The White Feather

World Premiere of a New British Musical002_TWF_The White Feather Poster_A3_2015_V4
by Ross Clark
Book by Ross Clark and Andrew Keates.
Music by Ross Clark
Additional Songs by Matthew Strachan
Arrangements by Martin Coslett and Dustin Conrad


Georgina Briggs’ brother was one of over 300 allied soldiers executed for cowardice during the First World War. She won’t accept the shame and she won’t let it lie. But as she fights for justice a shocking discovery awaits her. This is the story of The White Feather – A New British Musical, which comes to the Union Theatre for a five week run 16 September – 17 October 2015.

Memorials to the soldiers who fought and died in the Great War grace almost every town and village but 306 names are conspicuous by their absence – the men who were executed by their own side. Some were deserters and others were condemned for putting down their weapons in the course of battle but many were suffering from what we know now as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The White Feather tells the story of one soldier and his suffering and his sister’s lifelong fight for a posthumous pardon. It also encounters the issue of homosexuality and gender in-equality during the turn of the century. With powerful songs and a storyline with a twist, this production has a sharp emotional intensity generated by words and music. The production will feature several wrap-around activities including historical educational talks and discussions about mental health, PTSD and surrounding issues.

Writer Ross Clark says, “Like many children in the 1970s I was brought up on war films which made us out to be the good guys. But there was a very large fly in the national ointment: the execution, within the living memory of my grandparents’ generation, of 306 soldiers for cowardice, many of whom were suffering from shell-shock. While the understanding of what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder was then in its infancy, this seemed little excuse and I always puzzled why for so many years officialdom refused to accept that the executions had been wrong. What inspired me to turn the subject into a musical was the unwillingness of the First World War generation to express emotion about their experiences. Some who had fought in the trenches never even spoke to their families about what they had seen – suppressing their experiences was their way of coping. When a character sings in The White Feather, that is his or her internal voice – it is what he or she never said in real life but what I imagine to have been bubbling away inside them for the rest of their lives”.
Director Andrew Keates comments, “This production is important because it’s about a time and subject matter that will shock and shame many but, on the other hand, it’s a piece of new British musical theatre that I hope many will be proud to support”.

Christopher Blades as Willows/Recruitment Officer/Priest and Des Browne. Katie Brennan as Edith. David Flynn as Adam Davey. Zac Hamilton as Edward Brown. Cameron Leigh as Emma Cardinal. Abigail Matthews as Georgina Briggs. Adam Pettigrew as Harry Briggs. Kathryn Rutherford as Hannah Fisher. Lee Dillon Stuart as Peter Arthurs.

Directed by Andrew Keates.
Choreography by Anthony Whiteman. Costume Design by Natasha Prynne. Set Design by Tim McQuillen-Wright. Lighting Design by Neill Brinkworth. Musical Direction by Dustin Conrad. Produced by Andrew Harmer for Arion Productions Ltd. Sound Design by James Nicholson. Stage Management by Chuck Deer and Lucie Wolfman.Voice and Accent Work by Sarah Stephenson.

All photographs by Scott Rylander.

“Andrew Keates doesn’t really do easy. In fact, the bravery of his work notwithstanding, he is fast becoming my favourite Director in London and certainly one of the best”
★★★★★ Theatre Weekly

“The White Feather is everything musical theatre should be – it will make you think deeply about bravery, war and the nature of humanity all the way home. If there is any justice this exciting production will be given a longer run or a second home so it gets the wider viewing it deserves”
★★★★★ Danny Coleman-Cooke,

“an intense and emotional musical with some very moving songs and a very strong story that does nothing to hide an ignominious moment in British history.  It is not a traditional musical in any way but is of the finest traditions of musical theatre”
★★★★ Terry Eastham, MyTheatreMates

“the show is just beautiful to watch, like a Sunday night drama, the evening just slipped away as I found myself totally carried away in the sublime performances and tender musical numbers”
★★★★★ Theatre Weekly

“truly wonderful and should be celebrated for telling such an important story”
Catherine Duffy, BargainTheatreland

“a moving musical by a stellar cast”
★★★★ Musical Theatre Musings

“a striking new piece of British musical theatre”
Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“Arion Productions has, once again, brought something new, brave and exciting to the London stage and I would urge any theatre lover to grab tickets before the show inevitably sells out”
★★★★★ Theatre Weekly

“I was captivated by this lovely show. Andrew Keates had developed and directed it and co-wrote the book and he’s done a great job. Unmissable’
Gareth James, Cultural Blog

“The staging is consistently good, building up to a tear jerking and perfectly executed final scene, in which all the elements come together perfectly”
★★★★★ Danny Coleman-Cooke,

“it’s an emotionally charged, intimate experience not to be missed”
Laura Kressly, The Play’s The Thing

“a refreshing and truly new musical with songs that are beautiful, poetic and memorable”
★★★★★ A Rant and Moan Blog

“Every now and then, there emerges a gem in fringe theatres offering what one may find in a West End production”
★★★★ The Upcoming

“Award winning journalist Ross Clark’s story highlights that allied soldiers were executed for cowardice, by British soldiers during the First World War, focusing on an underage recruit and some homosexual turmoil. Director Andrew Keates, also a trophy holder, breathes life into Ross’s quillings with emotion-elevating lyrics and compelling numbers that are implemented by nine talented actors”
★★★★★ The GayUK