Poet and performers ready for passion

A ‘STAND-up poet’ is putting the finishing touches to her latest work which will be performed in front of a live TV audience.

Kate Fox has been working with pupils from South Shields Community School and local community groups to develop a poem for the Great North Passion (GNP), a re-telling of Christ’s last hours, featuring an exciting combination of live performance, music and art which will be broadcast live on BBC One on Good Friday, April 18, from Bents Park in South Shields.

Artists are working with communities in South Tyneside, Sunderland and across the region on interpreting themes developed from the 12 Stations of the Cross.

Kate’s theme is kindness to strangers and she started developing the poem through workshops, some of which used the Bible story of Veronica, who gave her veil to Jesus so he could wipe his face as he carried his cross to Golgotha.

“We used this example of kindness to help explore the theme more widely. I wanted the poem to mean something to the people of Shields, so there are references to the Great North Run, Minchella’s ice cream and Ocean Road.”

Kate trained as a radio journalist and worked on north east stations before becoming a full-time writer and performer in 2006. She has since been poet in residence for the Great North Run and the Glastonbury Festival and is also a regular on Radio 4 programmes such as Today, Woman’s Hour and Saturday Live.

“In our workshops we worked with students from South Shields Community School and two primary schools, as well as people from the Holder House community. It was a great cross section of people and ages. We’ve had some fun, but also worked hard at getting their views and opinions on our theme to shape the poem.

“I’m working with a team of 13 SSCS students who will help me perform live on Good Friday, and we’re all excited by the prospect,” Kate added.

The GNP is a joint collaboration between the BBC and the Cultural Spring, a £2m three-year Arts Council funded project working with five wards in Sunderland and five wards in South Tyneside. Commissioned by the BBC’s Religious and Ethics department, the GNP will be broadcast live on BBC One from noon on Good Friday. It will also be the launch event of the Cultural Spring.
Rebecca Ball, Project Director of the Cultural Spring, said: “We’re delighted to be working with artists of Kate’s calibre and reputation. Anyone from Shields, or has a knowledge of the town, will recognise so much about the town in her work, which describes South Tyneside and its people will real fondness and affection.”