Kick It Out Launches Play About Laurie Cunningham’s Life

Getting the Third Degree, a compelling new drama, will begin its tour of the UK in October

INSPIRING: Laurie Cunningham

KICK IT Out has commissioned a new play based on the extraordinary and inspiring life of Laurie Cunningham.

Getting the Third Degree, written by award-winning playwright Dougie Blaxland and directed by Roughhouse Theatre, was commissioned as part of the 25th anniversary of Kick It Out’s campaign to tackle racism and discrimination in football.

The compelling new drama will tour the UK in October to coincide with Black History Month (full schedule of dates and venues below).

The play tells the powerful story of Cunningham, who came to prominence with West Bromwich Albion in the late 1970s. The first of the black footballing trio famously dubbed “The Three Degrees”, Cunningham with his swaggering style and dazzling skills forced favourable comparisons with Pele.

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

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

Incorporating 1970s 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 society.

As part of the project, Kick It Out and playwright Dougie Blaxland have produced an education pack for use in secondary schools at Key Stages 3 and 4 that allows students to explore the issues and themes of Getting the Third Degree. The pack comes complete with a copy of the script and references to further research and reading.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Cunningham’s niece, Rhodene, said: “We are delighted 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 his pioneering story will be an inspiration to everyone who comes to see the production.”

With racial abuse in football and wider society dominating the headlines once more, playwright Dougie Blaxland says the issues the play raises are “every bit as relevant today” as they were more than 40 years ago when the Three Degrees were playing.

Roisin Wood, Kick It Out’s Chief executive officer, is excited to embark on such a unique project that will raise awareness of one of the pioneers of English football and a key figure in tackling racism in the game.

“In an organisation committed to changing deeply-embedded attitudes you cannot simply repeat the same message in the same way year after year,” she said.

STILL RELEVANT: Racial abuse in football and wider society continues to dominate the headlines

“The commissioning of this play – and the development of the education pack – is an attempt to engage new audiences in our ongoing mission to combat racism in football.

“The more fans, followers of football and members of the public 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 Cunningham will be played by Emile Clarke with Sabrina Laurison and Zara Gabbidon the other members of the cast of three.

For further information, please contact Kick It Out via email on

If you’d like to purchase tickets for Getting The Third Degree, the full schedule and contact information to purchase tickets is below.

• Tues 22nd Oct – Bristol
The Wardrobe Theatre Bristol
0117 902 0344
• Weds 23rd Oct – Nottingham
Nottingham Playhouse Studio
0115 941 9419
• Thurs 24th Oct
Burnham Village Hall
• Fri 25th Oct – Cardiff
The Sherman Theatre Studio
0209 2064 6900
• Sat 26th Oct – Corby
The Core at Corby Cube
01536 470 470
• Mon 28th Oct – Wellingborough
The Castle Theatre Studio Wellingborough
01933 270 007
• Tues 29th Oct – Norwich
The Maddermarket Theatre
01603 620 917
• Weds 30th Oct – Crawley
The Hawth Theatre Studio
01293 553 636
• Thurs 31st Oct – Maidstone
The Hazlitt Theatre Studio
01622 758 611
• Fri 1st Nov – Birmingham
The Mac Theatre
0121 446 3232
• Sat 2nd Nov – London
The Greenwich Theatre
020 8858 7755
• Sun 3rd Nov – London
The Greenwich Theatre
020 8858 7755
• Mon 4th Nov – London
Millicent Fawcett Hall Theatre, Westminster School
020 7963 1000
• Tues 5th Nov – London
The Ben Travers Theatre, Charterhouse School
01483 291 500
• Weds 6th Nov – Reading
The South Street Hexagon Theatre, Studio Reading
0118 960 6060
• Thurs 7th Nov – Manchester
Salford Arts Theatre
0161 925 0111
• Fri 8th Nov – Manchester
Salford Arts Theatre
0161 925 0111
• Sat 9th Nov – Cheltenham
The Everyman Cheltenham
01242 572 573
• Mon 11th Nov – Bradfield
The College Theatre, Bradfield
0118 964 4500
• Tues 12th Nov – Winchester
Queen Elizabeth II Theatre, Winchester College
01962 621 100
• Weds 13th Nov – Bath
The Rondo Theatre, Bath
0333 666 3366
• Thurs 14th Nov – Bath
The Julian Slade Theatre, Prior Park College
01225 835 353
• Fri 15th Nov – Bordon, Hampshire
Phoenix Arts Bordon
01420 472 664
• Sat 16th Nov – Brighton
The Marlborough Theatre, Brighton
01273 273 870

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