One of Britain’s most respected theatre directors will oversee a highly anticipated production in County Durham this spring.
Conrad Nelson has been appointed to direct the Gala Theatre’s production of Cathy, which runs at the Durham City venue from Tuesday 5 to Saturday 9 May.
The play, by award-winning playwright Ali Taylor, was inspired by Ken Loach’s 1966 television drama, Cathy Come Home, and follows Cathy and her teenage daughter Danielle, who are forced out of their flat by spiralling living costs.
But despite the serious issues it explores, Conrad insists the production will be as heart-warming as it is hard-hitting.
“Cathy explores what happens when someone falls between the cracks in the system,” he said.
“This is obviously a difficult and thought-provoking topic, but Cathy is so much more than that. It is entertaining and full of life, with characters that are warm, humorous and spirited.
“The relationship between Cathy and Danielle is particularly poignant and is sure to resonate with mothers and daughters – and fathers and sons – in the audience.”
With more than 30 years’ experience as an actor, director and composer in theatre and television, Conrad brings with him a wealth of knowledge and a passion for telling stories people can relate to.
During his time with Halifax-based Northern Broadsides, he took on a number of roles, including playing Iago in Othello alongside Lenny Henry. In 2018 he was appointed as artistic director of Northern Broadsides, but he recently stepped down to set up his own theatre company, Claybody Theatre, with his wife, playwright Deborah McAndrew.
He is also exploring other acting and directing opportunities and was delighted when the Gala Theatre team contacted him about Cathy.
“I was incredibly flattered when I was asked if I would be interested in directing Cathy,” he said.
“Sadly, a lot of regional theatres have stopped producing their own plays and programme touring productions instead. The fact the Gala is brave enough to produce its own shows is something to be admired. Producing really is the life blood of the theatre and a wonderful opportunity to nurture local talent and to create plays that are meaningful for local audiences.”
Cathy was originally produced by Cardboard Citizens in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of the film and is partly inspired by the writer’s interviews with people who have experienced homelessness first-hand. Since then, it has played in theatres, prisons, hostels and even the House of Lords.
Robin Byers, manager of the Gala Theatre, said: “The Gala has a reputation for producing plays that are not only entertaining but are thought-provoking and challenge preconceptions.
“Cathy ticks all of the boxes and is just as relevant today as it was in the 1960s. We are delighted to have Conrad on board and can’t wait to see the fresh take he gives to this enduring story.”
The cast will be announced in the coming months.
Tickets cost between £10 and £16 with under 25s tickets just £5, and can be booked by calling the Gala Theatre Box Office on 03000 266 600 or online at www.galadurham.co.uk