Former Grange Hill actor Mark Savage stands up to suicide
'Gripper Stebson' star stages play raising funds and awareness for Maytree sanctuary
07 September, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
ACTOR Mark Savage takes the stage this week in a play that tackles the issue of suicide – while also raising funds and awareness of the work done by the Maytree, a charity based in Finsbury Park.
Called Human Issue, the play is on for Friday night only (September 8) at the Etcetera Theatre – and Mark performs it solo.
Mark, who runs his own theatre company, says that he was impressed by the play’s script by Dean Moynihan. “I am committed to new writers and new works, and this really struck me,” he says.
He plays Frank, a stand-up comedian who suffers from depression.
“It is a story of hope and the tenacious nature of humanity,” adds Mark.
As well as a successful stage career, Mark, who grew up in Kilburn, is well-known as the school bully, Gripper Stebson, in the seminal Phil Redmond series Grange Hill.
“I’m extremely proud of my work on Grange Hill and the fact that it is still remembered over three decades later due to the groundbreaking storylines dealing with social issues, such as bullying, racism,” he says. “I was a very shy, introverted child and drama taught me confidence, to view the world and situations from different perspectives, and an appreciation of storytelling.”
Working on Grange Hill became Mark’s own version of the career-forging rep theatre circuit, while his famous character Gripper was partly formed by the scriptwriting of the late Anthony Minghella, who then worked on the shows.
“Working on Grange Hill was my drama school,” he recalls. “It was like the old days of the rep, where actors learned on the job. I am immensely grateful and proud to have been part of television history.”
After a 38-year acting career, he has now turned to producing work and received Human Issue. It struck a chord, having been aware of the work by his union, Equity, to raise awareness of issues over suicide in the profession.
“I was attracted to this play because it deals very powerfully with something that is often a taboo subject and yet effects so, so many people,” he says. “Maytree help a lot of people who are survivors of the bereavement of suicide. They do important work, and I am pleased to be able to help.”
• Human Issue is at the Etcetera Theatre, The Oxford Arms, 265 Camden High Street, NW1 7BU on Friday September 8 at 12.30pm matinee and 9.30pm. All proceeds will be donated to The Maytree suicide sanctuary, which relies entirely on donations to continue their valuable work. Tickets available at www.ticketea.co.uk/tickets-theatre-human-issue/