The Theatre’s B2 Stage will be transformed into a wrestling ring for a gutsy new production
Meet Dan, Ben and Sami – three young men compelled over the ropes and into the ring to wrestle with life, demons and each other.
Coming to the Belgrade Theatre 10-13 April, Nick Ahad’s Glory is a sweaty, gutsy, painfully funny new play exploring the resurgence of grassroots wrestling, men’s mental health and what it means to be an outsider in 21st-century Britain.
Jim “Glorious” Glory used to be a somebody. In the heyday of British wrestling, he was a colossus, but now his empire has crumbled. Through Dan, Ben and Sami, he glimpses a chance to resurrect his career and re-establish his gym. But do they really want to help restore his glory? Or do they have a different fight in mind?
Following hot on the heels of the Belgrade’s own production Under the Umbrella, Glory is the second play to be hosted by the Coventry venue as part of Tamasha’s IGNITE programme, supporting emerging producers to develop work in regional theatres through Arts Council England’s Sustained Theatre Fund.
Described by playwright Nick Ahad as “an exploration of what it means to be ‘other’ in contemporary Britain”, Glory depicts a group of men from different backgrounds, all fighting their own battles, yet united in their drive for glory and their need for a release from the pressures that they face.
Disciplined and direct, Ben (Joshua Lyster) is a black British soldier, who turns to wrestling as a physical outlet for pent-up anger and emotion after experiencing a devastating loss. Dan (Josh Hart) is an avid northern wrestler of mixed British and Chinese heritage. He works in his family’s takeaways, but dreams of escaping by getting his big break as a wrestler.
Sami (Ali Azhar) is a Syrian refugee, struggling with language barriers, anti-Muslism prejudice and PTSD from his experiences of war. Finally, Jim (Jamie Smelt), is an old-school wrestler, too busy trying to relive his own former glories to be aware of the bigger issues faced by the younger characters.
Nick Ahad said: “Having a voice, a stage, is a privilege and it’s a duty to talk about difficult things on that platform. That doesn’t mean it’s combative – a lot of the play is funny. Drama is a brilliant way to raise an issue and humour is a great way to allow it to be discussed.”
“[It’s been] masses of fun,” he continued. “I got to write a stage direction which goes: ‘They wrestle. It looks awesome. Because wrestling is awesome.’ You can’t really have much more fun than writing that in a script.”
Innovatively combining two very different forms of live performance, Glory’s unique fusion of sport and theatre is perfectly timed to coincide with Coventry’s Year of Health and Wellbeing and its year as European City of Sport in 2019.
Presented by Red Ladder Theatre and The Dukes Lancaster as part of Tamasha’s IGNITE programme, Glory is written by Nick Ahad (Partition, The Chef Show), directed by Rod Dixon (The Damned United, Mother Courage and her Children) and designed by Eleanor Bull. Lighting is by Jai Morjaria and sound is by Taya Akinbode. The fight director is Kev McCurdy and the creative producer is Anna Nguyen. Glory shows at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry from Wednesday 10 until Saturday 13 April. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 or visiting www.belgrade.co.uk