Consortium picks Crongton Knights as second co-production

Published: 19 June 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme

Novelist Alex Wheatle, adapter Emteaz Hussain and directors of Crongton Knights Corey Campbell and Esther Richardson Credit: Sharron Wallace

Pilot Theatre is to stage in 2021 the world première of Emteaz Hussain’s adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize winner, Crongton Knights.

It will be the second of four co-productions between Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and York Theatre Royal who in 2018 formed with the Mercury Theatre Colchester a new partnership to develop theatre for younger audiences.

The consortium’s first production, Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses, was seen by more than 30,000 people on tour, with 40% of the audience aged under 20.

Speaking about the stage adaptation of Crongton Knights, Wheatle said, “I’m very proud that Pilot Theatre is adapting my novel. 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.”

On adapting Crongton Knights, Hussain said, “on my first reading of it, I immediately recognised the intricate, multicultural, working-class world that Alex Wheatle vividly created.

“I related to the unflinching brutality tempered with big-hearted grace and the dignity afforded to the characters. I loved how these disparate young people struggled to bond to overcome such insurmountable obstacles in their young lives, and I jumped at the chance to adapt it for the stage.”

Crongton Knights will be directed by Corey Campbell, artistic director of Strictly Arts Theatre Company, and Pilot Theatre’s artistic director Esther Richardson who directed Noughts and Crosses. It will open at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry from 8 until 22 February 2020 and will tour to York Theatre Royal (25 until 29 February), The Lowry, Salford (10 until 14 March) and Derby Theatre (17 until 21 March). Other tour dates will be announced later.