Heaton History member, Peter Dillon, has written a play that’ll be a must see for anyone interested in Heaton and its history. Luckily for those of us still living in the neighbourhood, we won’t have to catch a train to London’s West End or even traipse into town. It’ll be performed at Heaton’s own People’s Theatre. But if you don’t live locally, now’s the time to start calling in favours and bagging the spare rooms and sofas of your Heaton friends and relations.
And if you encounter a film crew over then next few weeks, it might not be another episode of ‘Vera”. It’ll probably be Peter, the writer, on location. He explains:
‘Once a script is ready for the actors to rehearse it’s usually a sign for the writer to take a back seat. Of course the text will change & develop– all the way to ‘curtain up. Meanwhile…… the Heaton! draft delivered there’s time enough to put my feet up and ponder the sights of the allotments from my office window.
No, not a bit of it. With my film head on, I could strangle the writer. He’s gone and written a number of film extracts both dramatic and documentary. So the tasks continue: crews to contact, facilities and locations to visit, actors to wrangle and the whole machinery of film making kicks in. Anyone know a penny farthing rider, who’d impersonate George Waller on film? Thankfully, the answer’s yes, Michael Stout from Durham. A motor cycle, circa 1910, anyone? Thank you, Jon Hill.
George Waller will appear in Heaton! at the Peoples
Then I’m reminded of the famous film producer, coming to the end of his career, who was asked what he considered the most important element essential in the production of a film, replied, “After a good script, the catering. Like an army a film crew marches on its stomach.” So what about a caterer? Yes, again.
Up early one morning to catch Mark Armstrong, the Factory Manager at Siemens, who is taking me on a tour of the Heaton Works – C.A. Parsons in its day. We stand on some cobbles, the only remains from Sir Charles’s day. Problem is the view’s less than inspiring, and we head off to the Heavy Machinery Shop. Bingo! This massive shed houses an impressive number of lathes, turbines and industrial hardware that on film will give a sense of muscularity to the scene in which Parsons returns to the Fossway factory.
Siemens in the form of Mark, Ruth Baldasera, who has made a study of the Parsons’ family and is behind the drive to repair Charles and Lady Katharine’s grave at Kirkwhelpington, and Geoff Horseman have been extremely supportive of Heaton! and a great help.
Next, the Mining Institute and their fabulous library, a grocer on Chillingham Rd, and, if the rain and snow ever relent, Grounsell Park for Heaton Stannington vs Darlington etc……
Heaton! will be performed in the People’s Theatre, itself a historic local landmark
Come and see the show at the People’s Theatre; July 17 – 21, and all will be revealed.’