Published: 11th March 2020

A group of boys from a South Tyneside school are set to take to the stage in an evening of dance that will challenge perceptions of ‘macho’ men

Pupils from Epinay Business and Enterprise School in Jarrow have been working with Michael Heatley, founder and artistic director of Hit the Ground Running Dance Theatre Company in Newcastle, on a performance called One of the Lads. They will perform the piece at The Customs House on Friday, March 20, alongside a performance of Macho, a professional dance piece created by Hit the Ground Running and the first part of a trilogy tackling the stigma around male mental health.  One of the Lads is part of The Customs House’s involvement in the Future Arts Centres Here and Now project, a national project supported by National Lottery to showcase the impact of 25 years of lottery funding. Forty centres in the UK were given a brief to create an arts project that was “unexpected, or not what they usually do” but would tell the story of a place and its people.

Izzy Finch, Learning and Participation Officer at The Customs House, said: “Michael is our lead artist on this 12-month project and he will be exploring concepts of masculinity, mental health and men’s identities within the context of the post-industrious north east of England. He has been working with 12 young men from Epinay Business and Enterprise School and exploring these themes through movement and physical theatre”.

Established in 2015, Hit the Ground Running create dance and physical theatre performances that challenge and question the perceptions and notions of mental health in the modern age. Its mission is to encourage and spark conversations surrounding mental health and to share real life stories of bravery and courage.
The company celebrate a collaborative approach to devising theatre, working with local communities and individuals who inspire the development of thought-provoking performances for a wide variety of audiences both young and old.

Michael, who has been a dance teacher for almost 20 years, said: “My main focus is to encourage lads to dance, so One of the Lads was an absolute must and I’m thrilled my company is part of it. I’ve been resident dance teacher at Epinay for 16 years now and have always thrived on the energy and focus the students have always given in my lessons. Our main focus is to encourage confidence and well-being and engage the students to express themselves through movement as individuals, but also working as part of a team in a safe and fun environment.” Click HERE for updates on the project.

Macho and One of the Lads is at The Customs House on Friday March 20th from 7.30pm, running for 60 minutes. Tickets are £5, are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at

Hit the Ground Running is also bringing its latest production, Suitcases, to The Customs House on Thursday, June 4, at 7.30pm with ticket prices from £8.