South Devon Players switch venue

(Last Updated On: September 2, 2019)

Following an international theatre award in New York, local theatre company launches new local history drama, about a pivotal event in the history of their hometown, but sadly due to a venue flood, the players have had to temporarily move the casting venue.

On Wednesday August 28th, the South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company arrived at their home venue at Chestnut Community Centre in Brixham, for a rehearsal and meeting, to find it flooded to several inches and water pouring from the ceiling. Following alerting the community centre committee, and helping with the initial cleanup, as well as salvaging costumes and equipment, the Players have been forced to move to a temporary alternative venue, meaning that the next auditions, for their historical production about the 1866 Great Gale of Brixham have also been moved.

The Players are casting all roles for this researched historical theatre production ,
These roles cover speaking characters (no extras) aged 10 – 70, playing for the most part real people and telling their stories through this storm. People of all backgrounds very welcome.

Auditions are on Sunday Sept 15th 2019, now at The Edge community centre, Bolton Street, Brixham TQ5 9DH. Please arrive to begin at 1pm. (doors open from 12), and anyone interested is invited to come along.

Rehearsal dates: Wednesday evenings 7pm – 9.30pm, Sundays 12.30pm – 5pm,
at the Edge ,and then as soon as possible back at Chestnut Community Centre, in Brixham; with shows at Brixham Theatre – Dec 13th (evening), Dec 14th (matinee & evening) The Watermark, Ivybridge Jan 18th (evening) .

On the night of January 10 – 11th 1866, a southeast gale blew up, and the storm is widely remembered in Brixham to this day. Much of the towns fishing fleet, as well as other ships sheltering in Torbay were destroyed, with a large loss of life.

The fishwives of Brixham built a bonfire of their household effects on the end of the breakwater (half the length of the current breakwater, although in the same location) to try to guide their husbands home safely, while the men on shore in the town did all they could to save people from the ships which were wrecked along the Brixham and Churston coastline, and all those saved, both locals, and those from other parts of Britain, and indeed mainland Europe, were shown great kindness by the residents of the town who in many cases offered them lodgings in their own homes, even as they waited for news of their own loved ones.
It is said, however, that after the storm one could walk along the coastline from Brixham to Paignton, upon the wreckage of all the wrecked ships. Over a hundred bodies were identified, and records to this day also list many other unidentified seamen who were found torn apart by the fury of the storm and unidentifiable. A mass grave and memorial exists at St Marys Church in Brixham to this day. The full death toll from the storm will never be known – for example it was reported that two passenger steamers had been seen in Torbay, and some sailors, later rescued from the wreck of their own ship, reported that in the chaos of the night, in the bay, their ship had crashed into an unknown steamer which then sank, as far as they knew, with all hands.
In the 19th century, at the time of this storm, Brixham was one of the foremost fishing ports in England, and it was due to this storm that the people of Exeter, the county capital, raised funds for Brixham to have her first RNLI lifeboat; named The City Of Exeter, and the town has always had a lifeboat since.

The South Devon Players, founded in 2005/6 on the proceeds of a carboot sale, are winners of the national Epic Award 2017 for England, a national arts award celebrating creativity and innovation in grassroots arts, and international nominations for past productions. Based in Brixham, the Players primarily specialise in researched historical theatre productions and old “Classics”.

Contact South Devon Players for more information:
Facebook & Twitter: @sdevonplayers

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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!