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Thu, Jun 15


St Neots

Fire From Heaven

Live at Art & Soul. Fresh from a tour of US universities, previously performed in Cambridge and London

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Fire From Heaven
Fire From Heaven

Time & Location

Jun 15, 2023, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

St Neots, 7 New St, St Neots, Saint Neots PE19 1AE, UK

About the event

Michael Faraday (1791-1867) rose from a very humble background to become one of the greatest experimental scientists of all time. His father was a blacksmith and Faraday left school at the age of 12 with only the most basic education. His family came from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ in a world where science (or Natural Philosophy as it was then called) was the preserve of the wealthy and privileged. There was little hope for a working class lad from the streets of London and Faraday had another great disadvantage socially: his family were dissenters, members of an obscure Christian sect called the Sandemanians which, although orthodox in beliefs, immediately excluded him form Oxford or Cambridge or any kind of university education. The Anglican establishment still ruled the day in law and government and in the social hierarchy.

There are many who believe that Faraday’s ability to ‘think outside the box’, the sheer originality of his mind, owed a great deal to the non-conformity of his religion and his experience of life on the margins, where he was forced to take his own initiative in everything. His first job was as a paper boy, working for Ribeau’s bookshop in Blandford Street but, before long, he was offered a place as an apprentice bookbinder. Surrounded by thousands of volumes, Faraday began to read voraciously. The entry on ‘Electricity’ in the Encyclopaedia Britannica seized his imagination. His employer recognised the teenager’s potential and allowed Faraday to conduct his own experiments, with chemicals, in a backroom. In this way, Faraday began his humble career as an aspiring ‘natural philosopher’. Ribeau soon realised that his industrious apprentice was a scientific prodigy and encouraged him to pursue his ambitions against all the odds.

Among the great scientific establishments of the day was The Royal Society, the elite society of natural philosophers (many of whom were wealthy and aristocratic) and the Royal Institution which had been founded recently to advance scientific learning for the general population. The director of the Royal Institution (also a member of the Royal Society) was the illustrious Sir Humphry Davy, one of the world’s greatest chemists and a heroic figure to Michael Faraday. Faraday was thrilled to receive tickets from a wealthy customer of the bookshop to attend one of Davy’s unforgettable lectures…

And this is where the action of the play begins.

In a career lasting forty years, Murray Watts has written many plays for theatre and radio, and numerous screenplays for Tv and film. His work as a playwright, screenwriter and children’s writer has won him awards nationally and internationally. He was one of the founding directors of Riding Lights Theatre Company. Screenplays range from ‘The Dream’, for BBC, starring Jeremy Irons to ‘The Miracle Maker’, for S4C/BBC/ICON, featuring the voices of Ralph Fiennes, William Hurt and Julie Christie. The Miracle Maker won the Movieguide Epiphany Award as the most inspirational film on US TV in 2000. His work as a playwright has been seen in major theatres throughout the UK and in the West End. Theatre awards include the LWT Plays on Stage Award for ‘The Fatherland’, his play set in Soweto, staged by Bush Theatre at Riverside Studios in 1989. In 2012 The King’s Head in London hosted a season of his plays. One of these plays, ‘Mr.Darwin’s Tree’ was premiered in Westminster Abbey in 2009. Murray continues to write from his base in Caithness where he is director of The Wayfarer Trust.

Andrew Harrison returns to Art & Soul. Andrew began his career with Riding Lights Theatre Co. in York joining as a permanent member of the company in 1980.  He toured with them throughout the U.K., at the Edinburgh Festival, in the USA and India, and throughout Europe often playing the lead in many of their musicals, comedies, revues and plays.

After moving to London he made his repertory debut in Exeter playing the leads in A Chorus of Disapproval and Serious Money. Other theatre credits include Glyn and It with Dame Penelope Keith on national tour, the premier production of Peter Nichols’ Blue Murder and the West End production of Pinero’s Trelawny of the Wells with the late Sir Michael Hordern.

Andrew is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s drama department.

Film credits: An Ideal Husband, Dorian Grey, The Sea Change and A Little Loving.

For TV: The Life of Pepys, Miss Marple, You Rang M’Lord?, The Bill, Birds of a Feather, Beyond Narnia and Summer in Transylvania.


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