Hadleigh: Town to star in new play

Playwright Joe Wilde has been comissioned to write a play about Hadleigh

Playwright Joe Wilde has been comissioned to write a play about Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

FORGET fictional locations such as Midsomer and St. Mary Mead – one Suffolk town is set to become the “star” of a new play.

Playwright Joe Wilde has been comissioned to write a play about Hadleigh

Playwright Joe Wilde has been comissioned to write a play about Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

A young writer from Hadleigh has been given an Arts Council grant to write a drama about his home town.

Joe Wilde, 26, who moved there as a six-year-old and was educated at the local primary and high schools, hopes the play will put Hadleigh in the spotlight and highlight the plight of rural communities nationally.

The young playwright is looking for people with recollections of the town’s past to help him form the plot, which will centre around a family moving to the area from London. It will also touch on plans for a new supermarket in the town.

Mr Wilde first trained and worked as an actor before turning his attention to writing a year ago. He has now gained funding to write the play as part of an attachment to the national HighTide Festival Theatre company, which is well known for its annual festival in Halesworth.

Mr Wilde said: “I want to do something very focused on Hadleigh and the stories already there, rather than it simply being used as a setting for the play.

“It will also help me to reconnect with my own roots because when you are growing up in a place, you don’t always appreciate it.”

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The plot will explore the town’s struggle between ‘progress and preservation’ and the family’s attempts to adapt and fit in.

Mr Wilde continued: “I have an interest in rural communities and the way they are shifting, which is a national concern.

“Rural communities are often portrayed as a thing of the past and dramas set in the countryside are often about the old ways. I want to show that there are people living here now and that it’s a thriving community. It will get a national audience so I hope it will make people look at their own local areas in a different way.”

The play will air current issues such as a bid by supermarket chain Tesco to build a store in Hadleigh, but it will also draw on the town’s past.

Mr Wilde added: “It will give a good flavour of modern Hadleigh, including how it’s changed and the issues surrounding the supermarket debate, but I am hoping to get a broad range of views on that subject. I am also keen to hear from people who have good stories or anecdotes about the area, and who can tell me about the folklore of Hadleigh and the surrounding area.”

The first scene of the play will feature at the HighTide Festival in May. The company is also organising a series of readings across East Anglia, one of which will be in Hadleigh later this year.

Anyone with useful information for Mr Wilde can email joseph_wilde@hotmail.co.uk

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