• Home
  • News/Blogs/Press

Filter by genre



  • Part gig, part play, Reasons to be Cheerful celebrates the infectious music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads in this bold and jubilant coming of age tale
  • Fully accessible punk production is directed by Jenny Sealey MBE, Artistic Director of Graeae, and written by Paul Sirett
  • Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ seminal album ‘New Boots and Panties!!’, the musical features a catalogue of the band’s hits

The pioneering disabled-led theatre company Graeae has confirmed tour dates and venues for the return of their acclaimed musical Reasons to be Cheerful, which will hit the road this autumn. Following a hugely successful tour in 2012 which was seen by almost 12,000 people and a series of concert performances last year, this joyful and defiant production will visit seven regions around the country, kicking off at the Belgrade, Coventry on 4 September and rounding off the tour with a two week run at Theatre Royal, Stratford East in London 24 October - 4 November. Book your tickets now

First seen in 2010, Reasons to be Cheerful has gone onto play at theatres and festivals across the UK, in stadiums around the world, and even in front of HM The Queen. “Spasticus Autisticus”, the Ian Dury-penned disability rights anthem which features in the show, was performed by the cast at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony and, despite being banned by the BBC in 1981, broadcast worldwide in front of an audience of over 1 billion.

This coming of age tale rejoices in the infectious and enduring music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Featuring stone-cold classic songs including Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick; Plaistow Patricia; Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll; Sweet Gene Vincent; What A Waste and the titular Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3), this show is loud, bold and jubilant.

The parallels with the show’s 1979 setting are clear. Today, as nationwide cuts continue to impact on the lives of d/Deaf and disabled people, Graeae Theatre Company puts them centre stage. As a prominent disabled activist, Ian Dury was a patron and staunch supporter of Graeae. The extraordinary wit and wisdom of Ian Dury and the Blockheads music and lyrics are brought to life by an inclusive cast of 15 actors and musicians.

It is 1979. Labour has just lost the General Election to the Tories. Strikes rock the nation and Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3) is climbing the charts. Die-hard fans Vinnie and Colin are on a mission to see Ian Dury and the Blockheads play Hammersmith Odeon. With no tickets to a sold-out gig their journey throws more at them than they could have ever expected….

Using Graeae’s signature theatrical language, all performances of Reasons to be Cheerful seamlessly include British Sign Language, audio description and creative captioning.

Jenny Sealey, Director of Reasons to be Cheerful and Artistic Director at Graeae Theatre Company, said: ‘I am beyond thrilled that our Reasons to be Cheerful gang are dusting off their Dr. Martens and going back out on the road one final time in a new production of our hit show, thanks to support from Arts Council England's Strategic Touring Fund. We will be well and truly raising the roof up and down the country with the brilliantly anarchic music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, whose punk sentiment speaks louder than ever as we fight against the brutal cuts that Deaf and disabled people, and millions of others, have faced in recent years.

Jemima Dury, daughter of Ian Dury, said; ‘I’m so excited for everyone who will see Reasons to Be Cheerful on this 2017 tour. You are in for a treat! It’s energizing, it’s moving and it’s enormous fun. It comes as close as you can get to a 1979 Ian Dury and the Blockheads gig. Graeae gives us diverse, accessible theatre at its best. This is how all theatre should be!’

Chaz Jankel, original Blockhead and co-writer of many songs in the show, said; 'It is amazing to think that 37 years after Ian and I wrote Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3), the song still has such an impact and sounds so fresh. The Blockheads still perform it at every gig and the vibe in the audience and on stage definitely goes up a couple of notches as we lock in our reasons to be cheerful groove! The Graeae production has added a whole new lease of life to the song and legacy of Ian Dury. The extraordinary energy and skill that the cast bring to this original musical production is edgy yet heartwarming and mesmerising. The respect they have for Ian’s lyrics and lust for life is undeniable. If Ian were alive I am sure he would be laughing his head off and applauding the bravura of this very talented ensemble.'

An extensive community engagement programme will take place alongside this production, inviting original protest songs for a generation to be included in the show’s tour. For further information, email jodi@graeae.org

Reasons to be Cheerful was first performed in autumn 2010 with original co-producers New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

This tour is supported by Arts Council England through their Strategic Touring Fund. For further information please contact Philippa Redfern philippa@thecornershoppr.com // 02078317657

About Graeae
Graeae is a force for change in world-class theatre - breaking down barriers, challenging preconceptions and boldly placing d/Deaf and disabled artists centre stage. Artistically led by Jenny Sealey, Graeae’s signature characteristic is the compelling creative integration of sign language, captioning and audio description, which engages brilliantly with both disabled and non-disabled audiences. Championing accessibility and providing a platform for new generations of artists, Graeae leads the way in pioneering, trail-blazing theatre. Graeae won the Promotion of Diversity Award at the TMA Theatre Awards UK 2012.  Recent productions include: THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA (co-production with Royal Exchange Theatre), THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER (co-production with Theatre Royal Plymouth), BLOOD WEDDING (co-production with Dundee Rep Ensemble and Derby Theatre), THE THREEPENNY OPERA (co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse, New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, Nottingham Playhouse Company and Birmingham Rep Theatre), BELONGING (co-production with Circo Crescer e Viver), REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (originally co-production with New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich and Theatre Royal Stratford East), BLASTED and BENT. Spectacular outdoor productions include THE LIMBLESS KNIGHT (with Strange Fruit/ commissioned by GDIF), PROMETHEUS AWAKES (with La Fura dels Baus/co-commissioned by GDIF and SIRF) and THE IRON MAN. Also in 2017, Graeae will be returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with COSMIC SCALLIES, a new play by award-winning writer Jackie Hagan, co-produced with the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Jenny Sealey MBE
Director / Artistic Director of Graeae

Jenny Sealey co-directed the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony alongside Bradley Hemmings (GDIF). She has been Artistic Director and CEO of Graeae since 1997 and has pioneered a new theatrical language, coining the term ‘aesthetics of access’. Credits for Graeae include THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA, BLOOD WEDDING, BLASTED, THE THREEPENNY OPERA, THE LIMBLESS KNIGHT, BELONGING and REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL. International work includes ROMEO AND JULIET in Bangladesh, BLOOD WEDDING in Tokyo and BELONGING in Brazil. Jenny was awarded her MBE in 2009 and The Human Rights Awards for the Arts in 2012.

Paul Sirett
Paul is a playwright, dramaturg and musician. He is currently working as the dramaturg on the new Ramps on the Moon production of The Who’s rock opera TOMMY – a job that includes integrating two new songs from Pete Townshend and revising the script to make the production fully accessible. Most recently, Paul wrote Stratford East’s biggest ever selling pantomime, SIMBAD THE SAILOR, and worked as the dramaturg on a re-working of the John Mellencamp and Stephen King musical, GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY in New York. Previously, Paul was nominated for a Olivier for his musical THE BIG LIFE and he wrote COME DANCING with Ray Davies. Upcoming productions include a new Punk Rock musical, OXY AND THE MORONS, at the New Wolsey in Ipswich, and a new Graeae tour of Paul’s Ian Dury and the Blockhead’s musical REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL.


Tuesday 24 October – Saturday 4 November
Theatre Royal Stratford East
020 8534 0310
On Sale Now

Cookies on our website

Stratford has updated its cookie policy. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. This includes cookies from third party social media websites. Such third party cookies may track your use on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.