We began establishing a professional theatre presence in South Gloucestershire by presenting our debut productions in premises on the site of the historic Champion Brass Works (hence our company name) in Tower Lane, Warmley.
Working initially by hiring equipment for each show, we ultimately furnished a permanent theatre space including lighting and sound equipment, staging and a dressing room.
A change in our strategic vision for the company in 2016 meant that it could no longer sustain its permanent venue.
We are proud to have presented the following ambitious productions during our four happy years on Tower Lane.
Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost
It was a spooky start to 2016 with Bruce Fellows’ and Adrian Harris’ adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s first-published short story.
When the Otis family moves into Canterville Chase, its resident spirit gets set to scare the living daylights out of the newcomers. He soon finds, though, that his American guests are unusually unmoved by his creepy box of tricks, and have just the thing for nocturnal noises and stubborn spectral bloodstains. Failing to put the frighteners on the Otises proves very trying for the poor soul – especially as he hasn’t slept a wink in 300 years.
Our family-friendly comedy was a hit with big audiences haunting Tower Lane this January.
Citizen George by Brian Weaving
Our autumn production marked Black History Month with Brian Weaving’s reimagining of the story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), a noted athlete, soldier and musician who became known as ‘The Black Mozart’.
Set in a Parisian gaol at the height of the French Revolution, the action unites a garrulous pickpocket and supercilious aristocrat in racist outrage at having to share a cell with Citizen George. The cellmates’ common plight overcomes their prejudices, but not without violence and sacrifice.π>
The show’s all-female cast added an extra dimension to this poignant tale of social conciliation.
Mayday on May Day and the next day marked the final weekend of this year’s general election campaign with two evenings of political comedy. The show brought together scripts by six local writers, raising laughs with Suffragettes for the TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex) generation, an MP in his underpants, and a celestial focus group. It climaxed with some cross-party karaoke in which a pair of former coalition partners shared a few home truths.
December 2014 to January 2015
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
New Year 2015 reunited the now traditional writer-director team of Bruce Fellows and Adrian Harris for the return of Sherlock Holmes. In the Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle — based on a lesser-known Arthur Conan Doyle short story — Holmes and Watson follow the trail from a battered blue hat and stolen Christmas goose to a case connecting the theft of a priceless blue jewel with a blackmail plot involving the Royal Family. Watson remains baffled by his illustrious colleague’s music hall act in which she appears (apparently) as a female impersonator.
October to November 2014
Deep Pit by Adrian Harris
In our most ambitious project to date, we staged Adrian Harris’ historical drama set in the Kingswood coalfields during the 19th century. Deep Pit is the story of the Crew family’s struggle to survive the dirty, dangerous conditions above and below ground as its members confront death at the coalface and exploitation in their home. Adrian approached Kingswood Heritage Museum to propose a production of Deep Pit in its grounds during 2011, and this sparked the idea of establishing a new theatre venue in the seldom-used room upstairs at the former brass works. The play’s large cast and period setting meant that we needed to stage more affordable work before producing it, but achieved this long-held goal this autumn with substantial funding from Arts Council England and further contributions from South Gloucestershire Council and Oldland Parish Council.
Voices of the Great War
We marked the centenary of the outbreak of World War I with two evenings featuring monologues by members of Southwest Scriptwriters based on the lives and times of the global conflict. Four local actors performed nine scripts with subjects including life in a munitions factory, the effects of shell shock, and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The Staple Hill British Legion Women’s Choir sang WWI songs to complement the performances, and the show met with enthusiastic responses form its large audiences.
Flat Packed by Adrian Harris
Adrian Harris’ bittersweet comedy reflected recent history with its story of three friends coming to terms with the shifting of old certainties following 2008’s banking crisis.
December 2013 to January 2014
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped
Yuletide 2013 reunited the writer-director team behind The Mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles for another classic adaptation. Bruce Fellows wrote the swashbuckling script, and Adrian Harris took the directorial helm for our production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Scottish seafaring story. The four-strong cast thrilled audiences with derring-do including sword fights, a shipwreck and a drunken duel with improvised bagpipes. The production confirmed our seasonal show as a festive favourite with audiences.
December 2012 to January 2013
The Mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles
Bristol writer Bruce Fellows adapted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes story with a twist for our first seasonal show. In this quirky take on the spooky tale of curious canine occurrences on Dartmoor, the famous detective is a woman who poses as a man to do her sleuthing, and has a saucy music hall act in which she appears as a woman — much to the vexation and embarrassment of her trusty sidekick, Dr John Watson.
Engineers’ Blue by Adrian Harris
Our debut production transformed the spacious room upstairs at the former Champion Brass Works into a temporary theatre. Engineers’ Blue, written by Brass Works Theatre’s founder and Artistic Director Adrian Harris, transported audiences back to the Douglas Motorcycles factory in Kingswood during World War II. The play — written with financial support from The Peggy Ramsay Foundation with our production part-funded by Arts Council England via a National Lottery Grants for the Arts award – centres on a woman finding her way in industry following the government’s call for the female workforce to support the war effort in the factories. Enthusiastic audiences for our first show demonstrated the demand for a new theatre in South Gloucestershire.