James Graham

James Graham to adapt Alan Bleasdale’s Boys From The Blackstuff for the stage

Oliver Award winning scribe James Graham will adapt Alan Bleasdale’s Boy’s From The Blackstuff for the stage, it has been announced.

Set in ’80s Liverpool, Bleasdale’s ground-breaking drama follows five men trying to make ends meet while job opportunities are scarce. James Graham said today: “Alan Bleasdale is one of the reasons I became a writer. Watching his work as I was growing up, hearing those voices and seeing those worlds, meant a lot to someone from my background. I could never have dared dream that years later I would be working with him, and on his most famous, heartbreaking, hilarious masterpiece. But Alan is the most generous and supportive of collaborators and it’s been one of the honours of my writing life thus far to work on this show.

Graham, who is widely lauded in theatre circles has recently won plaudits for his BBC series Sherwood starring Leslie Manville which explores the legacy of mining communities in Nottinghamshire.

Alan Bleasdale said: “Almost all of my stage plays are set in one location and using real time. The one attempt I made to use multiple characters and multiple sets and the passage of time was a disaster. So, when the idea of the stage version of the series was suggested with James Graham as the writer I just thought: I don’t know how to do it. But James does.

Bleasdale added “ While I’m pleased that the work is still well regarded, the biggest sadness for me is that in the forty years since I wrote The Boys from the Blackstuff we might have hoped that things would get better. But they haven’t. Have they?”

Stockroom and Liverpool’s Royal Court will produce the show which will run at the Royal Court from 15 September to 28 October 2023. Stockroom Artistic Director Kate Wasserberg will direct.

Kate Wasserberg said They say never meet your heroes, but I have never had a happier and prouder professional moment than when I introduced two of mine – Alan Bleasdale and James Graham. They are kindred spirits, and this production, about courage and despair, oppression and hilarity, is the very best of them both. Sadly the struggles of the 1980s don’t feel like history, we are all feeling the pain and the rage, the absurd cruelty and confusion of those times in the here and now. I hope the show will be a fantastic night out with big laughs, some anger and some tears, a celebration of Liverpool, of workers, and of the power of community when things get tough. I can’t wait. 

In addition to Sherwood, Graham wrote the stage play and tv adaptation of Quiz which is based on the Who Want’s To Be A Millionaire coughing major scandal. His notable West End productions include This House, Ink, Labour of Love and The Vote. He is also working on at least two musicals – an adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm with Alan Menken and a new musical based on US televangelist Tammy Faye with Elton John and the play Best of Enemies.

Further creatives and casting to be announced.

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📷 Main photo: James Graham

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