a new play by Neil Gore

Directed & Designed by Louise Townsend

  • MAY 16 – 7.30PM – DORCHESTER ARTS 

“Behold Ye Ramblers!” weaves poetry, song, wit, music, and comedy in a performance revealing the history of the Clarion Movement that inspired the development of outdoor pursuits and leisure for ‘the many’ and established vital campaigns to claim the right to walk freely across the countryside; to protect, defend, and connect with the land.

From about 1890 up to the 1930s, readers of “The Clarion” newspaper formed clubs and societies dedicated to leisure and educational pursuits for the furtherance of health and wellbeing: Clarion Cycling, Clarion Rambling, Scouts, Vocal Unions (choirs), drama groups, brass bands – as well as the Clarion Van for the promotion of Socialism.

New, lively arrangements of songs from the Clarion Song Book (from such luminaries as William Morris, Edward Carpenter and Edith Nesbit) and popular songs amongst the cyclists and ramblers will be front and centre of the performance.

The show will invite existing choirs to join the performances, but audiences will also be encouraged to become choir members for the night and actively enjoy the interactive experience. It promises to be an evening of breezy, energetic entertainment that will leave you with the desire to join in with the performance, and then get up onto the nearest hillside and out into the fresh air!

“Behold Ye Ramblers!” is yet another significant contribution to Townsend Theatre Productions’ growing list of authoritative, professionally produced new plays about working-class and labour history, from ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ to plays about Britain’s first black bus driver, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Grunwick Strike, the Spanish Civil War, the Women Chain-Makers, the Shrewsbury Pickets, the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ Work In, the Chartists as well as short films and archive material. The company’s plays have toured the UK to huge critical acclaim and to large audiences in hundreds of city, town and remote venues, large and small, for over twelve years. The basis of the work is one of partnership with communities, artists and campaigners. The plays, often developed with testimony from recorded interviews or documentary sources, resonate with our working-class audience experience, offering a safe and secure place for those engaged to have their voice heard and feel included in the process of artistic endeavour. The aim of the work is, and always has been, to create outstanding, imaginative, entertaining, accessible and socially-relevant live theatre.

Townsend Theatre Productions are award winners! – in the past the company’s work has been recognised through the North-East Theatre Awards for best touring production of 2022, ‘Stagescripts’ 10@10 Award (2018) & ‘Eastern Eye’ ACTA best actress Award (2017) for “We Are The Lions, Mr. Manager!”; Edinburgh Fringe Awards best actress (2013) for “We Will Be Free!”; the company’s work has featured on BBCBreakfast, BBCR2 Jeremy Vine, BBCR4’s ‘Women’s Hour’ and ‘Front Row’, and in ‘The Observer’, ‘The Times’ and ‘The Scotsman’.

Audience Development 

The project aims to deliver greater social, cultural and educational impact by generating associated complementary activities that will engage new communities and audiences. We will hold music workshops with choirs across the UK so that when the production arrives at a venue the choir is rehearsed and can become part of the show. 

This project aims to support the company’s mission to engage new and diverse audiences across the nation, attract younger audiences, improve accessibility for audiences. This project will connect with campaign groups across the UK to speak post show or preshow e.g Clarion Ramblers & Cyclists, Ramblers Association, ‘The Right To Roam’, Green Peace, RSPB, Friends of the Earth and other environmental activist groups.

The Target Audiences Clarion Ramblers & Cyclists, Ramblers Association, ‘The Right To Roam’, Green Peace, RSPB, Friends of the Earth and other environmental activist groups, students, unemployed, minority groups; campaign groups, young people, ‘left-wing’ organisations, historical society groups; academics; colleges and schools; sociology, social history and politics; folk music groups. Recommended age 11+ 

Townsend Productions 

The show will have the same artistic team behind it as the recently successful,‘Yes Yes UCS’ 

LouiseTownsend (producer/director) 

Directed:The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, We Will Be Free!, United We Stand, On the Road to Freedom, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama, We are The Lions Mr Manger and Rouse Ye Women, Farewell Leicester Square and Yes Yes UCS. Casting Director: Lion King, We Will Rock You (West End) & film, National Theatre & Young Vic. 

Neil Gore(writer/performer) Writer of: “Yes Yes UCS’‘We Will Be Free!, United We Stand, On The Road To Freedom, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama, We Are The Lions Mr Manager (StageScripts 10@10 winner) and Rouse Ye Women, Farewell Leicester Square , Yes Yes UCS adapter of Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Actor: West End, Rep, Touring, community theatre. 

Daniella Beattie (lighting designer) Resident lighting designer at the New Vic, Stoke: over 60 productions incl. TMA Best Lighting Award for Wicked Lady; also for Oldham Coliseum, Bolton Octagon, St. James Theatre, London, Northern Broadsides, Orange Tree Richmond. Trained at Bretton Hall (Uni of Leeds). 

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