"Community Development Project of the Year"
Gold winner, Community Radio Awards 2017
Hear our gold award-winning entry:
Writing and performances were developed and edited through a series of workshops with 6 different schools & organisations across Sunderland and South Tyneside; many of which went straight into the drama. These groups are; Boldon School, Monkwearmouth Academy, Southmoor Academy, the University of Sunderland, the University of the Third Age, and the Westovian Juniors.
Mackem Craic was a research & development project funded by the Cultural Spring and the #Fourteen Fund.
Dale Jewitt - Craig
Sarah Boulter - Lauren
George - Steven Stobbs
Mackem Craic is a phone-in show set in a somewhat supernatural version of Sunderland, where our community station Spark is based. The programme’s downbeat & divisive presenter Craig (Dale Jewitt) and producer Lauren (Sarah Boulter), are hosting a special show in memorandum of the show’s previous host George (Steven Stobbs), who passed away exactly a year ago.
Writer: James Whitman
Director: Corinne Kilvington
Producer: Jay Sykes
We wanted to create something akin to Night Owls on Metro Radio, a long-running phone-in show where callers can discuss anything they like. Host Alan Robson has a particular penchant for spooky content & ghost stories, and with the recent success of darker-themed podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale, our writer James Whitman wanted to create our own version in Sunderland.
Integrating the programme into Spark’s sound design was crucial; in “War of the Worlds” style we wanted the programme to sound as naturalistic as possible, and take the listener by surprise as the plot darkens.
Laced with humour throughout, Mackem Craic builds in tempo and tension; whilst initially the calls and highlights are light-hearted, friction mounts and host Craig is accused of taking advantage of George’s passing to increase listenership. And when Lauren “finds” a clip from the archives of George’s last recording, Mackem Craic takes a decidedly dark turn; is George trolling them from beyond the grave?
Praise for Mackem Craic
“There are so many times I feel something is forces because it’s something the writers wanted to happen in a show. [Mackem Craic] didn’t feel rushed. It feels like something that knows it’s good and didn’t want to reveal its hand too early.”
“It was genuinely gripping after a few minutes, came across as a believable live call in scenario instead of all scripted and pre recorded.”
“It got me in the feels.”
Mackem Craic is a vibrant and varied audio drama; perhaps because of the variety of voices / contributors to its 45 minutes duration. Many of the scenes & supporting characters were written, developed & performed over a period of three months, through a series of 18 workshops with 6 different schools & community groups in Sunderland and South Tyneside.
“While the voice acting may have fluctuated at times, I think that the community contribution idea more than makes up for it.”
As Mackem Craic’s producer, & editing workshop leader, much of my enjoyment & admiration for the project stems from its community development process. Witnessing people’s awed reactions to the radio studio environment, and seeing their confidence in their ability as performers develop over the workshops’ duration was genuinely inspiring. Many participants had acted before, but none had acted or written for radio; and most left wanting to come back for more.