During the lockdowns, the South Devon Players, an internationally award-winning theatre company based in Brixham, in South Devon, began planning for their biggest, most ambitious show ever; by adapting the tale of Ben Hur for the stage, and now bring the tour across the Southwest spanning Penzance to Bristol – and then to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Based on the classic 19th Century novel by Lew Wallace, Ben Hur is a meticulously crafted stage drama, packed with drama, action, and hope, set across the 1st Century Roman Empire. With action, suspense, hope, humour, and a dramatic confrontation in the arena at the Roman Games, this show is designed to appeal to a huge range of audiences. Ben Hur is a show that would normally be considered to be difficult to stage, but creative solutions were planned and tested and enacted – and with creative solutions it is all possible!
The story follows a young prince who is accused of attempted murder, sentenced to die as a galley slave, but survives, eventually returning to his homeland, to find that his mother and sister are missing.
Despite exacting revenge against the Roman commander who destroyed his family, he finds no peace – until once again his life is changed by two family slaves whom he freed, and a man from Nazareth…
The show opens at Brixham Theatre on April 8th and 9th before continuing across the Southwest to Bristol, Plymouth, Bodmin and Penzance, before finally being streamed “on demand” online to the Edinburgh Fringe. All dates and tickets can be found on the box office page at www.southdevonplayers.com.
The show – and theatre company – itself breaks down barriers for creatives. Directed and produced by an autistic woman of colour – who also founded the South Devon Players, a not-for-profit theatre company based in Brixham, Torbay, in 2005 and led it to national and international arts awards for previous shows- the show creates opportunities for local Devon actors and creative talent of all backgrounds but especially those from marginalised backgrounds, to showcase their skills towards, or to further, developing a career in theatre and the arts.
The South Devon Players always welcome people from the local area who would like to get involved in creating theatre and performances.
Laura, the director and theatre company founder, is also a member of the Equity trade union Directors committee, championing regionally and rurally created theatre on a national scale.
The actors and crew for Ben Hur have worked together since September on this show, in and around their wider lives, jobs, studies, family commitments, etc; creating the costumes and props mostly from recycled materials; choreographing the big action scenes, in line with advice from historical re-enactors, as well as working on the technical logistics for touring this show. – and all on a budget of selling second hand books and things on ebay, to fundraise.
The group has also welcomed a Sixth Form student from Totnes Steiner School, who first came on a placement to explore what it is like creating theatre, and then who asked to stay for this show.
Now, with a show in the final stages of rehearsals, the cast and crew are beyond excited to bring this groundbreaking show to the public at long last.
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