A tale of survival against the odds

Crouch, Touch, Paue, Engage at the Stahl Theatre, Oundle.

Crouch, Touch, Paue, Engage at the Stahl Theatre, Oundle.

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On the eve of one of the most important games of his career, Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas received a warning: The Sun newspaper was going to “out” him as gay.

This is the story of two Welsh names bruised, but not beaten, by media speculation: Gareth “Alfie” Thomas, 105 caps for Wales, once its captain and now the world’s most prominent gay sportsman, and his hometown, Bridgend.

Working with Alfie himself, and young people in Bridgend, two of the UK’s most exciting theatre companies – Out of Joint and National Theatre Wales – have teamed up to tell a great story about sport, politics, secrets, life and learning to be yourself.

Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engageopens on Tuesday (28th) at Oundle’s Stahl Theatre and will be followed by a post-show discussion with director Max Stafford-Clark and members of the company.(There is a second performance the following night.)

Max Stafford-Clark says of the project: “I’m always on the lookout for stories, and the story of the so-called “epidemic” of teenage deaths in Bridgend lodged in my mind. I knew Gareth Thomas had played for Bridgend so when he came out as gay three years later I associated the two stories.

“In addition I am a keen rugby fan, and some of my Welsh friends moan about the demise of the old great Welsh clubs. After all, as recently as 1981 Bridgend had beaten Australia! Here was a town whose story must be told.”

Writer Robin Soans says “It is great to be working for Max and Out of Joint together with the National Theatre of Wales and the Arcola because between us we can tell a story about survival in the face of huge odds and try to combat narrow-mindedness.

Tickets: £9.50 from the box office on 01832 273930.