A new play by a new writer at The Customs House

Published: 28 August 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

The cast of Our Laygate
Our Laygate poster

In September South Shields’ Customs House is to produce Our Laygate, the first play by Ann Ahmed, a new local writer, with additional text by Natasha Haws and director Mina Anwar.

As the title suggests, the play is set in the Laygate area of South Shields, a poor, tightly knit multicultural community.

“I wanted to write a play about how well the Laygate community comes together to support each other, and how proud I am of that,” Ann Ahmed said. “We were poor, but they were some of the happiest times of my life.”

“It must be three years ago when I had a call from Anne Ahmed wanting to talk about an idea she had to tell the story of her childhood community, Laygate,” added Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer.

“It’s been a journey of discovery for everyone connected to this production. A wonderful cast will bring to life a rich tapestry of characters under the direction of our dear friend and talented director Mina Anwar, who has worked so closely with Ann to shape the final script and bring the story to the stage, a story of its time but which still resonates today.

“I am proud that The Customs House has once again made space to tell a story of our people and place. Thanks to all the companies and individuals who have given financial help to support to this project.”

Set in late sixties Laygate, the play tells the story of Maggie Ibrahim and her three children, weighed down with poverty and suffering prejudice whilst awaiting the return of their beloved husband and father, David Ali, after a two-year absence as a ship’s cook.

As the tight-knit multicultural community prepare to be rehoused by the council as their slum homes are set to be demolished, but with no news of David’s return and the regeneration of the town looming, the friends and neighbours of Laygate try to enjoy their last weeks together and share their hopes and fears for the future.

Our Laygate runs 8–11 September and tickets, priced from £15.50, are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or on The Customs House web site.