History of squash to get airing as part of festival

A drama will be brought to life on the squash courts telling the history of the Commonwealth Games.

Outside The Box is a celebration of the game of squash
Outside The Box is a celebration of the game of squash

Squash gold medallist James Willstrop and children from inner city Birmingham schools will be creating a drama on the squash courts at the University of Birmingham with a brand-new play, "Outside The Box", a celebration of the game.

Staged on three glass-walled courts, a cast of professional squash players, actors and school children will explore the origins of the sport from a London prison to the mountains of Pakistan and beyond.

The story of squash mirrors the evolution of the Commonwealth, and "Outside The Box" will explore this journey for families and young people at eight showings at the end of May.

Outside The Box will pay tribute to players such as the Khan's from Pakistan, as well as uncovering the struggles players like Maria Toorpakai, went through, just to be able to play the game.

James Willstrop, who won Gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, will make an appearance in the play. Photo: Nathan Clarke

All performances of "Outside The Box" will include a star turn from British squash champion and 2018 Commonwealth Gold Medallist James Willstrop, who spoke about his pleasure at being involved.

He said: “"This project unites two of my greatest passions in squash and theatre.

"The fact that we’re working with young people, using drama to inspire them about the game is so exciting."

The play has been created by Untied Artists and The Play House, a Birmingham based Theatre in Education charity – in collaboration with local school children.

Jake Oldershaw, Director at Untied Artists said: "Working with children in our superdiverse city has illustrated why we need stories that unite us regardless of our complex global histories. Sport always finds a way to do exactly that.

"Thanks to generous funding from Arts Council England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund we are able to offer the performances for free.

"It’s a fantastic opportunity for audiences to visit one of the Games venues and discover more about this incredible sport."

Outside The Box is presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival, a six-month festival which surrounds the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Raidene Carter, executive producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival said: "This year sport and culture will go hand in hand for one huge celebration.

"As the Commonwealth Games arrive in the region, the Birmingham 2022 Festival programme will celebrate and explore sport through a whole range of art forms from theatre to visual arts, music to film.

"Outside The Box is a brilliant, theatrical response to a fantastic sport and we’re sure audiences will enjoy the unbeatable combination."

"Outside The Box" will take place at the University of Birmingham Sport & Fitness squash courts on Saturday 22, Sunday 23, Saturday 28 and Sunday, May 29 at 11.30am and 2.30pm.

For more information, visit birmingham2022.com/festival.

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