Benton in Nottingham première of Village Idiot

Published: 13 January 2023
Reporter: Steve Orme

“A window into country life”: Village Idiot

Mark Benton will appear in the world première of Samson Hawkins’s Village Idiot, a Nottingham Playhouse co-production with Theatre Royal Stratford East and Ramps on the Moon, the consortium which features deaf and disabled artists.

Village Idiot is “an audacious comedy where family feuds kick off around a country fair that you townies are all invited to”. It will be the first original play staged by Ramps on the Moon.

All performances will be captioned and will be in a relaxed environment. There will also be designated socially distanced and masked, BSL-interpreted and audio described performances.

The cast also includes Maximilian Fairley, Philip Labey, Joseph Langdon, Eileen Nicholas and Faye Wiggan.

Writer Hawkins from Syresham, Northamptonshire said, “I was a fencing contractor and I wanted to be a playwright, so I wrote a play about being a fencing contractor. I hope this play captures rural life in a way that’ll be recognisable to people from that background and enlightening to those not. It's a message from the country people to townies, a defence of who we are and maybe even a challenge for the future.”

Nottingham Playhouse's artistic director Adam Penford commented, “we commissioned Samson to write Village Idiot after he submitted the idea to Amplify, our artist development programme. Five years later and after many drafts we couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s hitting the main stage and in collaboration with our friends and colleagues at Stratford East and Ramps on the Moon. Samson’s unique voice grabbed our attention in 2018 and we can’t wait for a wider audience to experience that.”

Village Idiot will be directed by Stratford East artistic director Nadia Fall who added, “I’d never read anything quite like Village Idiot: it’s audacious, made me laugh out loud and gave me a window into country life that those of us from towns and cities just don’t get to see. And what’s particularly exciting to me is that this is the first Ramps show that is a new play, written by a neurodivergent writer.”

Set and costume designer will be Lily Arnold. Richard Howell will be lighting designer while composer and sound designer will be Max Pappenheim. Movement director is Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, casting director is Jacob Sparrow and Timothy Trimmingham Lee is associate director.

Village Idiot runs at Nottingham Playhouse from Saturday 11 until Saturday 25 March. Press night will be Wednesday 15 March. It then transfers to Theatre Royal Stratford East from Thursday 13 April until Saturday 6 May.

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