Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

THEATRE Hottest Ticket in Toon That's Just Champion; Wanted: A Play to Get People Flocking to Northern Stage as They Flock to St James' Park. David Whetstone Talks to the Creative Team Behind the Season Ticket, an Autumn Highlight

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

THEATRE Hottest Ticket in Toon That's Just Champion; Wanted: A Play to Get People Flocking to Northern Stage as They Flock to St James' Park. David Whetstone Talks to the Creative Team Behind the Season Ticket, an Autumn Highlight

Article excerpt

It started as a book, then became a film and is now a play which is taking shape ahead of a September premiere at Newcastle theatre Northern Stage.

It's called The Season Ticket - although the film was called Purely Belter - and it's timely, given that a fresh football season is upon us with dreams still to be realised or dashed.

Jonathan Tulloch's novel, published in 2000, tells of Gateshead lads Gerry and Sewell who are desperate to see their team, Newcastle United, play at home.

All they need is a season ticket. But it's way beyond their means in an age of Premiership football (this was in the Shearer era, remember). The lads, low on funds but high on cheek and ingenuity, must resort to other means.

The book, which won the coveted Betty Trask Award for first novels by authors under 35, struck a chord with many in the North East and the film, directed by Mark Herman and full of bitter-sweet humour, was also a hit - at least in this region.

On a terrace overlooking the emerald turf at St James' Park, Katie Posner (director) and Lee Mattinson (playwright) reflected on this first stage adaptation of the Tulloch novel.

Katie, originally from Reading, is associate director of Pilot Theatre, based at York Theatre Royal, which is co-producing The Season Ticket with Northern Stage.

She recalled: "It came out of a conversation I had with Lorne (Campbell, Northern Stage artistic director) a couple of years ago about collaborations because that's part of my job at Pilot.

"He was focusing quite a lot on the main stage and the stories Northern Stage wanted to tell.

"He said he was interested in stories about people in Newcastle and his task for me was to think of something that would get people off the Metro and up the steps to Northern Stage.

"I went, 'OK, I'll have a think about that'.

"I thought a lot about what Newcastle was all about. I knew football was supposed to be the religion of the city and I was talking to a friend of mine who's from Newcastle and he said, 'You've got to watch Purely Belter'.

"I watched the film about these two lads and then I read Jonathan Tulloch's novel which is The Season Ticket.

"I just loved it. I was blown away by the beautiful poetic language. I felt he really captured Gateshead in a very insightful way and I thought the themes were very transferable to the stage.

"I showed the book to Lorne and we both thought it seemed a natural fit to get Lee, who's an incredible talent, to write an adaptation.

"We have worked together on a couple of other projects in the past and are always talking and trying to find the next thing."

Lee, originally from Cumbria, moved to the North East at about the time Purely Belter hit the screens.

"A couple of my friends said, 'If you're moving to Newcastle you've got to see this film'. …

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