The Seafarers

The Concept


Artistic Director, Lucy, has written a three-part blog leading up to Stopgap’s performance of The Seafarers as part of Portsmouth Festivities. Read part one and learn where all the concept ideas stemmed from.

Research photos fom Portsmouth Dockyard

Image Description: Photo montage of two images. On the left, a black and white photo of female workers at Portsmouth Dockyard. On the right, a photo of a ship's figurehead in a dockyard.

We began the process with research into Portsmouth’s boat building heritage and all the culture that a Seafaring community develops. I love to pour through historical photos of people. The photos of Portsmouth Dockyard were full of past faces, tired and weathered yet with smiling eyes. There were plenty of images of vast building sites on Dockyards, tall timbers, shafts of light shining through piercing the dust and hard work and although there are many workers on site they still looked small in comparison to what they were building.

We wanted to focus on the teamwork, the struggle and effort. We wanted to explore the idea of generation after generation being deeply involved in the city’s boat building. As an inclusive company teamwork is what keeps us creating and we too often feel quite small in comparison to our cause.

The music was integral to the initial idea because we wanted a theatre gig feel. Live music was essential and we very much enjoyed going to see different bands and meeting inventive folk musicians. Often the style, informality and complicity of the folk groups matched Stopgap’s sensitivities. We were keen to work with The Moulettes (our chosen band) when we heard their celestial sound. Their lyrics observing legends, magic and elements. Check out their music here.
We also love the fact that they are travelling from Glastonbury Festival to do the performance.

The design too was going to be vital. It needed to be big and bold and I knew I wanted the wheelchair dancers up high and was keen to explore the idea of using ramps. Anna Jones from Curious Space collaborated with me on Artificial Things and I knew we could work quickly together. After a trip to the Dockyards museum and boathouses – we had plenty of inspiration.

The Seafarers set design. Model box on the lft, rehearsal set in the studio on the right.

The Seafarers set design. Model box on the left, rehearsal set in the studio on the right.

More about The Seafarers