The only remaining travelling horse-drawn theatre troupe in the UK may stop touring after losing crucial Arts Council funding.
Sabotage Theatre is a traditional rural touring company which performs original plays at venues across Kent and Sussex. During tours its actors walk up to 14 miles per day and live outside, while their stage and set are pulled around by two Piebald Cobs.
To make up for the crippling shortfall created by the withdrawal of Arts Council support, the theatre is attempting to raise £12,092 through crowdfunding. If this proves unsuccessful, Sabotage Theatre will be forced to cease touring. If you’d like to help, you can donate before 3pm on 25 July here.
About Sabotage Theatre
The only horse-drawn theatre troupe left in the United Kingdom, Sabotage was founded in 2008 by playwright Zoe Hinks.
Their first horse-drawn tour about the birth of cinema, The Horse-Drawn Cinema Show, was staged with a team of just four people (Zoe, Carl, Sue Pearson and Glen Wilson their horse handler) on a shoe-string budget.
In 2012 they received their first year of funding, which paved the way for more ambitious productions and tours that covered a wider area. One of their most notable plays has been ‘Owlers’, inspired by the notorious Aldington Gang of smugglers which operated in Romney Marsh.
2017 has seen their latest production, The Looker, taken on Sabotage’s largest-ever tour, but their future from this point looks in doubt. Speaking about the issue, historian Dr Matthew Green, author of London: A Travel Guide Through Time, commented:
“Horse-drawn theatre is an inspiring way of resurrecting the rich oral culture that once flourished throughout the country, at a time when many of our own rural communities are threatened by the exsanguination of traditional village life.
“It would be a terrible shame if that were to end.”
Before Sabotage, the most recent horse-drawn theatre company in the UK was Horse and Bamboo. The troupe stopped touring with horses in 1999.
See Sabotage Theatre perform:
Their most recent play, The Looker, uses puppets, masks and live music to tell the story of an ordinary woman who leaves her job in a call centre to embark on a surreal journey away from technology and the pressures of modern life.
You can see this production on the theatre’s last two remaining tour dates:
Poulton Woods – Saturday 29th July 8pm, Poulton Woods, Aldington
Lydden – Sunday 30th July 4pm, St Mary’s Church
Visit sabotagetheatre.com for more information, or crowdfunder.co.uk/save-the-last-horse-drawn-theatre-company to make a donation to their future.