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An actor from Bishop Auckland who has performed across the world is looking forward to playing in front of a home audience later this month.

Brian Lonsdale, who was born in Bishop Auckland and grew up in Crook, is playing the lead role in a production of J.M. Barrie’s The Twelve Pound Look, an Edwardian comedy from the author most famous for Peter Pan.

He left the area to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and has since starred in War Horse in the West End as well as being in the original cast of The Pitmen Painters.

“I do get back from time to time to see my pals and Crook and Bishop will always mean aheck of a lot to me,” he said.

“I’m very much looking forward to performing in front of a home crowd, although it doesn’t actually make too much difference to either myself or the audience where I perform.

“I just hope that people, whoever I’m performing in front of and wherever I am, get something out of it. I hope people enjoy it, which I think they will.”

The play, which comes to Bishop Auckland Town Hall on Friday, 23 February, focuses on the themes of women’s independence and gender equality and is appearing at the town hall as part of its celebrations marking 100 years since women over 30 were given the right to vote.

“It’s great to be part of the Suffragette centenary celebrations and given recent news stories this production feels timely and relevant to conversations we’re having about our perception of women and their role in society,” said director Rory Stuart, who is also ticketing systems officer at Gala theatre.

“Growing up in Bishop Auckland, the town hall was my closest theatre and a place that definitely sparked my interest in the arts. I’m really excited to be bringing a show here and producing work in my home town for the first time.”

Viktoria Kay, who plays the female lead in the play, agrees that the drama remains relevant despite being written more than 100 years ago.

“I think it’s extremely important that we remember how oppressed women were and the struggle they encountered in changing the world,” she said.

“The play not only serves as a historical document as to the enormous difficulties women faced but also reminds us that with unwavering determination and passion, change is possible.”

Other events at the town hall as part of the centenary celebrations include the Hear My Voice exhibition, a collection of words and images by local women and girls inspired by regional artists who shared their expertise, as well as a screening of the 2015 film Suffragette on Thursday, 22 February.

For tickets to all events call Bishop Auckland Town Hall’s box office on 03000 269 524.

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