Writer heads east with play

East of Heysham poster.
East of Heysham poster.

A new play by a Lancaster writer will reveal an unlikely fictitious connection between James Dean and Morecambe.

It’s 60 years since film icon James Dean died in a car crash at the age of 24 and East of Heysham, by Philip Martin, chronicles one fateful night in the company of Morecambe’s enthusiastic but dwindling James Dean Memorial Society.

Philip Martin.

Philip Martin.

The play is a collaboration between Martin and Lass Productions.

Aside from a number of plays produced at the National Theatre and Royal Court, Mr Martin has an extensive TV career including Play for Today, Doctor Who and his own critically acclaimed 1970s BBC series Gangsters.

Mr Martin, who is originally from Liverpool but has lived in Lancaster for more than 20 years, said: “The play is about the three surviving members of a James Dean memorial societ, and a lot of revelations come out on the night they meet.”

Mr Martin came up with the idea after a combination of James Dean-related coincidences.

He said: “I noticed a poster advertising a programme about him and realised it must be a long time since he was killed. Then, I was in Morecambe and saw a man in his 60s walking along the prom who was dressed in a way I thought might have been inspired by James Dean and I wondered if he was a fan.

“Not long after that I was watching Mastermind and someone was answering questions about James Dean.

“These things all collided and I started to wonder what would happen if his fans met and kept his name alive.”

East of Heysham will be performed at Manchester’s Three Minute Theatre from June 17-19 and Salford Arts Theatre on June 24 and 25, with other venues to be announced. Tickets from WeGotTickets.com/LassProductions or 3MT and Salford Arts Theatre’s box offices.

Mr Martin, who has previously had plays at The Dukes, said he hopes the play will be brought to Lancaster or Morecambe in the future. He said: “It’s set in Morecambe and it’s about Lancaster people .

“I am very pleased to have a play set in this srea and I hope it will be shown here.”