Bude Youth Theatre dredges up 200 years of drama from the ‘Hidden Depths’ of The Bude Canal

Back in September, twenty-five young actors, aged 9-16 yrs, from Bude Youth Theatre were invited by the Bude Canal & Harbour Society to help the town celebrate the 200th anniversary of The Bude Canal this year, by creating an original piece of music theatre to bring the stories of the canal up to the surface.

They accepted the challenge and after weeks of researching, exploring and devising, plus a meeting with local historian Phillipa Fitzpatrick, the resulting new play with songs, (the group’s 23rd production since 1999) is about to be performed. ‘Hidden Depths: 200 years of The Bude Canal’ will be performed from Wed 27 – Sat 30 March at 7.30pm at Budehaven Community School.  The matinee performance on Fri 29 March is already sold out to five local primary schools.

When the Smale family head to Bude for a day trip on 23 July 2019 – the 200th anniversary of the building of The Bude Canal – Meredith Smale, aged 12, would rather have stayed at home, but it turns out to be a day she will never forget, a day of discoveries that bring her close to history and face to face with her own future as she uncovers hidden depths …

With original songs and a fast physical approach to story-telling, Bude Youth Theatre’s delves into the depths of The Bude Canal to dredge up a wealth of real stories, characters and events that shaped the growth of Bude. From inclined planes and accidents to invasive species and canal capers, the play merges past and present in this fun and informative voyage through the depths of Bude’s own waterway which will be suitable for all the family.


This new play has been written by Richard Wolfenden-Brown with original songs and musical direction by Thomas Marples and choreography by Clare Collingham. Tickets for all performances (£6 adults/£4 children) can be obtained in advance from the Ark Angel Christian Bookshop, Spencer Thorn Bookshop, The Seventh Wave Gallery in Bude, via wegottickets (search ‘Bude Youth Theatre’), or on the door. Proceeds from the raffle and refreshments will be donated to the Bude Canal & Harbour Society. The production has been supported by Feast, Cornwall Council and Arts Council England. It was inspired by the Bude Canal & Harbour Society.


Bude Youth Theatre (BYT) was established in 1999 to provide opportunities for young people aged 9-17yrs to experience working as a team to create and perform high-quality theatre for local audiences. They have performed 23 productions over the past 20 years in Bude and involved well over 300 young people in a wide range of arts workshops, drama, dance, singing, devising and performing. They have also taken groups on trips to see performances elsewhere. In addition to arts skills, BYT members also gain valuable social and life skills through the creative process of being part of the Youth Theatre and many ex-members have gone on to study the arts at college or university and some are now working in the profession.

The 2016 production of ‘The Last Train To Bude…?’ led directly to the creation of ‘Connect Bude’ which now has over 200 members and is actively campaigning to reconnect Bude and Holsworthy to the National Railway Network. For details visit the site here.

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