PREVIEW: Kick It Out campaign commissions new play

August 20, 2019

Laurie Cunningham
Laurie Cunningham

Kick it Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, commissions new play about footballer, Laurie Cunningham to coincide with Black History Month UK, 2019.

THE play will be performed in Sussex at The Hawth Theatre Crawley on October 30 and The Marlborough Theatre Brighton on November 16.

As part of the 25th anniversary of its foundation to combat racism in football Kick it Out has commissioned a new play based on the extraordinary and inspiring life of Laurie Cunningham to coincide with Black History Month UK 2019.

Written by award winning playwright Dougie Blaxland and directed by Roughhouse Theatre Getting the Third Degree will begin a month’s nationwide tour of the UK in October and will be staged in Sussex at The Hawth Theatre Crawley on October 30 and The Marlborough Theatre Brighton on November 16.

This compelling new drama tells the powerful and deeply moving story of Laurie Cunningham who came to prominence with West Bromwich Albion in the late 1970’s.

The first of the black footballing trio famously dubbed The Three DegreesLaurie Cunningham with his swaggering style and dazzling skills forced favourable comparisons with the legendary Pele.

He was the first ever millionaire black footballer, the first player of colour to sign for the mighty Real Madrid and only the second to win a full cap for England. He inspired a whole generation of young black players to follow in his pioneering footsteps.

In dramatising Laurie Cunningham’s meteoric rise to stardom Getting The Third Degree also explores how he and his fellow black players – Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis – triumphed over the racial abuse and physical threats often orchestrated by The National Front through a potent combination of footballing brilliance, charismatic style and  compelling dignity.

Incorporating 1970’s funk, soul, blues, jazz/jive dance, football songs/chants, contemporary commentary and social and political speeches Getting The Third Degree is a powerful piece of total theatre that vividly recreates a tense and troubled period in the history of football and the wider society.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Laurie Cunningham’s niece, Rhodene Cunningham said: “We are delighted that Kick it Out has commissioned this new stage play about Laurie’ s life. He was a very special man loved by us all and we hope that his pioneering story will be an inspiration to everyone who comes to see the production”.

With the resurgence of racial abuse at football  matches and in wider society in the UK playwright Dougie Blaxland believes that “although Getting the Third Degree dramatises events that took place over 40 years the issues that the play raises are every bit as relevant today as they were then.”

Roisin Wood
Roisin Wood

Roisin Wood, Kick it Out’s Chief Executive, believes that: “in an organisation committed to changing deeply embedded attitudes you cannot simply repeat the same message in the same way year after year. The commissioning of this play is an attempt to  engage new audiences in our ongoing mission to combat racism in football. The more fans and followers of football we can encourage to see this exciting production the greater its impact will be.”

The play will be co-directed by Roughhouse Theatre’s joint Artistic Directors Shane Morgan and Moira Hunt who have worked with Blaxland on three other productions with sporting themes: Hands Up for Jonny Wilkinson’s Right Boot commissioned by the Rugby Football Union for the 2015 World Cup, When The Eye Has Gone written for the Professional Cricketers’ Association as part of its Mind Matters campaign and The Long Walk Back (the Chris Lewis story) which toured the UK to critical acclaim earlier this year.

The part of Laurie Cunningham, and all the other characters in his story, will be played by an ensemble cast of Emile Clarke with Sabrina Laurison and Zara Gabbidon.

Event: Getting the Third Degree by Dougie Blaxland

Where: Marlborough Theatre, Princes Street, Brighton

When: Saturday, November 16

Time: 7.30pm

Cost: £12/£10

Tickets available on the door on the night.

If you have a Companion/PA then they can accompany you for free. Send an email to to arrange a ticket, and let us know if you have any further access requirements. Ear plugs are available upon request.