"Outside The Box", a celebration of the game, will be performed by British athlete James Willstrop and local children ©Birmingham 2022

English professional squash player James Willstrop and children from inner city Birmingham schools, will be creating a drama on the squash courts at the University of Birmingham as the Midlands region gets ready for this year's Commonwealth Games.

A cast of professional players, actors and school children will tell the story on three glass-back courts, exploring its thrilling origins in a London prison to the mountains of Pakistan and beyond.

"Outside The Box", a celebration of the game, is presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival, a six-month festival surrounding the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The show will pay tribute to notable squash players such as Pakistan's Jahangir Khan, as well as revealing the struggles players like his compatriot Maria Toorpakai, went through, just to be able to play.

Willstrop, who managed to claim gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, will make an appearance in the play and has recently spoken about his pleasure to be participating in this initiative. 

"This project unites two of my greatest passions - squash and theatre," he said. 

"The fact that we’re working with young people, using drama to inspire them about the game is so exciting."

British squash champion and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist James Willstrop will perform in the show ©Getty Images
British squash champion and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist James Willstrop will perform in the show ©Getty Images

The play has been created by Untied Artists and The Play House, which is a Birmingham based Theatre in Education charity, in collaboration with local schoolchildren. 

"Working with children in our superdiverse city has illustrated why we need stories that unite us regardless of our complex global histories," said Jake Oldershaw, who is the director at Untied Artists.

"Sport always finds a way to do exactly that.

"Thanks to generous funding from Arts Council England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund we are able to offer the performances for free.

"It’s a fantastic opportunity for audiences to visit one of the Games venues and discover more about this incredible sport."

Raidene Carter, executive producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival, said that the Birmingham 2022 Festival programme will honour and explore sport through a whole range of art forms from theatre to visual arts, music to film. 

"Outside the Box" aims to engage family and young audiences from May 21 to 29. 

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to take place from July 28 to August 8 in Birmingham and across the West Midlands.