Exeter Community Arts Project has announced that Arts Council England have awarded £40,000 to support their production of The Day we Played Brazil by Nick Stimson – and now the search is on to find 120 members of the local community to fill the roles.
Auditions will open during February with everyone welcome – further details will be announced soon.
This once in a lifetime large-scale community theatre project will bring arts and sport together and is a joint venture between Exeter City Football Club and Supporters’ Trust, the Bike Shed Theatre and Exeter Northcott Theatre.
The Day we Played Brazil will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the football match between Exeter City and the Brazil national team – the first-ever game played by Brazil. The play is based on the extraordinary true story of the club’s tour to South America in 1914. Chosen by the Football Association as a typical British football club, they became the first side in history to play the Brazilian national football team and in so doing not only made history themselves but also founded possibly the greatest force in world football.
The whole project will energise the city as part of the celebrations of Exeter’s unique place in the history of world football. The musical play will be performed by 120 local people telling the stories of the players and their wives, sweethearts and families back home. There will be plenty of music, tears and laughter along the way as well as some great footballing moments.
It is a story of adventure and excitement both on and off the pitch and it will take the audience through the highs and lows of the hundred years since the outbreak of the Great War.
“We’ve been aware that Exeter City FC had a link to Brazil for some time but when we heard the full story we couldn’t believe it wasn’t more widely known,” said Kate Tyrrell, Executive Director, Exeter Northcott Theatre. We can’t wait to share what we love doing with the people of Exeter by making a piece of musical theatre together to celebrate a really special moment in the city’s history.”
As well as performing there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved in making this great event happen – members of the community will be able to turn their hand to costume-making, stage management, lighting and sound operation. Exeter Community Arts Project will be also looking for aspiring media hounds to help tell the story of the project as it unfolds.
“In 2010, I was told a story of Coventry Belgrade’s production following their football team’s unexpected march to the FA Cup in 1987,” said David Lockwood of The Bike Shed Theatre. “When the winning goal was scored on the stage, the audience jumped up and cheered. Theatre rarely has such an effect.
“Nick and I have been talking about making an Exeter football play ever since, so when he came into the Bike Shed last year and mentioned the approaching centenary of the Brazil game, I was thrilled. What became obvious almost immediately was that our charming little space wasn’t going to be suitable for a play of this scale. I’m delighted that we’re able to collaborate on this fantastic project with the wonderful Exeter Northcott and our city’s football club, to make a production that will get audiences cheering for Exeter.”
Paul Farley, Exeter City FC Trust Director (Community), said: “Not only is the project one of the most exciting we have been involved in off the field, but it has been so good to work with such enthusiastic partners who share the same vision of the possibilities.
“The play, the exhibition and book of ‘The Day we Played Brazil’ have become so interesting to those that are working on them that we cannot wait to share the importance of the original event and the history of Exeter City.”
Phil Hindson, Theatre Relationship Manager, South West, Arts council England said: “The Day we Played Brazil is a fantastic example of how art can bring people together and create a strong civic pride around one of the great British national pastimes. The play couldn’t come at a better time, with the world’s attention on Brazil for the World Cup and Olympic and Paralympics Games in 2016.
“It’s great to see so many organisations working collaboratively on this project, which is supported through Arts Council England’s National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme. I look forward to seeing the play next year!”
The production itself will open immediately after the 2014 World Cup, which is being held in Brazil, and will run for two weeks at Exeter Northcott Theatre. People interested in getting involved should watch out for further announcements from the partner organisations.