenda, explore the questions that she knows are vital, and participate in a meaningful process of exchange which will alter and enrich our practice as academics. Natalie began the project with a clear idea of the direction she wanted our work together to take, and a keen sense of the historical and structural harms which are embedded in LGBTQ+ experiences of loneliness. We’re delighted to be working with such an accomplished and talented artist.”

Daniel Buckroyd, Artistic Director & Chief Executive of Exeter Northcott Theatre added:

“Artists such as Natalie have an extraordinary ability to pose questions, stretch our imaginations and create a space for considering new possibilities. Through projects such as this and the Northcott Futures programme which supports local theatre-makers, the Northcott aims to make meaningful exchanges between artists, audiences and practitioners across a number of disciplines and lived experiences. We’re delighted to take this project forward and excited to see how the play evolves.”


Natalie McGrath is a playwright, poet, occasional performer, producer of arts and heritage projects, and Co-Director of Dreadnought South West who curate the Rebellious Sounds Archive.

Natalie is currently Writer in Residence and Cultural Heritage Producer at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum for Out and About: Queering the Museum, a National Lottery Heritage Fund project in collaboration with the University of Exeter’s Dr Jana Funke.

08 June 2020

We’re Seeking Creative Responses to ‘Hanging Around’ in Lockdown

Residents of the South West are invited to collaborate on Hanging Around, a new project we’ve commissioned as part of The Time is Now series. Hanging Around plays with the notion of suspension and finding new ways to pass the time.

‘Since lockdown, I’ve had this weird sense of just hanging around. It feels like we’re all waiting for something’ said Hugh Malyon, lead artist on the project. ‘Whether it’s waiting for news, waiting for it to be safe or waiting to see each other again. From the comfort of our own homes, we want to create an experiment!’

Launching with a film in which four artists share the similarities and difference of their suspension in lockdown, the project invites people to share their own creative responses to what ‘hanging around’ means to them.

The response can be in any format – video recordings, sound recordings or photographs  – and might include: physically hanging around, pictures, original music, a rant, a capture of a new hobby. Once the responses have been submitted, the artists will weave them together in a second film to portray multiple versions of suspension in lockdown and a unique take on this unprecedented time.

‘We really want everyone to feel like they can take part. We want to see as many different perspectives as possible and open up wider conversations with audiences through our shared experiences.’ Hugh Malyon

Hanging Around is led by Hugh Malyon, a disabled artist and theatre-maker who finds creative ways to break down barriers through relatable, experimental performances.


How can I get involved?

Capture your creative response to ‘Hanging Around‘. It might be a:
Video recording (max 3 mins)
Sound recording (max 3 mins)
Picture, drawing or writing (to fit 1 A4 page)

You might like to include:

Physically hanging around, drawings/pictures, original music, a rant, poems/song lyrics, a capture of a new hobby or an abstract take from this stimulus.

How will my creative response be used?

It will be used on the #HangingAround and Exeter Northcott website and social media channels to create a collage of unique perspectives. The artists will endeavour to embed all valid submissions, which are accompanied by consent, in a new #HangingAround film.

How do I submit my response?

Please complete the forms and upload by this Google form. https://forms.gle/dzRxGVXUqXoFEiA56

Alternatively, you can email: hangingaroundsubmissions@gmail.com which will initiate a consent form being sent on return email. No email submissions can be accepted without the return of this form.

Thank you for your interest and we look forward to seeing your responses!

05 June 2020

#BlackLivesMatter – A Statement

At a time when Covid-19 is already challenging UK theatres to think about how they need to change to survive the current crisis, the horrific death in the US of George Floyd, the latest in a long line of unconscionable killings of African Americans reflecting generations of structural racism, has sharpened the focus for all UK cultural organisations on their responsibilities to confront racism, to stand up for what is right, and, above all, to listen to the needs and concerns of black and minority ethnic communities, artists and audiences, and to put those at the heart of the agenda for change. 

Notwithstanding concerted efforts in recent years to engage with the diverse communities of Devon and to begin finding ways for the voices, concerns and interests of people of colour, people with access needs and the LGBTQ+ community to help shape the Exeter Northcott programme, we’re clear we still have a huge amount to learn as an organisation and a very long way to go. 

We also understand that reflecting the diversity of Devon is just a start; as a leading regional theatre we need to be connecting the communities we serve in the South West with diverse artists, stories and experience from across the UK and beyond, and we’re committed to doing that.

Whilst weathering the storm of Covid-19 is inevitably going to be a painful process for many theatres it also presents the sector with a real opportunity to make meaningful and lasting changes that could reset its relationship with the diverse communities that it serves, and at the Northcott we’re determined to seize that opportunity, to stand shoulder to shoulder with black and minority ethnic communities and to play our part in addressing racism and all forms of discrimination.