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The tale of a local heroine.

WHEN you mention the name Grace Darling, most people will know at least some of her story.

And now her life has inspired a brand new play which takes to the stage on Teesside next week.

Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood have penned Amazing Grace to celebrate the achievements of the first Victorian female heroine, who tragically died in 1842 aged only 26, four years after her heroic deed off the Northumberland Coast between Bamburgh and Seahouses.

As part of a North-east tour the play will come to Hartlepool on Friday, October 26.

Grace Darling and her lighthouse keeper father lived on Longstone island when, in a storm on September 7, 1838, the SS Forfarshire struck the notorious Harcar rocks, a part of the Farne Islands.

Of the 63 people on board, nine managed to escape in the lifeboat while Grace and her father selflessly manned a coble to heroically rescue nine people stranded on the rocks.

After Queen Victoria, Grace became the most well known woman in 19th century Britain.

The play will tell the story of Grace Darling through the eyes of a modern-day writer called Grace who wants to make a film about her famous namesake.

Trevor says: "We wanted to do a play about Grace Darling, but were finding it more and more difficult to find out how to tell the story because of the nature of the tale, it pretty much happens on one day, the exciting, extraordinary element of it.

"She kind of buries herself in the lighthouse for four years and then she dies. It's a quite difficult play. We needed an angle to come at and we started to think about the difficulties - that's why no one has ever made a film about it as it is too difficult to tell the story."

Taking up the role of the two Graces is Durham actress Catherine Dryden.

Joining her are Sean Wildey as Barry the filmmaker and Trevor Cuthbertson as both Grace's fathers and an actor in the film.

"Barry wants to jazz it up a bit and add sea monsters and gun battles as the ship goes down, and love scenes," smiles Scottish born Sean who had heard only bits of the Grace Darling story before taking up the role.

Catherine interjects: "But Grace wants to stay true to the story and get the truth out. She grew up learning about Grace, her mother introduced her to the story and knows every fact going about Grace Darling and knows there was no love scene.

"In real life, we studied Grace at school, we went to the Farne Islands on a trip. I knew the basic story, but I have learned so much. I didn't know how famous she was. People will come to the shows and learn about her life."

| See Amazing Grace at Hartlepool's Town Hall Theatre on Friday, October 26. Tickets PS13, concessions PS12, details 01429 890000.

CAPTION(S):

AMAZING GRACE: Catherine Dryden, above, in the lead role, and left, with Trevor Cuthbertson, right, and Sean Wildey
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 19, 2012
Words:507
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