Jane Austen and The Waterman by Cecily O’Neill and Philip Glassborow is a new commission for SO: To Speak, Southampton’s Festival of Words 2017. This is the world premiere of a new entertainment produced by 2TimeTheatre about two near contemporaries, both with strong connections to Southampton.
Jane Austen lived in the city for some years, attending dances at The Dolphin Hotel and plays in French Street. Charles Dibdin was a native of the city, and his rousing and patriotic sea-songs inspired many young men to join the navy.
Austen’s elegant novels may seem a world away from Dibdin’s boisterous shanties and vivid theatrical entertainments, yet several Dibdin compositions are included in the Austen Family Songbooks, which have been digitised by Southampton University. Some songs are written in Austen’s own hand; she was particularly interested in songs of the sea, as two of her brothers were in the Royal Navy, and this interest surfaced regularly in her much-loved novels.
Philip Glassborow, co-writer and director, said: “I’ve always wanted to tell Charles Dibdin’s story from his viewpoint. He was a prolific songwriter and novelist himself, and he wrote several comic operas including The Waterman. I thought it would be fun contrast his ramshackle public and private life with that of Jane Austen, who writes about a world obsessed with propriety and manners.”
Hampshire-based local comedian, musician and performer, Mervyn Stutter appears in the role of Charles Dibdin. Cathy Sara plays Jane Austen and in her extensive TV, film and radio career she has worked with Mike Leigh and Michael Palin, and with Philip Glassborow on his radio productions, Silas Marner and The Secret Garden.
2pm & 4pm Sunday 22 October at the Dolphin Inn, 34-35 High Street, Southampton, Hampshire SO14 2HN.
Tickets are £12 in advance and £15 on the door and are available from the SO: To Speak Festival website: http://www.sotospeakfestival.org.