Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale) is set to portray England men’s soccer coach Gareth Southgate in a new play at the National Theatre in London.
Playwright James Graham (Sherwood) has penned the play, titled Dear England, and he told the BBC in a new interview that the production will chronicle the “gentle revolution” in the England soccer team since Southgate took charge.
“I think what has happened to the men’s England football team over the past six years has been quietly extraordinary,” Graham told BBC News.
“It’s been humming along in the background, but we’re only starting to really understand now Gareth’s gentle revolution.”
British theatre director Rupert Goold will helm the play, which National Theatre artistic director Rufus Norris described as “a captivating examination into the complex psychology of the much loved beautiful game.”
Southgate, a former England international, was named England national team coach in 2016, a period that Graham said was framed by an “existential crisis about why we’d lost our way” and the country’s polarizing Brexit.
The play finds its name from an open letter written by Southgate to England fans in 2021 and will touch on “ghosts and demons” of recent England soccer history, including the racist abuse suffered by England players who missed penalties at Euro 2020, the BBC reported.
The play will open at the National Theatre in June and comes six months after England were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the World Cup by France, with striker Harry Kane missing a late penalty. After the tournament, Southgate said he will continue on as England manager until after Euro 2024.
“It’s great to be writing a story that hasn’t finished,” Graham said. “My experience of watching England go out of this last World Cup, it was a multitude of conflicting feelings when I was sat there in the pub.”
He added: “None of my mates around me knew I was writing this play so I think they were wondering why I was sat silently staring into my pint trying to make sense of it all.”
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