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New show from Far East Theatre Company

PUBLISHED: 16:27 14 January 2009 | UPDATED: 09:20 13 July 2010

Following their acclaimed production of Jim Cartwright's Road, Paston College's Far East Theatre Company is staging another seminal contemporary British play in early February.

Following their acclaimed production of Jim Cartwright's Road, Paston College's Far East Theatre Company is staging another seminal contemporary British play in early February.

Timberake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good was first staged at the Royal Court Theatre in 1988 and was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. The play is set in the Australian Penal Colony in 1788 and follows the fortunes of a young lieutenant as he tries to direct the first play to be performed there.

The colony's governor believes 'the theatre is an expression of civilisation' and that the cast of transported criminals will be morally improved by their dramatic activities. Such idealism is a far cry from the realities of rehearsing in 100 degree heat when supplies of food are running out, you only have two copies of the play, all your friends are against you, and one of your actors is likely to be executed before the first night.

The play brings back memories for its director, the college's Head of English, George Norton, who began his teaching career running a theatre company for the inmates of Blundeston Prison in Suffolk.

'It was an extraordinary experience, trying to do something creative in what were often pretty trying circumstances,' he says. 'I remember having the same arguments about punishment and rehabilitation which are staged in the play. Though none of my actors faced execution, I was always worried that people would be transferred to other prisons or released before the production, or wouldn't be allowed to attend rehearsals because of some infringement on the wing.

'However difficult it was, I will never forget my prison work; some of the most interesting, creative and talented people I've ever come across, I met in prison. Our Country's Good teaches us that we should never write people off and working in prison taught me very similar lessons.'

Our Country's Good will be performed at The Paston Theatre, each evening from Tuesday February 3 to Friday, February 6 at 7.30pm, with a matinee on Wednesday February 4 at 1.30 pm. Tickets are £7 (£4 concessions), but £3 on Tuesday Evening.


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