Joint winners of Lathan writer prize

Published: 27 August 2023
Reporter: David Upton

Joe Caffrey

Two new plays written by local writers are to be performed at The Customs House in South Shields early September.

They are part of the venue’s inaugural First Play Club programme, which, supported by Arts Council England, aims to give new or emerging writers the opportunity to have their work staged. The programme also aims to provide work for local actors and directors.

The First Play Club’s first productions will be Wearmouth, written by Ben Gettins, a young writer from Pennywell in Sunderland, and Grown Up Writin’ by Middlesbrough writer Louise Powell.

Both were joint winners of last year’s Peter Lathan Prize for New Writing, awards launched by The Customs House in memory of writer, director and British Theatre Guide founder Peter Lathan to find new voices for drama in the region. Louise also won this year’s Sid Chaplin’s Northern Writers Award.

Wearmouth explores the struggles of two men who meet on Sunderland’s Wearmouth Bridge every match day where they navigate their way through their own mental health struggles.

It will be at The Customs House September 4–6 and will be performed by actors Joe Caffrey and Jake Jarratt. It will be directed by Michael Blair, an actor making his directorial debut.

Meanwhile, set in a Teesside school in 2007, Grown Up Writin’ follows two schoolgirls navigating the chaos of year 11. It will be directed by Christina Dawson and performed September 8–10. Sophie Mai will play the role of Kayleigh and Alfreya Bell will play Ruth.

Both plays are suitable for audiences of 14 or over.

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