Two weeks in and our brand new musical production Blowin’ in the Wind is in full swing and is receiving a hugely enthusiastic response! Having seen the effect it is having on audiences, I have been reminded of how important its message of hope and courage is, in the face of turbulent times.

The inspiration for the production came to me last year, when so much of the world was being turned on its head through the Brexit vote and the rise of Donald Trump. Around the same time, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and his song ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ took on a renewed significance for me. Written in the early 1960s, during a time of upheaval and cries for civil rights justice, its continued relevance today was striking. I strongly believe that theatre should reflect on, and challenge, the societal issues of which it is a part: this seemed exactly the right moment to do a piece about the importance of protest, change and hope.

Setting Blowin’ in the Wind sailing on its course with our artistic team was a pure joy. Having decided upon the role of Rosa Parks within the show - travelling on an imaginary bus to hear the famous Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech - I handed over the framework idea to the Chickenshed company. They in turn explored people and eras of protest which interested them. Over a period of several months, a unified set of performances began to emerge, held together by the character of Rosa Parks and her portrayal as someone with such a deeply felt humanity.

One of the most important aspects when developing the show was the need to establish unity to the production – and this was achieved by formulating the piece as one of dramatic movement underpinned by stunning choral singing and music. You’re certainly in for a musical treat when you listen to the range of talent we have at Chickenshed, performing a wide-range of musical styles, from Rag’n’Bone Man through to Duke Ellington. Visual projections were also absolutely essential to the concept, since they give the performances an important documentary realism. The work of our AV specialist, Phil Haines, in developing these images is nothing short of spectacular. The beautiful set (Will Fricker) and lighting (Andrew Caddies) provide an important poetic significance to the various scenes depicted on stage by the Company.

Blowin’ in the Wind feels like a very important performance piece for us all at Chickenshed. It is a beautifully executed performance which excites, entertains and gives our audiences pause for thought about the world we live in today, and the importance of hope and courage in the face of adversity.

There’s only two more weeks left to catch this extraordinary event. Bring friends, enjoy the vibe, do what you need to do to clear a date in the diary. It is truly an unforgettable experience!