After The Gift this month, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre hosts another world premiere modern play ahead of a major tour and London transfer: the physical theatre adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s award-winning 2016 Young Adults’ novel Crongton Knights, which features an original beatbox soundscape. Time to get booking!
Crongton Knights, adapted by Emtaez Hussain, runs in Coventry from 8 to 22 February 2020, as part of the B2 Season of Love and Belonging. It then tours to York, Brighton, Salford, Derby and Huddersfield before concluding with a London season at Theatre Peckham from 22 April to 9 May.
Life isn’t easy on the Crongton Estate, and for McKay and his mates, it’s all about keeping their heads down, but when a friend finds herself in trouble, they set out on a mission that goes further than any of them imagined. Join “The Magnificent Six” as they discover how lessons learned the hard way can bring you closer together with friends you’ll never forget.
Alex Wheatle’s book Crongton Knights was the recipient of the 2016 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2017. The novel was described by the Independent as “a joyous shout of youthful exuberance… enriching and life-affirming.”
The stage adaptation of Crongton Knights stars Olisa Odele, Marcel White, Aimee Powell, Kate Donnachie, Simi Edgebjumi-David, Khai Shaw, Zak Douglas and Nigar Yeva.
The production is co-directed by Corey Campbell (Co-Artistic Director of the Belgrade Theatre for 2021 and Artistic Director of Strictly Arts) and Esther Richardson (Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre), with a set designed by The Gift’s Simon Kenny and created in Coventry at the Belgrade Production Services workshop, and lighting by Richard G Jones.
In Crongton Knights, physical theatre combines with an innovative beatbox soundscape that brings the pulse of the city to life in this coming-of-age adventure. The original music and compositions are by Conrad Murray of the Battersea Arts Centre Beatbox Academy, whose recent production Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster, received rave reviews and played to sell-out audiences at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
About Alex Wheatle
Born in 1963 to Jamaican parents living in Brixton, Alex Wheatle MBE spent most of his childhood in a Surrey children’s home. He returned to Brixton in 1977 where he founded the Crucial Rocker sound system and performed his own songs and lyrics under the name of Yardman Irie. He spent a short stint in prison following the Brixton riots of 1981. Following his release from prison, he continued to write poems and lyrics and became known as the Brixtonbard.
Poet, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay describes Alex Wheatle as, “an inspirer… a vital writer… a prince among men”
Wheatle’s first novel Brixton Rock was published to critical acclaim in 1999. In addition to this and Crongton Knights, his many other books include Checkers, The Dirty South, East of Acre Lane, Home Boys, Home Girl, Island Songs, Kerb Stain Boys, Liccle Bit and Straight Outta Crongton. Many of them are on school reading lists.
In 2012, Wheatle wrote and performed his autobiographical one-man show Uprising for Tara Arts, touring the country. He teaches in various places, including Lambeth College and many prisons, and takes part in Black History Month every year.
In 2008, Wheatle was awarded an MBE for services to literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. He is the UK’s most-read Black British author. For more information, visit www.alexwheatle.com.
A consortium co-production
Crongton Knights is the second of four co-productions to emerge from a consortium project set up by Pilot Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Derby Theatre, York Theatre Royal and Mercury Theatre Colchester to develop new theatre for younger audiences. It follows last year’s highly successful, sell-out production of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses.
Between 2019 and 2022, the consortium will commission and co-produce one original, mid-scale production each year. Each production will play in the consortium venues as well as touring nationally. The first offering, Noughts and Crosses, was seen by over 30,000 people on tour with 40% of the audience being aged under 20.
About Pilot Theatre
Pilot Theatre is one of the UK’s leading touring theatre companies. Its vision is to produce work that sparks passion and ignites debate across the globe through our performances and digital networks. The company creates pioneering, contemporary work celebrating diversity in all its forms with relevance to young people and the issues they face in their lives, as well as nurturing emergent talent and aspiring artists from all walks of life and giving them the opportunity to share their voice and their art with the world.
Based at York Theatre Royal since 2002, Pilot is one of very few national touring mid-scale companies to be based outside London and is therefore able to offer unique training and work opportunities for artists and young people in mid-scale touring that they may be unable to get anywhere else in the region.
About the Belgrade Theatre
The Belgrade Theatre opened in 1958 as part of the rebuilding of Coventry after the Second World War. It received its name due to the gift of timber made by the Serbian capital, which was central to the construction of the new auditorium. It is the major arts and cultural facility in Coventry and is part of a group of organisations promoting engagement with the arts as Coventry prepares to be the 2021 City of Culture.
Prior to a UK tour, Crongton Knights runs at Belgrade Theatre, Belgrade Square, Corporation St, Coventry CV1 1GS from 8 to 22 February 2020 with performances Mondays to Saturdays at 7pm, matinees 13 February at 1.30pm, Saturdays 15 and 22 February at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced from £8.50. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!