Alex Wheatle’s book Home Girl will be turned into one-act play for Derby Theatre stage

Award-winning author Alex Wheatle’s book Home Girl is to be adapted into a stage production for Derby Theatre.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 5:30 am
Updated Monday, 25th January 2021, 6:38 am
Alex Wheatle's book Home Girl will be adaptated as a one-act play to be performed at Derby Theatre this summer.
Alex Wheatle's book Home Girl will be adaptated as a one-act play to be performed at Derby Theatre this summer.

Care-experienced young people and professional writers will contribute to the play which will be staged this summer.

Home Girl tells the story of a teenager growing up fast in the care system.

Alex Wheatle MBE is an award-winning author who won the Guardian Children’s Book Award in 2016 for Crongton Knights. Home Girl is one of the Crongton series novels.

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The fourth film, entitled Alex Wheatle, in Steve McQueen's highly acclaimed Small Axe series which recently aired on BBC ONe, is based on Alex’s life including his experience in care, his teenage years in Brixton and being jailed after the Brixton Uprising in 1981.

The Home Girl theatre project began its journey when Alex joined an online weekly book club during lockdown with members of the Theatre’s Plus One programme, an award-winning scheme for young people in care and care leavers which is also part of the Esmée Fairbain Leaving Care Programme.

Each week, Alex and the young people read chapters of the book, as well as discussing and exploring creative, on-stage opportunities for the story. Following on from these sessions, the project aims were further established, and the next step was to issue a writing commission opportunity for professional writers to adapt the novel for performance, in collaboration with young theatre makers aged 16-25.

Following a selection process, led by the young people, Nathan Powell and Sarah ‘Rain’ Kolawole were appointed as co-writers to work on the adaptation. Nathan Powell is a director and writer, making work that feels accessible to people who are not regular theatregoers, while giving regular

theatregoers an exciting night of something new.

Sarah ‘Rain’ Kolawole is a Spoken Word artist, poet, Soho Theatre alumni playwright and Associate Artist of Nottingham Playhouse theatre. Sarah is originally from Nottingham and has been writing poetry and performing spoken word for approximately 16 years and has been playwriting for five.

Alex Wheatle MBE said: “As a care-experienced writer, it’s really heart-warming that the Home Girl theatre project is being created, led and

shaped by young care-experienced people. It’s a joy working with the young people, Derby Theatre and its partners.”

Alix Manning-Jones (Derby’s Cultural Education Producer) said: “During lockdown, we set-up an online book club with our Plus One young people. We sent out copies of Alex’s book and invited them to join in a weekly online book club session which provided a safe space for our young

people and consistency at the time they needed it the most. We were honoured that Alex joined us every week, and we read chapters of the book together, discussing the characters and creatively exploring the ideas around the music, poetry and our vision of what the story would look like on stage. This is such an exciting opportunity for our young people and an inspiring first step into bringing such an iconic story to life to which many care-experienced young people can relate.”

Over the next few months, Alex, the theatre, the writers, the young people and Sarah Brigham, Derby Theatre’s artistic director, will work together on shaping the story into a one-act play.