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I, Daniel Blake

David Nellist in I, Daniel Blake. Photo courtesy of the Belgrade Theatre.

I, Daniel Blake playing at the Belgrade Theatre 8 – 11 November 2023.

Preview by Arabella Neville-Rolfe.

The critically acclaimed stage premiere of the multi-award-winning film, adapted by Dave Johns – co-produced by Tiny Dragon Productions and English Touring Theatre in association with Northern Stage – will come to Coventry from 8–11 November 2023 with a press performance at the Belgrade on Wednesday 8 November 7:30pm.

The first stage adaptation of Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or and BAFTA award-winning film is adapted by actor and comedian Dave Johns, written by Paul Laverty, and produced by Rebecca O’Brien for Sixteen Films. Ken Loach said, “This story is more relevant now than ever. And who better to put it on stage than Dave Johns, the original Daniel Blake?”

Dan is a carpenter. A Geordie through and through. Just on the mend after a heart attack. Katie has just arrived from London. Finally got a council house for her and the kids. A fresh start.

A touching story of people coming together in the face of adversity and how sometimes creating a family to support you just isn’t enough when the system is stacked against you.

Jodie Wild as Daisy and Bryony Corrigan as Katie. Photo courtesy of the Belgrade.

The cast consists of David Nellist (Sherlock, BBC) as Daniel Blake, Bryony Corrigan (The Goes Wrong Show, BBC) as Katie Jenkins, Kema Sikazwe (I, Daniel Blake, 2016) as China, Janine Leigh (In Our Name, Channel 4) as Sheila, Micky Cochrane (Billy Elliot the Musical, Curve) as Harry and Jodie Wild making her professional stage debut as Daisy.

Dave John’s said, “I was thrilled to be asked to adapt Paul Laverty’s screenplay. But I didn’t just want to put the film on stage, I wanted to update the story for 2023, making it contemporary and exploring more of single mum Katie’s journey and the family unit she forms with Daniel. To show the kindness, compassion, humour, and hope that can help us through the toughest of times.”

Kema Sikazwe as China and David Nellist. Photo courtesy of the Belgrade.

He added, “The story is still as relevant as it was in 2016; maybe even more so now with the cost-of-living crisis making it even harder for those who are already struggling. Daniel and Katie’s story could be anyone’s.”

Hailed as one of the most important stories of a generation, the story is now more relevant than ever; 14.5m people in the UK are now living in poverty (according to a 2022 Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report). This new production exposes the stark reality behind the current cost-of-living crisis headlines, drawing on politicians’ interviews, speeches and social media to highlight the impact of more than a decade of austerity and government cuts.

I, Daniel Blake is designed by Rhys Jarman (Gecko) with lighting design by Simisola Majekodunmi (Is God Is/Royal Court Theatre), original music by Ross Millard (The Futureheads), sound design by Roma Yagnik (Mare of Easttown, HBO), movement direction by Martin Hylton (Gateway Studio/Phoenix Dance) and AV design by Matthew Brown for PixelLux (Bonnie & Clyde, West End).

Director Mark Calvert says, “It’s a big responsibility to honour the film but also to find ways to raise awareness of the hardship huge numbers of people in our country are facing right now. I’ve spent months volunteering at local foodbanks, and I can tell you that this is not fiction. It is reality. And the cost-of-living crisis affects even more people now than when the film was released in 2016. For me, I, Daniel Blake frames the working-class experience in modern Britain – there’s hope, humour and humanity in the story, but audiences should feel angry and outraged; I know I am.

“When we first started to think about how to adapt the film for the stage we knew that we needed to offer a fresh perspective on the ramifications of 13 years of government cuts. The production features factual interviews, speeches and social media posts showing the impact of government decisions on people’s lives. We hope reflecting the harsh reality will galvanise audiences and inspire activism.”

Composer Ross Millard says, “I vividly remember seeing the film at Tyneside Cinema when it came out how profoundly moving it was, and how relevant it still feels now. The film has no music, no soundtrack, which means composing for the show has a weight of responsibility but is hugely appealing, too. Presenting the story to an audience in a new context has the potential to be extremely powerful.”

For more details, to book tickets and to watch the trailer, go to:


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