A story of love, loss and taxidermy on a Broadland estuary. Told by a mix of professional actors and a community choir.
'Breydon Crowther' is a work of fiction inspired by the landscape of Breydon Water and the writings of naturalist Arthur Patterson (1857-1935). A 'script in hand' performance of this richly layered original musical play headlines the opening of the 2016 Great Yarmouth Festival, and features a professional cast and community choir.
Breydon Water lies at the heart of a dynamic unstable landscape - a tidal inland estuary with extensive mudflats and an extraordinary wealth of bird life. Threatened by rising sea levels the place is immbued with a sense of impermanence. It is surrounded by extensive marshlands where the horizon disappears into mists and shifting brackish water - a place of memory and forgetting.
All the principal watercourses of Broadland drain into Breydon. At Yarmouth the Bure (which has already collected the waters of the Ant and the Thurne) flows onto Breydon under Vauxhall Bridge. At the southern end The Yare (The Norwich River) and the Waveney (The Beccles River) meet below the Roman Fort at Burgh Castle. From here you can look out across Breydon towards the Berney Arms and the Berney High Mill. The marsh landscape stretches away towards Cantley and Norwich and the mysterious empty skies over Haddiscoe Island
Arthur Patterson was born in the Yarmouth rows. He grew up fascinated by the wildlife of the area. In a number of fine books now mostly out of print he documented the lives of the wildfowlers who scratched a living from the estuary at the turn of the 19th Century.
Patterson wrote a regular column for the Eastern Daily Press under the pseudonym John Knowlittle.
Among these characters was his good friend Ben Dye - a wildfolwer and taxidermist who later lost his sight. It was Ben Dye who could famously identify rare birds simply by touch - a trick appropriated by the character of Crowther in our story.