Doncaster Cast is flying high for first birthday

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With 164 shows under her belt, watched by a total of 71,784 people, you’d think Cast executive director Kully Thiarai would be taking a well-earned break as Doncaster’s newest theatre venue celebrates its first birthday.

This time last year, the showpiece £22 million replacement for the town’s crumbling Civic Theatre had just opened its doors, a curious Doncaster public taking a peek behind its impressive Sir Nigel Gresley Square facade for the very first time.

David Bradley as Billy Casper with his falcon Kes in the Ken Loach film of the same name from 1969.

David Bradley as Billy Casper with his falcon Kes in the Ken Loach film of the same name from 1969.

And now the venue is flying high with a week-long run of Yorkshire classic Kes, which includes live falconry on stage, and completes its run on Saturday.

Kully said: “Like our first production The Glee Club, Kes is a local story, which we feel is our story and the perfect thing to mark our first birthday.

“This is a new production, adapted by myself and writer Philip Osment, done our way, featuring live falconry and a community ensemble alongside home-grown professional actors.

“We’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved at Cast in its first 12 months and one thing we’ve been determined to achieve, and have achieved, is to make Cast Doncaster’s ‘cultural living room’ – a space the community can take real ownership of.

“Kes fits the bill for us because it’s a big story full of heart, it’s a local story, and we’ve adapted it in a way that might surprise those who know the story, and will delight those who are new to it.”

The venue has become a firm favourite on both the local and national theatrical scene and has welcomed everything and everyone from the worlds of dance, music, theatre, comedy and drama to the stage.

But Kully won’t be resting on her laurels.

She’s determined the groundwork laid down in the last year will continue to make Cast a real force on the UK theatrical circuit.

Other major works lined up for the autumn-winter season include Othello, much loved poet Pam Ayres, stand-up star Lee Hurst, as well as scores of music, drama and dance productions.

Kully said: “It has been a great first year, the last 12 months have been really exciting.

“It actually feels like we have been here a very long time, which I think is a real marker of our success.

“My aim is to hear people talking about Cast in a few years’ time in the way people talk about the big regional theatres. Cast is here for everyone.”

A touching Yorkshire tale that became a movie classic

The tale of Kes is best known from the 1969 Ken Loach film which was based on the novel A Kestrel For A Knave by Barnsley-born author Barry Hines.

The film tells the story of bullied mischief-making teenager Billy Casper, played by David Bradley, who has little going for him.

But he discovers hope when he raises a kestrel, taken from a nest on a farm.

As he trains the bird, his outlook improves and for the first time in life he is praised at school.

However, the film has a bleak ending.

Perhaps the best remembered scene is a school football match where a PE teacher – played by the actor Brian Glover – fancies himself as a ‘balding Bobby Charlton’.