October 21, 2014

David Peace donates Damned Utd stage rights to help local theater company


David Peace spreading the word with Red Ladder's red megaphone.

David Peace spreading the word with Red Ladder’s red megaphone.

We’ve never been shy about our admiration of David Peace. He’s a brilliant writer, and a swell chap to boot. So we were pleased but not surprised to hear of his latest endeavor. In a bid to help save the politically minded Red Ladder theater company in Leeds, Peace and his UK publisher Faber & Faber have donated the theater rights to The Damned Utd, Peace’s acclaimed novel of Leeds FC‘s legendary manager Brian Clough. (Melville House publishes three of David Peace’s novels in the U.S.: Red or Dead, GB84, and The Damned Utd.)

Well, not quite a donation…but maybe something better. According to the theater company, “Red Ladder has bought them from Faber & Faber for £3.68 – to represent the 368 pages in the book.” They go on to explain how that helps. “The play will become the focus of the Save Red Ladder campaign – i.e – the campaign’s £80,000 target will now pay for the book to be adapted and the play to be produced.”

Red Ladder has set up a fund on Localgiving, where anyone who signs up to give a small amount monthly (for six months) will get “a piece of the play.” They haven’t quite settled on what that means (a piece of the set? a page from the script?) but are taking suggestions at www.saveredladder.co.uk. They’re also promising an “invite to a party with David Peace, Red Ladder and the cast, which is likely to include a ‘name.’”

BBC writes that “Red Ladder, who saw its Arts Council funding stripped, “was formed in 1968 and regularly tours the UK, with its plays often delivering a left-wing political message.” So it’s not surprising that the author of political works like Red or Dead and GB84 would be sympathetic to their plight.

“For me, after all the inspiration and support I got from Red Ladder, particularly with the Red Writers Group while I was back in the UK from 2009 and 2011, and all the enthusiasm and interest Rod Dixon and Chris Lloyd have shown in my work – they were so helpful and inspiring when I was writing ‘Red or Dead’ – offering the theatrical rights for ‘The Damned United’ for the minimum amount possible was THE VERY LEAST I COULD DO to try, even in a such a small way, to help ‘Save Red Ladder.”

If you want to know more, follow @saveredladder, visit www.saveredladder.co.uk, or go ahead and donate at www.localgiving.com/redladder.

Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.