The Barn Swallows, premiering at The Hope Street Theatre from Wed 6 – Sat 9 March 2019.
There is an empty coffin waiting to be filled and a body snatcher on the loose. A stranger in town, a bounty hunter, a widow and a dysfunctional sheriff discover their fates are intertwined as they seek to escape their past lives and a lawless town. There is one sure thing, on the twisted road out of hell, you just might find out who you really are. Who will make it out of there alive?
Writer Helen Jones was researcher and script editor of the musical play Twopence to Cross the Mersey which had several successful runs at the Liverpool Empire Theatre, she also co-wrote the book Julia’s Banjo with Rob Fennah which was translated to stage at the Epstein Theatre in 2018.
Helen was looking for a challenge: “I like the unexpected, so I thought, why not write a gothic Western? I wanted to tell a good story and take the audience on an authentic journey back to the Old West. It is a genre that is under represented in theatre which tends to be musical or comedic if it is done at all.
“This is a drama with a theme of escape, lost souls and retribution set five years after the American Civil War, with equally strong female and male lead characters. We are pushing the genre out of its stereotypical frame, giving the Old West a true sense of identity that has long been forgotten on stage.”
At the beginning of 2018Producer Sharon Colpman started a writer’s support group with James Gaskin called ‘Make it Write’ and began production with Virago, a showcase of four plays with strong women as the theme which received excellent reviews.
Sharon explained: “For our first full length production I wanted to find something original and close to my heart. Growing up in a predominantly male family, Westerns, and in particular John Wayne, seemed to dominate my TV viewing. However, the grittier Westerns became firm favourites. When I read The Barn Swallows it struck a chord with me as the idea of a female led gritty western would make an intriguing scenario, certainly a memorable one for all the right reasons. “This the first completely original Old West play to be performed in the UK that has been written, produced and directed by women, another Liverpool first. I also think it’s important that diverse, original roles are created for our rich talent pool.”
Directing the production is Liverpool based Theatre Director Meg McFarlane. The Theatre Company Jack Of All Trades Theatre, which she runs with fellow director John Smith, specialises in unearthing stories form the past, making them accessible and relatable to a modern audience.
Realism is important to Meg, she said: “It’s really unheard of, a real and authentic Western drama. The script is so exciting, and the cast are a talented bunch, this will be like nothing Liverpool has seen. We have a fantastic soundscape and original theme tune written especially for the show in true Western Ennio Morricone style. We aim to give the audience a really authentic experience. Do not miss this.”
Stage Manager Catherine Ainsworth has had a vital role behind the scenes organising and sourcing to create an authentic backdrop.
The Barn Swallows comes to The Hope Street Theatre from Wed 6 – Sat 9 March.
The Barn Swallows
Hope Street Theatre, 22 Hope Street, Liverpool
Date: Wed 6 – Sat 9 March
Tickets: Standard: £13 / Concession: £9 (inc Administration and Fulfilment Fees)