Dance performances at an iconic Sunderland venue are set to utilise ground-breaking digital technology to reflect Wearsiders’ experiences through the COVID pandemic.

ACEDIA, by acclaimed Southpaw Dance Company, will fuse live dance with an app created for the performance at The Athenaeum building on Fawcett Street. Live dance? There’s an app for that…

iPads and isolation… 




ACEDIA will start with one live dancer, and four other dancers whose performances will feature on iPads provided for the audience, will then expand the show.

Robby Graham, Artistic Director of award-winning Southpaw, explained: “We’ve worked with digital artist Rupert Stamp on a bespoke ACEDIA app and the show is going to be a bit special, something really different. We’re using live performance and innovative technology to create a unique experience in a wonderful, historic space – ACEDIA will be the first live performance in the recently restored Athenaeum.

“ACEDIA is a word we’re using to describe the combination of listlessness, anxiety, and the inability to concentrate so many of us experienced during COVID lockdowns.

“In ACEDIA, we see many different versions of the same character, layered and overlapped, creating a sense of pandemic isolation. In a prolonged time-lapse of their time in lockdown, we see the contrasting versions of our performer and their means of coping in a confined environment. As the days and weeks pass and isolation sets in, our performer’s repetitive routine slips and further versions of our performer appear, evidently struggling with prolonged isolation.

“Our story, scripted by Lee Mattinson, examines the possibilities and the optimism of re-connecting with friends and family, and finding ourselves once again as we emerge from lockdown restrictions.”

Spectacular performances… 




Helen Green, Head of Performance at Sunderland Culture, added: “Sunderland audiences may remember Southpaw’s performance of Faust on top of the St Mary’s Car Park back in 2016. ACEDIA, using ground-breaking technology, promises to be just as special and tickets will go very quickly – Southpaw has a national reputation for its indoor and outdoor spectaculars.”

ACEDIA is the last of three Sunderland Culture commissions awarded through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants aimed at capturing the hopes and anticipation of audiences as pandemic restrictions are eased.

The performances will be over the August Bank Holiday weekend – Friday, August 27 to Sunday, August 29. 

Tickets are £8 and available from Sunderland Culture’s website – – they’re limited to 15 per show and are expected to sell out quickly!

Will you be heading to see these dance performances in Sunderland? Get in touch online. Twitter: @SunderlandVibe, Instagram: @SunderlandVibe, Facebook: @SunderlandVibe.

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