18th September 2023

A tiny dragon Productions and ETT co-production in association with Northern Stage 


I, Daniel Blake

Adapted by Dave Johns from the film directed by Ken Loach 

Directed by Mark Calvert 


  • World premiere stage tour comes to the Courtyard theatre at Leeds Playhouse from 3-7 October


  • Hit play adapted by Dave Johns from the Ken Loach film exposes stark reality behind the cost-of-living headlines
  • Leeds Playhouse honours the themes of the play by becoming a food bank collection point

Following a sold out spring tour and standing ovations in every venue,  the world premiere stage adaptation of I, Daniel Blake is coming to Leeds Playhouse from 3-7 October as part of an autumn tour.

This first stage adaptation of Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or and BAFTA award-winning film is written by actor and comedian Dave Johns, who won the Best Actor award at the British Independent Film Awards and Best Newcomer at the EMPIRE Awards for his role in the film.

Ken Loach said: “This story is more relevant now than ever. And who better to put it on stage than Dave Johns, the original Daniel Blake?” 

Dave Johns, a multi-award-winning film actor, stage actor and stand-up comic who has written for theatre and radio, including the stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption, says: “I was thrilled to be asked to adapt Paul Laverty’s screenplay. But I didn’t just want to put the film on stage, I wanted to update the story for 2023, making it contemporary and exploring more of single mum Katie’s journey and the family unit she forms with Daniel. To show the kindness, compassion, humour, and hope that can help us through the toughest of times. 

“Sadly, during my research it was disheartening to find not much had changed since the film’s release. The story is still as relevant as it was in 2016; maybe even more so now with the cost-of-living crisis making it even harder for those who are already struggling. Daniel and Katie’s story could be anyone’s.” 

The production features factual interviews, speeches and social media posts showing the impact of government decisions on people’s lives. Director Mark Laverty hopes that reflecting these harsh realities will galvanise audiences and inspire activism.

“It’s a big responsibility to honour the film but also to find ways to raise awareness of the hardship huge numbers of people in our country are facing right now,” he said. “I’ve spent months volunteering at local food banks, and I can tell you that this is not fiction. It is reality. And the cost-of-living crisis affects even more people now than when the film was released in 2016. For me, I, Daniel Blake frames the working-class experience in modern Britain – there’s hope, humour and humanity in the story, but audiences should feel angry and outraged; I know I am.” 

To honour the play’s themes, the Playhouse is becoming a collection point for South & East Leeds Food Bank, which is part of the Trussell Trust Network with distribution points in Harehills, Beeston, Gipton, Seacroft, Morley, Hunslet, Halton, Rothwell and Belle Isle.


The South & East Leeds Food Bank supported more than 14,000 local people with emergency food in 2022-23; 40% of the people supported were children; and there was a 30% increase in the need for food parcels on the previous year.


Audiences and visitors to the Playhouse are being invited to donate urgently needed items: UHT milk, biscuits, coffee, tinned custard, dilute juice, personal hygiene items, tinned potatoes, cooking sauces, tinned tomatoes, and tinned fruit.


The cast 

David Nellist plays Daniel in the stage production. Originally from Wallsend in Newcastle, he appeared as Mike Stamford in Sherlock on BBC One with Benedict Cumberbatch and was recently in Stonehouse opposite Matthew Macfadyen on ITV. His theatre credits include West End productions Billy Elliott, War Horse, The Pitmen Painters and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Bryony Corrigan plays Katie. Inspired to become an actor after doing work experience at Northern Stage aged 15, she is best known as series regular Vanessa in Mischief Theatre’s The Goes Wrong Show on BBC One. Her theatre credits include the recent stage adaptation of Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island (Watermill Theatre) and My Romantic History at Live Theatre, for which she won Performing Artist of the Year at the Journal Culture Awards.

Kema Sikazwe (also known as Kema Kay) plays China, a role he played in the film after being spotted by Ken Loach on a visit to Newcastle. The actor, rapper and singer wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed Shine at Live Theatre about his experience of moving to Newcastle aged three, which is about to be adapted for a TV musical drama.

The rest of the cast are Janine Leigh who appeared alongside Joanne Froggatt in Channel 4 film In Our Name, Micky Cochrane (Billy Elliot the Musical, Curve), and former Northern Stage Young Company member Jodie Wild making her professional stage debut.

The creatives 

I, Daniel Blake is designed by Rhys Jarman (Gecko), lighting design by Simisola Majekodunmi (Is God Is Royal Court Theatre and winner of the 2022 Light Recognition Award at the Black British Theatre Awards), original music by Ross Millard (The Futureheads, Putting the Band Back Together Unfolding Theatre), sound design by Roma Yagnik (Mare of Easttown HBO), movement direction by Martin Hylton (Gateway Studio and Phoenix Dance) and AV design by Matthew Brown for PixelLux (Bonnie & Clyde West End) incorporating creative captioning.

Tickets now on sale. For more information visit