I stumbled on writing by accident. It found me. But the truth is, if you come from an estate, you’ll always be an outsider in this world”  

From Freedom Studios, the producers of the acclaimed Brief Encounters at Bradford Interchange and When We Were Brothers comes Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile,  award-winning screenwriter Lisa Holdsworth’s new stage adaptation of Adelle Stripe’s compelling novel which recounts the brief and defiant life of the celebrated playwright Andrea Dunbar. 

The Beacon, Buttershaw, Bradford, 1990. Andrea Dunbar, acclaimed writer of Rita, Sue, and Bob Too, mum, sister, best friend, is struggling with her latestwork. Her aching head is full of voices, stories from her past which have to be heard.

Adapted for the stage by Screenwriter Lisa Holdsworth (Ackley Bridge, Waterloo Road and Call the MidwifeBlack Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, will open at The Ambassador in Bradford from the 30 May-8 June and then tour until the 27 June.

Andrea Dunbar was raised on the Buttershaw council estate in Bradford, one of eight siblings. Her first play, The Arbor, which premiered at the Royal Court in London when she was just 18, originated as a CSE English assignment. She was, according to one tabloid newspaper at the time, ‘a genius straight from the slums’. Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1982) was also a hit at the Royal Court and was subsequently filmed by the director Alan Clarke. Dunbar wrote one more play, Shirley, and died of a brain haemorrhage in 1990. She was 29.

Adelle Stripe
Adelle Stripe

Author Adelle Stripe said  about the forthcoming adaptation of her novel:

“I am absolutely delighted that Freedom Studios will be adapting my novel, transforming Andrea Dunbar’s story from the page to stage. Lisa Holdsworth is one of the region’s most respected screenwriters and is a loyal and outspoken supporter of Andrea’s work. I couldn’t think of a better person to adapt Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile. Kash Arshad is a ferocious talent, and under his stewardship I have no doubt that Andrea’s life and work will receive a dynamic retelling in venues across the north. As one of Yorkshire’s greatest female writers, Andrea’s legacy is finally being recognised, and this new production, which will be cast in the city that made her, is finally bringing Andrea back home.”


Playwright Lisa Holdsworth added:

“It is both a great pleasure and privilege to be writing this play. It will not only be a celebration of the life, work and unique spirit of Andrea Dunbar, but also of Adelle Stripe’s extraordinary book which brings out Andrea’s humour and bravery.”

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is directed by Kash Arshad (Airplays,  Leeds Playhouse and BBC) and designed by Hannah Sibai (When We Were Brothers, Freedom Studios). Casting will be announced in the coming months.

Bradford-based Freedom Studios is an award-winning intercultural theatre company, which connects different people and communities through story-telling and making theatre. Engagement is intrinsic to their work, and communities are at the heart of what they do. Their recent site-specific productions include The Mill – City of DreamsBrief Encounters at Bradford InterchangeHome Sweet HomeNorth Country and most recently When We Were Brothers.

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile will tour from the 30 May – 27 June 2019 including performances at Cast, Doncaster and Oldham Coliseum. More venues will be confirmed in the coming months.

To book tickets and for more information on Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile and Freedom Studios visit




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