The Naughty Carriage on the Orphan Train
National Lottery Project Grant Supporting Documentation
FUND APPLIED FOR
The Naughty Carriage on the Orphan Train is a new musical which explores themes of home and belonging, inspired by theexperiences of looked after children (CLA) and those with non-traditional families.
This application supports co-writing, mentoring; building partnerships; an Exploratory Week (with Leeds Conservatoire); a Young People’s Public Sharing (with British Youth Music Theatre) and a digital portfolio. It aims to provide a model for strengthening quality of writing in musical theatre work for youth participants
08/05/2023 - 20/12/2023
ABOUT THE APPLICANT
Luke is an award-winning composer, musical director and theatre practitioner from Malta, now based in the UK.
After moving to the UK to train with the inclusive Chickenshed Theatre Company, Luke's work has always put community outreach at the centre of his work. His music has been celebrated with harder to reach communities, families with no direct access to the arts, people living with dementia, the LGBTQI+ community and immigrants. Luke's projects were recognised with a Hertsmere Civic Award in 2022.
He has artistically led on projects with The Old Vic, V&A Museum, Les Enfants Terribles, Museum of London and the British Library, Some Voices and Wyllyotts Theatre.
His musical HUSH premiered at the Manoel Theatre as part of the Valletta European City of Culture in March 2018. The production went on to win three Maltese National Arts Awards: Best Production, Best Work for Young Audiences and Best Young Artist Award. His latest work The Naughty Carriage on the Orphan Train was part of BEAM2022 at the Hackney Empire, the UK’s leading showcase of new British musical theatre. The piece is to be premier in the UK in April 2022.
Other writing and composition credits include My Way Home (Royal College of Music, Britten Theatre), Dreams of Freedom (Royal Albert Hall), HARVEY MILK (Zedels, London) , Heart to Heart (Musical Podcast) Polly & Ester (Żigużajg), Dear Future Me (Battersea Arts Centre), The Indispensable Hero (Chelsea Theatre), The Changing Room (UK National Theatre Connections Festival), Trumpets & Raspberries (Chickenshed), Tales from the Shed (Old Vic), V&A Pink Floyd Exhibition (V&A Museum), The Indispensable Hero (The Lyric Theatre), The Story of Stories (The Lyric Theatre), Ernest & The Pale Moon (Malta Society of Arts) and The Three Sunsets (Manoel Theatre).
The above pitch was delivered on the 10th of September 2021.
BEAM2021 was a live and digital all-day event, the UK’s biggest showcase of new musical theatre. BEAM featured presentations of 38 new musicals in development from throughout the UK.
The Naughty Carriage on the Orphan Train was featured as part of BEAM's line up, sparking interest from producers, theatre practitioners and drama schools. Thanks to BEAM, the production found it's co-writer Carl Miller as well as started conversations with BYMT and Leeds Conservatoire who we would like to work with as part of this project.
INSPIRATION AND BACKGROUND
The Orphan Train Movement ran between 1854 and 1929 in America. It relocating almost a quarter of a million young people. These orphans were bBranded as “being thrown friendless upon this world”. They these orphans were transported from crowded Eastern cities of the US to rural areas of in the Midwest.
The children were cleaned and fed, taken to Grand Central Station in New York and there began start a train journey. They travelled in extremely uncomfortable conditions. State by state, the train would stop and the children be were taken to a theatre or a community space. There, they performed were exhibited to families who were keen to adopt a child.
In an auction-like atmosphere adults came to check the children’s strength, their teeth, their hygiene and general manner. Those chosen children picked were then placed in a family who was were obliged to care for them till until they turned 21. Many testimonies later stand as evidence that children were given away with no paperwork. They were often put into a slave market. The whole programme required no legal adoption processes and a handful of people called agents monitored thousands of placements.
“Some ordered boys, others girls, some preferred light babies, others dark, and the orders were filled out properly and every new parent was delighted”, reported The Daily Independent of Grand Island, NE in May 1912.
MORE ABOUT THE SHOW's groundwork
Music by Luke Saydon
Lyrics by Luke Saydon and Carl Miller
Book by Carl Miller
When a rag-tag bunch of city children are dispatched on the notorious Orphan Train to be ‘chosen’ by rural families, their exploits set off a celebration of curiosity, non-conformity and mischief.
A great big nAugHtY adventure with a huge heart, based on real events, The nAugHtY Carriage on the Orphan Train is created by a team with huge experience in creating innovative theatre for all ages.
Champ leaps on the Orphan Train, hopeful of a new life. Her Peter Pan-like charisma and bravado make her unofficial leader to children squeezed into the train’s Naughty Carriage, for children who are too ‘different’ to be Chosen. As the false promise of the Orphan Train is exposed, Champ and the other Naughty Carriage children face even greater challenges.What is a family? How do nAugHtY children get the love and hope we all need to survive?
The nAugHtY Carriage on the Orphan Train is not only a musical for children in danger of becoming adults - but also for adults in danger of forgetting they were children. It can be performed by a large flexible ensemble cast, ideal for youth theatre, college and school production.
With a gloriously tuneful score by award-winning writer Luke Saydon (V&A Museum, BAC, Chickenshed, Maltese National Theatre), innovative visual and physical staging by director Emily Gray (Trestle, National Youth Theatre, TAG, Unicorn) and book by writer Carl Miller (National Theatre, Birmingham Rep, Belgrade Coventry, Stratford East), The nAugHtY Carriage on the Orphan Train was selected for the nationwide UK Musical Theatre showcase BEAM in 2020/2021. A cautionary tale of when the right thing to do is - be nAugHtY!