Leeds Rhinos star Jamie Jones-Buchanan is to perform in a play about rugby league after joining the production company’s board.
Red Ladder Theatre Company is beginning its 50th year by appointing the prop to its team, which aims to reach out to new audiences.
As he takes up the board member role, Jones-Buchanan also begins rehearsals for Playing the Joker, written by former Sunday Mirror sports journalist Anthony Clavane. Through song, jokes and drama, it examines the sport through the eyes commentator Eddie Waring.
It references his famous words during the “Watersplash Final” of 1968 – the anniversary of which is also coincidentally this year.
Mr Jones-Buchanan said: “I love stories and I am passionate about telling them, so being linked to a company which gives Leeds a voice makes a lot of sense. The fact that Red Ladder makes theatre for everyone is fantastic: making performing arts accessible not only invites talent that has not been seen before, the togetherness brings about community and a sense of well-being.
“As a professional sportsman I can join the dots between individuals and organisations, and I want to inspire people in Leeds with the narratives that are closest to them.”
He added: “The experience of performing is very much like playing in the Super League – it brings about as many if not more nerves, but the gratification at the end is like winning an important game.”
Performed by Matthew Lewney as a young Eddie Marlowe, Michael Forrest as Eddie Waring and Jones-Buchanan as Doorman Dave, the play will tour centres and rugby clubs from February.
Artistic director Rod Dixon said: “We’re delighted to have Jamie in this role with his profile and great passion for Leeds and the stories within it, and as an opportunity for Red Ladder to build on our work opening up theatre to non-traditional audiences as well as regular attenders.
It will begin its tour at Belle Isle Working Mens Club, Leeds, on February 21.
Go to page 24 for a photo essay on the Rhinos’ 2017 success.