Gallery Players' new play offers advice to grandfathers: 'Grow Up Grandad'
PUBLISHED: 17:03 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:03 17 May 2018
The role of grandparents in our society is changing. Arts editor Andrew Clarke talks to Gallery Players director Steve Wolldridge about a new play which examines intergenerational relationships
Grandfathers have a strange public persona. Either they are curmudgeonly characters propping up a bar in the local pub, endlessly banging on about ‘The War’ or they are kindly eccentrics squirreled away in their garden shed, coming up with all sorts of strange bits of kit to make gardening or household chores easier.
Neither stereotype has that all important ring of truth about it. Gallery Players director Steve Wooldridge said that for many people the term Grandad conjures up the Clive Dunn song and newspaper headlines still use the word “granny” with a suggestion of an inert life of tartan rugs, worn slippers and cocoa before bed.
“Mock surprise must be displayed should any such specimens manifest behaviour beyond that of harmless sweet old ladies; thus such headlines as: “Granny Plays Golf!”
Steve is trying to overcome such cliched views by staging the play Grow Up Grandad, by Gordon Steel, at the Sir John Mills Theatre.
He says that among all the demographic, cultural and social shifts plus the seismic changes in the make-up of the UK society grandparents are enjoying an increasingly active retirement as well as shouldering a larger role in bringing up their grandchildren in our age of divorce and co-habitation.
“Grow Up Grandad is a humorous, thoughtful and touching exploration of the challenges to be found in looking after a seemingly confident younger generation. Not many writers have tackled this subject, reason enough to welcome Gordon Steel’s play.
“Poppy is 11 and has attitude. When she finds herself living with her cantankerous grandfather, a man she neither likes or loves, all hell breaks loose. Something of a hermit, a man living in the past who sees very little good in anything or anybody. Ken is suddenly and unexpectedly confronted by a tornado of energy who can’t sit still and asks too many questions. He is a man with no television, no computer and no patience, and while their relationship is volatile it’s also very funny and strewn with moments of real tenderness.”
Grow Up Grandad is an inter-generational story that deals with love and loss, hope and sadness as the relationship between Poppy and her Grandad develops and then, eventually, is torn apart as the pair are increasingly thrown together.
“This gem of a play is dramatic, painful, provocative and often hugely funny. Gordon Steel writes crisp, sharp dialogue, which is both humorous and touching.”
Gordon Steel burst on to the theatre-scene with his first play, Dead Fish, which won a Fringe First Award at the 1993 Edinburgh Festival. It toured nationally and was the beginning of a fruitful relationship with Hull Truck Theatre. Since then Gordon has written Like A Virgin, Studs, A Pair of Beauties, Albert Nobbs, which was turned into an Oscar nominated film, and Wilde Boyz for Hull Truck Theatre.
Gordon is also the author of Jumping the Waves, which was commissioned for the opening of the Arc Theatre. For television, Gordon wrote Cock and Bull which was included in the Channel Four Sitcom Festival. He set up his own theatre company, Steelworks, in 2015, and Grow Up Grandad was their debut production.
Grow Up Grandad, staged by The Gallery Players, is running at the Sir John Mills Theatre until May 19.