They call it the beautiful game and now the drama of the soccer pitch is set for a transfer to the stage.
Manchester’s Monkeywood Theatre, in association with The Lowry, is kicking off their partnership with the world premiere of By Far The Greatest Team.
Four new plays have been written by four outstanding Manchester writers (two city and two united fans) which will explore and celebrate what it means to be a football fan in Manchester.
The production will premiere at The Lowry, Salford Quays on September 17.
Told in a game of two halves, the production tells four new stories about Manchester City, Manchester United, identity, community, and belonging and gets to the heart of why the beautiful game has such an impact on the people of Manchester, season after season.
Each new play will be rooted in the truth about people’s lives and will challenge the usual stereotypes about football.
The imaginative new production will see the Quays Theatre at The Lowry, where Monkeywood Theatre are associate artists, transformed into a football stadium, recreating the atmosphere of a match day in the city.
The four new plays will be written by Manchester City fans Ian Kershaw (Murder in the Mist, Oldham Coliseum and Channel 4’s Shameless) and Sarah McDonald Hughes (Flesh, Royal Exchange and Once in a House on Fire, The Lowry, Maine Road, BBC Radio 4) and Manchester United fans Andrew Sheridan (Award winning Winterlong, Royal Exchange and Soho Theatre) and Lindsay Williams (Dreamers, Oldham Coliseum, Eastenders and Emmerdale).
The production will be directed by Monkeywood Theatre’s co-artistic director Martin Gibbons.
Said Martin: “I love football and I love theatre; I love the experience of watching football, the live, immediate, communal experience.
“Thousands of people holding their breath or celebrating a last minute goal…I want theatre to evoke that pure, emotional, in-the-moment response too.
“Manchester is a football city, two clubs and thousands of fans, stories, histories. The BFTGT plays are four separate stories, but we have woven them together so that, I hope, the experience of watching them mirrors the experience of a massive football match – light and dark, tragedy and comedy, life and death.
“More than that, I hope that the audience feel that they are part of something, a community of people all going through this emotional, visceral experience together.”
Alongside the production, and with support from The Lowry, The National Football Museum, Manchester City Football Club and Manchester United Museum and Tour Centre, there will be a programme of events and activities in the city, including an art installation based on the themes of the play, opening at the National Football Museum in September.
Monkeywood Theatre makes plays that are rooted in their Mancunian community and increasingly they work collaboratively with artists and audiences to make their work.
A key focus of their work is in attracting, engaging and retaining audiences who do not usually attend theatre.
By Far The Greatest Team runs at The Lowry from September 17-20.