The Muddy Choir

by Jesse Briton

2014 - 2015

Age Advice: 13+

Nominee for Writers’ Guild of Great Britain – Best Play for Young Audiences 2015

It’s November 1917 and the Third Battle of Ypres is lurching towards its bloody conclusion. Young soldiers Will, Robbie and Jumbo are thrust into a landscape starkly different to the playing fields and estates of their Sunderland home. When the trio’s singing causes a disturbance up the line they face unwelcome attention from their commanding officers. Is music their ticket away from the front, as Robbie dreams, or will the passion it brings about prove more dangerous than bullets and gas?

The Muddy Choir is a story about boys growing up and the humanising power of music. Commissioned and produced by Theatre Centre, the play was written by Jesse Briton to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The play, which includes period songs, tells the story of three young boys serving with the Durham Light Infantry in 1917.

Read a collection of people’s responses to the play on our Storify here

Running time: approx. 1 hour
Suitability: Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 | Ages 13+ | Years 8 to 13
Potential subject links: Drama and Performing Arts, English, History, Music at GCSE and A-Level

Playwright: Jesse Briton

Jesse is the founder and Artistic Director of Bear Trap Theatre Company. His first play, Bound, won a Fringe First in 2010 and a nomination for the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright in 2011. He is developing two new plays for his company: A Pupil and Enduring Song. His work as an actor includes the world tour of Potted Potter and Humans for Schouwburg Theatre, Rotterdam and BAM, New York. He is a visiting director at East 15 Acting School.


Will: Lawrence Russell
Robbie: Ryan Penny
Jumbo: Andrew Burrell

Creative Team

Writer: Jesse Briton
Director: Natalie Wilson
Dramaturg: Douglas Maxwell
Designer: Emma Donovan
Lighting Designer: Charlie Lucas
Sound Designer: Elena Peña
Musical Director / Arranger: Zara Nunn
Composer: Max Mackintosh
Voice Coach: Jonathan Dawes
Production Manager: Mark Lovell

With thanks to Birdsong Productions Ltd.


Music was an integral part ofThe Muddy Choir. We’ve put some versions of the acapella songs from the show on Soundcloud – click here to listen. They’re sung by the cast and arranged by Zara Nunn.

The Muddy Choir script playtext

The script for the Muddy Choir is now available from our online Script Shop, or by clicking below…

Arts Award and Artsmark

Theatre Centre is an Arts Award Supporter organisation: our programme of work provides young people with opportunities to achieve objectives of the Explorer, Bronze, Silver or Gold Arts Award.

A Theatre Centre production is an opportunity for young people to review a piece of live performance. We can also offer Q&A sessions with actors after performances to allow young people the opportunity to find out about artists. Alongside our productions we also offer workshops (an additional fee applies).

If you work for a school that has achieved its Artsmark status, or is working towards this, we can help. Artsmark criteria state that at least one opportunity should be “provided for all students in every year group to work with or visit an arts organisation or artist… An opportunity could be a one-off workshop or visit”. Contact us for more information.

"Profoundly moving and beautifully constructed... Jesse Briton has brought the war to life by examining the complex interplay of personal and military motivations that govern the lives of his three protagonists."

The Reviews Hub, 2014

Join our Mailing List

If you would like to receive our regular newsletter, with information about Theatre Centre productions, tours, projects and opportunities, please fill in the form on the right.

We are committed to keeping your data safe and we will only ever email you information that you have agreed to receive and will never share your email with anyone else.