The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, has caused the continued postponement and cancellation of live shows for well over a year, for every performance venue in the UK. Now, the UK government has published an expected roadmap of eventually being able to reopen the theatres by the end of the year.
Ben Hur is the Players' big returning big project, returning to theatrical "normality" after Covid. It is also the company's biggest/ most ambitious show to date, pushing performance, technical, set, lighting and costuming ingenuity to new heights, bringing this beautiful tale to the stage.
Based on the famous novel by Lew Wallace, Ben Hur is set in the first century AD. Judah Ben Hur, a young nobleman of Jerusalem; a city under the occupation of the Roman Empire; is accused of attempting to murder the Roman governor, by his erstwhile closest boyhood friend, Massala, now a Roman commander. Sentenced to life as a galley slave; a sentence which usually led to death within months, Judah survives, and after a pirate attack on the Roman navy in the Agean sea, travels to Rome a hero, having saved the life of the Roman commander in his escape. He once more returns to Jerusalem, seeking his mother and sister, who were imprisoned for the same attack, and finds no trace of them. He does however, find Massala, and blinded by rage, challenges Massala at the annual arena "Games". Massala is killed in the games, with his dying breath, reveals to Judah that his mother and sister were in fact released and driven from the city as lepers. With all hope, and all lust for revenge, gone, Judah is lost, but fate is not finished with him. He eventually finds his mother and sister, who are miraculously healed by a preacher, who has recently come to the city........
A historical drama set in Biblical times, the tale of Ben Hur is interwoven with the life and death of Jesus Christ, who appears twice in the drama. This is ultimately a powerful tale of hope and love, set within the dramatic and often brutal times of the Roman Empire.
The script features a wide range of strong, memorable characters, both male and female, with a large age range, carefully crafted into a show which will not only explore ambitious creative and inclusive theatre-making, but also a show, that regardless of any religious or political belief of the part of the audience members, will remain a powerful, beautiful memory for years to come.
Subject to coming safely out of the pandemic, and in accordance with the UK government's expected roadmap to national recovery from the pandemic, allowing for rehearsals and performances from August onwards, the Players expect to cast the show in August 2021, when they will also begin rehearsals, twice a week (Wednesdays and Sundays) in the room they rent in their local community centre. The show will be toured to local & regional venues, including theatres, churches, and other spaces, during the spring of 2022. The team usually perform in at least 4 towns and cities, ranging from their home town of Brixham, up to Bristol, but they are also hoping to expand the tour this time for such an exciting show, and are actively seeking new venues. The team will also be filming the show for online broadcast through our website. Should dates of recovery from the pandemic change nationally or regionally, the project dates may change in line with that, but this project will go ahead.
The South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company is an internationally awardwinning theatre company based in the beautiful fishing port of Brixham, in South Devon (hence the company name!) in the southwest peninsula of England. Founded in the winter of 2005-6, to create theatre opportunities for local actors in an area of high poverty and deprivation, the South Devon Players specialise in carefully researched historical dramas; often new writing based on new historical research, Shakespeare, and as in this case, staged adaptations of classical literature. Bringing these stories alive on the stage, brings historical research, and some of the great classical tales, to life in an accessible, colourful, experiential format - so much more different than the black and white of the pages of a book.
An inclusive, female led company, the company welcomes actors and crew at all levels of previous experience, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, education, or other kinds of identities/ demographics. The Players hold the belief that talent and professionalism is everywhere, and needs only a chance to shine. The only requirements of the company is that those who join the team have the desire and drive to create groundbreaking top-quality theatre, work positively in a team environment, developing and sharing skills, and that good manners, positivity, reliability and kindness are paramount .
The Players are launching the crowdfund for this project to help support their return to the live stage, with funds going towards costumes, props, and the costs of production, as well as funds towards payments for the actors and crew, facilitating a high quality and positive project to return from the lockdowns and Covid crisis.
The South Devon Players Theatre and Film Company, are developing a proud tradition of creating world-class historical and classical dramas. In 2019, their production of Macbeth, was booked for a second tour and won an international theatre award in New York for its professionalism and creativity. Laura Jury, the director of that production of Macbeth, & many of the Player's shows, and founder of the theatre company, has returned to lead this new project. Laura has also recently been selected to appear in an online Shakespeare project by the Globe Theatre. With lockdown, the Players have been using the internet to perform and stream digital theatre from Brixham, around the world to global audiences, with growing excellent feedback.