The Company

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Specialists in site-specific theatre

Registered charity 1163093                                                

Current Work

Being Human 

A Discovery College project in partnership with CAMHS

This successful project is ongoing, as the documentary film Being Human is now being taken to the Houses of Parliament for a special screening to MPs. Participants in the project will be present to answer questions about their work and to discuss how their experiences in school could be improved, giving them a voice to influence the future implementation of mental health support in our schools.

Bourne Free Youth Club (SASBAH)

The Company will be working with young participants from SASBAH (The Sussex Association of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus) in Spring 2019, developing a play in just one week. Created through improvisation, games and discussions, the play will focus on issues facing these young people in their day to day lives.

Past Projects

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When the Devil Comes Calling

Mayfield Community Play – 2018

A Story of War, Women and Mary Poppins!

As the Great War ends, the fight for women’s rights continues.  But how do women step out into the workplace, and still provide a home for those who are dear to them?  A site-specific, promenade community play with over 200 participants, live music and film.  Written by Suzi Hopkins, directed by Stephen Israel and produced by The Company and The Mayfield Community Play Steering Group.

Funded by: Arts Council England, East Sussex Arts Partnership, High Weald AONB, Mayfield and Five Ashes Parish Council, Wealden District Council, and through local donations.

 “It has brought the whole community together.” Participant

“A transforming experience” Participant

“What a fantastic evening, brilliant play, great acting, thought provoking stories and wonderful music!” Audience member

All photographs used courtesy of the kind permission of Kirsten Woodcraft

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Being Human

A Discovery College Drama & Film Project, in Partnership with CAMHS – 2017/18

This collaborative project was developed to allow young people with mental health challenges to voice their experiences of school to teachers, through the medium of a play which was developed through improvisation & discussions.  As part of the project a documentary film was produced which includes interviews with the participants about their school lives and how their experiences could be improved. This film is now being distributed to all schools in East & West Sussex, and Brighton & Hove as a teacher’s aid, supported by a CAMHS pack on mental health.

Funded by Awards for All, Chalkcliff Trust, Davidson Family Trust, Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust, Hastings Borough Council, Police Property Act Fund, St James Place Foundation, and Sussex Community Foundation

‘Really powerful and relevant. Although we are very aware of the troubles students face we rarely hear from them about what it is like in school when facing these problems.”  Staff member, Ark Helenswood Academy

“Fantastic, brave performances”  Audience Member

“I would like to express how at ease I felt knowing that she was not only safe, but that she was being respected and listened to”  Parent of Participant

“It transformed her into a more confident strong young woman who is now less scared in forming new relationships”  Parent of Participant

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Cyrano

Weald & Downland Living Museum – 2016

A tale of love, swashbuckling honour, torn allegiances and a large nose!

A reinterpretation of Edmond Rostand’s play, Cyrano de Bergerac, adapted by John Wells & Suzi Hopkins. A modern chorus of 18 to 25 year olds commented on the classic play, discussing love, feminism, social media and catfishing.  Performed as a promenade production in, and around, the mediaeval marketplace of the Weald & Downland Living Museum.

A partnership production with Pallant House Gallery, Chichester Festival Theatre & Weald & Downland Museum.  Funded by Arts Council England & The South Downs National Park Authority.

 “Brilliant. Absolutely perfect in every way – setting, story, acting, all A*.”  Audience member

“My husband has been converted to theatre since going to The Company’s Plays – Thank you!”  Audience member

“A thrilling interpretation of the play.”  Audience member

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The Ashford Tales

Ashford town centre – 2017

The Canterbury Ashford Tales

Dark heroic tales alongside acts of sheer idiocy were presented by some famous (& infamous) Ashford residents, on this theatre trail through the streets of the town centre. Written by Suzi Hopkins & directed by Stephen Israel.  Commissioned by Ashford Borough Council

 “Ashford Borough Council *****”  Audience member

“It was great fun and a lovely way to bring people in the town together”  Karin Backlog, Ashford Town Library

“The audience loved it, it was quite a spectacle!”  Ashford BC

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Montfort’s March

South Downs National Park – 2014

Do you have what it takes to join Montfort’s Army?

Award winning, site-specific, promenade play, commemorating the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes.  Following in the footsteps of Simon de Montfort’s army, the audience and actors marched four miles across the South Downs to challenge King Henry III at Lewes.  Written by Suzi Hopkins and directed by Stephen Israel.

Supported by Arts Council England, The Houses of Parliament, The South Downs National Park, East Sussex Arts Partnership, Lewes District and Town Councils, and many others.

“We need more of this stuff; bring it on!”  Love Fringe reviews

“A triumph” – Brighton Fringe reviews

 “It was clear that EVERY member of the audience went away having been involved in a masterpiece of site-specific theatre.”  Audience member

 “A glorious evening on the Downs – can’t see how it could be improved. Please don’t wait another 750 years to repeat!”  Audience member

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Up In Smoke

Spa Valley Railway, Tunbridge Wells – 2012

As the Great War ends, it is time for women to cast their votes.

Set in 1918, and performed on a steam train travelling between Tunbridge Wells and Groombridge, the audience sat alongside soldiers and suffragists, to face the despair of war and the passionate call for equality.

Commissioned by The Weald Forest Landscape Partnership Scheme, in partnership with the Tunbridge Wells Museum and the Spa Valley Railway.

“A unique experience.”  Audience member

“For my brother and myself who had a Grandfather wounded in the First World War it was very poignant and at times very humbling.”  Audience member

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Mr Punch’s Pleasure Palace

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill – 2012

It’s 1933 and even a small seaside town like Bexhill feels the wind of change.  The socialist Earl De La Warr is leading the way to build a People’s Palace on the seafront, but will the town follow his lead?

Written by Suzi Hopkins, and directed by Stephen Israel, this site specific promenade production was performed around the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill,   With a community cast of 42, working alongside professional actors, director, designer, and Punch and Judy, this production beat the summer gales with the enthusiasm of the cast.

Supported by Arts Council England, East Sussex Arts Partnership, Rother District Council, De La Warr Pavilion, and Bexhill Museum

“On a very, very windy but wonderful Thursday evening  I saw your production of Mr Punch’s Palace and was struck by the energy and skill of the performance ~ even helped carry Mr Punch’s booth in the gale…good fun!”  Audience member

“This project is a model of how to create theatre or any participatory arts production to a professional standard.” Audience member

 “…like actually being on stage.”  Audience member

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The Jigsaw Puzzle

West Hoathly Community Play – 2011

With the First World War looming, the old order is blind to its fate as class barriers crumble…

A modern interpretation of Hippolytus written to celebrate of the centenary of the Stoneland Players. Performed by, and for, the community of West Hoathly in the beautiful Church and Churchyard, and the topiary gardens of the Jacobean Manor House. With characters based on villagers who lived in West Hoathly at the time of the 1911 census, the play was written by Suzi Hopkins and directed by Stephen Israel.

Commissioned by the Weald Forest Ridge Landscape Partnership Scheme, and supported by the Art’s Council England, WSCC, Mid Sussex DC & West Hoathly PC.

“Excellent! Takes theatre in the round to a whole new level. Compelling, totally absorbing. Cannot praise the production enough.”  Audience member

“To anyone thinking about getting involved – do it! It is a wonderful chance to meet new people, do something out of the ordinary and play a small part in creating something fantastic.” Actor participant

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Theatre Trails

Steyning Festival – 2007 to 2016

The Steyning Festival Theatre Trails were rehearsed readings of unpublished, unperformed one act plays staged at 3 different site-specific  venues in Steyning, appropriate to each play’s setting.  Lunch was sandwiched into the middle of the day, with a Q & A session at the end, with the writers, directors & actors, chaired by a guest artist.

Submissions for this event were accepted from playwrights throughout the South-East.

“One of the most talked about events of the Festival”  Artistic Director of the Steyning Festival

 

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Where be Dragons?

St Leonard’s Forest – 2011

Percy Bysshe Shelley does not believe in the dragon of St Leonard’s Forest – but someone is out to prove him wrong.

A tale of dragons and smugglers, as Shelley led our audiences through the depths of the forest, in this family theatre trail.

Commissioned by the Weald Forest Ridge Landscape Partnership Scheme, and supported by WSCC and the Forestry Commission.

“Absolutely fantastic!!”  Audience member

“Brilliant, an exciting way to get the children to enjoy theatre.”  Audience member

 

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Movers & Shakers

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill – 2014

A Victorian sledge journey across Siberia, a spell in Her Majesty’s Prison, and a journey around the world with a pig – all part of a school trip to the Museum!

A multi-media play celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Bexhill Museum.  Written by Suzi Hopkins & Nieve Stenton, directed by Stephen Israel, & performed by local youth participants, with music composed and performed by DV8 Bexhill students, & film sequences created by DV8 Brighton students.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

 “After spending many years telling people about the history & heritage of our town it is a delight, & a surprise, to see that there are other ways (and I am forced to concede better ways) to get the story across to new & established audiences. In particular the youth of the town who it has always been a struggle for us to engage with.”  Julian Porter, Curator of the Bexhill Museum

“Come along DLWP, bring more entertainment like this to Bexhill which can be enjoyed by all ages.”  Bexhill Observer

“Excellent. Very enjoyable…each performer was given a chance.”  Audience member

Movers and Shakers documentary by Shona Pollock

 

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And That Will Never Be…

Weald & Downland Living Museum – 2009

“And When will you be back my love?  Oh dear love tell me.                                                                                               When the sun sets into yonder sycamore tree, and that will never be.”

This site specific theatre trail led audiences through the strictures of puritan Sussex to the narrow mindedness of Victorian England, sampling fresh gingered bread on the way.  Set amidst the historical buildings of the Weald & Downland Living Museum, with traditional English folksongs and rumbustious humour.

Commissioned by the Weald & Downland Living Museum and supported by WSCC & Awards for All.

“A perfect evening in terms of the atmosphere, the tension of the play, and the beauty of the site.”                                                          Audience member

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Warren Broadwater…

Broadwater Warren RSPB Reserve – 2011

The Professor and Miss Daphne Crufts (together with her pooch Lady), argued and explored the conservation issues surrounding regeneration of the RSPB ancient lowland heath site, in this site-specific family theatre trail.

Commissioned by the Weald Forest Ridge Landscape Partnership Scheme, and supported by ESCC and the RSPB.

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Peacehaven, On Special Offer

Peacehaven – 2010

Bargain of the century – 100 guinea plots, going for nothing!

This site specific play, with music, performed in ‘The Dell’ on the seafront, celebrated the eccentric development of the town of Peacehaven from the 1912 up to the 1950s.

Commissioned by Peacehaven TC, supported by ESCC, the Co-op & Southern Water.

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Gert & Daisy…

Steyning – 2009

The famous music hall duo, ‘Gert and Daisy’,  led their audience through the beautiful town of Steyning, recreating with songs and humour, the tragic story of Charles Stuart Parnell and Kitty O’Shea.

Commissioned by the Steyning Festival and supported by WSCC.

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Off the Buses!

Amberley Working Museum – 2008

Audiences were taken to the heart of unions and racism in 1950’s Britain, as they rode vintage buses, answered old fashioned telephones, joined a wildcat strike, and ate spam sandwiches!

This site-specific play was written for the eclectic and wonderful Amberley Working Museum, and was commissioned by Poems and Puddings.

Reg Varney, eat your heart out Blakey

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Glucksteyne

Steyning – 2007

This play looked at artists and poets who had lived in the town of Steyning (including W B Yeats, Aleister Crowley and the painter Gluck). The audience were led through the historic homes and streets of Steyning by a local historian, as the tale of fame, failure and reward unfolded around them.

Commissioned for the inaugural Steyning Festival by the festival & Poems & Puddings.

“One of the most amazing things the festival has produced” Artistic director of the Steyning festival

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And His Name Was Jim

Tour – 2006

Written by Sara Clifford and directed by Clive Holland, this 22 venue tour of Village Halls and Art Centres in Kent and Sussex, was funded by West Sussex County Council, Applause Rural Touring, Lewes District Council and Rother District Council.

  • When the Devil Comes Calling

    When the Devil Comes Calling

  • Being Human

    Being Human

  • Cyrano

    Cyrano

  • The Ashford Tales

    The Ashford Tales

  • Montfort’s March

    Montfort’s March

  • Up In Smoke

    Up In Smoke

  • Mr Punch’s Pleasure Palace

    Mr Punch’s Pleasure Palace

  • The Jigsaw Puzzle

    The Jigsaw Puzzle

  • Theatre Trails

    Theatre Trails

  • Where be Dragons?

    Where be Dragons?

  • Movers & Shakers

    Movers & Shakers

  • And That Will Never Be…

    And That Will Never Be…

  • Warren Broadwater…

    Warren Broadwater…

  • Peacehaven, On Special Offer

    Peacehaven, On Special Offer

  • Gert & Daisy…

    Gert & Daisy…

  • Off the Buses!

    Off the Buses!

  • Glucksteyne

    Glucksteyne

  • And His Name Was Jim

    And His Name Was Jim

In Development

Ashford and the Railways

The Company is in discussion with Ashford Borough Council about producing a site-specific, immersive play for the Create Festival 2020; researching in the community to dig out stories connected with the railways’ rich history in the area, and looking at how it has influenced the development of the town from 1842 to the present day.

Community Work

The Company works extensively in the Community on many diverse projects.

Large scale Community plays, in which the participants work alongside professional directors, writers & designers to create a performance that reflects the history & culture of where they live.  This is a fully inclusive experience, where everyone is integral to the whole, & everyone’s skills are valued.

The Company create specialist workshops, which run alongside our performances, working closely with groups to develop an historical & social understanding of the performance they are seeing.  We also create workshops for participants with special needs, to enhance their experience of the performance.  Workshop groups have included: Chailey Heritage School, Slindon College, the Sussex Youth Parliament, Families for children and many other groups/schools.

The Company also works in close partnership with other organisations (such as CAMHS and SASBAH) to deliver projects for groups with different needs. These projects always hold the visions and ideas of participants at their heart, and work to give a voice to those that need to be heard.

About The Company

The Company was formed in 2006, as a non-profit making organisation, with the aim of bringing accessible, quality theatre into the heart of rural communities.  In 2015 The Company became a CIO (charitable incorporated organsation).

The Company works with local actors, musicians, writers, directors & designers. We are low tech & use the locality as our set.  Our audiences do not sit and watch in the dark, but are an important part of the action, and our plays reflect local lives, in the past & right now.

Joint artistic-directors


  • Suzi Hopkins
    Playwright/producer

  • Stephen Israel
    Director/producer

Trustees: John Emerson FCA, Sophia Kingshill, Sally Ann Lycett and Chris Sheffield LL.B

Patrons: Hamish Black, Raymond Briggs and Teresa Wells

Contact

For any queries or questions relating to The Company’s work please fill in the boxes below, and we will come back to you as soon as we are able.

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