SOUTH Shields playwright Ed Waugh has been commissioned to pen a play to celebrate the Lindisfarne Gospels.
Mr Waugh, along with his writing partner, Trevor Wood, will create the piece as part of an exhibition to be held in Durham next summer.
The writers, whose plays include Dirty Dusting and Amazing Grace, will be adding a production about the history of the region’s famous manuscript and St Cuthbert to their collection of national and international hit plays.
The show, called A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Durham, has been commissioned by destination management agency, Visit County Durham, with production partner Gala Theatre Durham, and will premiere in the city on July 2 next year.
Mr Wood said: “We are really pleased to be asked to write this play. While we will have utmost respect for the subject matter, we can assure everyone it will be very funny.
“We have some amazing material to work with, and there will be 1,400 years of North-East history crammed into one unmissable production.”
Melanie Sensicle, chief executive of Visit County Durham, said: “Lindisfarne Gospels Durham will be a catalyst for a celebration for the region’s cultural and artistic heritage.
“There will be a host of events around the region, and one of the most exciting and original will be this play. As the title suggests, this is a lighthearted and fun performance, which takes a humorous look at the story of the Lindisfarne Gospels, featuring St Cuthbert, St Aidan, the Venerable Bede, the Kings of Northumbria, 390 cows and, of course, the Viking invasion of 793.”
Robin Buyers, programming and operations manager at Gala Theatre, added: “We are really pleased to have Ed and Trevor on board, as they are synonymous with the North East and have produced loads of successful and very funny plays, many of which have been staged at the Gala.”
The Lindisfarne Gospels and St Cuthbert Gospel, Europe’s oldest surviving bound book, will be on loan from the British Library as part of a partnership with Durham University, Durham County Council and Durham Cathedral.
The Lindisfarne Gospels will be on show in world-class exhibition facilities on Durham’s World Heritage Site from July 1 to September 31.
For more information on Lindisfarne Gospels Durham, go to www.lindisfarnegospels.com.
Tickets for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Durham are on sale now.
To book, call the Gala Theatre box office on 332 4041 or go to www.galadurham.co.uk.
The production will be directed by Gareth Tudor Price, former artistic director of Hull Truck Theatre Company.
“We are delighted that A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Durham will have its first performance at Gala in July before embarking on a regional tour.
THE Lindisfarne Gospels were created on Holy Island, Northumberland around the year 700.
They were made by the first known English artist or craftsman, the Northumbria, Eadfrith, for God and Saint Cuthbert.
St Cuthbert was a major figure at a time when the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria was crucial in spreading Christianity and learning throughout Britain and Europe.
The glories of the work are the illuminated pages and initial capital letters, and the colours used were carefully extracted from minerals, plants and insects.
They were intended to be kept close to the remains of St Cuthbert, but in the year 875, the community fled in fear of Viking attacks, who took Cuthbert’s body and the Gospels with them.
They arrived at Chester-le-Street, where an English translation was added between the lines of the Latin original. The Lindisfarne Gospels are the oldest surviving English Bible.
They are currently kept in the British Library in London.