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The Actual and Properly Truthful Account of the Emigration of Thomas Pender
Image: Tom William Francis
History is forgetful.
Imagine… it’s the 19th century. You are 126 days at sea in a sailing ship, crammed into communal cabins with 300 other passengers, hopeful for a better life in the colonies. What would you do to stay sane, and sober? Thomas Pender wrote a diary. VOYAGE adapts this diary to performance.
Like memory, a version of history is created newly in each retelling. However much the historian, or in our case the performance maker, attempts to stay close to the facts, she is always interpreting it with her own lens. We set out to tell the truth, and in doing so are forced to question: how truthful are the facts?
Director Tamara Searle leads an ensemble cast who, in addition to enacting the world of Pender’s diary, stage live the performer’s struggle with the instability of history. Events and characters are multiplied and overwritten with alternatives: ‘it didn’t happen like that, it was like this’. Censures, erasures, corrections and refinements are staged to ‘get it right’, to get the ‘actual and properly truthful’ version of history told.
Does it exist?