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The Burning of the Boats!

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our rehearsals for the upcoming revival performance of "The Burning of the Boats"......

So for starters, lets just tell you a bit about the background to this work.....

In 2013 the Deal Music and Arts Festival commissioned a new community music drama, “The Burning of the Boats”, The libretto and story were written by the BAFTA nominated Martin Riley who has a huge number of theatre and television credits to his name, with the music composed by our very own David Burridge.

The story takes us back to the 18th Century at a time when import and export taxes were extraordinarily high, particularly on goods such as tea, alcohol, fabrics and wool. It was not uncommon for whole towns and villages, particularly around the East Kent coast, to be involved in smuggling activities under what were the original “free-trade” agreements. These agreements, arranged with counterparts on the continent, were often bankrolled by the local gentry who would make a substantial profit from the process whilst at the same time providing people in and around the area with regular employment.

The smuggling communities were always on the lookout, ready to resist the troops that were sent by the customs authorities to seize the illegal contraband and arrest the culprits. On many occasions they successfully defended their goods and livelihoods but on one night in 1784, William Pitt, the then Prime Minister, sent soldiers to Deal, one of the towns considered to be the most notorious in the area for smuggling, with instructions to “burn the boats” in an effort to curb the smugglers ability to cross the channel.

The 2013 performance made a huge impact for the compelling way it told the story, heavily influenced by Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “A Smuggler’s Song” and portrays, beautifully, the way in which people can interact and come together to help, protect and support each other, giving a real sense of meaning to the concept of "community".

Reviews included “a truly inspirational musical and theatrical community project”, “outstanding in every way”, “sublime music”.

On Sunday 23rd June 2019 at 7pm, the show is being revived by The Big Reveal and hosted by Northbourne Park School, Betteshanger, Deal, CT14 0NW. This new production of the work will feature the entire original adult cast, three new child actors, singers from The Downs School CEP, Northbourne CEP and Northbourne Park School and adult singers from the Pharos Choir Dover, the Deal and Walmer Handelians, The Manwood Singers and the Landmark Choir. The performance will again be Directed by Matthew Sharp who plays the lead role of “Thomas Hagget” and accompanied by the Revelation Strings orchestra, conducted by David Burridge. Costumes by Judith Dore.

Rehearsals are well underway with professional actor Simon Yadoo coaching our child actors Evie Brown (“Betsy Hagget”), Louis Zegrean (“Sam Hagget”) and Jakob Taylor (“Big Mickey”) who were all chosen following a competitive audition process.

The slideshow shows, in order, Evie Brown and Louis Zegran receiving coaching and advice from Simon Yadoo, two images of Evie Brown and Jakob Taylor rehearsing a scene with support from Chris Berriman, another of our professional actors, who will be reprising his role as Abraham Fishpole in the upcoming production and finally a few images taken during the 2013 performance to give you an idea of the spectacle you can expect to enjoy!

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