Brixham-based South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company were thrilled to find out, in the early hours of June 11th 2019, (late evening June 10th New York time) that they had won a theatre award in the Long Island Theatre Awards ceremony for their production of Shakespeare’s classic drama of ambition, power and fate; Macbeth.
The show, first performed by the Players in January and February 2019, was not without its own share of drama, when the title role for the show needed to be recast ten days before the first performances. Christophe Lombardi, a friend of the Players, took up the mantle, learning the role and arriving from Ireland, in Devon for the final two rehearsals, to star alongside Ryanna-Mae Lloyd as Lady Macbeth and a team of dedicated local actors.
The show, performed at Brixham Theatre, the South Devon Players home performance venue, and then at Torquay Museum, attracted record positive feedback from audience and critics, with feedback such as that it surpassed productions by the Globe in London, and the RSC.
Hot on the heels of this success, came requests for a second larger show tour, including from Ireland and the USA, and a request from the Long Island Theatre Awards to enter the production for their 2019 awards. They were happy to accept a video submission of the show filmed at Brixham Theatre.
Months later came the news, that the Players were among the award nominees, and a request from the Theatre Awards administrators to send a representative to New York. The Players were by this time working hard on their scheduled production of Les Miserables, with the plans underway for an autumn tour reprising Macbeth. Laura Jury, the South Devon Players founder and director of both Macbeth and Les Miserables, was unable to attend, but Christophe once more took up the mantle and travelled to New York, collecting the award on behalf of the Players, which will be brought back to Devon during the next week or so, as he travels back from the USA.
Brixham Theatre was saved from closure in 2018 by a team of local volunteers, and it provides a critical base for local creativity, without which, successes like this, would not be possible for local people in their hometown. The Players owe this success to the continued existence of Brixham Theatre.
The Players are now also beginning rehearsals for the second tour of Macbeth; keeping most of the original cast, including Ryanna-Mae Lloyd and Christophe Lombardi as the Macbeths; although also excited to welcome new performers as well. The tour is currently booked into Brixham, Ivybridge, Exeter and Bristol, with discussions underway to bring the show to London, and further venues, during the autumn of 2019. While plans for touring abroad had to be put on hold due to being unable to find funding to do so, this has no way dampened the team’s desire to bring the show to regular and new venues here in the UK, and to revisit attempts to tour abroad in the future.
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s best known dramas, alongside King Lear, Othello, Hamlet, and Romeo & Juliet. It tells the tale of a Scottish war hero, who, tempted by ambition, power, and supernatural whisperings, begins a series of murders, to take and hold the throne. Returning home from war, Macbeth encounters three mysterious women, whose prophecy of kingship, sets in motion his ambition, and ultimately his fall into madness and blood…
The Players perform the original, uncut Shakespearian text, set in the dark aftermath of a nuclear WW3, in a post-apocalyptic design, with the exotic of the supernatural, and immersive soundscapes, to create Macbeths world in a new vision of the drama.
The South Devon Players, founded in 2005/6 on the proceeds of a carboot sale, and still funded in much the same way, are winners of the national Epic Award 2017 for England, a national arts award celebrating creativity and innovation in grassroots arts, and international nominations for past productions. Based in Brixham, the Players primarily specialise in researched historical theatre productions and old “Classics”.