The Promise is a very special story about transformation, about finding hope against all odds, and which speaks to the power each of us holds to make change. In the face of the enormity of the climate crisis, and the overwhelming desire to bury our heads in the sand and pretend we can do nothing anyway, the story asks us one vital question – what promise will we make and in so doing, what change can we make.
In October 2020, we first began to explore the idea of creating an Operatic adaptation of The Promise, based on the original book by Nicola Davies, with illustrations by Laura Carlin. Since then we have worked with over 500 children in schools in Cumbria, Leeds and London to imagine what our Opera might look and sound like, to introduce the themes of the piece and to get children singing and planting trees.
Now, almost three years on, we are thrilled to welcome you to the world premier tour of our new opera for families The Promise.
Handpicked Productions is a Community Interest Company based in West Cumbria. We believe in the power of the arts and cultural heritage to change lives. We work collaboratively with communities and artists to create unique, playful encounters that connect people and place, leading to unforgettable experiences and positive social impacts.
We develop opportunities for communities of all ages to engage in cultural activity relevant to and reflective of their lives and experiences, enabling them to voice their opinions and raise awareness of the issues affecting them and provide the opportunities to affect change within their community.
The Promise Team
Composer: Daniel Saleeb
Librettist: Nicola Davies
Director: Lucy Bradley
Designer: Sascha Gilmour
Producers: Anne Timpson (for Handpicked Productions)
Tamzin Aitken (for Tamzin Aitken Arts)
Graphic Design and Marketing: Debbie Graham
The Woman: Bethan Langford
The Girl: Eleanor Penfold
Terry Too: Amy Helena
Terry And: Chloë Sommer
Musical Directors/Pianists: Amy Hsu (Performances)
Tim Murray (Rehearsals)
Violinists: Sophia Kannathasan
Accordionists: Zivorad Nikolic
Iñigo Mikeleiz Berrade**
BSL show Interpreters: Paul Whittaker OBE*
Megan McArthur ^^
BSL interpreters rehearsal & tour: Katie O’Connor
Irmina St Catherine
* Performances 29th, 30th July
** Performances 15th, 16th, 29th, 30th July
^ Performances 11th July, 18th July, 30th July
^ Performance 16th July
Production Manager: Vivienne Clavering
Assistant Director: Ashen Gupta
Sound Engineer: Rory Howson (Rehearsals)
Craig Standon (Performances)
Technical Stage Manager: Steff Andrews
Dramaturg: Zoë Palmer
Access Advisor: Kate Lovell
BSL advisor: Emily Howlett
Costume Supervisor: Marina Diamantidi
Costume Assistants: Arianna Danielle, Fay Rusted, Rachel Tansey
Puppet Maker: Ellie Ferguson
Scenic Artist: Maya Kazmarski
Carpenter: Sam Stacey
Metal Work: Steve Brown
Photography: Patrick Young
Archive and promotional film: No Class
Thank you to Walker books who generously gave us license to adapt The Promise storybook into an opera. Thanks also to Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin without whose beautiful book this would not have been possible. Thank you for your generosity and openness to us bringing your work to the Operatic stage.
The Promise opera would not have been possible without the support of: Arts Council England, Mila Charitable Organisation, Cumbria Action for Sustainability and the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership, Three Monkies Trust, Edith M Ellis Charitable Trust, Hadfield Trust, Cumberland Council, Cumbria Music Education Hub,Tower Hamlets Arts & Music Education Service and the exceptional generosity of Victoria Robey OBE, Dominic Wallis and Oliver Bradley.
With many thanks to Andrew Quartermain and all the team at Pro Corda, Poplar Union, Slung Low, Milton Keynes International Festival, Rosehill Theatre, Florence Arts Centre, The National Theatre, The Royal Opera House, Ally Rosser, Sherry Neyhus. Special thanks go to Nicola Rossiter and Caleb Derrick in the Music department at the National Theatre,
In Cumbria, warm thanks go to Beckstone Primary School, St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School, Our Lady and St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School and Ewanrigg Junior School. As well as to Harrington Nature reserve and Friends of Egremont Castle, In Leeds thanks for the participation of Ingram Road Primary and Jamyang Buddhist Centre. In London, many thanks to Arnhem Wharf Primary School, Seven Mills Primary School, Canary Wharf College (Glenworth site), Mowlem Primary School, Hague Primary School and Culloden Primary School, Alison Porter and THAMES
Many thanks to Tim Oliver, The Mersey Forest and the Community Forest Network and to Trees for Cities for their enthusiasm for our project, and for supporting the development and tour of The Promise.
The Promise operatic Adaptation was first supported by Without Walls Blueprint development fund and by Wild Rumpus.
Many thanks to the artists involved along the journey of creating this piece - Ruth Paton, Rachel Fletcher-Hudson Bernadine Pritchett, Jenny Wilkinson, Mimi Doulton and Amy Payne. And final thanks to Scott and Ted Smith, Ben Rawlinson, Rom, Neve and Stuart for their continued support and patience.
Green is the answer
We are committed to The Theatre green book throughout the creation and tour of The Promise, to ensure that our production steps as lightly on the earth as possible and we encourage our audiences to look at their own ways of working and being to see where they can make changes to consume less carbon.
We ask you all to think about the power of a promise, and to make a promise to change. Get involved in your local community climate action, get planting, take action like there is no tomorrow. We will be hosting a series of planting days in Autumn 2023 with local planting partners and we will share details with you in the coming months - we hope you will be able to join us as we plant new saplings and nurture existing forests in your local area.