Getting the Third Degree, written by award-winning playwright Dougie Blaxland and directed by Roughhouse Theatre, was commissioned as part of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Kick It Out’s campaign to tackle racism and discrimination in football.
The compelling new drama will tour the UK in October and November 2019 to coincide with Black History Month.
The play tells the powerful story of Laurie Cunningham, who came to prominence with West Bromwich Albion in the late 1970s. The first of the black footballing trio famously dubbed The Three Degrees, Laurie Cunningham with his swaggering style and dazzling skills forced favourable comparisons with Pele.
The first ever millionaire black footballer, the first black player to sign for the mighty Real Madrid, and only the second to win a full cap for England, he inspired a generation of young black players to follow in his pioneering footsteps.
In dramatising Laurie Cunningham’s rise to stardom Getting The Third Degree also explores how he and his team mates triumphed over racial abuse and physical threats, often orchestrated by The National Front, through a combination of footballing brilliance, charismatic style and compelling dignity.
Incorporating 1970s funk, soul, blues, jazz/jive dance, football songs/chants, contemporary commentary and social and political speeches, Getting The Third Degree is a powerful piece of total theatre that vividly recreates a tense and troubled period in the history of football and society.
As part of the project, Kick It Out and playwright Dougie Blaxland have produced an education pack for use in secondary schools at Key Stages 3 and 4 that allows students to explore the issues and themes of Getting the Third Degree. The pack comes complete with a copy of the script and references to further research and reading.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Laurie Cunningham's niece, Rhodene Cunningham, said: “We are delighted Kick It Out has commissioned this new stage play about Laurie's life. He was a very special man loved by us all and we hope his pioneering story will be an inspiration to everyone who comes to see the production.”
With racial abuse in football and wider society dominating the headlines once more, playwright Dougie Blaxland says the issues the play raises are “every bit as relevant today” as they were more than 40 years ago when the Three Degrees were playing.
Roisin Wood, Kick It Out’s Chief Executive Officer, is excited to embark on such a unique project that will raise awareness of one of the pioneers of English football and a key figure in tackling racism in the game.
“In an organisation committed to changing deeply-embedded attitudes you cannot simply repeat the same message in the same way year after year,” she said.
“The commissioning of this play - and the development of the education pack - is an attempt to engage new audiences in our ongoing mission to combat racism in football.
“The more fans, followers of football and members of the public we can encourage to see this exciting production, the greater its impact will be.”
The play will be co-directed by Roughhouse Theatre’s joint Artistic Directors Shane Morgan and Moira Hunt, who have worked with Blaxland on three other productions with sporting themes: Hands Up for Jonny Wilkinson’s Right Boot commissioned by the Rugby Football Union for the 2015 World Cup, When The Eye Has Gone written for the Professional Cricketers’ Association as part of its Mind Matters campaign and The Long Walk Back (the Chris Lewis story) which toured the UK to critical acclaim earlier this year.
The part of Laurie Cunningham, and all the other characters in his story, will be played by an ensemble cast of Emile Clarke, Sabrina Laurison and Zara Gabbidon.
full tour schedule and contact information
Tues 22nd Oct: The Wardrobe Theatre Bristol 0117 902 0344 www.thewardrobetheatre.com
Weds 23rd Oct: Nottingham Playhouse Studio 0115 941 9419 www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk
Thurs 24th Oct: Burnham Park Hall Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri 25th Oct: Sherman Theatre Studio Cardiff 0209 2064 6900 www.shermantheatre.co.uk
Sat 26th Oct: The Core at Corby Cube 01536 470 470 www.thecorecorby.com
Mon 28th Oct: The Castle Theatre Studio Wellingborough 01933 270 007 www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk
Tues 29th Oct: The Maddermarket Theatre Norwich 01603 620 917 www.maddermarket.co.uk
Weds 30th Oct: The Hawth Theatre Studio Crawley 01293 553 636 www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk
Thurs 31st Oct: The Hazlitt Theatre Studio Maidstone 01622 758 611 www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk
Fri 1st Nov Oct: The Mac Theatre Birmingham 0121 446 3232 www.macbirmingham.co.uk
Sat 2nd Nov: The Greenwich Theatre London 020 8858 7755 www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk
Sun 3rd Nov: The Greenwich Theatre London 020 8858 7755 www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk
Mon 4th Nov: Millicent Fawcett Hall Theatre Westminster 020 7963 1000 www.westminster.org.uk
Tues 5th Nov: The Ben Travers Theatre Godalming 01483 291 500 www.charterhouse.org.uk
Weds 6th Nov: South Street Studio Reading 0118 960 6060 www.readingarts.com
Thurs 7th Nov: Salford Arts Manchester 0161 925 0111 www.salfordartstheatre
Fri 8th Nov: Salford Arts Manchester 0161 925 0111 www.salfordartstheatre.com
Sat 9th Nov: Everyman Theatre Cheltenham 01242 572 573 www.everymantheatre.org.uk
Mon 11th Nov: The College Theatre Bradfield 0118 964 4500 www.bradfieldcollege.org.uk
Tues 12th Nov: Queen Elizabeth II Theatre Winchester 01962 621 100 www.winchestercollege.org
Weds 13th Nov: The Rondo Theatre Bath 0333 666 3366 www.rondotheatre.co.uk
Thurs 14th Nov: The Julian Slade Theatre Bath 01225 835 353 www.priorparkcollege.com
Fri 15th Nov: Phoenix Arts Bordon 01420 472 664 www.phoenixarts.co.uk
Sat 16th Nov: The Marlborough Theatre Brighton 01273 273 870 www.marlboroughtheatre.org.uk