Interview with our lucky draw winner Gillie Stoneham

Gillie Stoneham

Gillie Stoneham is the winner of the lucky draw from amongst the ticket buyers from our ticket affiliate link. She is one of the co founders of  ActorFactor Ltd -an organisation that aims to facilitate positive individual and organisational change through a rich, exciting and dynamic learning environment that combines theatre skills such as role play, forum and other experiential techniques with expert coaching. What follows is our little Q&A  that we do with our contest/lucky draw winners.

Gillie Stoneham

Gillie Stoneham

What I love about Carl’s blog
I always look forward to seeing who Carl has managed to meet next – a great way of keeping in touch with the world of theatre! His energy and frank reviews are always a joy to read and the information is useful in helping me to make decisions about tickets.
Challenges of running an organisation like ActorFactor Ltd
As the founder of ActorFactor Ltd., the greatest challenge has been navigating the financial and organisational change that has impacted on client contracts – you win some, you lose some! The joy, however, of running a small business like mine is that we provide work for local actors who are skilled in using theatre in the workplace. The work is always different, always creative.
What I am proud of 
We work dynamically to facilitate creativity and communication, and I am especially proud of the quality of the experiential work we have brought to health training.
What theatre can learn from business and organisational context
Although I feel that we input a huge amount in terms of offering a safe context in which to explore and practice communication and presentation skills, the world of theatre can certainly, in turn, learn from business and organisational contexts. For me, learning about organisational change and leading teams in such complex environments has been useful, along with understanding the workplace of a truly global organisation – languages, culture, communicating remotely etc .

Theatre scene in Devon
The theatre scene in Devon is very much alive although not alway kicking in the way London Theatre is. The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter is a hub for both new local work and fringe touring performances and has won awards for its innovative space. It is entering a really exciting phase of taking over a huge old space on Exeter Quay – The Boatshed – which will help to transform both theatre in Exeter and the environment of the quayside.  There are good connections between other small theatre groups, and there is the Northcott Theatre, our main theatre, although many of us are sad that this does not have the space or ‘pull’ that the Theatre Royal in Plymouth has. The Theatre Royal is a great venue for West End touring productions, although an hour further West from Exeter.

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The Dreamer by Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in association with Gecko has it’s European premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe

“Its flowing beauty depicts a poetic landscape…When you lower your head, you immediately fall into it, just like Alice falls into the rabbit-hole. What you see and what you experience goes beyond your imagination.”Audience member

  • THE DREAMER, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in association with Gecko, is Gecko’s first international co-production.
  • The show is inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Peony Pavilion, the work of his contemporary, Tang Xianzu (1550-1616).
  • Ipswich-based physical theatre company Gecko celebrated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a new associate show as part of British Council’s Shakespeare Lives.
  • The Dreamer premiered in China in October 2016 winning Best Stage Design – 2016 One Drama Awards, China.
  • The European Premiere is 2 – 15 August at the Pleasance Grand
  • PRESS PERFORMANCE Thursday 3 August at 1.30pm

www.china-drama.com  / www.geckotheatre.com / @GeckoTheatre / Facebook.com/GeckoTheatre1

The prestigious Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in China has teamed up with Gecko to stage a new piece of work – THE DREAMER – inspired by two playwrights considered the most influential in their respective countries: William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu.

Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre is the only national performing arts company in Shanghai. Famous for its new Chinese-language dramas, as well as performing English-language classics in Chinese, its impressive team of actors, directors, writers and other creatives works across various venues in the French Quarter of the city. This is the company’s Fringe debut and the first time the ensemble has worked using physical theatre techniques.

Gecko is an award-winning and internationally-acclaimed physical theatre company, led by Artistic Director Amit Lahav, established in 2001. In 2016 it won the Peter Brook Equity Ensemble Award and this production sees ensemble members Rich Rusk and Chris Evans lead in the creation of an associate show for the first time.

2016 marked not only the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death but also that of his Chinese contemporary, Tang Xianzu. Dreams were a leitmotiv for both writers and THE DREAMER reimagines a dream sequence, inspired by The Peony Pavilion and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Focusing on strong female characters within both plays and exploring the topics of magic, humour and love in classic Gecko style, the show blends emotionally driven movement, a spine-tingling soundscape and striking visual storytelling to bring a new twist to these classic works.

“An amazing show! For its unique performing style, distinct stage design and music, The Dreamer is the most impressive show I’ve ever watched!”Audience member

Created by Gecko’s associate director Rich Rusk and devising performer Chris Evans (Gecko’s: The Overcoat, Missing, Institute, The Time of your Life, The Wedding), The Dreamer is an international collaboration between Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and Gecko, created as part of British Council’s 2016 Shakespeare Lives programme. The Dreamerpremiered on 7 October at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre.  

Amit Lahav, Artistic Director said: “Gecko has been touring to China since 2010 and audiences in the country are very fond of the company. It was extremely exciting to work on our first international co-production with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and their ensemble.

Rich Rusk and Chris Evans have been working with Gecko for 15 years between them and I’m thrilled to see them take the lead on this very exciting international collaboration.”

Rich Rusk, Gecko’s Associate Director said: “It was a huge highlight to work on Gecko’s first international collaboration with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre which celebrates the international appeal and power of both Shakespeare and his contemporary, Tang Xianzu. We have created a Gecko-style visual feast, and invite our audiences to dive into the world of dreams and unleash their imagination. This co-production is a first of its kind for us so it has been very exciting to be a part of it.”

Chris Evans, Movement Director said: “Gecko has been my home for the past six years, where as a maker and performer I’ve been able to throw everything I have into a show, and see how that process throws back at me challenges and ways to develop. This project enabled me to pull together these skills and provocations. The experience of making a whole production, taking responsibility for it and believing in our decisions as co-creators has been the most transformative experience of my career. “

Alex Wu, Producer at Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre said: “Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre has continuously been seeking to work with creative and ground-breaking artists from all over the world. After witnessing the success of Gecko’s touring productions Missing and The Overcoat in China, SDAC warmly invited Gecko to present a cross-cultural dialogue between the two giants in western and eastern theatre – William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu – and discover the emotional connection between classics and modern people, aiming to bring energetic and profound theatrical work to both Chinese and British audiences, as well as audiences in other corners of the world.”

Neil Webb, Director of Theatre & Dance at the British Council said: “Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre has been an important and trusted partner in our work in China for many years. Gecko meanwhile has appeared in several of our Edinburgh Showcases and toured extensively around the world, including in China. I am delighted to see these world-class organisations celebrating the profound influence of such world-class playwrights. And I look forward to seeing the finished work presented to audiences in China and the UK as part of our global Shakespeare Lives programme.”

Trevor Ashley in Liza’s Back! (is broken) At the Underbelly Festival From Tuesday 27 June to Sunday 2 July 2017

Trevor Ashley

Trevor Ashley

After wowing audiences at London Wonderground in 2016, Trevor Ashley is bringing everyone’s favourite diva back to London this Summer in Liza’s Back! (is broken), his five-star comic tribute to the iconic Liza Minnelli, playing at the Underbelly Festival for 6 performances only from Tuesday 27 June to Sunday 2 July.

Listen to Trevor perform Maybe This Time as Liza

There is no doubt about it; Liza Minnelli is a true Broadway legend. But her appearances on the musical stage have been few and far between. So what would happen if Liza decided to perform all the great Broadway roles she never got to play, in one special night?  Liza’s Back! (is broken) explores the parts that Minnelli should have played over the last forty years – those great leading lady roles from Grizabella to Norma Desmond, and all others in between. Ever wanted to see Liza tackleWicked? Then this is the show for you!

Direct from rehab, and live with a 7-piece big band, don’t miss Liza singing Broadway’s greatest hits, including I Have Confidence, Memory, Send in the Clowns, Le Jazz Hot plus her own classics Maybe This Time, Cabaret and New York, New York!

Trevor Ashley is an Australian performer and cabaret artist.  His musical theatre credits in Australia include creating the role of Miss Understanding in the world premiere of Priscilla Queen of The Desert – The Musical; Edna Turnblad in Hairspray and Monsieur Thenadier in Les Miserables. Trevor is the creator and star of a one-man Dame Shirley Bassey tribute Diamonds are for Trevor, which he recently performed to a sell-out audience at Sydney Opera House. As Liza, his smash hit show Liza (On an E) has played seasons all over the world, including a week-long residency at the Vaudeville Theatre in the West End.

Time lapse footage captures milestone in ongoing Bristol Old Vic redevelopment project

Bristol Old Vic

Bristol Old Vic has reached a milestone in its ongoing redevelopment project. Captured by time lapse over the last few months, the careful work undertaken by Gilbert-Ash to carefully remove the unwanted sections while protecting the iconic Coopers’ Hall can be seen in the video.

The old 1970s section of the building has finally been demolished, making space for Bristol Old Vic’s new entrance to begin construction.

While the space is clear of buildings, for the first time in living memory, the actual 251 year old Theatre – built on a plot of land behind King Street – can now be seen from the street itself. Since its construction in 1766, the Theatre has been hidden from view by either terraced houses – belonging to the now infamous Mr Foote and Mr Gill, or with various versions of a foyer space or later, a studio theatre and office space.

The next incarnation, due to be opened in September 2018, will be a beautiful glazed entrance, housing a new bar, box office and the revealed 1766 wall of the theatre, open to view and accessible to all.

Jeremy Irons to narrate UK premiere of Voices of the Amazon, a new dance musical at Sadler’s Wells theatre


The cast of VOICES OF THE AMAZON © Giulietta Verdon Roe

Sisters Grimm have announced that Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award-winning Jeremy Irons has agreed to narrate their new show, VOICES OF THE AMAZON, a passionate dance musical from the heart of Brazil. VOICES OF THE AMAZON, which is receiving its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells from 4 to 8 July, is directed by Pietra Mello-Pittman, choreographed by Helen Pickett and composed by Ella Spira in collaboration with Brazilian songwriters Danny Nascimento, Dito Martins and Julien Davis and world‐renowned percussionists Olodum.

Jeremy Irons many roles in film, television and theatre include Brideshead Revisited (Golden Globe nominated), The French Lieutenant’s Woman (BAFTA nominated), Elizabeth 1 (Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner), The MissionReversal of Fortune (Academy Award winner) and The Real Thing on Broadway (Tony Award winner).  In October 2011, he was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.  He supports a number of charities, including the Prison Phoenix Trust in England, and the London-based Evidence for Development which seeks to improve the lives of the world’s most needy people by preventing famines and delivering food aid, for both of which he is an active patron.

Jeremy Irons said of his involvement in VOICES OF THE AMAZON “I was very much impressed by both Pietra and Ella in the way they approached me and intrigued by the multi-media approach to the world wide problem of deforestation and attacks upon indigenous populations. Something about their spirit came through their proposal and now having worked with them I know it will imbue the final production which I look forward to seeing.”

The international cast of VOICES OF THE AMAZON stars British-born Rachel Maybank (McQueen at Theatre Royal Haymarket, Manon, Adriana Lecouvreur and Athis at the Royal Opera House) as Beleza, and features Brazilian dancers and singers Charles Damasio, Hicaro Nicolai, Fernanda Muniz, Kauê Ribeiro and Leilani Telles, who make their professional UK debuts in VOICES OF THE AMAZON. Completing the cast are Michelle Buckley, Liam Burke and Kay Elizabeth from the United States, and Stefanos Dimoulas from Greece, as well as musicians Rob Barron – (Musical Director, Piano & Synths), Adam Kovacs (Percussion 1), Matthew West (Percussion 2), Tina Jacobs (Viola) and Lucy Skinner (Cello).

VOICES OF THE AMAZON will open at Sadler’s Wells on 4 July 2017 following an appearance at the Chekhov International Theatre Jubilee Festival in Moscow from 14-16 June. The show will then travel to Singapore to perform at Grand Theatre, Marina Bay Sands from 28-30 July. The show has recently been announced as part of the line-up for Latitude festival 2017.

Set amidst the Brazilian rainforest, VOICES OF THE AMAZON follows the story of Beleza; a water spirit from the Amazon, whose search to cure her dying sister takes her on a life-changing journey deep into the rainforest.

VOICES OF THE AMAZON features a sensational musical score, containing sounds recorded from the Amazon Rainforest, with music and songs performed in English and Portuguese. Combined with Helen Pickett’s fusion of ballet, contemporary and capoeira, the show aims to highlight the damaging effects of deforestation, the loss of natural medicines and plants, and promises an exhilarating live experience, embracing the true spirit of Brazil.

VOICES OF THE AMAZON has lighting design by Ben Cracknell, stage and costume design by Temple Clark and sound design Adrian Rhodes. WWF, EDEN and Alexander Van Tulleken (CBBC’s Operation Ouch, Channel 4’s How to Lose Weight Well) will provide scientific consultation.

VOICES OF THE AMAZON is produced by Sisters Grimm, the creators of the Grammy® Award-nominated show INALA.

Website: voicesoftheamazon.co.uk

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/sistersgrimmltd

Twitter: @amazon_voices

Instagram: @voicesoftheamazon

Running time: 100 mins (including interval)


4 – 8 July 2017

Sadler’s Wells

Rosebery Ave,

London EC1R 4TN

Performances: TuesdaySaturday at 7.30pm and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tickets: £12 – £38

Box Office:  020 7863 8000

Website: www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2017/sisters-grimm-voices-of-the-amazon


Deena Payne steps in for Linda Nolan in Our House

Deena Payne in Our House
Deena Payne in Our House

Deena Payne in Our House Photo by Adam Trigg

Actress and singer Deena Payne is to join the UK Tour of OUR HOUSE, following the unfortunate withdrawal of Linda Nolan. Having previously been announced in the role of Kath Casey in the Olivier Award-winning Madness musical, Linda Nolan has withdrawn from the tour following her recent cancer diagnosis. Deena Payne, best known for her role as Viv Hope in ITV’s Emmerdale, will take up the role of Kath Casey along with newly announced cast members Jason Kadji (Joe Casey) and Sophie Matthew (Sarah).

On the night of his 16th birthday, Joe Casey takes the girl of his dreams, Sarah, out on their first date. In an effort to impress her with bravado, Joe breaks into a building site overlooking his home on Casey Street. When the police turn up, a split-second decision forces him to choose between himself and his heart as the story splits in two: one which sees Joe stay to face the music, and the other which sees him flee and leave Sarah to run from the police. As two very different paths unfold before him, the consequences of that choice will change his life forever.

Deena Payne is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Viv Windsor in ITV’s Emmerdale, a role which she played for eighteen years. Having begun her career as a dancer on stage and TV, she went on to work extensively in musical theatre: Cabaret, Only in America (the Roundhouse Chalkfarm), Who’s a Lucky Boy (Manchester Exchange), One Careful Owner, (tour) and the original West End production of They’re Playing Our Song (Shaftesbury Theatre). Following her departure from Emmerdale in 2011, Deena went on to play three tours of Tim Firth’s critically acclaimed stage adaptation of Calendar Girls.

Deena said: “My thoughts are with Linda, and we all send her lots of love at this very unsettling time. Though I know she’d want the madness to continue, and I’m thrilled to take on the challenge. Great songs, brilliant story – a real fun-loving musical!”

Taking a starring role as Joe Casey, Jason Kajdi is currently appearing as Ernest (and first cover for Bert) in the international stage tour of Mary Poppins. His other theatre credits include West Side Story (Kilworth House), 27: The Rise of a Falling Star (The Cockpit) and the European premiere production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 21 Chump St. (From Page to Stage 2016).

Sophie Matthew makes her professional stage debut in the role of Sarah, having previously starred as Ginny in Channel 4’s critically acclaimed drama series Humans. Her theatre credits include Fast Film Noir (TheSpace, Edinburgh Festivals) and Magic of the Musicals (Royal Albert Hall, 2016 & 2017).

OUR HOUSE was first staged at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End from October 2002 to August 2003 and won the 2003 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. This tour will be directed by Immersion Theatre’s James Tobias and choreographed by the resident choreographer of Matilda The Musical, Fabian Aloise.

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Elixir – the smash hit zombie spectacle returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!



Thought science wasn’t sexy? Enter Elixir, making a killer return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. With a potent mix of chemical balance and imbalance, new school death defying acrobatics, old school slapstick and an injection of Australian testosterone, Elixir will challenge perceptions and set pulses racing.

Elixir is circus with a difference! Uninhibited by cliché or expectation, subversive and hilarious, this all Australian production follows the story of three enthusiastic, slightly bumbling yet skilfully acrobatic scientists who attempt to create the elixir of life. The mayhem that follows is a beautiful mix of incredible acrobatics and impeccable comic timing. The scientists test their concoctions on themselves, and the madness that breaks loose in the laboratory is the perfect mix of amazing acrobatics, comedic misadventure and an engrossing narrative.

More than just jokes, thrills and spills, Melbourne based Head First Acrobats have re-crafted the smash hit 2016 show that sees them not only raise the dead but throw them, spin them and test whether zombies can bounce. Acrobats fly five metres into the air on the teeterboard, spin upside down on the mesmerizing cyr wheel, perform incredible one-arm handstands on wobbling canes and balance on nothing but their heads on the swinging trapeze.

The three members of Head First Acrobats (HFA) are all graduates of the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). Based out of Melbourne, the award winning entertainment company provide world-class circus and physical theatre performance. Elixir is the first show from the company which toured internationally in 2016 to sell out shows and rave reviews. Elixirwas voted in the top 10 shows of Adelaide Fringe in 2015, and won the First and Foremost Entertainment award in its UK debut at Brighton Fringe 2015.

High powered acrobatics, a brilliant stumble of slapstick and a shimmy of burlesque” (The Herald)

‘Raucous, late night circus with mesmerising skill’ (TheReviewsHub.com)

Overwhelmingly fun atmosphere” (Edfest.com)


Twitter: @hfacrobats

Facebook: HeadFirstAcrobats

Instagram: @headfirstacrobats



Underbelly and Head First Acrobats present:


Venue: The Beauty, The Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017

Dates: Fri 4th August – Sat 26 August, (not 9th, 14th or 21st), 22.15pm


Aug 4, £10

Aug 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, £12.50 (£11.50)

Aug 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, £14.50 (£13.50)

Running time: 60mins

Tickets available at www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk and www.edfringe.com


First Look: Rehearsal Images: Woyzeck at The Old Vic, John Boyega

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Mike Shepherd, Kneehigh: “I used to walk over the Millennium Bridge full of hope and now it is with a knot in my stomach.”

Mike Shepherd
Mike Shepherd

Mike Shepherd

Mike Shepherd, Artistic Director of Kneehigh Theatre Company has had a remarkable career as a director, performer and as founder of Kneehigh.

We are talking on the same day that Emma Rice, former Artistic director and long-time friend and collaborator with Shepherd penned a spirited open letter to the incoming Globe artistic director. Rice offered candid insight into the politics behind the scenes of the organisation. It is, by all accounts, a fascinating thing. When offering up advice from the perspective of her time in post, she reveals, “I have learnt, never again, to allow myself to be excluded from the rooms where decisions are made” she continues, “…as important and beloved as the Globe is to me, the board did not love and respect me back.”

So, what does Mike think about it all? “The thing that is a huge shame is that Emma created a brilliant and vibrant artistic community at the Globe and that hasn’t been valued at all,” he pauses. “I used to walk over the Millennium Bridge full of hope and now it is with a knot in my stomach.”. He continues: “Essentially after head-hunting her and taking her away from Cornwall they discarded her – it is a dreadful situation.” Their mutual respect and affection will last long after Rice leaves the Globe. Indeed, he is very clear that they will work together in the future and that Emma will always be a part of the Kneehigh family.

His dynamism is, he confesses, the result of finding his artistic feet during a genuinely political time. “Look, I’m so old, I’m from a generation where we genuinely thought we could change the world; that Bob Dylan era. I was never a hippy, though I’m contemplating becoming one. An effective hippy.” Shepherd laughs when I tell him that I wish it was two years ago and ask his thoughts on our Prime minister’s surprise announcement of a Snap Election outside No 10, saying she has delivered stability after the Brexit referendum result. “It’s pretty desperate isn’t it,” he says bluntly. “I was horrified that we voted Brexit. I spent some time recently touring around a very troubled America… On one hand, we have to keep fighting and on the other you want to turn your back in disgust.”

Before coming to the bigger issue – the global refugee crisis and how to make a difference, when it comes to making work that is relevant to audience members’ lives and concerns, Kneehigh are in a league of their own. “Our latest show 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips ends with the Martin Luther King, Jr quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” At the end of the show we asked audiences to buy a lucky button, make a wish for a better, safer world. We raised over $50,000 for organisations helping refugees in Europe and Syria.”

Shepherd has been steering Kneehigh since Rice left two years ago, continuing the political and socially sensitive work with gusto. How has he been getting on working closely with Charles Hazlewood and Carl Grose? “Well, Charles is an extraordinary man, he comes up with the most brilliant projects, he has an amazing creative energy. Carl came up through the company; he was originally our apprentice,” he says. “Those two really chime and are absolutely best friends. I should also mention our close links with choreographer Etta Murfitt and our magnificent lighting designer Malcolm Rippeth. That is a very strong creative team that is fuelling our work and continuing the Kneehigh journey,” he adds.

Lyn Gardner recently wrote an article about the Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’s success in making theatre universally appealing and how our strongest culture triumphs are only conceivable because of the subsidised arts sector.  “How wonderful that Steven Hoggett and John Tiffany are artists that have come from subsidised theatre backgrounds. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is an exemplar of mainstream theatre attracting a whole new generation of theatre audiences, many of whom will be attending theatre for the first time,” he says. “That’s one of the biggest challenges for me always; it’s hard earned – we don’t just dip from one good idea to another, we want to make a difference and engage with diverse and new audiences.”

Next month Kneehigh will take up residence at Brighton Theatre Royal as part of the Brighton Festival with a restaging of the critically acclaimed Tristan and Yseult; Emma Rice’s acclaimed staging of the Cornish legend that catapulted Kneehigh onto the national stage. “Yes, I’ll be doing Tristan and Yseult for the last time,” he pauses. “As King Mark I say ‘We don’t look inland there’s not much point. No, outward, outward lies the way!’. Looking ahead, we are also thrilled to be working with Keziah Serreau who will be assistant director on the Tin Drum in collaboration with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse. We will also be looking into a new Kneehigh show based on Marie Curie, currently titled ‘Radioactive (Love and fall out)’”.

He ends on at note of upbeat positivity about the next generation of artists and the future. “I’d just like to encourage organisations to pull together and to collaborate– there needs to be a spirit of hope. Theatre is there to provoke, challenge and entertain.”

Situation presents Verity Standen’s Refrain, a roaming, immersive choral experience around Conscientious Objectors in St Helens, Merseyside

Image © Paul Blakemore

This Spring, during the centenary of the First World War, composer Verity Standen creates a new immersive, choral experience at three sites of historic significance in the stories of conscientious objection.

St Helens will host one of these events as the home town of school teacher Ernest Everett, who was arrested for refusing to undertake combative service in 1916.

He was court-martialled and sentenced to two years of hard labour, the first conscientious objector to receive such a sentence.

Over the next few years, he was sentenced seven more times. In Refrain, Everett’s story, symbolic of many more cases of this kind, is given a voice once again.

REFRAIN will be a roaming performance which will move across various historical sites in the George Street Quarter of the town centre, including the oldest building in St Helens; the Friends Meeting House.

Local males from all walks of life who have volunteered to sing in this work are meeting regularly to explore their voices and the issues surrounding conscientious objection.

There will be indoor and outdoor sections to explore throughout allowing the audience to walk through the singers discovering different sounds and voices as they do.  All ages are welcome.

Artist Verity Standen, said: “I am thrilled to be working with such a diverse range of the voice – men drawn from all walks of life. I try to leave room for the performers take the music their own direction within the compositions I’m writing. I expect the piece to sound and feel totally different in each location, as it will be shaped by the local singers, the architecture and history of each site, and each audience who will explore it in a different way.”

Claire Doherty, Director of arts producers said: “REFRAIN represents Situations commitment to growing art out of place and to offering the chance to hear untold stories. REFRAIN offers the opportunity to experience these sites as never before, against the background of the extraordinary struggles over conscience.”

Patrick Fox, Director of Heart of Glass said: “We are delighted to be working with partners to develop this ambitious project. Verity Standen is an extraordinary artist who creates exquisite work with her collaborators.  

“The histories of conscientious objection in England require a sensitive and respectful approach. Heritage stories such as Ernest Everett, a teacher in St Helens and a World War One Conscientious Objector, are often left unheard and misunderstood, viewed as irrelevant and in isolation instead of part of a national, contemporary story.

“This story and others form the backdrop of this new immersive choral experience and we are delighted to work with our community partners and audiences to create a special experience in St Helens this May. This is art as it should be, in direct conversation with the social and political.”  

The meeting point for this performance will be confirmed via e-mail. All indoor venues explored will have step free access. Performances will take place come rain or shine so please ensure you are prepared for being outdoors in all weathers.

Getting there

St Helens is a 35-minute drive from Liverpool centre or a 30-minute train journey from Liverpool Lime Street to St Helens Central.

Parking – Birchley Street Car Park is the nearest parking to the site.

For more information on visiting St Helens, please visit www.heartofglass.org.uk

About the artist

‘Sound rose and fell in waves until it felt as if I was drenched in music that had seeped its way into every organ in my body, and maybe even found my soul.’

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian on Verity Standen’s HUG, 2015

Verity Standen is an award-winning artist, composer and choir leader, whose unique work with voices has surprised and enchanted audiences around the UK and internationally. From intimate concerts to immersive theatrical experiences, Verity’s work seeks to reimagine how audiences experience vocal music. Verity’s immersive choral piece HUG won the Off West End TBC Award 2016 and was nominated for The Arches Brick Award and a Total Theatre Award. As well as touring her pieces HUG, MMM HMMM and SYMPHONY across the UK and internationally, Verity is currently composing for a contemporary dance opera, which will premiere in 2017. She is also researching a sound design project for in-patients at London hospitals and recording a soundtrack for an independent documentary. REFRAIN is her most ambitious project to date.www.veritystanden.com