Simon Darwen cast in Kenny Emson’s A Different Class as part of the Blueprint Festival at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Queen's Theatre Hornchurch have today announced the cast and creative team for Kenny Emson’s A Different Class, playing Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 September at 7.30pm as part of the Theatre’s Blueprint Festival. Tag’s out with the lads on his last night before he leaves to go to university. The car crawl in Southend. But the empty seat in the car where his mate Luke should be sitting in the is playing on his mind. That and the fact they’ve agreed to an illegal race at midnight against a Cowboy in a Honda Civic. A Different Class is a script in hand exploration of mental health, masculinity, and working-class culture set in Essex. With a drum and bass soundtrack that will blow the doors off the theatre – literally! Simon Darwen will be playing Tag in the new play. Simon's theatre credits include Beginning (Queen's Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Bath), Missing People (Leeds Playhouse/National Theatre Tokyo), King Lear (Theatre Royal Bath), Mad About the Boy (Young Vic), Lizzie Siddal (Arcola), Love Love Love (Paines Plough), Our Country’s Good (Out of Joint) and The Merchant of Venice (Royal Shakespeare Company). His TV credits include Russell T Davies’ Years and Years for BBC/HBO starring Emma Thompson, Rory Kinnear and Russell Tovey; The Bletchley CircleSilent Witness and the BBC’s Call the Midwife. Simon said: “I’m delighted to be doing this. A script in hand, first exploration of this wonderful one-man show by Kenny Emson.”  Joining Simon as Luke is 16 year old local performer Rhys Leach. Rhys has been part of Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch’s QYouth group for the past four years. He recently starred in the QYouth summer musical Never, Never. A Different Class is written by multi-award-winning writer for stage and screen Kenny Emson. Kenny co-created, co-wrote and was associate producer on the BBC’s ground-breaking multi-platform murder mystery The Last Hours of Laura K which earned him a BAFTA nomination in Digital Creativity and a number of other prestigious television and VFX awards nominations. He adapted Agatha Christies The Coming of Mr Quin for digital media which was BAFTA CYMRU nominated for Best Game. He was selected for the BBC Writers Academy in 2011 and has gone on to write episodes of Doctors and Eastenders. Kenny was one of four writers commissioned by Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch to pen Misfits “Sharply written quartet of monologues presents a compelling snapshot of contemporary Essex” (The Stage). He also recently took his new play, a no holds barred look at the role of youth work on the margins of our society, to Essex on Stage at the Bush and Leeds Playhouse. Kenny returns to Hornchurch for this unique promenade performance which features a post-show Q&A with the creatives. Kenny Emson said "I’m super excited to be bringing my new play A Different Class to the Blueprint Festival. I was born in Thurrock and this play really is a slice of my childhood. Exploring mental health and masculinity. Going up Southend on a Friday night with your mates. And what home means and how that changes as you grow up. So, it’s an absolute privilege to be able to share it with an Essex audience at the Queen's at this stage in its development." A Different Class will be directed by award-winning director and dramaturg of new work Bethany Pitt. Bethany’s directing credits include: Juniper and Jules by Stephanie Martin (Soho Theatre / previously VAULT Festival - Show of the Week Award) Sirens by Kenny Emson (Mercury Theatre, Critics Choice 2021; A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Oncology Unit by Halley Feiffer (Finborough Theatre, UK premiere – 3 x Off West End Nominations), Spine (Underbelly Edinburgh / Soho Theatre / UK Tour – Fringe First Winner); FreeFall by Vinay Patel (Pleasance Islington – Nominated for Off West End Best Director). Bethany said: “I’m delighted to be developing and directing Kenny’s new play because it touches on the vital subject of male mental health and class in a funny, moving and revealing way. His writing is an essential reflection of part of society we often look away from or ignore. I’m especially excited about making a promenade piece around QTH with a banging soundtrack.” Blueprint: a festival of new ideas has something for everyone. Two weeks of 12 exciting events inside and outside the theatre using every available space from the rooftop to the basement and carpark - with new writing, immersive experiences, a scratch night, culinary delights, a design-led drama of 31 scenes in 31 minutes, promenade performances, Essex stories, accessible performances, DJ Chinaman and more. Most events are £5 plus 65p QNext Fee and some are free. In addition, during the festival, Kenny Emson will be offering two free writing workshops on Monday 19 September 1pm – 2pm, and Wednesday 21 September 3.30pm – 4.30pm. Advanced booking is required. For more details about A Different Class, the writing workshops and the full programme of the Blueprint Festival, click here. Blueprint runs from 12 – 24 September.

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