A THEATRE company has been exchanging sweets for inspiration this week.

Shoppers in Stockton who went into the Fifties Airstream caravan decked out as a traditional sweet shop had to record a thought, poem, fact or anything they wanted in the group's red book in return for some sweets.

The information will be used in a performance to be staged at The Arc arts centre in Stockton tomorrow and Saturday.

Actor Lizzie Wiggs, from Slung Low, the group that will stage the show, stressed that the book was not meant to be a list of facts or arguments about Stockton. She said: "We get people leaving recipes or poems. It can be anything."

Visitors Samantha Trundley, 21, Louise Harland, 19 and Jennifer Harland, 20, recorded negative comments in the sweetie shop book.

"We've just walked the entire length of the High Street and gone into every single shop looking for a job, " said Samantha. "We didn't even get so much as an application form. There's nothing positive for young people to put about Stockton."

But when prompted by Lizzie and fellow actor Gareth Taylor, they conceded that Stockton International Arts Festival, "especially before you had to pay for the music night" and the light shows on the Tees were fun events.

The caravan will be open again today and the first performance, by Slung Low, from Leeds, will take place at The Arc, in the town centre, tomorrow at 6.30pm and Saturday at 3pm. Tickets are free. Call 01642-525199.