"I'll tell you one more thing. I got more songs in my head than I ever told you. I got enough to sing for days…." A controversial play of beautiful music continues at the 2023 McGrigor Hall season at this year's Frinton Summer Theatre.
In 1903, Cecil Sharp, the godfather of folk music who collected thousands of songs from rural communities, met two women. They were half-sisters, Louie Hooper and Lucy White, daughters of a renowned singer in south Somerset who, at the start of this drama, has just died, leaving them flooded with grief.
It is clear why Nell Leyshon's script was adapted into a BBC audio drama last year starring Simon Russell Beale and Amanda Wilkin. It bursts with sound, from distant birdsong to folk tunes the sisters sing as they sew gloves to make ends meet. The play's intellectual explorations never detract from its emotional drama; we sense Louie's betrayal and a convincing sense of the sisters' complicated relationship. The compassion between them builds slowly and compellingly, and the story is as much about their songs tied to love, grief, memory, and Somerset itself as it is about what Sharp takes from them.
The director of the stage play, Emily Raymond, shared her inspiration for the project and the challenges she faced. I was delighted to be asked by Clive Brill, the Artistic Director of Frinton Summer Theatre, to direct Folk by Nell Leyshon. It's a really beautiful piece and an exciting challenge to Direct. It has lots of music and songs in it, which really appeals to me. I anticipate certain challenges as we only have ten days to rehearse this complex, wonderful play. It is a play with songs, too, so we will need to fit in learning and rehearsing ten songs for the production - so we will be quite tight on time, but I'm looking forward to getting going on it. Like all good plays, Folk is multi-layered in its messages and themes. I think different people will take different things from it. It's about family, loss, poverty, industrialisation, connection to land and music, tradition, appropriation, and discovery. I personally respond to the female relationships in the play between two sisters and their mother. I also love the exploration of an idealised reality and the lived experience.
In this fabulous presentation of Folk, Frinton Summer Theatre is delighted to welcome back William Oxborrow, who appeared expertly playing his violin in last season's performance of Ladies in Lavender in the role of Cecil Sharp to demonstrate his exceptional skills on the piano.
Frinton Summer Theatre's artistic director, Clive Brill, said: "Frinton Summer Theatre has a long-held reputation for bringing the very best talent from the West End to the Essex coast. To have William Oxborrow performing at Cecil Sharp, is such a coup and audiences are set to be delighted by his musical talents.
"This performance of Folk celebrates all that is great about the true origins of music from the voices of the people inspired to create it. It's a classic tale of storytelling, emotion and expression, beautifully told through an enchanting soundtrack."
All evening performances are at 7.30pm with matinee performances at 2.30pm, and ticket prices range from £20 to £25 for evening shows and from £18 to £23 for matinees, with a 10% discount if you book every show in the McGrigor Hall season.
To book tickets, visit the Main Box Office at 60 Connaught Avenue or The Little Yellow Hut at The McGrigor Hall. You can also call 01255 775727 or email Boxoffice@frintonsummertheatre.org.
Tickets can also be purchased from the link below, with all the pricing discounts added automatically.
The McGrigor Hall, Frinton Summer Theatre - 25th July - 29th July
Tues - Sat 7:30pm | Sat 2:30pm
Frinton Summer Theatre Contributor, Lisa Wakely, Writer. Lisa Wakely is a talented writer and performer from Essex. Her passion for writing and teaching performing arts is matched only by her adventurous spirit, which includes heart-pumping activities like skydiving and wing walking - all for raising money for charity. She's a true force to be reckoned with. Her boundless energy and unwavering determination are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
If you like the sound of Folk, you might also be interested in our production of Bette and Joan.
By 1962, two Hollywood arch-rivals, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, are in danger of becoming has-beens. Then an opportunity comes along; to appear together in a new movie called Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
Tickets are available now for this scrumptiously spiteful play!
The McGrigor Hall Ticket Prices
Evenings £20-25 | Matinees £18-23
Season Discount - Get 10% off when you book a ticket for each show at The McGrigor Hall.