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(LEFT) This picture is held in the National Portrait Gallery, London. It was painted by by Auguste Millière in 1880 from an engraving of a sketch from George Romney in 1792.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the great English radical, Keystage has been commissioned to write and direct a community play with original music. The play has been commissioned by The Thomas Paine Society, based in Thetford and will be performed there at the Carnegie Rooms in October 2009.

If you live in the Thetford area and would like to take part in the play - as actor, chorus, musician, costume, backstage..... - then get in touch. The project will begin in June 2009 when we will call for auditions. This will be a very exciting and fun experience - if you've never acted on stage before, this is your chance to get up there in lights.

The play will afterwards tour various theatrical venues throughout the region.

Just recovering from the two wonderful performances of our play ‘CITIZEN OF THE WORLD’. The cast were so alive and dynamic…a credit to Lesley’s inventive direction and drill. There were so many unexpected delights: the sheer energy of Sam, Tina, Liz and the others, the superb focus from the kids, the magisterial presence of Phil as Tom, the wonderful vignettes from Anne and Colin, the great stand in by Will, the great comedic acting from Charlotte and Jo, Dai fab song, Bobby's soundscape,  Angela's support, Keith, John...... I could go on and name everybody because to be honest, there  wasn’t a weak link in the play.

I started thinking about a Tom Paine play in 2000 and followed my researches with a visit to his museum cottage in New Rochelle, NY in 2002.  I read John Keane’s wonderful biography – a real inspiration. The big challenge in writing the play was how to tell such a broad, eventful life that also drew on political and philosophical writings. I think my first draft was around 80 pages which would have meant a 2-3 hour marathon. What to leave out and how to tell the historical story without sounding too preachy? I think it worked – a mixture of story telling, panto and inspiration from Reduced Shakespeare’s methods.

I never expected to have the privilege of doing the play actually in Thetford and as part of its 200th anniversary celebrations. I think we really added to the quality of the Tom Paine 200 events in the town. We also got to love our cast (of course) and the town and want to do what we can to get a drama group established there. One initial idea I have is for a mini drama festival each year – perhaps each June. It would be hard work to set up but once there, a great contribution to the community life of this fine old town. I am sure that Tom Paine would have approved (shame he didn’t write any plays).

Everyone now feels a big gap in their lives – that’s natural – but I hope that we can build on the momentum generated from Citizen. I also hope that whenever people walk past that statue on Kings Street they will remember the play and a bit about the life of the man behind the gold paint.

Final scenes from the final rehearsals.

What others said about the play...

“You mastered all the problems there must have been with working at a distance and over a long period behind a cheerful and unflappable face turned to the world, nurtured a cast of all ages and built a potential drama group for the future AND did full justice to Tom Paine and produced a show which balanced instruction and delight in classical measure and deeply satisfied its audience.

Fun, Fun and Fun.

Great job, magnificent show.”

Chair of the Tom Paine 200 Committee

“I have enjoyed it even more than I anticipated and made a lot of new friends”

“Thank you, more than you know.”

“Thanks for all your help and confidence boosting”

“Thank you, you’ve inspired a cast of thousands.”

Cast members


Wednesday, 22 August 2012


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