DRAMA, live music and film help make up a busy spring programme at Arts Centre Washington (ACW).

Theatre highlights start with the already sold out I, Elizabeth – a one-woman show starring Rebecca Vaughan. The show, on Thursday, March 17, uses Queen Elizabeth I’s own letters, speeches and writings to reconcile the desires of womanhood with the duties of sovereignty. I, Elizabeth is at ACW on Thursday, March 17.

Also in March (30), Melanie Gall’s Stitch in Time: A Knitting Cabaret arrives at the venue. Audience members are invited to bring their knitting or crocheting along to a scintillating afternoon of the lost knitting songs of both world wars from Canada, Britain, America and France.

With original songs from Maximo Park’s Paul Smith, Luca Rutherford’s Hold On, Let Go is at ACW on May 5. This Unfolding Theatre production is a personal, poignant meditation on the gaps in our memories and what it is that we want to pass on to future generations.

Later in May (Thursday, 26) there’s a change in pace when aerial artists Uncaged Aerial bring their new and emotive show Girls, Girls, Girls to ACW. Girls, girls, girls is a new and emotive show from Uncaged Aerial Theatre. Each of the three performers has delved into their personal experience and have asked themselves “What is it like to be a woman?”

What pressures do we feel from society, or is it pressure from ourselves? What effect does this have on us, and can we break free from these boundaries?” The show is suitable for those over the age of 16.

Musical highights include the return to ACW of Amelia Coburn, a nominee in the BBC Radio Young Folk Awards. Amelia is a stunning solo performer who bears comparisons to Kate Bush and Nick Drake with beguiling original folk and jazz influenced songs. With a new EP scheduled for release during her spring tour and a debut album of original material along the horizon this is possibly a last chance to catch her in a truly intimate setting.

Support comes from singer-songwriter Dean Parker and their show is on Friday, April 1.

A Way Home by Christina Castling is at ACW on Thursday, June 9. The play is rooted in stories and memories of a fight for survival for County Durham villages – a struggle that lasted 25 years. With humour, tenderness and not a small amount of grit, the play speaks of fighting to be heard when no one’s listening and of finding a place to belong. The play is suitable for ages 12 plus.

Shows for all the family include Benjamin Storey’s epic adventure The Boy and The Sea Horse (Thursday, April 14). This is a magical, family show exploring our seafaring heritage with original Northumbria music. The folktale is set in 1899 and follows a young sailor as he embarks on an epic adventure at sea to become a legendary seahorse rider of the River Tyne, heroically protecting seafarers and riverside workers from danger and helping his family through the toughest winter the North East has ever seen.

Other great family shows are Hedge, a show combining immersive dance theatre, beautiful costumes and puppetry to tell the tale of a hedgehog waking up from hibernation (Saturday, June 25), and The Secret Garden, a story told in word and son about the mystery behind a secret garden (June 15).

Visual arts highlights include the Sunderland Indie Double exhibition, from April 12 to May 28. These two complementary exhibitions feature independent artists in Earth Requiem Pt 1 and A Place Unknown. The former is an artistic response to the climate crisis and the latter an experiment where artists switch artforms and see what happens!

An exhibition in the Theatre Foyer Exhibition (June 1 – July 2) will feature the work of local Washington artist Valerie Teasdale and will be followed by The State of My Heart, an exhibition of work by Karen Hughes who is using art to deal with the grief of losing her sister.

ACW’s spring programme includes comedy Finding Your Feet, classics Emma and Little Women, 23 Walks and The Queen, starring Helen Mirren.

The spring months will be packed with activity workshops such as creative writing classes, ukulele classes, yoga sessions, pilates, tai chai workshops and Creative Age art and craft session for those with dementia or long-term health conditions. There are also classes for children.

Matt Blyth, Audience Development Officer, at ACW, explained: ““We think our Spring programme has a bit of something for everyone – theatre, music, exhibition, films and events for families. Don’t forget that we also have a weekly programme of classes and courses for all ages including art, drama and dance!”

For more information on the programme, or to book tickets, log on to ACW’s website at https://www.artscentrewashington.co.uk