Arthur Miller’s gagged drama, The Hook, set for Royal & Derngate

The Hook._Photo by Idil Sukan & Draw HQ02
The Hook._Photo by Idil Sukan & Draw HQ

Arthur Miller’s gagged story of corruption and gang rule in New York’s dockland finally gets an audience with a world premiere at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate Theatre next month.

The Hook, originally written for the screen, was mothballed after Miller refused to kowtow to studio bosses who wanted to change the politics of the story.

Marking the centenary of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller’s birth, the R & D, and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse will co-produce The Hook, adapted for the stage by Emmy Award-winning writer Ron Hutchinson.

The play takes to Northampton’s Royal stage from June 5-27 before its run at Liverpool Everyman.

Amid the political tensions of 1950s America, The Hook was suppressed by the FBI for fear that it could cause unrest in New York’s dockyards.

Sixty years on, Brooklyn’s epic waterfront will come alive on stage for the extraordinary story of Marty Ferrara, a longshoreman who challenges the mobsters and gangs of ‘50s New York and takes a stand against the corruption he witnesses from the authorities who control the docks.

The story of a close-knit community grappling with a world of crime and punishment, of changing industry and immigration from abroad, The Hook is a study in integrity and betrayal, charting one man’s struggle for meaningful change.

It is a story for our own age of growing unemployment, zero-hour contracts, immigration, industrial change and social tensions.

The drama is directed by R & D artistic director James Dacre, whose recent work has included King John, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Tale of Two Cities.

Said Dacre: “Over several years, our team has created a full transcript of Arthur Miller’s “play for the screen” by collating copies of his typewritten versions of the script and accompanying handwritten notes, working with a number of Miller’s collaborators and scholars in trying to make sense of it all.

“Drawing upon all these sources – and using only Arthur Miller’s language – Ron Hutchinson has adapted a play envisioned for the screen into an epic stage production that will be performed by a large ensemble cast.”

The Hook has been adapted for the stage by playwright and prolific screenwriter Ron Hutchinson, whose award-winning plays include include Moonlight and Magnolias and Rat in the Skull.

His Emmy Award-winning screen credits include Traffic and Murderers Among Us.

The central role of Marty Ferrera is taken by Jamie Sives (Game of Thrones, Secret State), whose recent credits include The James Plays, as James III, for National Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland (directed by Laurie Sansom), with Susie Trayling (The Crucible, West Yorkshire Playhouse, King John, RSC) as his wife Therese.

The cast also includes Tom Canton, Joseph Alessi, Séan Aydon, Tim Chipping, Sean Jackson, Sean Murray, Paul Rattray, Jem Wall and Ewart James Walters.

The company will perform alongside a large ensemble chorus drawn from Northampton and Liverpool’s local communities to play the dockside community of 1950s Brooklyn.

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