THE story of north Northumberland heroine Grace Darling is to be brought to the stage by two of the region’s top playwrights.
And the three-week tour of the North East will begin with a world premiere at Alnwick Playhouse on Wednesday, October 17 before follow-up performances on Thursday (evening and matinee) and Friday.
Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, whose international and national stage hits include Dirty Dusting, Waiting For Gateaux, Maggie’s End and Son of Samurai, have penned Amazing Grace to celebrate the achievements of the first Victorian female heroine, who tragically died in 1842 aged only 26, four years after her heroic deed on the Farnes.
Grace Darling and her lighthouse keeper father lived on Longstone island when, in a storm on September 7, 1838, the SS Forfarshire struck the notorious Harcar rocks.
Of the 63 people on board, nine managed to escape in the lifeboat while Grace and her father selflessly manned a coble to heroically rescue nine people stranded on the rocks.
Queen Victoria bestowed the Silver Bravery medal on Grace, and, after Victoria, she became the most well-known woman in 19th century Britain.
The play will tell the story of Grace Darling through the eyes of a modern-day writer called Grace who wants to make a film about her famous namesake.
Trevor said: “It’s a funny, modern take on a wonderful story and will appeal to everyone aged from 13 to 113.
“We want to celebrate Grace’s achievement while illustrating how the Hollywood machine can play fast and loose with the facts.
“Grace was the first working-class female celebrity – the Cheryl Cole of her time – and the play is a tribute to her achievement.”
Amazing Grace will include film of some famous Northumberland landmarks and is being co-produced by Alnwick Playhouse with the support of Sunderland University.
Jo Potts, manager of Alnwick Playhouse, said: “Alnwick Playhouse is excited to premiere this new play based on and around Grace Darling. Her unique story is rooted firmly in the Northumberland landscape and deserves to be told.”
And the Gazette played a role in the play’s gestation after publishing a successful appeal by the playwrights for a pamphlet written by the sister of Grace Darling entitled Grace Darling: Her True Story, which was produced by Grace’s older sister Thomasin in 1880.
Amazing Grace is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.