Wolverhampton Grand Theatre in association with the Touring Consortium Theatre Company have today announced that Olivier award-winning actor and celebrated TV personality Matthew Kelly will lead an all-star cast in a major new stage adaptation of E R Braithwaite’s To Sir With Love which makes its world premiere at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from Tuesday 22nd – Saturday 26th October.
Matthew Kelly is to play Mr Florian in this world premiere co-production by the Touring Consortium Theatre Company/Royal & Derngate Northampton, written by E R Braithwaite and adapted by Ayub Khan Din (East is East). Mark Babych will direct To Sir With Love, with design by Mike Britten, lighting by Johanna Town and choreography by Nick Winston.
Based on E R Braithwaite’s autobiography and adapted by Ayub Khan Din, To Sir With Love is the story of Ricky Braithwaite, an ex-RAF fighter pilot and Cambridge graduate who arrives in London in 1948. Despite his first class degree in electronic engineering, he is turned down for job after job in his chosen profession and discovers the reality of life as a black man in post-war England. Taking the only job he can get, Ricky begins his first teaching post, in a tough but progressive East End school run by the enlightened headmaster ‘Florian’. Supported by Florian the determined teacher turns teenage rebelliousness into self respect, contempt into consideration and hate into love, and on the way, Ricky himself learns that he has more in common with his students than he had realised.
To Sir With Love is the first production in a new programme of work to be produced by the Touring Consortium Theatre Company. TCTC was set up with the aim of touring large scale quality drama with integrated education programmes to theatres across the UK. The Grand has been involved with the Touring Consortium Theatre Company since it began in 1995, playing host to productions such as Rain Man starring Neil Morrissey in 2009, To Kill A Mockingbird starring Duncan Preston in 2011 and The Diary of Anne Frank in 2012 starring Christopher Timothy.
Matthew Kelly is a patron of TCTC, which has been awarded 1.1 million pounds from ACE to develop audiences in areas of the UK that depend on touring for theatre. He won an Olivier Award for best actor for his performance in Of Mice and Men in the Touring Consortium production presented by Jenny King and Matthew Gale in the West End in 2004.
To Sir With Love was E R Braithwaite’s first book and was written in 1959. Later publications include Paid Servant, A Kind of Homecoming, Collected Short Stories, Choice of Straws, Reluctant Neighbours, Honourary White and Billinglsy, The Bear with the Crinkled Ear.
Ayub Khan Din is the celebrated author of East is East (1997), which was staged at the Royal Court Theatre and subsequently adapted into a hugely successful feature film. The Play and film have won a Writer’s Guild Award for Best New Writer and a British Academy Award respectively. Later plays include Last Dance at Dum Dum (1999), Notes on Falling Leaves (2004), All the Way Home, and Rafta Rafta (2007), which won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. A film adaptation, All in Good Time, was released in 2012, a year after his sequel to East is East named West is West. Ayub’s most recent plays have been All The Way Home, directed by Mark Babych at the Lowry Theatre in Salford, and musical comedy Bunty Berman Presents, produced on Broadway by The New Group.
The Touring Consortium Theatre Company will announce all five productions in 2013. These will be chosen with the aim to engage with young and diverse audiences and with people in areas of the country who rely on touring for much of their theatre. The varied programme of work will include three World Premieres. Advance production work will include workshops with partnership schools, local casting, live broadcast of debates on the themes of upcoming productions, masterclasses on-line and a variety of activities related to the programme.
Ticket are priced between £9.50 and £24.50, and are available from the box office on 01902 42 92 12 or on the website at www.grandtheatre.co.uk.