Our Country’s Good – 4 – 7 April

Our Country’s Good, by Timberlake Wertenbaker, is a play that begins in the hold of the vessel Sirius, a convict ship. The ship is on its way to Australia, where the British Empire notoriously shipped criminals to get them away from the British Isles. At the start of the play, convicts aboard the Sirius witness a flogging and speak fearfully about what lies ahead. In Australia, in Sydney Cove, an Aboriginal Australian comments on the arrival of the first fleet and the British Empire’s presence in Australia. At first, he is curious, but that curiosity soon turns to confusion and fear.

The play then focuses on four British men who have just arrived in Sydney. Their ranks and names are Governor Arthur Philip, Captain Watkin Tench, Captain David Collins, and Midshipman Harry Brewer. They are engaged in a debate about the purpose of imprisonment. On one side of the debate is the idea that it is to punish criminals—on the other side, that it exists to rehabilitate them. They also debate whether or not criminals are born as such, or whether crime is a learned behavior. Tench tells the others that the convicts are entertained by hangings, so the governor orders the midshipman to find a hangman. There are three criminals who have been found guilty of stealing food, and they will be hanged. But the governor also wants the convicts to put on a play, as less violent entertainment.

Our Country’s Good features a play within a play. Other dramatic works that do this include A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and Noises Off by Michael Frayn, among many others.

Harry has two of the three thieves hanged, but then is filled with guilt. One of the thieves, whose name was Handy Baker, was after the adoration of a woman Harry also pursues. Her name was Duckling Smith, and she was a convict. Harry shares the governor’s plan to put on a play with Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark. Ralph decides he will lead the convicts in performing the play. He thinks if he does this, the governor will notice him and perhaps grant him favor. For the play, Ralph selects The Recruiting Officer, a comedy written by George Farquhar during the Restoration period in England, which took place during the latter half of the seventeenth century.

As Ralph casts convicts in the play, officers continue to debate criminality and punishment. Some of them oppose the performance of a play, while others support it. They vote as to whether or not the play should continue, and a majority vote in favor of it, so Ralph is allowed to continue his work and to plan the rehearsals.

Duckling gets a part in the play by complaining about Harry’s attentions. Several of the other female characters argue. One of them cannot read; another feels unequal to playing the part she’s been given. The hangman, whose name is James “Ketch” Freeman, tells Ralph that he’s innocent of the charges that landed him Australia. He doesn’t want to be a hangman, but when he was convicted he was told he had to hang or be hanged. One thing after another goes wrong, and the first rehearsal is a complete mess that leads to many of the convicts being imprisoned. Because of this, Ralph wants to put a stop to the play. He tells Philip this, but Philip insists he continues the play. He wants to prove that incarceration can have a rehabilitating effect on convicts and believes the play will serve that purpose.

Meanwhile, Harry is visited by the ghosts of the two men he had hanged. Ralph begins a second rehearsal, during which some of the convicts show improvement in their roles while Ross humiliates some of the others, forcing them to show off their scars from being flogged. Harry and Freeman prepare for the third hanging. A woman named Liz is to be executed for stealing food, but she insists she is innocent of the charge. Harry is continuously visited by ghosts and he collapses. When Ketch returns to the play, the other convicts refuse to act with him because he’s the hangman. The rehearsal ends.

As is common with plays within plays, the characters also discuss the purpose of a play. Is it to entertain? Instruct? Satirize? Each of the officers has his own ideas of what a play’s purpose should be.

Duckling swears to love Harry, but when he collapses, he dies. Ralph and a convict, Mary, rehearse privately, which leads to their confessions of mutual love. The officers discuss Liz’s fate, and allow her one more opportunity to speak up and defend herself. Collins insists they have a retrial but Liz delays with a promise to perform in the play anyway. Before the play begins, the convicts discuss their plans for afterward. Some want to try to escape. Others plan futures together. The play begins and, from the start, receives uproarious applause.


Highly theatrical, often funny and at times dark and disturbing, it sets an infant civilisation on the stage with clarity, economy and insight – DAILY TELEGRAPH
Wertenbaker has searched history and found in it a humanistic lesson for hard modern times: rough, sombre, undogmatic and warm – THE SUNDAY TIMES
A play that says, yes, the theatre is important, a boon to civilisation. A touching tale that almost seems too incredible to be true. A fascinating spectacle – NEW YORK TIMES
Winner of the Laurence Olivier – PLAY OF THE YEAR AWARD – 1988 and the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award – premiered at the Royal Court 1988 and transferred to the Garrick in 1989 – opened to great acclaim in New York in 1991.
It is a Contemporary Classic and one which is studied in schools as a set text.
It is based on the novel by Thomas Keneally – THE PLAYMAKER – it is based on actual events and the characters are real.

The Year of the Hiker

The Herne Bay Musical Theatre Society, present this play by John B Keane.

Written in 1963, this play tells the story of a man, nicknamed “The Hiker”, who goes out for a pack of cigarettes and disappears for 20 years. His wife has to endure the shame of being left and to bring up their children in difficult times.

The Hiker returns home on the day of his youngest child’s wedding and it soon becomes apparent that he is dying.

Performance on the 8th, 9th and 10th of February 2018, starting at 7:45pm

Book online via TicketSource

2017 Pantomime – Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood by Bob Hammond is the Arden’s Christmas Show this year – join us for all the traditions of pantomine, boo the baddies, cheer the goodies and be dazzled by the Dame’s amazing outfits!

Showtimes:

Thursday 7th December – 7.30pm
Friday 8th December – 7.30pm
Saturday 9th December – 2pm
Sunday 10th December – 2pm

Thursday 14th December – 7.30pm
Friday 15th December – 7.30pm
Saturday 16th December – 2pm
Sunday 17th December – 2pm

Tickets priced £5/6 are available to book online at  www.ticketsource.co.uk/ardentheatregroup or from Carter’s Newsagents, Market Place, Faversham.

 

 

 

Rising Damp

12 – 14 October 2017

Student Alan moves into an attic flat, finding he has to share with the mysterious Philip, contend with a hole in the floor, water running down the walls and the sinister landlord, Rigby. Moreover, Rigby has designs on Miss Jones from downstairs, and she has developed a passion for Philip.

Tickets priced £7 Adult and £6 Concessionary are available to book online via Ticketsource or from Carters, Market Place, Faversham.

Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling

Young Arden alumnus, Tom Burke, was on our TV screens this evening playing Cormoran Strike in the BBC adaptation of Robert Galbraith’s (aka JK Rowling) detective story, Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling.

The next two episodes will air over the course of the next week and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

We’re delighted to see Tom’s career going from strength to strength and take a teeny bit of pride in seeing him put in another compelling performance.

Bravo Tom!

 

Photo credit: BBC

Murder at the Arden Theatre

OUR FRIENDS, PURPLE DREAMS, are bringing their Murder Mystery to the Arden! Book your seats from Carters, or just come along on the 26th.

They have forwarded a synopsis of the play as follows, and some interesting snippets about the actors –

The shape of a body can be made out underneath a sheet, blood is seeping through the top.

Someone stands above it, then as they talk they move around the stage, nervously, always glancing at the body .

As they stand over the body again they are joined by others….. THE STORY UNFOLDS !

The Arden Theatre is the scene of a murder as a new play opens there on 26th August . The play from the pen of award winning, critically acclaimed playwright Tobias Nicholls uses the setting of the theatre to create this drama and as the play unfolds and a comedy turns to tragedy as a murderer reveals themselves…but who will be their first victim? Come to the Arden to find out and enjoy the experience of live theatre.

The Arden Theatre, Leslie Smith Drive, Faversham, Kent ME13 8PW  – Saturday 26th August, 7.30 pm, Tickets £10. Tickets available from : Carter’s News Agents ,15 Market Place , Faversham : 01795 590 900 or at the door.

The Cast

Tamsin Stevenson (Penny Marshall)

Tamsin is the newest recruit to Purple Dreams Productions, joining late 2016.  She made quite an impact in the role of Carina Harris in ‘The Empty Stage’ and the role of Penny in ‘Murder at Arden Theatre’ was written especially for her. Previous to joining the group, Tamsin completed her 3 year BA course at East 15 Acting School in 2010 and went on to  take on  such theatre roles as Stella in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ (at Madder Market Theatre) as well as TV appearances in BBC’s ‘Partner’s in Crime’ and in ‘Crime Watch’ reconstructions. Tamsin is also an accomplished singer and dancer.

 

Tobias Nicholls (David Porter)

Tobias is the founder and Creative Director of Purple Dreams.  He founded the group in 1999 and has, to date, written, directed and performed in all seventeen productions for the group, compiling a selection of two-act plays, one-act plays and sketches.  The group regularly enter Drama Festivals and have proved to be a force to be reckoned with.  Over the years Tobias has won numerous Acting and writing awards, and along the way became a published poet.

Away from Purple Dreams, Tobias has professionally toured in a Rollason Entertainments production of Jack & The Beanstalk, and has appeared both on television on film. He appeared in reconstructions for an episode of “Missing Children: Lorraine Kelly Investigates” and two episodes of “Missing Mums: Lorraine Kelly Investigates”; both for Sky. Tobias also appeared as a Devonshire Servant in ‘The Duchess’, starring Keira Knightly and Ralph Fiennes, directed by Saul Dibb.  Most recently, Tobias has appeared in a number of short films including ‘Something Good.’ (directed by Phillip Rashleigh), ‘Noose’ (directed by Naga Sai Pratish) and ‘Patch’ (directed by Jennifer Borcea), as well as some music videos.

 

Katharine Levy (Beth Anderson)

Before joining Purple Dreams in 2010, Katharine had appeared on stage in many roles in such productions as ‘The Darling Buds of May’, ‘The Crucible’, ‘The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe’ & ‘Billy Liar’. As well as appearing on stage, Katharine helped backstage as a production assistant for ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾’, ‘The History Boys’, and ‘High School Musical 2’ in local Norfolk productions. Since joining Purple Dreams, Katharine won a ‘Best Actress’ award for her portrayal as Verity in ‘Don’t Tell Jane!’, and has become an integral member of the company, supporting the group behind the scenes as their Senior Production Assistant.  She’s appeared in every touring production to date, taking on starring roles in ‘Shadows in the Snow’ (2012) and ‘The Empty Stage’ (2016). He portrayal of ‘Beth Anderson’ in ‘Murder at Arden Theatre’, marks her twelfth production with the company.

 

Lawrence Ward (Sam West)

Lawrence joined Purple Dreams last year as Patrick in ‘The Empty Stage’.  He recently filmed at Castle Rising in the film short God Save the King for George Moore Films, as a mercenary warrior, having been working with The RSC Stage Fight Club in Stratford since completing a UK tour of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol as Inspector Lestrade last February (2016). Other recent theatre credits include: Reg in Up’n’Under, Theatre Anonymous; Cambridge Shakespeare Festival as Marcus Andronicus in Titus Andronicus and Corneus in Up Pompeii, Baroque Theatre UK tour. Lawrence also has several film credits and appears as a dodgy Investor in City of Tiny Lights, Ferndean COTL productions; Sirrus in The Silencer Phoenix-i Productions; Dr Phil in

Zombie Undead; Kurtz in The Insiders Phoenix-I and will soon be seen in Sky’s TV Footballers!

 

The Collector – 23, 24, 25 March 2017

THE COLLECTOR, the Arden Theatre Group’s entry in Kent Drama Association Full Length Play Festival, is a tense, powerful drama adapted by Mark Healy from the novel by John Fowles.

An unremarkable office clerk, Clegg, collects butterflies and has become the owner of a remote country house purchased with a lottery win. This house must be furnished with all things beautiful from the butterfly collection, to Miranda, an art student worshipped from afar but scarcely aware of Clegg’s existence. The only solution is to kidnap Miranda, imprisoning her in the cellar, all leading to a startling, dramatic conclusion.

Direction is in the experienced hands of Emma Taylor, and the production is staged at Faversham’s Arden Theatre, Leslie Smith Drive, on 23, 24, 25 March at 8 pm. Tickets costing £7.00 Adults, and £6.00 Concessionary are available on line – or from Carter’s Newsagents,  15 Market Street, Faversham.

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