Black Beauty to be brought to life on the stage at Scone Palace for the first time
A spectacular open-air theatrical production of the iconic book Black Beauty is set to come to Scone Palace this summer as part of a 27 date tour to some of the most magnificent Heritage and country houses in Britain. This is the first time that the hugely popular Anna Sewell novel, which has sold over 50 million copies world-wide, has ever been adapted for the stage.
Performances will take place at Scone Palace on the 18th and 19th August, with tickets for both shows going on sale on Friday March 30th at 9.00am.
Produced by award-winning BBC Playwright Susannah Daley and PEEL Heritage, the story has been carefully adapted by James Stone in order to bring to life the story of one of the world’s most famous fictional horses. The production boasts the creative input of costume designer Hayley Neil, who has worked on and for, amongst others, Pussy Cat Dolls, Luc Besson, Walking with Dinosaurs, The Kings Speech and most recently the acclaimed Animal Farm production at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. This unique 2 ¼ hour production applies the technology and craft of modern theatre, whilst retaining the essential spirit of the original novel. The stage set has been carefully designed to incorporate the stunning backdrops and surroundings of the historical venues in which it will be performed.
Black Beauty was written in 1877 and was the only published novel of Anna Sewell who died 5 months after it was first printed. Although a favourite with children around the world, it was not written as a children’s book but as a tale to bring attention to the mistreatment of working horses at the time. This ground-breaking novel was the first to be written from an animal’s perspective and is recognised today as playing a key role in the launch of the Animal Welfare Movement. It has been adapted for film and television many times over the past century, but has never before been transformed into a live theatre show.
The new production concentrates on the core elements of the story, following Beauty’s close relationship with the Gordon family and, in particular, with Flora Gordon. Narrated by Black Beauty, the play covers his idyllic early life, through to his darkest days as a brutally treated London cab horse and his experiences working in the mines. Along the way he meets many equine friends from very different backgrounds who each tell their own poignant stories about life as a working horse in Victorian times, before he is eventually happily reunited with Flora.
The production is a visual feast with many stunning and carefully created scenes. Highlights include the famous race scene at Epsom, in which the audience take part, a dramatic mine explosion scene and a flashback tale from an old War horse remembering his time in the Crimean War. Neil’s highly unique and specially-created head costumes, combined with meticulous choreography and stage sets, enable the actors to truly inhabit their equine characters and for the first time bring the story to life theatrically.
Speaking about the tour, Producer Susannah Daley said: “Black Beauty is a timeless story, which continues to sell and be taught in schools throughout the world. One of the biggest challenges in staging the production was how to bring the horses to life and also allow them to be them to be the central story. Modern design, technology, choreography and theatrical production techniques have enabled us to bring the story to a contemporary audience without losing the core essence of the book.”
Tickets priced £10 for children, £15/£14.50 with concession, £18.95/£18.00/£16.50 for adults and £55/£50/£48 for family tickets are available from www.blackbeautylive.co.uk, or Tel. 0844 871 7604.