The culture of South Yorkshire clubland celebrated in new show

The culture of South Yorkshire clubland celebrated in new show

By Michael Upton | 26/04/2022

The culture of South Yorkshire clubland celebrated in new show

THE CREATIVE pairing behind an acclaimed new show celebrating the culture of South Yorkshire social clubs say they would love to stage it in Rotherham.

Paul Athorne, from Rotherham, and Lee Pollard, from Barnsley, are two creative writers who found each other during the first lockdown and teamed up to start writing plays together.

They realised that they shared the same sense of humour and complemented each other’s style and quickly founded Coalface Productions to host their activities.

Paul said: “Our first play, That's the Spirit, is centred around a spiritualist performer whose audience tells tales of courage, love and loss, liberally sprinkled with humour that sometimes is laugh-out-loud funny and at other times bittersweet and on occasion, empowering.

“That's The Spirit has been performed successfully since the end of lockdown in various venues around Barnsley and Penistone and we’re hoping to take it to other venues in the South Yorkshire region and further afield.”

The play is set in a working men’s club and some performances have been staged in real clubs, which Paul said added to the atmosphere of authenticity.  “All the characters and their stories are relatable and some are based on real life experiences of the writers,” he said.

Profits from some of the performances have gone to charities, including  Barnsley Hospice and the DEC Humanitarian Appeal for Ukraine.

The pair’s successful lockdown partnership so far has spawned four more plays, one of which, Away Days, has already been performed in Working Men’s Clubs in Barnsley.  

“It's loosely based around football, but there is much more to it,” said Paul.

“We’re now rehearsing its sequel.

“We try to write in such a way that connects people with the stories, creating  believable tales with a local and regional angle in mind, reflecting the particular sense of humour of Yorkshire folk.  

“At the same time, the plays are adaptable and can be tweaked to suit different localities.

“One of our main aims is to provide a platform and opportunities for local people to be creative and involved and be part of something fresh and inspiring.

“This is why we have created a small theatre group, Hoyland Community Theatre, which welcomes people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to share in the joy of acting and producing.

“We’ve attracted and already welcomed seasoned amateurs, semi-professional actors and total beginners and newbies who are keen to get involved in all aspects of theatre production.

“As well as rehearsing for performances, we meet up once a week to chat, catch-up on or discuss ideas and read through plays or simply go for a meal or a pint.

“For some members, the theatre group has opened up a new world and/or provided a lifeline and support, given people self confidence and an outlet to be creative and have fun.

“New members are always welcome.”

Any venues in Rotherham wanting to explore the possibility of staging one of the pair’s shows should email Paul directly at or contact them through the Coalface Productions Facebook page.




Sign up to our weekly newsletter delivered straight to your inbox

Spotted something we should know about?

Call our Newsdesk on 01709 803562
Or email
Message us on Facebook