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Kes takes flight in Bolton and Keswick

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Bolton Octagon and Keswick's Theatre by the Lake have announced the cast for their joint production of Kes, the Barry Hines modern classic, which opens in Bolton (March 10-April 2) then moves to the Lakes from April 6-30.

Adapted by Robert Alan Evans, the drama is directed by the award-winning Atri Banerjee, one of this year's 25 Theatremakers To Watch, according to theatre newspaper The Stage.

Londoner Jake Dunn (22), a recent graduate of Guildhall School of Music and Drama and seen on TV in BBC’s teen drama series Get Even, makes his professional stage debut as troubled teenager Billy Casper. The cast also features Harry Egan (Blackthorn, Leeds Playhouse and the UK tour of Selladoor’s Of Mice and Men) as The Man. Jazz singer Nishla Smith, whose debut album Friends with Monsters was released last year, plays The Singer.

First released as a novel in 1968, Kes was adapted for the cinema the following year and was one of the foremost movies of the gritty "northern" school produced by authors such as Alan Sillitoe, John Braine, Hines and others.

A little more commercial and sentimental than some of its contemporaries, Kes is set in a dour 1960s, working-class Yorkshire mining town where 15-year-old Billy Casper is bullied, neglected and on the wrong path in life - until he finds Kes, the abandoned kestrel he cares for and trains, and which gives him a passion and freedom he has never previously known.

Banerjee said: “I'm incredibly excited to be directing this new production. Robert Alan Evans’ adaptation turns the novel into a moving and theatrical experience that thinks deeply about our relationships to the places and events that make each of us who we are.

"While remaining faithful to the author's original work, our adaptation puts a whole new twist on a classic story.”


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