Live theatre is returning to Gala Durham for the first time in over a year with the stage adaptation of acclaimed football novel The Damned United.
On Friday 9 July, Red Ladder Theatre Company will be bringing its take on David Peace’s book to the venue, which is run by Durham County Council. Audience safety continues to be a priority for the recently re-opened theatre, with the show being sold with socially distanced seating in line with the latest government and industry coronavirus guidance.
Directed by Red Ladder’s artistic director Rod Dixon and adapted by award-winning playwright Anders Lustgarden, the play brings to life Peace’s gripping tale about former Middlesbrough and Sunderland striker Brian Clough’s disastrous 44-day period as manager of Leeds United in 1974. Known as ‘Old Big ‘Ead’, Clough tries to redeem his managerial career and reputation by winning the European Cup with the Yorkshire club, the team he has openly despised for years and whose players hate him.
The play takes audiences inside the tortured mind of a football genius and brings to life the beauty and brutality of football. It is performed by a cast of three actors, Luke Dickson as Clough, David Chafer as his trusted assistant Peter Taylor and Jamie Smelt who plays Derby County chairman Sam Longson, Syd Owen and Jack Kirkland amongst others.
Gala Theatre had a £600,000 refurbishment before re-opening, which included fitting new flooring and seating in the auditorium and the creation of a new-look box office, display screens, signage and furniture.
Producer of The Damned United Chris Lloyd said: “We have very, very fond memories of Gala Durham as we took Sex & Docks & Rock ‘n’ Roll there as part of our relationship with Unite the Union and the Durham Miners’ Gala.
“It will be great to come back with The Damned United as the North East is a real hotbed of football fandom and knowledge and I’m sure many in the audience will have a soft spot for Old Big ‘Ead Brian Clough with his links to Sunderland and Hartlepool and being born in Middlesbrough. To be helping to relaunch Gala Durham’s theatre programme is an honour and a privilege and we are so looking forward to coming back.”
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “It will be fantastic to see live theatre being staged at Gala Durham once again with The Damned United. Due to the coronavirus pandemic we have not been able to host events such as this but now we are reopen in line with the government’s roadmap I’m sure plenty of people can’t wait to visit again and view live productions.
“I can’t think of a better play for Gala Durham to relaunch its programme of live theatre with following its recent refurbishment.”
Tickets for The Damned United are priced £16 for adults (£14 for concessions) and are available online at www.galadurham.co.uk or by calling the Gala Durham Box Office on 03000 266 600.