Ed enjoys string of success with plays about North East heroes

Launch of touring play Hadaway Harry, by South Shields playwright Ed Waugh (L)  Tribute story to North East sportsmen Harry Clasper. Harry and his brothers brought the world rowing title to the North East for the first time in June 1815 - 170 years ago this year
Launch of touring play Hadaway Harry, by South Shields playwright Ed Waugh (L) Tribute story to North East sportsmen Harry Clasper. Harry and his brothers brought the world rowing title to the North East for the first time in June 1815 - 170 years ago this year

A South Shields playwright is enjoying a string of successes by bringing the stories of North East heroes to the stage.

Ed Waugh has penned shows about world boxing champ Glenn McCrory and record-breaking rower Harry Clasper.

Jamie Brown in Hadaway Harry.

Jamie Brown in Hadaway Harry.

His play Hadaway Harry, which tells the story of the famous rowing champion, was met with critical acclaim and is now set for the Theatre Royal stage.

It will appear at the Newcastle venue in February, next year.

It’s about how North East rowers came to dominate world rowing for 25 years after Harry led his team of brothers to the first world championship on the Thames in 1845.

Ed said: “The response to Hadaway Harry when we toured it in small venues along the rivers Tyne and Wear was phenomenal.

David Haldane, who draws for The Times, has created these illustrations of Harry Clasper for Ed Waugh's play, Hadaway Harry.

David Haldane, who draws for The Times, has created these illustrations of Harry Clasper for Ed Waugh's play, Hadaway Harry.

“Every performance got a standing ovation. We’re delighted that Jamie Brown, who played Harry Clasper, has just received a Best Actor award for his performance.

“Philip Bernays, chief executive of Newcastle’s Theatre Royal, came to see Hadaway Harry and kindly asked us to transfer it to the most prestigious venue in the North East, which says something about the quality of work of everyone involved in the production.”

Ed’s latest project about Ned Corvan, the very first Geordie singer/songwriter, has just been given the green light with support from the Arts Council and Sunday for Sammy.

Produced in association with the Gala Theatre, Durham, Mr Corvan’s Music Hall will tour the region next year.

Grace Darling.

Grace Darling.

Ed said: “I was approached to write a play about Ned Corvan and as soon as I started reading about Ned and his contribution to North East culture I was hooked. It really meant something.

“Ned was there when music hall was starting. It certainly wasn’t like TV’s The Good Old Days. Ned’s music hall era was before big business sanitised songs.

“Ned wrote and performed songs to support striking South Shields seafarers, about the New Hartley mining disaster and women’s aspirations. He was a fantastic comedian and a virtuoso violin player who was a star from Scotland to Yorkshire. He even started the Hartlepool Monkey legend with his song Fishermen Killed The Monkey, O.

“Sadly, Ned died of TB in Newcastle, in 1865, aged only 37, but what a drama his life was.”

He added: “Like Hadaway Harry, people will come away knowing a lot more about their history and creativity as well as the songs that actually shaped our culture.

“Songs like Blaydon Races by Geordie Ridley and Keep Your Feet Still Geordie, Hinny by Joe Wilson were written in the mid-19th century but never became popular until the advent of radio in the 20th century, so we have hundreds of fantastic local songs by dozens of singers, like Ned, that have never been heard by a live audience.

“Ned wrote around 160 songs and we are bringing alive some that have remained dormant for 150 years. Some are funny, some solemn. They all sound terrific.”

Ed’s latest show Carrying David is set to be performed at Stanley’s Alun Armstrong theatre in County Durham.

It portrays Glenn McCrory’s rise to becoming cruiserweight world champion in 1989 against the backdrop of David, Glenn’s terminally ill brother, fighting for life.

Ed said: “It’s the most emotional thing I’ve ever written. I re-read it last week and the tears still flowed. It’s an incredible story about two brothers who loved each other and overcame setbacks and, in Glenn’s case, public humiliation, to become the best in the world.”

In November he’s producing a Geordie Music Hall show to celebrate the birth of singer/songwriter Joe Wilson, who was born in Stowell Street in Newcastle, 175 years ago on November 29.

The show, to be staged at the Irish Centre, 20 yards from where Joe was born, will be hosted by Lindisfarne’s Billy Mitchell and feature songs and comedy.