The drama of the pitch and the stage will collide when The Nuffield premieres The Saints tonight in Southampton.
Written by award-winning young playwright Luke Barnes, this newly-commissioned play details the highs and lows of following Southampton Football Club.
Managing The Saints is director Matthew Dunster, whose credits include the Olivier-award nominated production of Love And Money at the Young Vic and Royal Exchange and The Lightning Child at The Globe.
The Nuffield Playing Field, a specially built pop-up theatre which combines outdoor stadium with Shakespearean venue, will house all the drama.
Construction was started in June by ex-players of Southampton Football Club, including Matt le Tissier, Hughie Fisher and Francis Benali.
Writer Luke says: ‘The opportunity to work with one of Britain’s best producing theatre companies and one of its best directors on a play about the best sport in the world performed in a purpose-built stadium was something I could never in a million years pass on.
‘It’s a privilege and honour to be involved with these people, this project and this city.’
The Saints explores the theatrical experience of going to a football match: the spectacle, the sense of occasion, the intimacy and power of the crowds, the sense of community it creates.
One of the stars is EastEnders alumni Scarlett Alice Johnson, who will play the role of Emily. Scarlett previously played Vicki Fowler on the long-running soap and has found recent success as the lead in BBC3 series Pram Face.
The cast also includes Claire-Louise Cordwell, Tendayi Jembere and Will Stokes.
The Nuffield is also working with choirs from the Saints Foundation, with members taking the role of football fans.
Head of the Saints Foundation Mark Abrahams says: ‘We’re delighted to be working with Nuffield on such an innovative project.
‘The personal journey of supporting your club resonates with all football fans and we look forward to seeing the play in such an inspirational location.’
The Saints is part of the Art At The Heart festival, which runs throughout August.
Supported by Arts Council England, the festival celebrates the 50th anniversaries of both Nuffield and the City of Southampton.
The Saints comes to Southampton’s Guildhall Square from August 1 - 17 at 7.30pm, apart from Saturday, August 9 at 8pm. Matinee performances at 2pm at weekends.
Tickets: £15 unreserved seating, £13 concessions, £40 family ticket. To book call (023) 8067 1771 or visit nuffieldtheatre.co.uk.