Founded in 2013 by a troupe of passionate theatre-lovers who work at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing, the Conn Artists Theatre Company brings together the diverse skills of local professional theatre makers to produce unique adaptations of stories by renowned writers and playwrights.
Originally staging their plays solely in Worthing, as a regional theatre company the Conn Artists have swiftly grown in popularity and they now tour their productions nationwide, celebrating the talents of Sussex-based artists by bringing their work to a wider audience across the country.
Their latest production, J.M. Barrie’s hauntingly beautiful play of Mary Rose, is set to go on tour in the spring of 2022. First staged at London’s Haymarket Theatre in 1920, written after WWI and the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-20, the show is a ghostly exploration of love, loss and hope that spans a time period of over 30 years.
Unfortunately, having received no external funding for this latest project despite three grant applications, the theatre company are asking the public to help them raise funds to support with the production of their latest tour.
Commenting on their fundraising campaign, Ross Muir, Actor and Co-Founder of Conn Artists Theatre, said “Theatre and the arts simply cannot survive without some form of subsidy beyond ticket sales. The core belief of our company is to entertain and inspire our audience members, and we had to think long and hard about whether we would be able to produce our latest show and bring it on tour as demand for funding from the Arts Council and other grant giving trusts has hugely intensified because of the pandemic. The challenges that Covid-19 has brought upon live venues, creatives and everyone involved in the arts has been extremely damaging and the financial risks are far greater than before. But because we are so passionate about producing live theatre, we have pulled everything together to make sure we can bring this vital work, which couldn’t be more relevant right now, on tour, because it is what we love doing. Every donation we receive supports us exponentially with our tour costs and will help us to ensure we can produce a show of the highest quality for our audiences – every donation helps to keep regional theatre alive.”
The adaptation of Mary Rose will be directed by Nick Young, whose credits include a period within the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he worked alongside distinguished performers such as Dame Helen Mirren and Patrick Stewart. He was also former Artistic Director of the Connaught Theatre, Worthing.
On Mary Rose, Director Nick Young said “J.M. Barrie is one of the most brilliant writers of stage directions as he understands characters so richly; working from this text has been a really enthralling journey. We chose a story that we wanted to resonate with our audience members, as they are at the heart of the work we do. We’ve enriched the tale by embedding our own unique spin on the narrative that stays true to the original text whilst exploring feelings that uplift you with hope, as well as tackling some of the darker sides of the piece – we simply can’t wait to bring this to theatres across the country.
Mary Rose will tour across spring 2022, beginning at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing on 3 March and running nationwide until 30 April. To donate to the Conn Artists fundraising page, or to purchase tickets to see Mary Rose on tour, please visit conn-artists.co.uk.