Canals of Old England

CANALS of Old England is an exciting new musical show for the stage by emerging playwright and musician Phil Underwood.

It tells the story – through music, poetry and narrative – of the Golden Age of the English canals in the 19th Century.

The show will debut with Phil playing solo at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, on Sunday April 16 followed by the Oxford Folk Weekend on Saturday April 22. It will also be performed as a duo at the Stony Live Festival, York House, Stony Stratford, on Saturday June 10.

Canals of Old England is based on solid oral and written historical research, weaving actual canal life and real stories into the narrative. It features historical and original songs & music composed and performed by the writer.

The show is aimed at increasing awareness, in a fun and entertaining way, not only of the key part that the canals played in the development of industry and trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, but also the realities of life aboard a canal boat and the incredible close knit society that the boat people created.

The story is underpinned by the writer’s personal experiences as a boatman living on the Grand Union Canal and inspired by his training for the stage in 2012 with the National Theatre’s War Horse production.

In 2016 the writer gained Arts Council England funding to develop his original script for a professional touring production. It was first performed at The New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth in October 2016.

Creative learning workshops and education packs for teachers have also been developed.

“The children had to imagine they were in a canal boat in overcrowded and cramped conditions. All the children enjoyed this and it helped to understand how families would have felt in the 1800s,” said Cottage Grove School.

Bonnet & Belt Productions are now programming for 2017 and are looking for venues who share their passion for learning through drama and music. For example rural touring, festivals, libraries, folk clubs, theatres, museums, canal events, private functions, cabaret.



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