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  • Writer's pictureClaire Venus

'The Unlocked Door' at Seaton Delaval Hall this Autumn

IMMERSIVE THEATRE EVENT AT SEATON DELAVAL HALL


National Trust Seaton Delaval Hall partners with November Club for immersive theatre experience this September.


A new immersive theatre event will take place next month in one of the North East’s most iconic buildings. Presented by the National Trust at Seaton Delaval Hall and created by November Club with Circus Central, The Unlocked Door delves into the Hall’s history. Running from Tuesday 27 – Thursday 29 September the experience leads the audience on a journey through the Hall’s spaces, introducing them to a host of characters – some real, some imagined – and travelling through 300 years of stories.


Joe Hufton, Artistic Director of November Club, has been at the helm of the theatre company since 2020, and brings his experience of working with internationally renowned immersive theatre company, Les Enfants Terribles, known for Olivier Award-nominated Alice’s Adventures Underground, to the production. Having trained as a director at LAMDA, he has also worked on immersive events and productions with Secret Cinema and Immersive Cult.


Newcastle-born set designer Amy Watts graduated from Wimbledon College of Art in Theatre Design and has worked with Live Theatre, Northern Stage, the English National Opera and Waterloo East Theatre. The production also collaborates with Newcastle-based circus skills agency, Circus Central, and features live DJ sets from the Spin City Crew, the Global Majority and Queer DJ collective.


Seaton Delaval Hall’s General Manager, Emma Thomas, said:

‘The Unlocked Door is a bold and immersive experience that will showcase the spaces that have so recently been transformed as part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported Curtain Rises project. Working in partnership with November Club is a great way of introducing new audiences to some of the histories of Seaton Delaval Hall. We’re also delighted that Circus Central and the Spin City DJ crew are part of this event.’

The Unlocked Door builds on Seaton Delaval Hall’s rich tradition of theatricality and creating and staging performances. In their Georgian heyday, the ‘gay Delavals’ generation of the family were renowned for producing plays and performances at both the Hall and in London, where parliament once closed early to enable sitting MPs to see a family production of Othello at Drury Lane Theatre.


Of The Unlocked Door, Joe said:

‘I’m really excited to be working at Seaton Delaval Hall with November Club making The Unlocked Door. This will be the first full production I’ve made for the company since taking over, and I’m looking forward to bringing some original immersive storytelling to this incredible building. It also marks my return to working with National Trust for the first time since creating ‘The Word Defiant’ for Les Enfants Terribles at Blickling Hall.
It’s great to be collaborating with so much new talent on this project, including designer Amy Watts, Circus Central and the Spin City DJ crew and I can’t wait to announce the other names involved in the coming few weeks. I really hope that North East audiences will respond to this contemporary and bold take on Seaton Delaval Hall’s past.’


The Unlocked Door is at Seaton Delaval Hall from Tuesday 27 – Thursday 29 September. Performances last approximately one hour and are at 6pm, 6:20pm, 6:40pm, 7:20pm, 7:40pm and 8pm and is re commended for ages 16+.


Those with access issues who wish to book should call Seaton Delaval Hall on 0191 237 9100 before booking tickets to discuss their requirements. All tickets are priced £17.50 and are available now at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall.


Photo of Seaton Delaval Hall © Colin Davison Photography


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About Seaton Delaval Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall was commissioned by Admiral George Delaval and designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect behind Castle Howard and Blenheim Palace. Partially destroyed by fire in 1822, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of baroque architecture, having had little subsequent intervention.


The hall was home to the larger than life Delaval family, known as the ‘Gay Delavals’ due to their high spirited and flamboyant lifestyle. In an age notorious for extremes of behaviour, they stood apart as the most notorious of all Georgian partygoers and pranksters. The Delavals loved a performance, staging events from rope dancers and sack races outdoors to masquerade balls and even their own theatrical productions, which earned rave reviews at the time.


Following the death of the 22nd Lord and Lady Hastings, the National Trust acquired Seaton Delaval Hall in 2009, achieved in part as a result of extensive fundraising support from the local community. Since then, the Trust has undertaken much needed conservation work at the hall including rewiring the West Wing; connecting to mains drainage and sewerage, relaying the Central Hall floor and stabilising its statues and re-roofing the East Wing.


Thanks to the generous donation from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, in 2022 the Curtain Rises project was completed, where as well as improvements to visitor facilities and extensive conservation work, the stories of Seaton Delaval Hall’s colourful past are now being brought to life.


About November Club

November Club is a performing arts company who make original, playful and inspiring theatre telling untold and unexpected stories about all sorts of people and places. It works indoors and outdoors and weaves together historical and contemporary themes. Participation is central to what they do. They invite our audiences to share their experiences, heritage and creativity, to take extraordinary journeys into unexpected places.


Circus Central brings people of all ages and abilities together to have fun, develop skills, perform, and gain qualifications, offering something for everyone from the curious beginner to the die-hard professional, including provision for schools, community organisations and events.


Operating from two sites, one in Shieldfield and one in Elswick, they offer drop-in classes, after school clubs, BTEC qualifications, and the Five Ring Youth Circus. In addition, they offer training, rehearsal space, and professional development.

Circus Central’s participation in The Unlocked Door has been made possible thanks to the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.


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