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Graduate Production Company on the ball with inspiring play

A thought-provoking play at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival tackled issues of homophobia and sexuality in sport. The play, Odd Shaped Balls, was met with acclaim and was produced by Plane Paper Theatre, thanks to the support of Newcastle University graduates.

Rugby player James Hall, played by Matthew Marrs, is the focus of this one-man show. James' life is turned upside down as he undertakes a journey to see if he has the courage to not only be true to himself, but to also serve as a role model for others. In doing so, the play tackles issues of homophobia and sexuality in sport and the pressures of intrusive media attention.

The innovative piece of work made its Edinburgh Fringe debut at Space Triplex on Monday 17 August to great reviews. The play then went on to be long-listed for an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.

The production company behind Odd Shaped Balls, Plane Paper Theatre, is made up of a team of Newcastle University graduates and students. They are Ellie Claughton (BA English Literature 2014), Company Manager; Andy Twyman (BA Classical Studies 2014), Resident Director; current student Luke W. Robson, Art and Marketing Director and Will Hunter, Associate Producer. The company has also previously produced Fair Exchange as part of the Tabard Theatre’s Playmakers Festival 2015.

Andy Twyman (BA Classical Studies 2014), the play's Director, said: "With the Rugby World Cup this year and the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter released in May, it couldn’t have been a better time for Odd Shaped Balls to have its premiere."

Odd Shaped Balls was supported by Northern Pride, Pride Sports and NU Advancement. The Alumni Association Student Initiative Fund, which is supported by graduates' donations through Newcastle University’s alumni fund, enables Newcastle University students and graduates who are within six months of graduating to develop and deliver innovative projects that have a community, social or cultural benefit.

You can read more about Odd Shaped Balls – and the real-life inspiration for the play – on the Plane Paper Theatre website.

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published on: 22 October 2015