19 June 2018
Original drama Sir Walter’s Women to be staged in the
Great Hall, Winchester
‘'He hath been as a star at which the world hath gazed, and like a star must fall’
Just over 400 years ago, the dashing Elizabethan hero, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Ralegh was convicted of treason in the Great Hall in Winchester. He was beheaded 29th October 1618.
Winchester-based 2TimeTheatre’s new production, Sir Walter's Women, re-imagines scenes from the life of this charismatic adventurer. Staged in the 400th anniversary year of his execution, the drama looks at the influence of two extraordinary women in his life; one domestic, his wife Bess, and one political, Elizabeth I.
With a professional cast of three, and accompanied by Renaissance music group Courtlye Musick, this original one-act drama will have its premiere in Winchester's unique and atmospheric medieval hall as part of Heritage Open Days, the UK's largest festival of history and culture.
Writer Rachel O’Neill said: “Originally I wanted to stage his trial for treason in the very place where it happened, but as I researched his life, I realized that looking at his relationship with the two women in his life was inherently more dramatic, and perhaps illuminating as to why he ended up as he did; tried and executed for treason.”
Nicky Gottlieb, Festival Director Winchester Heritage Open Days said: “We have a wealth of historically fascinating and important buildings in Winchester. The challenge is to bring them to life so they become more than architecture. Sir Walter’s Women offers the opportunity to have the Great Hall animated by a drama about the people who actually appeared there.”
This production has been made possible with the kind and generous support of Winchester based solicitors and mediators, Shenton’s, Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council’s Cultural Innovation Grant.
Performance dates and times:
19.00 – Friday 14 September
18.00 and 20.00 – Saturday 15 September
The Great Hall, Winchester, SO23 8UJ
Photo credit: Mike Hall
“An Honest Soldier never is forgot,
Whether he die by Musket or by Pot.”
Summer 1918. Bill Wilson, an American soldier, is billeted in Winchester on his way to fight in the war in France. An encounter in Winchester Cathedral eventually draws him to a new way of life. And on his safe return to the USA, Bill becomes one of the two original founding members of a worldwide organisation – Alcoholics Anonymous.
"An Honest Soldier" is a new play for voices that includes music and poetry from the First World War, with extracts from the writings of Bill Wilson and Lois Wilson, speeches by Rudyard Kipling, and other contemporary accounts.
The unique setting for this world premiere is the Lady Chapel in Winchester Cathedral, and it was the discovery by Bill of an old gravestone in the Cathedral grounds which prompted a powerful revelation about his future.
Devised by local playwright, Philip Glassborow, and presented by 2TimeTheatre, the cast of three is drawn from Winchester and the surrounding area. It includes ex-Symonds student Josh Henderson who plays Bill Wilson... renowned local professional actress, Ros Liddiard (Lois Wilson)... and Philip Bird (Kipling) who has worked extensively in the West End, The Globe and Chichester Festival Theatre. Philip last performed in Winchester Cathedral when he was a pupil at Pilgrims!
Musical Director Robert Sword comes from Alton and contributes his beautiful setting of "My Boy Jack" (the Kipling poem) alongside classic music from World War I.
This production has been made possible with the generous support of an anonymous donor and Winchester City Council’s Cultural Innovation Grant Scheme.
There will be two Winchester Festival performances in Winchester Cathedral:
Sunday 8th July at 2.00 pm and Monday 9th July at 3.00 pm. Tickets are £10 plus booking fee and are available from the Festival website: www.winchesterfestival.co.uk or by calling Winchester Cathedral Box Office on 01962 857275.