Hello! We’re Sliding Tackle, a theatre company aiming to rediscover overlooked stories and forgotten voices for the stage. We want to raise questions rather than give answers, and challenge our audiences to experience neglected narratives with fresh eyes.
Our debut show Target Man will run at the King’s Head Theatre this August.
What are we raising money for?
We’re raising money for our debut play Target Man, written by Sliding Tackle co-founder Mark Starling, which will run at London’s prestigious King’s Head Theatre from 20thto 24thAugust.
"You’re playing in a World Cup this summer. That’s a big spotlight, and this isn’t a decision that you can go back on."
When rising star Connor ascends to the Premier League, he crosses paths with popular pro Joel. Within the high-stakes, high-profile and hypermasculine world of professional football, they make a decision which affects all aspects of their public and private lives.
Tackling themes of identity, mental strength, and the perils of ambition, Target Manrecently won The Mercury/Weinberger Future Voice Award, which recognises emerging playwrights under 25.
Why this project? Why now?
There are currently 0 openly gay footballers in the top leagues of English men’s football. Players who have come out in the UK have either been retired already, moved abroad shortly after, or taken more tragic measures, such as the case of Justin Fashanu: an openly gay footballer who committed suicide in the 1990s. Many footballers have stated that they have played with gay teammates, and it has led to questions over what is stopping these players from coming out publicly. Whether it is abuse from fans or teammates, issues with sponsors, criticism in the media, or the lack of infrastructure in place, these footballers feel that they cannot come out.
“As an avid football fan, the issue of homophobia within football has always fascinated me. What this play does differently to others is examine what might happen if a group of players were to come out publicly. It aims to explore not only how prepared those players would be, but how prepared the worlds of football and the media are for them. This is an ongoing issue that desperately needs to be resolved in the national game. We must all ask questions constantly on the environment created for these players, and what more can be done.”
- Mark Starling, Writer
What’s happened so far?
Mark began writing Target Man in 2015, as part of an MFA in Scriptwriting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. The play went on to win The Mercury/Weinberger Future Voice Award in 2018, which recognises emerging playwrights under 25. This meant the play had two days of workshopping at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, followed by a rehearsed reading for an audience.
Snippets of the play have been scratched at Pleasance Theatre and Old Red Lion Theatre, where it received great feedback and the buzz grew. Now we make our way to King’s Head Theatre in August for a full week’s run!
This run will give us the opportunity to gather reviews, build industry connections and invite programmers from across the country to consider the play for further performance.
Where will the funds raised go?
The £3,000 target will cover the costs of our wonderful and talented Lighting Designer, Sound Designer, Set & Costume Designer and Stage Manager. Their contributions are vital to bringing Target Manto the stage, and we’re committed to paying our creative team a decent wage for their extraordinary work.
Thank you so much for considering donating, bringing Target Man one step closer to King’s Head Theatre. Please do check out all of the rewards on offer and follow us on social media for hot-off-the-press updates!