Worth A Flutter is the first play that Michael Head wrote, but not the first that he has staged. It finally comes to The Hope Theatre this May 2018, with an all-star TV cast. Daniel Perks catches him to discuss the play closest to his heart.

It was the first play that he wrote, but not his first playwriting success. The Sword And The Dope has played over 200 times around London; The Greater Game, a story about the footballers of Clapton Orient who fought in the Great War, came to Southwark Playhouse in 2016. Yet espite these successes, Michael Head still feels nervous about his first ever play, Worth A Flutter:

“It’s petrifying. Theatre is still elitist, it’s most open to those that have the money. The industry is improving, but there’s still work to do. I may be biased, but I think that working-class people are still neglected – a working class character on TV is played by someone middle class who went to RADA. There aren’t many working class, London stories being told at the moment and that is my worry.”

Worth A Flutter The Hope Theatre

Michael Head

Perhaps Michael’s anxieties are in fact nervous energy at his first full piece finally being staged at The Hope Theatre next week. Artistic Director Matthew Parker obviously saw something in the script to programme it into the season, and Michael isn’t without a host of established names to act in the show alongside himself:

“I can’t quite believe that we’ve got these actors performing my work. Paul Danan I’ve known for a couple of years – in the first half he plays a character that you’d expect, a very arrogant comedian, brash and sexist and shallow. It’s the part that people perceive Paul to play, the bad boy, heartthrob, similar to him in Hollyoaks. The second half he’s completely different, the hero of the play – we find out why he’s in the situation he is with powerful, moving monologues. That’s what hooked Paul, something to sink his teeth into.

Adele Silva was recommended to me by Adam Morley – she’s the lead part of the play, it’s basically her story. Her work on stage and TV is well-known, so having her here is amazing.”

Here we have two big names from the world of TV, both of whom have briefly trodden the boards, but who are bringing a different energy to the show that we would expect. As for the third character, Michael put out a casting call and ended up casting Lucy Pinder, another TV personality who will be making her theatrical debut:

“We put the final role on Spotlight and got 900 applicants. As a casting director, I can’t see or audition everyone – how much time can you even spend looking at someone’s CV?

“The first thing we did was get rid of anyone who wasn’t the right look. Lucy Pinder was one of the people that came through – we auditioned 25 people and she was absolutely fantastic, someone who understood the character, the craft, the text.”

Worth A Flutter The Hope Theatre

Lucy Pinder

He’s got the cast, he’s got the venue. But why this story for Michael, and why put it on now, after all this time since writing it?

Worth A Flutter is set in a grotty cafe in Bermondsey. The main characters have working class vocabulary, dealing with working class problems. This is my story, but would it be something that people want to see?

“I don’t come from a typical background for theatre; I was written off at school, put on a green bus and sent to a special learning centre because I was too stupid for normal lessons. So, to go from that to being a playwright with something that’s going out at The Hope Theatre… I never would have dreamed that.

“I wrote the show over a weekend. I met my agent on the Friday who told me I needed to write a play, the only way I was going to get seen. I thought he was joking! I went out, came in about 1am drunk and went to work. Of course, it’s been massively re-worked, but going from that to see these wonderfully talented people involved because they believe in it, brings it to life.”

Michael speaks with honesty, genuine gratitude and a sense of disbelief that this career has opened up to him – it’s something that us lot from working class backgrounds don’t often think is a viable career choice. But Michael is a hard worker, a grafter and a dreamer, so it’s only right that after putting in the effort, he finally gets to see the fruits of his labour now and for years to come.

 

 

Worth A Flutter plays at The Hope Theatre from 1 – 19 May 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.