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Moving role for Rachel in late husband’s play

Rachel Ellis whose husband wrote A Pilgrim's Song play showing in Broadbridge Heath - photo by steve cobb

Rachel Ellis whose husband wrote A Pilgrim's Song play showing in Broadbridge Heath - photo by steve cobb

A Broadbridge Heath woman whose late husband wrote and directed thought-provoking plays has helped bring his last work to the stage and will perform in it next month.

Hugo Ellis was well known in the Horsham area for his work leading the Space Arts Trust producing plays and arts with the church.

But in January 2011, as the cast was rehearsing what would be his last work, The Pilgrim’s Song, he committed suicide aged 49 after a severe bout of depression.

For four nights at the end of November his widow Rachel, 46, of Billingshurst Road, will play the leading lady in this two-act play set against the backdrop of the Great War.

The play’s central character, Anglican vicar Percy Dearmer, sets about renewing the worship and mission of the Church of England and to assist him, he recruits the up and coming composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The result of this collaboration was some of the nation’s best loved hymns - some of which are forever embedded in Horsham district’s history through villages such as Monks Gate and Kingsfold.

Rachel, who plays Percy’s wife Mabel, said: “The whole cast wanted to do it as a tribute to Hugo. It’s honouring him and it’s a really good play.

“It’s been an emotional experience for me. You can’t get around grieving and I haven’t tried to avoid it.

“The character I play is married to a character like Hugo and that’s what drew me to it. A friend said he wrote that part for me. We wanted to do it in November because of the links with remembrance. It’s got so many layers of significance.”

The play runs at St John’s Church, Broadbridge Heath from November 21-24. Tickets are £10-£14. For more information visit www.spaceartstrust.com or call 01403 268582.

 

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