Maria Marten – trapped in music

It’s a funny business being a theatre producer right now. One moment I’m feeling positive and upbeat, the next I’m focusing on the futility of it all. I’m reaching out to colleagues across the industry with words about art and creativity and a new future, whilst they are battling for survival, trying to keep people’s jobs alive and much-loved organisations open. As one wrote to me today ‘we will absorb when we come up for air’ . This is not a happy time. I say all this as I’ve been pulling together a fresh tour for The Ballad of Maria Marten, Eastern Angles and Stephen Joseph Theatre’s critically acclaimed show written by Beth Flintoff which I produced in February 2020. A show we hope – Covid willing – to retour in Autumn 2021. Seeds have to be sown! As I’ve worked I’ve taken the opportunity to revisit a wee spotify play list I made when I originally worked on the show (listen here). Music has this remarkable ability to keep focus going, and energies up – and so it has been today! Listening again to these interpretations reminded me of the post I wrote for the EA blog about how Maria’s history (but not necessarily herstory) has been preserved in song. It remains one of the most popular murder ballads in the English tradition. She first appeared on a broadside ballad as early as 1828 (a year after her murder) published by James Catnach a Berwick on Tweed born printer …

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The Ballad of Maria Marten – national tour 2020, Autumn 2021

In Spring 2020 – together with Eastern Angles and Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round – I successfully toured THE BALLAD OF MARIA MARTEN by Beth Flintoff.  Following that success we are looking to tour the show again in Autumn 2021 – details of that here on the show mini site mariamarten.com

Our goal was to develop a high-quality production and to reach as wide an audience as possible, with a particular focus on audiences outside of the East region.

The Spring 2020 tour visited 3 venues , 17 performances playing to audiences in excess of 4,000.  The show played to significant critical acclaim:

**** Flintoff restores dignity to Maria Marten…unexpectedly joyous” The Guardian★★★★
“***** Extraordinary, brilliant and powerful” Charles Hutchinson Press ★★★★★
“A thrilling and poignant retelling” Grapevine Magazine
“It is vital, layered and empowered, a beautiful piece of theatre” ★★★★
“This is a gem of a production” – Yorkshire ON Magazine
Photo (c) Tony Bartholmew

The sizzle

‘It’s been a year since I died and still nobody has found me’

Summer. 1827.  In a Red Barn Maria Marten awaits her lover.  A year later her body is found under the floor of the barn in a grain sack, barely identifiable.

Maria’s story sent shock waves throughout the country.  The Red Barn Murder (as it became known) was national news, inspiring writers and filmmakers down the ages.  The sort of gruesome tale that had all the hallmarks of a classic crime drama – a missing body, a country location, a disreputable squire and a village stuck in its age old traditions.

But in all this hysteria Maria’s own story gets lost.  Until now – Hal Chambers and Beth Flintoff’s spine tingling retelling rediscovers her story, bringing it back to vivid, urgent life.

Picture Credit Tony Bartholmew

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The Mystery of Raddlesham Mumps – playing at home

  It’s the Monday morning after the week before.  My studio floor in 37 Queen Street, Colchester is covered in the remnants of last weeks residency on The Mystery of Raddlesham Mumps, hastily ‘dumped’ on Friday as we raced off to The Idler festival for an initial reading of the work. There’s a Baboon mask, a conductors baton, top hat and tails, empty wig boxes, flip chart paper, pens, pens and more pens. As I tidied through the ephemera, updated the accounts, completed the rehearsal notes and revised our project schedule I found myself reflecting on the week before. @MatthewLinley @MurrayLYoung @idler It’s been a brilliant couple of days! Have a good one tonight, and see u soon! — arun ghosh (@arunghosh) July 13, 2018 We’d been working on a new ‘epic’ poem by Murray Lachlan Young. Murray and I were joined by Nina Hajiyianni, AD of Action Transport (Outside Eye), Arun Ghosh (composer) and Laura Biggs (movement) to explore how this hilarious work could be brought to life live on stage. Julie Verhoeven was also very much present in the room through her stunning illustrations. It had been an exhilarating and successful week, concluding with that live reading of the work at the Idler Festival in the beautiful and atmospheric surroundings of The Drawing Room in Fenton House. There were lots of reasons why the week had felt so positive. First – of course – was the strength of the material. The more we worked on the text, the …

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Discovering The Mystery of Raddlesham Mumps

Raddlesham Mumps was the seat of the Clumps As ancient and strange as the old fairy tumps Stacked high and widelike a mound of crow feather With rumours the wallpaper held it all together Thanks to the support of Arts Council England, and Essex County Council, Murray Lachlan Young, I and a team of tip top collaborators including clarinetist Arun Ghosh and Action Transport’s Artistic Director Nina Hajiyianni are about to go on a journey into a dark and gothic world! Fitting then that the first of those explorations is happening in my own home town of Wivenhoe!!!! That dark and gothic world is The Mystery of Raddlesham Mumps – Murray Lachlan Young’s brand new verse poem for children (8+) and their families. The story centres on young Crispin, the recently orphaned master of the Raddlesham Mumps. With only the company  of the ancient butler Kenilworth, Crispin hears the tale of the lords of Raddlesham Mumps and their untimely demises. But Crispin doesn’t realise that the dark, mysterious force that has been the bane of his family for generations has turned its gaze towards him… (One of Murray’s latest videos with the team at Ridley Scott, Lycra Dad!!) Seven years old, he was seven years old Ripped like a lamb from the warmth of the fold Britches of red with a curl in his hair Thrust to the fore like a pig at the fair   Murray Lachlan Young is of course the BBC6Music Poet in Residence.  He came to prominence during the Brit …

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