A Thousand Sons
A Thousand Sons is a solo show written and performed by Jamie Sefton telling the true story of British nuclear test veterans. After successful runs at Camden Fringe 2021 and Edinburgh Fringe 2022, A Thousand Sons heads to Camden People's Theatre (CPT) in November as part of their autumn season.
A Thousand Sons
A Thousand Sons is a one-person show telling the true story of British nuclear test veterans. The play shines a light on the stories of those who have been, and still are, affected by nuclear testing. We are incredibly excited to have been included in Camden People Theatre's autumn season, and we are seeking funding to develop A Thousand Sons to its full potential by bringing on three creatives.
Joining Jamie Sefton (Writer and Actor) and Kelsey Cooke (Producer) is Ben Standish (Director), Hazel McIntosh (Set Designer) and Gareth Stevens (Lighting Designer and Sound Designer).
Ben, Hazel and Gareth are all professional creatives in their fields and, after seeing 'A Thousand Sons' in Edinburgh, are already bringing fresh and exciting ideas to develop the show.
A Thousand Sons was first written and performed as a 20 minute piece by Jamie Sefton for his final project of his acting training at the Guildford School of Acting (GSA). For this first incarnation of the play, Jamie received the Max Adrian award from GSA and was urged to develop it further. Jamie then talked to British nuclear test veterans, as well as sourcing interviews and articles from the last 70 years to build and develop the script of A Thousand Sons accurately and truthfully. Successful runs at Camden Fringe 2021 and Edinburgh Fringe 2022 followed, and the show received numerous glowing reviews and has engaged with audiences. Jamie was invited to perform the show at the All Tests Reunion in September 2021, a reunion of nuclear test veterans and their families. One veteran said of the performance:
"I have the image of the mushroom cloud in my head, now that is joined with Jamie's performance. I will never forget how powerful this performance was."
A Thousand Sons tells the gripping and true story of 22,000 service personnel who were used as guinea pigs for Britain's nuclear testing programme. The story spans 70 years of injustice and cover-ups by those in positions of power.
The play is a 50-minute journey through one man's life. His name is Bertie. Bertie is a character whose name and background have been created for the play, but the story the audience sees unravelling before their eyes is grounded in true testimonies from British nuclear test veterans. Throughout the play, Bertie travels in and out of his own personal history, recounting events from his past that shaped the man he becomes.
The play uses poetry and moments of direct verbatim from veterans to build a powerful and shocking true story. We start the play with Bertie preparing to witness his first nuclear weapon test and we end with seeing just how deeply this event affected him, his family and the thousands of others who were with him on Christmas Island in the late 1950's.
For our run at Camden People's Theatre (CPT), we are looking to develop the show by bringing on set, lighting and sound designers, as well as an external director. The show has received wonderful praise and reviews so far and we see clear ways of improving the production in order to engage with audiences and spread awareness of this important story during its five performances at CPT.
We will be looking to harness the technical capabilities of our new space at Camden People's Theatre to fully immerse the audience in a story using exciting lighting and sound design and application. Likewise, we are working with a professional set designer to visually take the audience on Bertie's journey.
The story 'A Thousand Sons' tells is not just a historical play but also a call for justice and recognition for not only the people present at the nuclear testing but also for their families, who have faced myriad physical ailments as a result of the radiation exposure their fathers and grandfathers were subject to. The main thing that audiences have said to us after seeing A Thousand Sons is that this play needs to be seen and that it is such an important and compelling story. We are incredibly grateful to have received this praise and we wholeheartedly agree that this is a subject that deserves to be talked about.
This play gives a voice to the community of nuclear veterans and descendants of the nuclear tests, who have been silenced for so many years and invites audiences to experience a story that deserves to be heard.
The fun part...
We strongly believe that artists should be paid for the work they do. To ensure this, we are looking to raise funding for the 3 new roles we are bringing on.
We are looking to raise £2,200 for 1-2 weeks of work for our creatives, split accordingly:
£660 for our director, £660 for our set designer and £880 for lighting and sound designer.
Pay for our writer/actor and producer will come through ticket sales, but we want the security of knowing we can afford to pay our external creatives regardless of sales. Any extra budgeting costs, including props, costume and set will be funded for independently, it will not cut into the wages we are trying to raise here.
We're excited to say that we have reward schemes in place for those who wish to give more as way of a massive thank you!
Any donation, whatever the amount, makes so much difference and we appreciate all the support we receive for developing this play.
2022 marks 70 years since Britain's first nuclear weapon test. Throughout these 70 years, the community of nuclear veterans and their descendants have faced incredible hardships and have received no formal recognition. We have worked with two charities, the BNTVA and LABRATS International, who support and campaign on behalf of this community. A Thousand Sons shines not only a light on the negative actions of those in positions of power, but also draws attention to those who are helping and points audiences in the direction of further education and a way to help.