To obtain the rights to perform any Smith’s song in a dramatic piece of work is extremely rare – in fact it may never have been granted before according to the Performing Rights Society. However, Morrissey and Marr have just given permission for Billy Cowan’s play, Still Ill, to use what is many fans’ favourite song, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.
Still Ill, at The Lantern Theatre 21 & 22 November, is a blistering new drama that involves gay paramilitaries and gives an honest assessment of Ulster ten years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. It explores the legacy of the peace process in Northern Ireland and the music of The Smiths.
Written by award-winning playwright Billy Cowan and directed by Kenneth Branagh’s younger sister Joyce, this tragic love story between ‘the jumped up pantry boy’ and the ‘boy with the thorn in his side’ comes to the North West in November, and the writer is ecstatic and feels very privileged that Morrissey and Marr have said yes.
Cowan said, “I can’t believe it. PRS told me it was highly unlikely that permission would be granted and that I should think about how to stage the play without the song. This was heartbreaking as the song is so crucial to the storyline and to the characters at the centre of the love story. Plus the fact that it was the Smiths that made me want to write the play in the first place. When I received the email with the good news I literally started to bounce off the walls with joy. Knowing I have Morrissey and Marr’s blessing is an amazing endorsement of the play and I will be forever grateful.”
In 2010 the play won the International Playwriting Award run by Warehouse Theatre in Croydon and it also received a Special Commendation at the Verity Bargate Award – one of the most prestigious playwriting competitions in the country.
The play is also being published with a foreword by the National Theatre of Wales artistic director John McGrath.