The Muddy Choir

by Jesse Briton

2014 - 2015
Age advice: 13+

Relevant links & downloads:

Resources | Programme

"In this profoundly moving and beautifully constructed one act play, Jesse Briton has brought the war to life [...] thought-provoking, blackly funny and deeply moving – in fact exactly how a play about the First World War ought to be written."

The Public Reviews

"Tense and terrifying"

Children's Theatre

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.


User comments (52)

  • When you go around to schools do you always use the natural lighting? And which do you find more effective for the performance, Artificial or Natural?

    Comment left by: Maddie - 26.02.2015 15:34

  • Hi Eve - The play was commissioned to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War. No doubt Jesse could have written brilliant plays about any other war (and do read his play Enduring Song to see what he does with the Crusades), but WW1 was the era that Theatre Centre wanted to bring alive for audiences.

    Good question!


    Comment left by: Tom at Theatre Centre - 10.02.2015 11:56

  • THE PLEDGE: "Nee killing. Anly singing. And we all gan home together."

    Comment left by: Tom at Theatre Centre - 10.02.2015 11:52

  • Why was the play based on the WW1 rather then any other wars??

    Comment left by: Eve Jackson - 10.02.2015 11:52

  • what is the pledge that they all say together? and what does it suggest?

    Comment left by: Wilson - 10.02.2015 11:48

  • Hi Harry -

    No, it's an original story written by Jesse. You can hear him talk about the writing process and how he came up with the ideas here:

    Or listen to him talk about the research he did and the relationship between fact and fiction here:

    Comment left by: Tom at Theatre Centre - 04.02.2015 10:35

  • Was The Muddy Choir based on a true story??

    Comment left by: Harry Cloughley - 04.02.2015 10:28

  • OMG! Watched the show today and it was flipping brilliant! The actors were brilliant! The scenery was brilliant! Everything was brilliant! It was so good. I also loved doing the workshop afterwards as it increased my confidence and has completed my decision on becoming an actress!!! Thanks again to everyone involved. It was so great! I can't stop talking about it! (Notice how many exclamation marks I put in this comment. Ha ha!)

    Comment left by: Jessica Carter - 19.01.2015 21:03

  • Thank you for all of your great comments. We love hearing from you.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 27.11.2014 11:01

  • Thank you so much for coming to school, the play was amazing and I really enjoyed it! :)

    Comment left by: Eve - 26.11.2014 15:58

  • Thank You! The Muddy Choir was AMAZING and I would genuinely watch it again maybe with my mother this time! I think she would like it too! It was quite emotional when Will and Robbie were singing when Jumbo had died. I was going to cry - I just didn't want to in school. Anyway THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

    Comment left by: Molly - 21.11.2014 19:41


    Comment left by: abi the robot - 13.11.2014 13:13

  • Thanks for all of the awesome comments guys. Great to hear from you all.
    In terms of getting in to acting, all of the actors that we employ have trained at drama schools in London and working at Theatre Centre is often their first job after graduating. An A Level in Theatre Studies gives you a good grounding in theatre practitioners and techniques, so I would definitely recommend that. Feel free to email me if you need any more info -

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 27.10.2014 16:17

  • Hello,
    Thank you so much for coming to my school on the 24th October, really enjoyed it and couldn't take my eyes off it. Found it really emotional and enthralling in particular moments, but I think that enhanced the show even further and gave me inspiration for my Drama GCSE.
    Thanks also for signing my Drama book, will be really great to look at and remember the show. Also, it was really something special to have looked forward to for the end of a very long half term, and also for a week before my birthday.
    There a question that I wanted to ask but didn't get a chance to- I'm doing GCSE drama and in the future I would like to become an actor; have you possibly got any tips or advice on how to get into acting, what A-levels to do or how to audition for Drama school- that kind of thing.

    Thanks again
    All the Best
    Eleanor x

    Comment left by: Eleanor - 25.10.2014 17:24

  • Hey just watched the show today and loved it, it was great! I was just wondering how everyone gets involved in a career with theatre

    Comment left by: Lewis - 16.10.2014 23:32

  • It was absolutely amazing to watch the 3 brilliant actors yesterday (15/10/2014) at my school. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
    The play was done really well and the chemistry between the 3 actors made the whole show even more excellent! Thank you for dong this and I hope you 3 are alright after doing 2 performances in a row!
    Also, thank you for answering my question of 'how did you get into acting?'. I wanted to get some inspiration because my aspiration is to be a musical theatre actress on stage so I'm really grateful and glad that you answered my question.
    I hope you liked the school dinners! Thank you for coming to my school and I wish you all the very best of look in the remainder of the tour of "The Muddy Choir!"

    Comment left by: Mary - 16.10.2014 19:27

  • Thank you for all of your comments. We love to hear from our audience, so thank you for letting us know what you thought of the show.

    In answer to some of the questions...the acting style is naturalistic and that is the whole show. If you'd like to see it again check our tour dates.

    Thanks again.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 16.10.2014 12:50

  • Hello, thank you for performing at my school today, it was really good and emotional at some points.

    It was a great follow up to my trip last week with school, to France to see the trenches that were mentioned in the play and to see other things from WW1, most of that trip was very emotional. I would love to see the play again. Just wondering: is that the full production or is there more? If there is more I'd love to see it.

    Thank you.

    Comment left by: Katie Jedrzejczak - 15.10.2014 23:19

  • Just seen it today, Really good and funny!

    Comment left by: Joe - 15.10.2014 20:29

  • Could you also tell me what acting style the play was performed in? To me it felt very naturalistic, which is associated with Stanislavski but i'm not entirely sure?

    Comment left by: Rhea Popat - 15.10.2014 16:47

  • Thank you so much for performing your play at my college on Monday (QE). I found your play so powerful! It had great humour in it but also really dark moments. The acting was so believable, that at times i thought i was in the middle of WW1. I'd just like to ask how long you had to rehearse before you starting touring the play?

    Comment left by: Rhea - 15.10.2014 16:33

  • I really did like this show a lot but if I had to give one piece of criticism, it would be that the tone needs to stay consistent. It started out as a nice and jokey comedy piece but very quickly shifted into a dark and rather morbid play. I have no problem with either one and maybe there is a way to make them work together or next to each other but I just don't feel that it worked here.

    Comment left by: Hamish Ellis - 14.10.2014 19:18

  • Thank you Sophie and Rose for your kind comments. We're thrilled that you enjoyed the show.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 09.10.2014 17:32

  • This was amazing! It was so powerful, it bought me to tears. The actors were phenomenal, and I was completely invested in the characters 100%. It showed courage, determination, and loyalty. Really, an absolutely beautiful play.

    Comment left by: Millie Lovekin - 09.10.2014 17:10

  • The company came in to our school last week and the feedback from the students has been fantastic. They loved the characters and engaged in discussion afterwards about how the play ended and what happened next. Would definitely recommend this company and play especially all boys schools
    Sophie Rose Head of Drama

    Comment left by: Sophie rose - 30.09.2014 21:18

  • Thanks for your comments Dominic and Jack. Much appreciated.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 26.09.2014 14:59

  • Really good show and really shows what WW1 was like.

    Comment left by: Dominic - 25.09.2014 17:05

  • I really enjoyed this play, the quality of the acting was amazing and I believed it the whole way through, some scenes genuinely brought a tear to my eye and I would love to watch it again and again

    Comment left by: Jack Hounsell - 25.09.2014 16:25

  • So glad you enjoyed the show Katie. Thank you for your kind comment.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 25.09.2014 10:17

  • It was truly an honour to watch those 3 actors perform on stage, you were at our school on Thursday, and I was simply blown away at the twists and turns in the story so much so that i believed it was based on a true one. I really enjoyed it,
    Thank you :)

    Comment left by: Katie - 24.09.2014 19:03

  • Thanks for your comments Danielle and Izzie. We're glad you enjoyed the show.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 22.09.2014 10:23

  • You came to my school on Friday and my friends and I loved it. The script was put together exceedingly well and the music was beautifully composed. The actors gave an outstanding performance as well as making us laugh, cry and made you feel like they were your friends too.

    Comment left by: Danielle - 22.09.2014 08:00

  • This show is amazing! The acting is inspirational and really enjoyed watching this at school.

    Comment left by: Izzie - 20.09.2014 14:35

  • Hi Marcus - Thank you for your message. I'll send you an email.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 29.05.2014 09:25

  • We are hosting a ww1 centenary event on 27th July at Saxton Gardens Community. This is an outdoor event. I would be interested in details of your availability and costs.


    Comment left by: Marcus Hall - 28.05.2014 17:10

  • Hi Nicola - That's great you're interested in booking the show and a workshop. I'll email you some details.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 01.04.2014 10:32

  • Hello,

    I am interested in booking a theatre show and workshop during November for Y8 pupils. Probably all Y8 pupils to watch the show (max. no. 145) and a group of 30 G&T drama students for the workshop. Could you give me some idea about availability/cost.


    Comment left by: Nicola Bell - 31.03.2014 12:22

  • Hi Di - I will email you the details.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 17.03.2014 10:08

  • Hello

    I am interested in commissioning a performance as part of a community heritage project in Bacup Lancashire - between September and December 2014. Can you please let me have details of costs and dates you could do.

    Many thanks


    Comment left by: Di van Ruitenbeek - 16.03.2014 08:46

  • Hi Lyn - this is definitely possible! I'll send you the details in an email.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 10.03.2014 15:05

  • Hi, I run a lunch club for the elderly and wonder if you would be willing to come to us
    one afternoon, even though we are not a school!! Can you send me an information pack if you think this may be possible? Thanks. Lyn

    Comment left by: Lyn Walker - 10.03.2014 14:36

  • Hi Sara - That's great you're interested in the show. I'll email you the details.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 07.03.2014 11:44

  • Please could you send me some more details and information regarding cost and available dates.

    Thanks Sara

    Comment left by: Sara Sunderland - 07.03.2014 11:09

  • Hi Paula. That's great you're interested in the show. I'll email you the details.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 03.03.2014 10:12

  • I would be grateful if you could contact me regarding availability and costs

    Comment left by: Paula Wall - 28.02.2014 21:51

  • Hi Kay. Thanks for your message. I'll send you an email with the details.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 31.01.2014 14:43

  • Hello I am the manager of the Schools Library Service in Hull and we pay for authors and theatre companies to visit the schools that buy into our service. to deliver talks, plays etc. I am very interested in your WW1 play visiting some of the schools in our area. Can you please advise on costs?

    Thank you so much

    Comment left by: Kay Walton - 31.01.2014 14:31

  • Thank you for your enquiries about the show. I'll email you some more information.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 03.01.2014 11:43

  • Hi there, Our local school is celebrating 175 year anniversary next year ie 2014. We have gone back every 25 years to find a memorable event that happened and obviously breakout in 1914. Can you advise us what we need to send you, costs, etc? We are located in NE Scotland. Thanks Alisanne

    Comment left by: alisanne ennis - 30.12.2013 19:32

  • Can you please forward me any information on the Muddy Choir play visits to schools including availability and costs. We are High School in West Kirby, Wirral.

    Comment left by: Sandra Phelan - 28.12.2013 20:59

  • Many thanks for your enquiry Ian. I've sent you an email and look forward to hearing from you.

    Comment left by: Sarah @ Theatre Centre - 06.12.2013 10:10

  • Dear Sir/Madam
    I would be grateful if you could let me have more information on 'The Muddy Choir'.
    St Catherine's School will be running a year's project on the commemorative recognition on the outbreak of WW1.
    I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
    Kind regards
    Ian Young
    Head of Contemporary Music, St Catherine's School.

    Comment left by: Ian Young - 05.12.2013 19:33

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