New take on the clas­sic sci-fi story

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

talks about the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a Western cor­re­spon­dent and a lo­cal jour­nal­ist,” says Chad­wick. “With a Western pass­port you can get out if nec­es­sary but for lo­cal cor­re­spon­dents it is much more dan­ger­ous. We have seen re­cently in Syria how jour­nal­ists are ac­tu­ally be­ing tar­geted.”

There are also lighter parts in the pro­duc­tion, as one of the recurring themes in the in­ter­views was that black hu­mour was very much a part of the jour­nal­ists’ way of cop­ing with the daily dan­gers of their work. When the play pre­miered in Birm­ing­ham last weekend one of the people Chad­wick had in­ter­viewed was in the au­di­ence. “I was a bit ner­vous, but he thought it was great,” she says. “I was pleased be­cause my orig­i­nal idea was al­ways to pay trib­ute to war cor­re­spon­dents – we are show­ing what it is like for them.” LEEDS writer Anthony Clavane has cor­nered the mar­ket in telling sto­ries about sport told from a very spe­cific an­gle. They are ap­proached from a side street, as op­posed to the av­enue leading to the gates of the ground.

In Promised Land he talked about the Leeds United faith­ful in a book that ex­plored how you can be a Jewish foot­ball sup­porter while around you there are fans us­ing anti-Semitic lan­guage. He talked about the city’s foot­ball team from the per­spec­tive of a young man watch­ing the chang­ing for­tunes of the city.

In the stage ver­sion of the book, au­di­ences watched ac­tors play spec­ta­tors watch­ing a foot­ball match. Clavane’s goal isn’t to show us the ac­tion, but to show us the ef­fect the ac­tion on a pitch – be it foot­ball or in his lat­est play, rugby – has on the watcher. “I like to tell the sto­ries of com­mu­ni­ties that tend to be over­looked. With my books and the plays these have been sto­ries about com­mu­ni­ties in Leeds and the north and the An­glo-Jewish com­mu­nity,” he says.

The lat­est over­looked com­mu­nity to have the spot­light trained on it is the rugby com­mu­nity. Play­ing the Joker looks specif­i­cally at the rugby league com­mu­nity and again Clavane trains his eye on the ac­tion off the pitch, on the im­pact it has on an in­di­vid­ual with a dan­ger­ous ob­ses­sion with the voice of rugby league’s Ed­die War­ing.

Clavane says: “This par­tic­u­lar story is a dark com­edy about the rugby league com­mu­nity which, in my view, has been over­looked na­tion­ally in favour of rugby union. There is an in­ter­est­ing rea­son why, and it is what mo­ti­vates one of the char­ac­ters in the play: in 1895 there was a north­ern work­ing- class re­bel­lion against the ‘gen­tle­men am­a­teurs’ from the south who re­fused to pay work­ers who missed their shift on a Satur­day, thus leading to a split be­tween the North­ern Union, which be­came rugby league, and union. In my view there re­mains a class and ge­o­graph­i­cal split to this day which de­fines – for a lot of fans – their north­ern iden­tity.”

The play had a first run out last year at the West York­shire Play­house’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint sea­son, where the theatre show­cases short plays in an in­for­mal set­ting.

Re­turn­ing to play the part of the un­hinged Ed­die Mar­lowe is Leeds ac­tor Paul Fox and Dicken Ashworth as Ed­die War­ing. Again, Clavane mines the sport to find deeper mean­ing. “It is also a story of a per­ceived be­trayal. Ed­die War­ing, the love­able face of rugby league who put the sport on the map, was ac­cused by York­shire purists of sell­ing out the game. There was a pe­ti­tion signed by 12,000 fans to sack him for his “crime” of mak­ing the sport a laugh­ing stock. He was a pioneer and cham­pion of the sport, but hated by a mi­nor­ity who wanted him out. I am in­ter­ested in what mo­ti­vated both Ed­die and his crit­ics – and the drama, hu­mour and poignancy of his fall from grace,” says Clavane.

The an­swer to why he has this ob­ses­sion with the ac­tion away from the pitch lies in Clavane’s day job.

“I write about sport for the Sun­day Mir­ror and the most in­ter­est­ing things that go on are of­ten off the pitch, away from the ac­tion. Promised Land was re­ally about the mov­ing di­ver­sity of Leeds as a city, but it used the foot­ball team as a way in to this story. The people who watch sport, and why they watch sport, are of­ten more in­ter­est­ing than the people who play it.”

Full tour de­tails: www. red­lad­der.co.uk THE cur­tain will go up on a brand new pro­duc­tion of HG Wells’s The Time Ma­chine next month.

The clas­sic story is be­ing re­told in a one man show.

Set in 1895, the work, adapted and per­formed by Lloyd Parry will be at Leeds Car­riage­works Theatre on May 17 (0113 224 3801).

The pro­duc­tion will then move to Hull Truck Theatre on June 5 (01482 323638) be­fore a fi­nal per­fo­mance in York­shire at Halifax’s Square Chapel on June 20 (01422 349422, www. squarechapel.co.uk).

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