Author Alex Wheatle’s Crongton Knights takes centre stage in Manchester

  • Crongton Knights by author Alex Wheatle is being staged at the Lowry Theatre
  • Awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize in 2016 

Award-winning novelist, Alex Wheatle is bringing his Crongton Knights series to the stage at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester next week.

After receiving the Guardian Children Fiction’s Prize in 2016 with his book, Wheatle felt it was time for the series to come to life.  

The book sets the scene in South Crongton and follows a group of teenagers Alex refers to as “the magnificent six”. The friends go on a quest when one of them gets into trouble, highlighting the realities of urban life. 

“I’m writing about real life, these people have to live these lives,” said Alex.

Alex Wheatle with Man Met journalism students

 “I’m influenced by my growing up in Brixton, South London. But really, I want any reader or anyone watching the performance to imagine Crongton to be anywhere

“It’s a gleam of my experience working in a youth club, I’m sure that when you read the book you can recognise some of the issues in around many cities not just in the UK.” 

The author has worked in young offenders’ institutions and, alongside his writing, now works at Manchester Metropolitan University as part of the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies helping to build better opportunities and improve the lives of young people.

The book has been adapted for the stage by Emteaz Hussain and is now on a national tour produced by York-based Pilot Theatre, arriving at The Lowry, Salford Quays on March 10.

Alex, who is of Jamaican descendant, could not be happier after seeing his work coming to life. 

He said: “I was overjoyed, I thought wow!  It’s been in year’s development; it finally hit the stage in Coventry three weeks ago, and it was a fantastic feeling, overwhelming. I almost cried!” 

The show came about after Esther Richardson, Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre read Crongton Knights and wanted to see it staged. 

The new production is aiming for a fresh rendering of the book featuring vocals from the cast and beatboxing from Conrad Murray, who got the cast to write and sing their own songs. 

With everything that is going on in the world, Alex encourages people to read, write and discover not only themselves, but to also to unfold the truth.

He said: “It’s all about searching for that truth and putting it out there. Find that passion that fuels you and write.”