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First Touch: Finally, a First Look

27 April 2021

As we fast approach our reading and panel discussion of First Touch, its writer Nathaniel Price (Noughts and Crosses, BBC, Tin Star, Sky) reflects back on the play’s postponement and how it feels to know that audiences will finally see some of the script read aloud.

Do not turn this into the parable of the ungrateful bastard. That was my first and only note to myself upon being asked to write this piece. Thing is, I don’t think I can.

For while this pandemic has brought me much hardship in many areas, as it has for most; workwise, I could not be busier or more optimistic. I can’t sugar coat it; it’s a good time for me. And as writers we have to savour these runs, for we can’t know how long they’ll last or indeed whether they’ll ever come around again. However – and this is where the ungratefulness really kicks in – I would be lying if I said the postponement of my play First Touch didn’t hit me greatly.

I mean really, like, POW! Batman and Robin style. And while the land of TV writing is primarily my home, theatre has long since been a great passion of mine and in fact where my storytelling started as a child. So it was with a heavy heart that I could only watch on helpless as the stages turned dark, employees lost their jobs, venues folded and the very existence of the medium was placed under grave threat – a threat which unfortunately still lingers.

And yet here I go, back to me – selfish me. Hurting. Why?

Well, not because of the reasons you might think. Ego? Sure, we all as writers have to have one to a certain extent otherwise we’d never put out anything into the world – let alone expect people to interact with it. But anyone who knows me will tell you that the limelight is something I certainly don’t crave. Indeed it’s something I actively try to avoid (he says writing this blog). So why the great hurt then, Uriah Heep? Go on, tell us.

Well, okay, since you’ve asked… It’s because I was lucky enough to get a glimpse into the vision director Jeff James was cooking up for the play in conjunction with set and costume designer Charlie Espiner. Up until that point, any lingering doubts or fears I may’ve still harboured about the production were quashed. Because while I may be a novice when it comes to the theatre, I felt safe in the knowledge that the play was now in their expert hands.

It hurt me to think of the great cast casting director Polly Jerrold would’ve assembled and to miss out on them breathing new life into my words, helping to hone and craft insights into character and story that maybe I had overlooked or perhaps not even considered.

It hurt me further not to be able to repay the faith of the person who made this all a possibility in the first place; Nottingham Playhouse’s artistic director, Adam Penford. Someone who trusted me to bring his original idea to life with his very first commission in his then new role.

But most of all, it hurt me to think that this very important story may never see the light of day. That the generosity and bravery shown to me by David Lean (the review of David’s case by the Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel in 2013 resulted in the change of the prosecution guidance, which led to the conviction of his offender in 2015, and as such directly highlighted the sexual abuse scandal within football) in sharing his experience may, in some way, have been wasted.

And so it fills my heart to know that First Touch will reach an audience – no matter how limited in terms of number or form. Not least of all so I can just stop feeling so bloody ungrateful.

Join us on zoom for rehearsed scenes from Nathaniel’s new play, First Touch, followed by a Panel Discussion on 29 April 2021.

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