THE tragic true-life story of teenager Dan Nolan who disappeared after fishing with friends will be staged in Southsea by a young theatrical group.
Steve Wood may be just 17 years old but he is directing, producing, marketing and funding Mark Wheeller’s play Missing Dan Nolan.
The production explores the mystery of the teenager’s disappearance near the River Hamble on New Year’s Day 2002.
The 15-year-old had parted from friends outside the Victory Pub in Hamble and was last seen heading towards the quay to collect his fishing gear.
He was never seen again, but his foot was washed up on a Dorset beach in 2003.
Steve, a South Downs College student, has assembled a cast and crew of 20 – aged between 11 and 23 – from across the city and is excited about his directorial debut at the Kings Theatre, Southsea.
It will include a second play by the same playwright called Graham – The World’s Fastest Blind Runner, about Olympic and paralympic champion Graham Salmon who won top medals between 1977 and 1987.
Steve, of Amberley Road, Copnor, said: ‘Theatre is my life and this is an amazing opportunity for me.
‘It’s been hard work raising the money with the help of some private donations to book the venue while at the same time worrying about everything from casting to directing, but it’s been worth it.
‘The plays are incredibly powerful and have strong moral messages.
‘The story about Dan Nolan is desperately sad, but teaches a powerful lesson about never deserting your friends.
‘On the other hand, the play about the blind athlete is so uplifting and shows just how much you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
‘I hope the plays make an impact on the audience.
‘I’m blessed with an incredibly talented pool of actors and crew from Portsmouth who have given up several hours every week to rehearse in spite of major commitments like GCSEs and A-levels.’
Steve, a former Priory School student, has been volunteering at the Kings Theatre for almost three years, and played the front of Daisy The Cow in the latest pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk with Britt Ekland.
He wants to give a personal thanks to theatre staff who have given him the venue at a reduced cost, as well as Acalaid hairdressers in Southsea which donated £350 towards the cost of a rehearsal venue.
He added: ‘I’m incredibly proud of this city and the young people in it who are too often tainted with negative stereotypes.
‘We are making a positive difference.’
Two performances of the plays are scheduled at the Kings Theatre in Southsea at 1.30pm and 7.30pm on Wednesday, July 20.
Tickets are £5, but there are offers for two for £7.50 for the matinee session. They can be bought on the door or in advance from the box office on (023) 9282 8282.