Its themes of social integration will strike a huge chord when Worthing’s Conn Artists Theatre Company hit the road with their stage production of George Eliot’s novel Silas Marner.
Company founder Ross Muir, who will be taking the role of Marner on the company’s tour, believes it’s a show with striking and significant relevance to the times we are living in today.
They play The Capitol, North Street, Horsham, RH12 1RG on Sunday, October 13 at 7.30pm.
The play tells the story of a poor weaver wrongfully condemned and outcast from society, who becomes a doomed miser and recluse until he is forced to take in a young orphan girl.
Their mutual friendship leads to joy, love and his redemption.
“We started as a company in 2013 and the funny thing is that Silas Marner is only our sixth production.
“It just goes to show how long it takes to put things together. When we first started, we just performed at the Connaught.
“Our last production The Four Men was our first regional tour. Silas Marner will be our second, and it will be for four weeks. With The Four Men we did about 11 or 12 performances. With Silas Marner it will be 25.
“It is a story that I found was on the set text list for two or three of the major examination boards, and I thought it would be a good idea to do a set text, but it is not actually on any of the major boards in this area, funnily enough.
“But when I read the story, I thought that it had profoundly important social themes that are relevant to today when we think of things like community and being an outcast and things like immigration.
“You start to read the story and you think of all sorts of connections. And then I stumbled on the fact that it was actually George Eliot’s bicentenary, and so I thought what a great year to do a George Eliot novel.”
Ross then discovered the perfect stage adaptation, by Geoffrey Beevers originally created for the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.
“You think about the social issues, like social cohesion and the fact that society today is in some aspect quite broken, and also it is about the simple things that get taken for granted, like simple acts of kindness between strangers and also acts of good neighbourliness…
“And it is about how important it is to be reminded of those.
“I think George Eliot really had quite a handle on that.
“And you think of Silas being falsely accused and wrongly condemned for a crime he didn’t commit and then coming from a different place, being exiled from up north and then coming down to this village where he doesn’t integrate and where he becomes a recluse and is living a fairly loveless and barren existence… and then events occur that change all that and that actually bring him to life.
“I think the important thing for us is to get that journey across.
“The story covers from the 1790s when it starts and then the middle part is in 1805 and then towards the end it jumps another 15 years… and we have to get that across, going from the sense of being falsely accused and becoming bitter and shrivelled up and being lost in life to opening up and finding love and happiness and joy again.
“Also, I think the other thing that is relevant is adoption. It is still a major issue today.”