Exclusive: A brand new staging of Peter Bellamy's The Transports
The Transports is Peter Bellamy's folk opera - some would say it is his greatest work. It tells the remarkable true story of two young convicts, Henry Cabell and Susannah Holmes, who meet in Norwich Gaol and fall in love. When the authorities decree that they will be transported separately, and that their new baby must be left behind in England, a kind gaoler intervenes on their behalf, appealing directly to the Home Secretary himself. Henry and Susannah are allowed to be transported together with their baby, and become part of the historic First Fleet, on its way to establish the new penal colony in Australia.
The Cabells eventually started a new life and had many more children, becoming one of Australia's founding families.
(in order of appearance)
Street Singer (Narrator): Martin Carthy
The Father: Damien Barber
Abe Carman: Gavin Davenport
The Mother: Eliza Carthy
Susannah: Jackie Oates
The Convict: Lester Simpson
Henry Cabell: Jim Moray
The Humane Turnkey: James Fagan
The Coachman: Jez Lowe
The Shanty Men: The Young 'Uns
Musicians: Paul Sartin, Sam Sweeney, Paul Hutchinson, Pete Judge, Beth Porter, Dave Byett
Directed by Jude Kelly The Transports at Sidmouth
At the end of Sidmouth FolkWeek 2010, Peter Bellamy's widow Jenny, who is a great friend and supporter of the festival, got in touch. She asked if we wanted to be involved in marking the 20th anniversary of Peter's death in 2011. We were, of course, honoured to be asked.
After some discussion with various artists, including several who were Peter's friends, the idea of staging a new production of The Transports emerged. Jon Boden kindly put us in contact with Jude Kelly, Artistic Director at the SouthBank Centre and one of Britain's foremost theatre practitioners, because he knew she had long been interested in directing the show.
Some months into the planning, it became obvious that no easily accessible written score of The Transports was available. Consequently Sam Sweeney, Paul Sartin and Jim Moray have undertaken to write a brand new score, with new instrumentation. This will make the Sidmouth Transports truly unique.
Arts Council England have made this new production possible with a generous grant, for which the festival is very grateful. The grant will also allow us to stage an exhibition at Kennaway House containing many items from Peter's own collection, and to digitise and screen the final interview conducted with him at Whitby FolkWeek just a few weeks before his death. Many thanks to Jenny Bellamy for sharing these very personal mementoes.
Some of the artists involved in the new show knew Peter well; others are simply great admirers of his work. We all feel privileged to be taking part in this very special event.
Here are a selection of images from the final mornings rehearsal, the exhibition at Kennaway House, the pre show rehearsal and the concert itself. Triumphant revival of The Transports at Sidmouth
- Sidmouth Herald