KM Drew Boateng, Jason York, Marcquelle Ward & Emmanuel Akwafo in The Spalding Suite, Photographer Helen Maybanks
The Spalding Suite has been devised with the support and graft of a huge amount of the best of British talent that can be felt throughout the piece.
Struck by his secondary school English teacher's simultaneous passion of both his beloved written word and basketball, a game he had little interest in, a 15-year-old Inua Ellams came to appreciate the parallels between the sport and poetry.
As was the same for the now highly respected cross-art form practitioner, any similarities between the two were initially hard to imagine. That was until we sat down to watch The Spalding Suite.
Jason York, KM Drew Boateng and Emmanuel Akwafo in The Spalding Suite. Photographer Helen Maybanks
Commissioned through his residency at Southbank Centre, Ellams has teamed up with another creative heavyweight, basketball fanatic and multi talented hip hop theatre originator Benji Reid.
Pulling together work from fellow poets and fans of the sport, The Spalding Suite has been devised with the support and graft of a huge amount of the best of British talent that can be felt throughout the piece.
The tight knit teamwork of the cast along with the ability to make the most of each other's strengths brings us together as an audience of fans in support of our team, and holds our attention to the stage as if it were the basketball court.
Jason York, currently appearing in Sky Living's Venus vs Mars, former UK Beatbox Champion MC Zani, actors Emmanuel Akwafo, George Bray, KM Drew Boateng and Nike UK Basketball Freestyle Champion Marcquelle Ward share a beautiful level of dynamic chemistry.
Spoken word, beatboxing and physical theatre are all brought together with a brilliantly thought out understated set and lighting design that manages to perfectly support the cast without drawing any attention away from the story.
On top of the clear elements of theatre and performance within basketball, we are also reminded how sport just like art can be the best form of therapy and escapism there is.
Inua Ellams - interview