ONE of the region’s most experienced actors is to appear in a Sunderland playwright’s debut production.
Joe Caffrey has been a successful stage and screen actor for 30 years and will play the role of Steven in Ben Gettins’ first play, Wearmouth, which will be staged from Monday, September 4 to Wednesday, September 6 at The Customs House in South Shields.
Joe trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and his theatre work includes major roles in Billy Elliot and The Pitmen Painters on the West End; at Shakespeare’s Globe, and many major regional and national tours. His most recent role was at the Sunderland Empire where he played a lead role in The Sunderland Story, a play about the history of SAFC.
Joe’s TV work includes Vera, Wolfblood, Doctors, The Bill, Byker Grove, Badger, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates and Spender. He has also been in movies Captain Marvel II, Victoria and Abdul, and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Wearmouth explores the struggles of two Sunderland supporters who meet on Wearmouth Bridge every SAFC match day. There they navigate their way through their own mental health struggles, the ever-changing world around them and the trials and tribulations of Sunderland Football Club.
Joe said: “It’s a great play – very moving with some witty and clever dialogue. I enjoyed reading it and I can’t wait to start rehearsals.
“It’s about two men who are, in their own ways, desperate. It’s an exploration of grief, an area I think men in particular find difficult to cope with.
“There’s a big age gap between my character and Luke, played by Jake Jarrett. I become like a father figure to Luke, but it’s very much a two-way relationship, with each of them helping and supporting each other.”
Writer Ben, 23, completed a BTEC in drama at Sunderland College before going on to complete the prestigious A Project, an acting course at The Theatre Royal. His acting credits include Down the Lines at The Customs House and the critically acclaimed one-man show Sugar Baby at the Alphabetti Theatre.
“Since completing my training I’ve had a couple of great roles and I’ve also worked on the Creative Learning programme at the Sunderland Empire. It was while I was working at the Empire that I came up with the idea of Wearmouth and started writing the play,” Ben said.
Once Ben had finished a first draft of the play, The Customs House asked vastly experienced playwright and poet Tom Kelly to mentor the young writer.
Wearmouth will be directed by Michael Blair, an actor making his directorial debut. It is one of two new plays produced for The Customs House’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.
Louise Powell’s Grown Up Writing’ is the other play being produced, and will be performed from Friday, September 8 to Sunday, September 10. The play will be directed by experienced actor Christina Dawson in her first professional role as a director, and Sophie Mai will play the role of Kayleigh. Alfreya Bell will play Ruth.
Both plays are suitable for audiences of 14 or over and for more information, or to book tickets, go to www.thecustomshouse.co.uk