Fire from Heaven
Playwright: Rupert Creed
Performance venue: The Thomas Hardye School
First performance: 15 March 2002
Play Office: Dorchester Brewery, Weymouth Avenue, Dorchester DT1 1QT
Director: Nina Hajiyianni
Assistant director: Rachel Hargreaves
Designer: Ariane Gastambide
Costumes: Olivia Spiteri
Music director: Andrew Dickson
Lighting director: Tony Marder
Stage manager: Geoff Gilder
Play Officer: Marianne Marshall
The play is set in Dorchester in the first decades of the 17th century. It contains both those classed as puritans and those classified (by their opponents) as the ungodly. The newly arrived John White vicar of Holy Trinity and St Peter’s church is appalled at the dissolute society into which he has entered and sets about the task of reform. He is assisted in this by the great fire which gives the play its name as it seen by many as punishment for the sinful conduct of so many of Dorchester’s men and women. The “godly” movement grows but as it does so atmosphere in the town darkens with neighbours spying on each other and severe punishments being meted out on those deemed to have transgressed.
The play moves forward by following the intertwined histories of a number of Dorchester families. White is making progress but the cost in terms of Christian charity is considerable. Hypocrisy is never far from the surface. Meanwhile in the world beyond the town political events are heading towards the Civil War and while John White and some of his followers leave to pursue what they hope will be a better life in America Royalist troops enter the town with tragic consequences.