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Huddersfield film maker Ben Sweet presents All The Way Up at the Lawrence Batley Theatre

He worked on the ITV blockbuster Jericho, now Ben Sweet presents a stage version of his award-winning film

'Bellboy' Lee Ingleby, director Sir David Jason, 'Charlie' Adrian Dunbar and writer/producer Ben Sweet on the set of his award-winning short film 'All The Way Up"

Filmmaker Ben Sweet worked on the ITV blockbuster Jericho - now he’s about to see a stage adaptation of his award-winning film All The Way Up at the Lawrence Batley Theatre

It can be extraordinarily difficult for playwrights to get new work on to the stage, not least because it’s much easier to sell familiar and well-loved pieces to audiences.

But Huddersfield theatre company Jimbo Productions, founded by one of the town’s most senior amateur thespians James Sykes, has successfully premiered a number of new plays at the Lawrence Batley Theatre. So successfully, in fact, that there was a waiting list for tickets for its last full-length production, Faversham, at the LBT.

And now the company is about to stage two new one-act plays under the title Yorkshire Mixtures 3. One of the pieces, All the Way Up, is a stage adaptation of the award-winning short film by Huddersfield film-maker Ben Sweet from the Netherton-based North Light Film Studios (where the latest ITV blockbuster Jericho was created).

All The Way Up by Ben Sweet and Stan Sharp, actors Gareth Dickinson (left) and Patrick Hibbin

The original movie was directed by Sir David Jason, filmed at The Queen’s Hotel in Leeds, and scooped several awards at the Monaco Festival and Palm Springs. The theatre version has been co-written by Ben and Huddersfield playwright Stan Sharp, former commercial sponsorship manager for the Giants rugby team, and features three actors in a time lapse story of a man trapped in an hotel lift who is forced to stop and examine his conscience.

The second short play, The Park Bench, is by Stan alone and described as ‘Last of The Summer Wine meets Waiting for Godot’. It has just two, elderly, characters, who are examining their lives and friendship. James, who is directing both works, explains: “Both actors are in their mid 80s and are very experienced. I appeared in my first ever play for the Huddersfield Thespians with one of them, Kenneth Greenwood. We did An Ideal Husband together in 1965.

In pictures: Jericho

“When you get to your mid 80s you would think they would want to hang up their boots but they both wanted to do the play and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.”

James, who is also chairman of Marsden’s Mikron Theatre, founded Jimbo Productions back in 2002 as a cabaret group, performing Noel Coward works to raise money for charities, but began a theatrical partnership with playwright Stan that led to the first Yorkshire Mixtures eight years ago.

They are delighted that Huddersfield audiences have been extremely supportive of their ventures. As James says: “Getting new writing on to the stage is extremely difficult, both professionally and at the sort of level I’m involved with. I’m pleased to be able to give writers the opportunity to see their work transferred from the page on to the stage.

The Lawrence Batley Theatre at night

“I’m working with actors that I have known for many years, very experienced actors. By doing the plays in the LBT Cellar it’s exposing for the actors so a lot depends on the quality of their performances - there’s nowhere to hide.”

The forthcoming production, from Tuesday to Saturday, February 16 to 20, has attracted sponsorship, which means that box office profits will be donated to the Candelighters children’s cancer charity and the Lawrence Batley Theatre’s 21st Birthday Fund.

Ticket details are available from www.thelbt.org.uk or 01484 430528.

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