South Shields' Weebles get a voice: 'Conversation Piece' audio project will see artwork tell stories

Ever wondered what the Weebles have to say?

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 4:55 am

The seafront artwork, close to Littlehaven Beach in South Shields has inspired an audio experience where people can listen in to seven stories around the Conversation Piece.

The 22 figures, created by the late Juan Munoz in 1999, are the focus of the project, where visitors can follow the tales through Soundcloud files played online via their phones.

They can be found via the work’s page on the Northern Stage site, with a map also created as a guide and earphones recommended.

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Conversation Piece, known as the Weebles, is the setting for a series of audio dramas created through a Northern Stage project.
Conversation Piece, known as the Weebles, is the setting for a series of audio dramas created through a Northern Stage project.

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People are recommended to start with one called Introduction, nearest to the car park, and finish with Dear John, closest to the sea, while the other five can be followed in any order.

Mark Maughan came up with the concept and the stories have been written by Lee Mattinson, with the work commissioned by Northern Stage as part of its Out On The Toon project.

Charlie Hardwick, Trevor Fox, Sarah Lewis Obuba, Nick Blakeley have voiced the work, which was recorded by Phill Howarth, with South Tyneside Council backing the project.

The 'Weebles' at Littlehaven

There are also transcripts which can be followed and people are advised the work contains some strong language and adult themes including references to gender dysphoria and homophobia.

The stories, which have been illustrated by Steffi Holtz with short sections of music created by Ross Millad, of The Futureheads, are available until Tuesday, August 31, and they take up to 40 minutes to listen to.

Mark said: "The freedom to make a piece at an important moment, in a place that is important to me, feels special.

'Conversation Piece' figures in the snow

"I cannot wait for people to interact with these mysterious, enchanting figures and reflect on what they have to say about the world as we head towards an entirely new future."

He explained why the location was chosen.

He added: “I was born in South Shields so the town itself is hugely important to me.

"When I’m in the North East, it’s the place that’s closest to where I live too, so I am often in and out, whilst over the past year the beach has become a place to escape to, I hope that this project re energises it via a new creative concept."

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