Story Lab

The Ballad of Maria Marten - The Broadside Challenge Collection

Together with Matthew Linley Creative Projects and in association with Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough we have been touring the UK with our production of The Ballad of Maria Marten.

In developing the original production (then called Polstead) we worked with an incredible group of women who have all survived domestic abuse. Their insight helped the creative team, and especially Beth Flintoff (our writer), understand Maria’s story, her journey. It was as a result of those sessions that Beth took the decision not to include the character of William Corder at all.

"I didn't need to give him a voice. I wanted to focus on who Maria was."

Beth Flintoff, writer of The Ballad of Maria Marten

Thanks to support from Arts Council England and Colchester BID, Beth returned to work with two new group of women, one in Colchester with Next Chapter and one in Ipswich with Lighthouse, as The Ballad of Maria Marten toured the UK.

The participants words reminded us that one of the reasons we know Maria’s story is through the folk song (The Suffolk Tragedy / The Murder of Maria Marten). That songs origins were as Broadside Ballad – sold on street corners by Ballad sellers who would often fit the words to a tune they already knew or made up on the spot.

So we set five contemporary singer songwriters a Broadside Challenge. We gave them the words you can read at mariamarten.com and asked them to set them to music, to create as it were new broadside ballad. We are delighted to share these ballads here for audiences to listen to long after The Ballad of Maria Marten has toured to its final stage:

Survivor uses one of the poems in Next Chapter booklet by Beth Nash.  Beth plays Theresa Matthews in The Ballad of Maria Marten http://www.bethannash.co.uk/

Lighthouse Women uses words from across the project and is set to music by Bristol based performer, composer and musician Victoria Bourne. https://www.victoriabourne.com/

He was a Kind and Good Natured Young Man uses a poem from the work of the original Lighthouse women, and is set to music by actor Susie Barrett, who actually says those lines in the play!

Stronger Than I Look includes words from a group poem by women working with Next Chapter and is performed by Jess Dives who plays Phoebe Stowe. 

Click play on the link below to listen to the beautiful, haunting and heartfelt tracks.