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The Spalding Suite 

Conceived by
Inua Ellams
Directed by
Benji Reid
Commissioned by
Southbank Centre and Contact
Produced by
23 Apr - 6 Jun 2015
Inua Ellams

Fuel presents The Spalding Suite 

Conceived by Inua Ellams 

Directed by Benji Reid  

Commissioned by Southbank Centre and Contact 

A physical theatre show inspired by the UK’s basketball sub-culture. 

When we were young, we worshipped stars.
gleaming long-limbed gods
framed in the act of impossible flight,
For a time we tried to follow,
to carve out our own piece of sky
with a butter-smooth arc of an arm
and a Spalding ball glued to the fingertips 

Fresh poetry combined with contemporary movement celebrated the elegance and beauty of basketball. 

Seen from a British perspective, The Spalding Suite got to the heart and soul of the gravity-defying game and dove into the hopes and dreams of those who play it. 

Six dynamic performers mixed live beatboxing, hip-hop, music, moves, and poetry, and took us from the fleeting high of the score and the robust camaraderie of the team, to the poignant lows of a body too worn to play the game. 

Poetry by Inua Ellams, Bohdan Piasecki, Jacob Sam-La Rose, Roger Robinson, Nick Makoha, and Nii Parkes. 


Co-commissioned by Southbank Centre and Contact. Funded by Arts Council England and a Wellcome Trust Arts Award. Produced by Fuel.  




"**** Full of treats for the eye, the ear and the mind... Slam dunk. "

British Theatre Guide

"A multi-layered piece that should appeal to all ages, performed by an engaging cast and boasting a terrific beat-boxing soundtrack.  Fun and sometimes unexpectedly moving too."

Lyn Gardner, Guardian  

"A fresh combination of eloquently rhythmic spoken text and a stylised physicality that honours both competitive sports and street moves”."

Donald Hutera, The Times 

"A poignant look at young male hopes and dreams. Behind the outward bravado, there’s concerns and fears that any age group can relate to."

Public Reviews  

"Absolutely Spectacular! Beautiful, Artistic, Intelligent, Urban, a wonderful love story of man and hoops."

Audience member

"Ingenious & original. Wonderful, contemporary writing/poetry in motion. "

Audience member

"I cannot find the words to describe how much I enjoyed the show. I think it was by far the best I have seen."

Audience member

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Project History