A fight for survival


We are making a live-streamed theatre piece with 13-18 year olds based on The Strong Man of Crick.

Written by BAFTA-nominated writer Martin Riley, directed and curated by ‘Virtuoso of the arts’, The Times, Matthew Sharp.

A once in a lifetime opportunity to inspire and perform online a local story with a top professional team that has gathered national interest.


CREATIVE ENGAGEMENT from participants from March 30th.

RECORDED CONTRIBUTIONS in DRAMA, MUSIC, SONG, DANCE, and ART. Assignments will be allocated from May 1st. 

BROADCAST PERFORMANCES in June and July. Dates tbc.


Live streamed Youth Theatre

A team of young people between, 13-18 years, have the opportunity to be part of an on-line premiere performance of a brand-new multi-media broadcast musical, written for the occasion by T.V. and Music Theatre scriptwriter Martin Riley and directed and curated by Matthew Sharp.

This powerful one-act drama is inspired by the true story of the “Strong Man” of Crick, the bronzed hero who struck the huge gong at the start of Top Rank movies. It deals with the dangers of social isolation and exposes the myth and mask of the hero: the public face and private fears.

The Strong One tells the story of a personal and communal crisis that threaten to destroy the lives of everyone involved, told in punchy rhyme and song, music, dance, design and splintered shards of dialogue. It deals with the struggle to find real strength and connection and come to terms with the shadow-self in all of us that says, “bring it on!”

This is a radical hot-chips approach to making music theatre, in which a young creative team gives the writer an artistic brief and then becomes the remote-working ensemble who connect on-line to provide all the elements needed to assemble a multi-media live streamed performance, a “Garage Production”.

Key characters within the ensemble.

These are eight characters in search of a story. Will they all get one? We don’t know yet!!

Jaz Chandra: A key narrator: an observer, outsider, clever but indecisive. Still bearing guilt for not acting quickly enough. Driven to understand and communicate. (m/f)

Evie Miller: Emotionally and physically scarred – fuelled by anger and resentment, a controller who demands allegiance. Needs to constantly justify herself. (f)

Amy Nolan: Evie’s friend, driven by insecurity and self-doubt and fear of being left out and abandoned. Needs to be forgiven. (f)

Michael Collins: Tough, ruthless, thinks with his fists, not bright but quick. Finds it hard to know and face himself. (m)

Brad Collins: Michael’s older brother, street and worldly wise, in and out of prison. Needs to pretend nothing matters. (m)

Charlie Dane: Great, great nephew of Carl Dane, the man who banged the gong for the start of Top Rank movies in 1932. A righteous young lad trying to discover himself and what it means to be a man. (m)

Phoenix Riga: Manipulative, likes to stir the pot and watch what happens. A voyeur. Heavily conflicted about accepting personal responsibility. (m/f)

Carl Dane: The “Strong Man”. (m)

Songs and music.

An ongoing, occasionally broken, underscore with snatches of sung moments and maybe three/four usual-length “songs”.

Professional Team

‘The Strong Man’ is written by BAFTA-nominated writer Martin Riley, and directed by international director, performer and ‘Virtuoso of the Arts’ The Times, Matthew Sharp, This piece is produced by The Wheels on Debussy and has been funded by Northamptonshire Community Foundation.

How to take part?

If you would like to take part, please email Give your name, age, which school you normally attend, a photograph, and some means of verification. This will be kept securely and confidentially on file until the end of the project.

If selected as a member of our Creative Team, you will be emailed an “Inspiration Pack” for your input, which we will need to receive by Friday 10th April. You will be guided and helped in this by some questions and suggestions from Martin and Matthew. Your responses may include prose, poetry, artwork, photos, video and music. These will provide the brief for the script, music, songs and visuals for The Strong One.

Work on the script will begin on 10h April to be completed by May 1st. During this time Matthew and Martin will be in touch when necessary to clarify points or ask for further material or ideas.

After May 1st, following further creative discussions, members of the team will be assigned to make video and sound recordings of music, singing, dialogue, mood pieces, soundscape, artwork and some rehearsed live input ready for the performances on 30th and 31st May.


Live public streaming in June and July 2020. Dates tbc.


2 years ago, The Wheels on Debussy, hosted Crick Creates, a week of creativity in Crick, Northamptonshire. One event was a story-telling workshop about Carl Dane, the original Gong Man in the Rank Films who lived his later life in Crick. The local residents revealed stories of Dane pulling buses down the High Street, crushing apples in one hand, banging nails into the pub walls with his fist and his pet donkeys that he would take to the pub for the children to ride on. The enthusiasm and sense of curiosity around this character felt by the village inspired us to find out more.

The Wheels on Debussy received funding from Northamptonshire Community Foundation to turn this story into a brand-new youth theatre piece, rehearse it with a group of professional theatre makers and perform it in Rugby, Crick and as part of Coventry City of Culture in 2021. In response to the current coronavirus lockdown, this event has become a multi-media, online ‘Garage Theatre’ performance.


Inspirations for participants of The Strong One


What follows is a provocation. You can respond to it with prose, poetry, dialogue, description, music, art, song, speech. Use any medium you are comfortable with and can transmit online. Your submissions will be used as inspiration for “The Strong One.”



A crisis. A dilemma. A young man in a garage,

Locked in, isolated, yet connected to the world.

How? Why? A danger, a problem, a turning point.

How has it come to this? What of his friends?

What of his family, his community? Who is he?

What has happened? Was there a tipping point?

What is at stake? What is in the garage? Anything?

In his mind, where is he? What and who does he see?

He speaks, he speaks from his heart – and says what?

What hope? What connection? Who cares?

Others speak: a friend, a sister, a brother, a lover, an enemy,

A carer, a despiser, a user, gift bearer, gift taker, the unexpected,

The expected, the quick and the slow – and what do they say?

How much time? What chance? What if? What if not?

The pivot. No time left now. Which way will it go?

Who is strong?


Take one of these words.

Sit with it.

Let it work its way into your mind and heart.

Look out of the window.

Perhaps eat a sandwich.

Perhaps not.

Pick up a pen or a brush or an instrument.

Respond. Perhaps you just speak or sing?

Share with us what arrives.





















Look at the photograph of the Strong Man striking the gong.

Look at it for a while.What thoughts and feelings arise?

Use any medium you like to share them with us.