Winning novelist puts on an act

Joe Stretch.
Joe Stretch.
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The Burton-in-Kendal winner of a top literary award will be in the spotlight again later this month.

Joe Stretch, 31, who has just won the 2013 Somerset Maugham prize, is to take to the stage in a play directed by his mum, Marion Plowright.

Head of Theatre and Media Studies at Ripley St Thomas School, Lancaster, Marion is directing a production of Ibsen’s, Hedda Gabler, for Warton Drama Group.

She said: “I was really stuck for someone to play the very challenging role of Eilert Loevborg – and suddenly realised that the description of the character was almost a description of my son.”

Joe, who now lives in Manchester, hasn’t acted since he attended Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale, so he took a bit of persuading to take on the part. He said: “It took a month for mum to persuade me but my stepdad – who was a big inspiration for me – used to run the drama group and he died not so long ago, so I’ll be thinking of him when we perform the play.

“I’m not much of an actor but to be part of a local drama group is one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had actually. I can’t wait for the performances.

“Mum’s a great director and the cast are extremely talented. People should come along. I reckon we’re at least as good as television...probably better than ITV!”

The play will be performed in Warton from November 20 to 22 and then at The Heron Theatre in Beetham on 
December 6 and 7.

Previous winners of the Somerset Maugham award – which Joe won for his third novel, The Adult – have included Angela Carter, William Boyd and Julian Barnes.