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Announcing Crongton Knights, a Pilot Theatre Production


Following a highly acclaimed tour of their stage adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses, Pilot Theatre will next year stage the world premiere of Emteaz Hussain’s new adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize Winner –  Crongton Knights.

Directed by Corey Campbell (Artistic Director of Strictly Arts Theatre Company) and Pilot Theatre’s Artistic Director Esther Richardson (Noughts & Crosses and Brighton Rock), the new adaptation will premiere at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry from 8-22 February 2020 and will then embark on a national tour which will visit York Theatre Royal from 25-29 February.

Crongton Knights will be the second of four co-productions between Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and York Theatre Royal who last year formed – with the Mercury Theatre Colchester – a new partnership to develop theatre for younger audiences. From 2019-2022 the consortium will commission and co-produce an original mid-scale production each year. Each production will play in all the consortium venues as well as touring nationally.  The consortium’s first production, Noughts & Crosses, was seen by over 30,000 people on tour with 40 % of the audience being aged under 20.

Born in London to Jamaican parents, Alex Wheatle’s first book, Brixton Rock (1999), told the story of a 16-year old boy of mixed race, in 1980s Brixton. The novel was subsequently adapted for the stage and performed at the Young Vic in 2010. Its sequel, Brenton Brown, was published in 2011.

His other novels include East of Acre Lane (2001), which won a London Arts Board New Writers Award. A prequel, Island Songs, set in Jamaica, was published in 2005,  and a sequel, Dirty South, in 2008. In 2010, he wrote and toured the one-man autobiographical performance, Uprising. His play, Shame & Scandal, had its debut at the Albany Theatre, Deptford in October 2015. He was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008.

Alex said about the new stage adaptation of Crongton Knights:

“I am very proud that Pilot Theatre are adapting my novel, Crongton Knights, for the stage.

It’s a modern quest story where on their journey, the young diverse lead characters have to confront debt, poverty, blackmail, loss, fear, the trauma of a flight from a foreign land and the omnipresent threat of gangland violence.

The dialogue I created for this award-winning novel deserves a platform and I for one can’t wait to see the characters that have lived in my head for a number of years, leap out of my mind and onto a stage near you.”

Emteaz Hussain is a playwright and performance poet. Her acclaimed first play, Sweet Cider, was produced by Tamasha Theatre Company at the Arcola Theatre in 2008 and was published in 2013 in the anthology Plays for Today by Women by Aurora Metro Books. Her other theatre credits include Blood (Tamasha Theatre Company – tour), Outsiders (Pilot Theatre – tour). Emteaz is currently under commission by the Royal Court Theatre to write a play about the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, titled Trace.  As a performance poet she has performed nationally and internationally and has toured with Transglobal Underground, Fundamental, Hustlers HC and as a backing poet with the Benjamin Zephaniah band.

On adapting Crongton Knights, Emteaz said:

On my first reading of Crongton Knights, I immediately recognised the intricate, multicultural, working class world that Alex Wheatle had vividly created. The unflinching brutality tempered by bighearted grace and the dignity afforded to the characters that I related to. I loved how these disparate young people struggled to bond in order to overcome such insurmountable obstacles in their young lives, and I jumped at the chance to adapt this for stage.”

The cast and creative team will be announced later in the year.

Schools workshops and outreach projects, along with free digital learning resources, will be available alongside the national tour.

Crongton Knights will open at Belgrade Theatre Coventry from 8-22 February 2020 and will then tour to York Theatre Royal from 25-29 February. Tickets on sale now.

Tue 25 Feb 2020 - Sat 29 Feb 2020

Crongton Knights