Rod’s Blog 09.08.17 – Six Questions for David Peace
Rod Dixon, Director of The Damned United snatched five minutes with David Peace, author of the gripping novel ‘The Damned Utd.’ that inspired the stage adaptation Red Ladder are currently touring through to June 2018.
How did this stage adaptation of The Damned United come about?
The original idea came up one afternoon in the Maypole pub in Ossett, back in the summer of 2014. But then, when Red Ladder lost their Arts Council funding, the project became a bit more concrete and urgent.
How closely do you feel Anders Lustgarten’s stage adaptation of The Damned United captures your novel?
I think Anders keeps the essential atmosphere and mood of the book, and obviously the plot itself, but he’s also made it something else, something new and something more, and which is what any great adaptation does.
What did you take from watching The Damned United as a stage play?
More than anything else, for me, it was just a wonderful, humbling and exciting experience to see the original production at the West Yorkshire Playhouse last year, to see what so many talented people had brought to the work, and then how much the audience loved and appreciate it..
Are there things that a theatre adaptation can do, that a novel or film can’t?
Very much so, and particularly in this case; football itself, at every level, is drama, theatre and spectacle played out before a living, breathing and usually very partisan audience; this is what I feel Anders, Rod and everybody involved brought to the story which neither the original book nor the film could do.
What is it that makes Clough such a compelling figure?
I think we simply recognize him, in ourselves, as human beings, with all his complexities and foibles, his good side and his bad, his triumphs and his defeats.
Why do you think The Damned United holds so much appeal with non-football audiences as it does fans of the beautiful game?
Well, though few of us will sadly ever win the League or the European Cup, I think many of us have found ourselves in a new job with folk who were less than welcoming, and then perhaps not handled the situation as best we might. And then there’s always the mystery: why did Brian Clough put himself in that situation, why do WE put ourselves in these situations?
The Damned United is at the Pleasance Courtyard in Edinburgh from 2nd – 28th of August at 5pm, tickets are available here>>
It will also be transferring to the Pleasance in Islington from 13th -18th of November 2017.
About Rod: Rod became Artistic Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company in 2006, following his role as associate director at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth. He has also ran The Hub Theatre School in Cornwall and been an actor with several companies including Kneehigh Theatre. Directing credits for Red Ladder include Where’s Vietnam?, Forgotten Things, Riot, Rebellion & Bloody Insurrection, Ugly, Sex & Docks & Rock ‘N’ Roll, Big Society! and Promised Land. Rod is both a life-long Liverpool supporter and a believer in Proudhon’s principles of anarchy – the two might be connected.