The Octagon resurrects long-lost Naughton play
9:51am Friday 21st September 2012 in News
A LITTLE-known play by Bolton’s greatest playwright is set for its world premiere in the town.
Lighthearted Intercourse, by Bill Naughton, has been reworked by the Octagon Theatre’s artistic director David Thacker. It follows last season’s successful run of Alfie, written by Mr Naughton in 1963.
Mr Thacker said: “When I was doing Alfie I had got to know Erna, who is Bill Naughton’s widow, quite well.
“I asked her whether she had any other plays Bill had written that no one knew about. She said, I think there is one called Lighthearted Intercourse.”
Mrs Naughton sent him an early script of the play, about a young couple living in 1920s Bolton adjusting to married life.
He said: “We discovered a version of the play had been done at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1971 but it was done in an early version of this script and it wasn’t very successful. He continued to write it over and over and over again.”
Other early versions of the script included radio plays called November Day and Joe and Madge.
Mr Thacker said: “What this play mainly centres on is Joe’s first day of work , he worked in a coal yard.
Bill Naughton’s first job was working in a coal yard, this play is very autobiographical.”
Mrs Naughton gave permission for Mr Thacker to set about reworking the scripts, of which he had about 10 different versions, complete with handwritten notes and lines scribbled out by the playwright.
Mr Thacker said: “I’ve been through every version of the play with a fine toothcomb and there’s a lot here. I’ve created this version from all that material.”
Last month, he spent a weekend at Mrs Naughton’s home on the Isle of Man and even worked in Mr Naughton’s study.
He said: “I talked Erna through the kinds of changes I had made and wanted to discuss with her certain things that I wasn’t confident about, like how much was it based on Bill Naughton and she confirmed, very much so.
“Even down to the detail of him dancing and how he loved dancing.”
Mr Naughton also wrote All in Good Time, which was made into film The Family Way, and Spring and Port Wine. He was born in County Mayo, Ireland, but moved to Bolton in 1914, where he grew up and went to St Peter and Paul’s School. He died in 1992, in Ballasalla on the Isle of Man where he lived with his wife, at the age of 81.
Mr Thacker said: “He is Bolton’s most popular playwright and certainly the most famous Bolton playwright and this theatre has a long tradition of showing his work. I think it’s really important to honour Bill Naughton in this way. He was never given the proper support to get this play on even though he clearly cared about it because he wrote it again and again.
“Everybody who loves Bill Naughton’s work should definitely come and see this play. It’s a world premiere.
It’s very much a Boltoncentred play. It’s a very funny, moving and tender and quite uplifting play.”
Lighthearted Intercourse runs from October 4 to November 3 at the Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South.