On 31 May 2010 eleven holdalls were discovered along the shore near Freshwater on the Isle of Wight; when opened they contained £53m worth of cocaine - the biggest haul ever found in UK waters. Five men were sentenced to a combined 104 years. In 2019 new evidence came to light that cast doubt on the original convictions.
Inspired by The Guardian’s award-winning podcast, (listen to it here: https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2021/feb/19/the-freshwater-five-part-1-are-the-wrong-men-in-jail-podcast) we applied for research and development funding from Arts Council for a new production based around this incredible story. Delving into the case and the personal stories of the family, as well as the historical and cultural resonance surrounding it.
The idea behind research and development was to build the foundation, not only for our work in a new area but also for such an important story. This meant enquiring with the family and the incredible lawyer Emily Bolton (who runs Appeal: https://appeal.org.uk/freshwater-five), responsible for the re-examination of the case, and the pursuance of justice for the family. With that secured, our writer Liam Harrison began a deep dramaturgical process. While we also began establishing and searching for new partners and organising our marketing strategy. On a place like the IOW, things can be missed and there is not a significant theatre-going audience, so we needed to make sure we reached people.As well as developing new audiences, we wanted to develop new talent. Part of the desire behind the new production was to capture and support some of the fantastic talent the Isle of Wight has to offer. Growing up here we know there are barriers towards an aspirational career like the creative arts, (one in particular known as The Solent!), so we wanted to put in place new opportunities for young, ambitious people as well as those who might have never experienced the creative arts but always wanted to. With the successful positive societal impacts the need was to make sure the production was also impactful. With exciting new IOW talent, we went about trying to create as strong a production as we could. All of the hard work paid off, as we were able to give new actors and creatives payment and experience at the industry level, while selling out our performances at the Quay Arts and Ventnor Exchange.
Following the success of the research and development we applied to embark on a coastal communities tour, successfully receiving Arts Council funding. We are now currently undertaking that process with the tour heading to venues in early 2023, and a showcase at the Vault Festival. Together with support from Farnham Maltings, Mike Howley Trust, The Island Collection and the Quay Arts.
Farnham Maltings Working Class Artists Funding
Director/Producer/Casting/Lighting Designer/Danny Payne & Others - Samuel Bossman
Writer/Producer/Marketing - Liam Harrison
Assistant Producer/Lighting Operator - Alice Humphreys
Photography and Videography - Charlie Price & Charlotte Fisher
Sound - Kalle Jurvanen
Graphic & Poster Design - Pui Ka Chung
Jamie Green & Others - Chris Beard
Emily Bolton & Others - Evangeline Beaven
Zoran Dresic & Others - Mustafa Zengin