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'East is East' writer adapts Sidney Poitier film

HANDS-ON: Philip Morris playing the lead of Rick Braithwaite (photo credit: John James)

THE POWERFUL story of 'To Sir, With Love', which was immortalised in the classic film of the same name starring Sidney Poitier in 1967, is being brought to life on stage at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Based on the autobiography of E.R. (Rick) Braithwaite, it is an inspirational tale of one man’s courage to fight for acceptance in a Britain recovering from the Second World War.

Cambridge graduate Rick Braithwaite, an ex-RAF fighter pilot, has fought for his country but is still fighting for acceptance. Despite being a skilled engineer, no employer wants him.

As the reality of life as a black man hits him, he is forced to take a teaching post in a tough but progressive inner-city school. Rick’s class don’t want him – the world has given up on them and with very little to look forward after leaving school, they are in no hurry to listen to him. Rick knows what it’s like to be ignored and isn’t going to turn his back on them too. Can they unite to fight for a better future?

This remarkable story about fighting prejudice with hope, set during a time of austerity, is as relevant now as it was when it was first written by Braithwaite back in 1959.

The play, which is being staged at The Rep from Wednesday 25 April until Saturday 6 May, has been brilliantly adapted for the stage by Ayub Khan-Din, the writer of East is East and the production is directed by Gwenda Hughes and Tom Saunders.

It will be performed by Birmingham Rep’s Young REP, young performers aged 15 to 21 from across the West Midlands.

Philip Morris plays Rick Braithwaite; Matt Crosby as Humphrey Weston; Polly Lister as Vivienne Clintridge and Andrew Pollard as Leon Florian.

Talking about what drew him to adapt the piece for stage, Khan-Din said:

“I think for me it was about reading the book and seeing what resonated. For me, it was the discussion about education, especially today as everyone is so concerned about the way we’re educating our children.

“The thing about To Sir, With Love is that it talks about a radical form of education. In this school they try to get the children involved in the decision-making of the school and to have a say in the way they are educated.

“The school is given a responsibility to look beyond formal education and has a vision to send the children out into wider society, fully able to participate in the decision-making of that society. That’s what fascinated me and made me excited about the book and the ideas that I wanted to put into the play.”

For tickets, call the box office on 0121 236 4455 or click here.

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