This September, the north east will be treated to a ‘double bill’ of plays about Sunderland AFC.
After a depressing and frustrating season, Sunderland fans might want to forget about football for a while, but the two short plays from Sunderland-based theatre company Cracked Anvil promise an interesting night for anyone who loves the beautiful game.
Wise Men Say is a celebration of twenty years of the Stadium of Light. The play chronicles the highs and lows of supporting the lads and explores how being a committed fan affects not only a person’s own life, but the lives of those around them.
Wise Men Say is written by actor Paul Dunn, who also stars in the piece. Three years ago, Paul – the founder of Cracked Anvil – starred in another of the company’s productions, I Left My Heart in Roker Park.
I Left My Heart in Roker Park won the Revival of the Year award from the British Theatre Guide and was shortlisted for a Journal Culture Award. Paul Dunn’s performance in the play won him a Performance of the Year prize.
Paul said, “Doing I Left My Heart in Roker Park three years ago was an amazing experience.”
“It was so popular we ended up having to double the amount of shows we performed and were even asked back to the Customs House the following month to do another by popular demand!”
“The audiences were phenomenal and the Sunderland fans who came – many of which had never been to the theatre before – were some of the best I’ve ever had in any show.”
“I can’t wait to do this new show, which will be a completely new piece but will also have a few nods to the Roker Park play we did – so anybody who came to see that can keep a look-out for them!”
The other play in September’s double bill is Cornered. Written by BBC Look North’s Jeff Brown, Cornered tells the story of ex-Sunderland AFC player Dave Corner.
The play is centred around Dave’s appearance in the 1985 Milk Cup Final against Norwich. Just 18-years-old at the time, little did Dave know that when he stepped out onto the Wembley turf to play for his beloved Sunderland he’d end up being one of Wearside’s most hated men.
Dave made an error that gifted Norwich a goal – a goal that would win them the cup.
Cornered has been fashioned from interviews that Jeff has conducted with Dave Corner over the years.
Jeff said, “The play is an attempt to explain what life’s been like for the man himself in the intervening 32 years, and if not to excuse the momentary lapse that led to Norwich City’s winner, then maybe an attempt at rehabilitation.”
“Not that sympathy or forgiveness is something Davey himself has actively sought. Having spent a fair amount of time in his company, I can honestly say you’d struggle to find a more honest, cheerful, down-to-earth guy. Certainly not among the current football fraternity.”
“As a long-time sports writer – then broadcaster – the wafer-thin margin between success and failure has always been a fascination. Heroes can become failures in the time it takes you to jump out of your seat.”
The double bill will be on at the Customs House, South Shields, from 6th to 8th September; at the Durham Gala on 9th September; at the Washington Arts Centre on 14th September; and at The Peacock, Sunderland, on 22nd September.
Tickets range from £7 to £16 and can be bought at www.crackedanvil.co.uk.