Walking for Hadaway and Mr. Smith’s Parcel

We had a full house at The Grand Hotel for the Stan Laurel night and here’s to the full production of Laurel & Hardy in Tynemouth planned for late Autumn. How can it go wrong, requiring, as it does nothing more than (a) Pauline Hadaway completing the play her father Tom began all those years ago and (b) Cloud Nine managing to raise £25,000 towards the production? Then we’re really in business.
As regards fund-raising, I’ll be sitting down over the new few weeks to the unenviable task of putting in an Arts Council England application. Anyone who has been through this exhaustive process will sympathise. The will to live can rapidly evaporate and slit wrists become an attractive option as you struggle through completing 30 detailed pages of finance, policy and your weather forecast for the relevant dates (OK, I made the last one up). The challenge of writing a new play or a short story is as nothing compared to an ACE bid and grown men and women have been seen weeping and wailing, – an ululation even – sobbing desperate tears, heads sunk onto their keyboards as they confront the gargantuan task.
It is, I tell myself (and remember, I was brought up a catholic) a necessary purgation for some past misdemeanor, so I accept my fate and get on with it.
A slightly less daunting fund-raising idea for the play is for Cloud Nine this Summer staging the event, Hadaway and Walk. We shall invite friends, colleagues – even enemies if they’re so minded –to take part in an attractive seven mile North Tyneside perambulation along our distinctive sea shore and through pleasant countryside. This will followed by a barbecue for all. Each walker, who will be expected to raise £100, will get his or her name in the play’s programme. I’m confident we’ll find enough folk willing to do it. If even now the blood is surging through your veins at the prospect and you’re reaching for your Nordic walking poles, get in touch to put your name down. The walk is likely to be Sunday, August 2.
Everyone I’ve spoken to is excited by the prospect of a ‘hidden’ Tom Hadaway play coaxed into the light via his daughter Pauline and Cloud Nine.Ten years after his death the writer retains the respect and affection of people in the region, partly because he was/is not some remote academic or shallow celeb, but one of – for want of a better phrase – the people, brought up in North Shields, a man who always lived in the borough and deeply immersed himself in the Shields fishing community of which he wrote so powerfully He was probably the only playwright to run a wet fish shop and own part of a small Shields trawler. Add to the fact that he wrote some of the best plays to emerge from this region in the past half century (The Filleting Machine and The Long Line to name only two) and his continuing popularity is easy to understand. Yet despite this popularity, productions of his plays during this ten years have been few. May Laurel & Hardy in Tynemouth (focussing on the famous duo’s one day visit to the town in 1932) renew the theatre world’s interest in Tom Hadaway’s work.
I’m thrilled that Teddy Kiendl., erstwhile artistic director of Live Theatre Company, Newcastle and a long-time admirer of Tom’s work is travelling up from Wales to direct the piece. During his Live Theatre tenure, Teddy also directed a Pauline Hadaway play (The Glass House) so no-one’s more qualified to face this challenge. The Grand Hotel itself (where Laurel & Hardy were based that day) plus Northern Stage’s Stage Three in Newcastle are already booked for runs for November and there may be other additions.
Meantime, our next production, due early May is a one man play specifically written by me for my son Dylan. More soon about A Parcel for Mr. Smith, which could be described as a post office absurdity, a profound warning about the dangers about unsigned-for consignments, or a commentary on the efficacy of the parcel delivery service. There again,it might just be a piece about a man reluctant to open his front door. The play itself is planned to open for a week of various venues on Monday May 11.
PETER MORTIMER

Updated: March 10, 2015 — 7:44 pm
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