Playwright Ed Waugh pays a personal tribute to North-East director Jackie Fielding

NORTH-EAST theatre has suffered a terrible loss with the death of Jackie Fielding, aged 47. After studying at Manchester University and London's Webber Douglas Academy, Barrow-born Jackie found her forte as a theatre director.

I first encountered this ubiquitous dynamo in around 2000, when I went to see the Boyle Ya Stotts troupe who, under the direction of Jackie, wrote and performed at the Customs House, South Shields.

It was inspirational; Trevor (Wood) and I wrote our first play, Good to Firm, in 2002.

We first worked with Jackie in 2005 when she directed Waiting For Gateaux. We were cockily riding high on the runaway success of Dirty Dusting. She allowed us into the read through - and then kicked us out of rehearsals! Ultimately, we trusted her with our words.

She directed The Revengers in 2005 and then our radio play Son of Samurai which, in 2009, was the first North East play to be performed at the Latitude Festival.

Jackie was an integral part of the production team involved with our trilogy of plays at the Customs House in 2010 (Good To Firm, Raising the Stakes and Photo Finish).

In 2012, she was Mark Wingett's assistant director on Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather, which played Darlington Civic Theatre to raise money for Darlington 1883. "Alf Ramsey" is about the West Auckland miners who won the first world cup in 1909. The production went like clockwork.

She loved the play and directed two scenes from the show for the Sir Bobby Robson 80th Birthday show at The Sage in 2013. Her words were: "Yes! I've finally got my hands on Alf Ramsey."

The show will be revived; we'd have asked Jackie to be at the helm.

In 2012, we wrote a play called Amazing Grace, about Grace Darling. Jackie gave it the organisation it needed. It was a huge success, playing to around 4,500 people. Typically, she refused to be paid for her role. It took a stand-up argument for her to take the cheque.

We had numerous heated discussions. She, like me, could be a pain in the backside. Sometimes she was right, sometimes she was wrong. It was soon forgotten. There was always a hug on meeting.

In December 2013 my charity sketch show Laffalang involved 14 actors and a day's rehearsal before performances at The Stand, Newcastle. I watched, amazed, at how experienced actors and performers responded enthusiastically to her direction.

Jackie never saw that Laffalang - she was working on another show - she'd helped us on her weekend off!

She worked with young people in Bold as Brass and adults with learning disabilities in Ocean Arts. I'd write press releases and wonder where she got the energy to give such commitment to so many groups.

The last time we worked together was Sunday for Sammy 2014 at Newcastle City Hall. We hugged on stage.

Jackie attended subsequent Laffalang shows and Dracula: Die Laughing, a show I wrote for the 2014 Whitby Goth festival. I asked if she'd enjoyed it. "Loved it!" she replied. That meant a lot.

Jackie performed in The Stars Look Down in 2004. She was outstanding. I once asked her why she never appeared in our plays. "I never get bloody asked!" she retorted.

Jackie was in our BBC Roman-era radio sitcom set on Hadrian's Wall, called It's Grim Up North in 2011. She was superb.

It's ironic that Jackie collapsed with a brain aneurysm during The Man and the Donkey. I believe it's the pinnacle of her directorial prowess.

Jackie was arguably the best theatre director in the region, and certainly one of the best known.

The tragedy is that she still had so much to offer. Many, many will miss her personally and professionally.

RIP Jackie Smith (stage name Fielding). And thanks.

For a full version of this dedication to Jackie Fielding visit

A private family cremation will take place tomorrow (Friday) in Barrow. A remembrance service in Jackie’s memory will take place at the Customs House, South Shields, on Sunday, September 13.

Over the past few years I worked with Jackie on a number of Promotional dvd's for Tyneside based Local Authorities and Charities.

An email tribute from Wayne Miller says: "I first met Jackie when Ray Spencer invited her to come to South Tyneside College to cast community play Tyne Songs at The Customs House, in South Shields. I was a 17-year-old actor in training back then. Jackie was someone that could communicate with actors of any level and any age. She offered so much encouragement, support, advice and friendship, a friendship we shared for 19 years. In that time she helped me become a better actor, eventual director, but most of all a better friend.  We worked together so much and not having her with us North East theatre folk any more is such a huge loss, She will be missed."

NORTH-EAST film maker Gary Wilkinson has sent this email tribute:

"Over the past few years I worked with Jackie on a number of promotional DVDs for Tyneside-based local authorities and charities. After Jackie wrote the script we would have a meeting where we would discuss the script and how the film was going to look. She had a great knack of bringing together actors who would just gel together and make the filming sessions work really well. In one DVD she paired the North-East actors Donald McBride and Rosalind Bailey as partners, and on the project we were working on this year, for the Key Charity for Homeless Young People, she brought in Steve Wraith.

"As a director she always pushed the project hard to get the best for the client. Jackie liked football and after our meetings we would often talk football tactics, after one England game she said 'Wellbeck and Sturridge are a good forward line, but is Rooney playing in the best position for England?' I'll miss her."