Save the last UK horse-drawn theatre company!

by Zoe Hinks in Romney Marsh

We did it
On 25th July 2017 we successfully raised £4,114 with 165 supporters in 35 days

Save the only operating UK horse-drawn theatre company so they can continue to bring plays to isolated rural communities

by Zoe Hinks in Romney Marsh

We need your help or this could be the end of horse-drawn theatre in this country!

Sabotage Theatre is a Community Interest Company, with a focus on rural and isolated communities. We bring original shows where there aren’t theatres, and use imaginative ways to overcome practical and artistic obstacles. When touring the company is horse-drawn and lives outdoors. We are the only UK theatre company that still works in this way.

This summer we are touring The Looker. It is a play that uses puppetry, masks and live music to tell the story of Vida, an ordinary woman who leaves her call centre job and goes on a quest to find freedom.

After 5 years of support from the Arts Council we have had our funding cut. The project has attracted funding from The Lady Neville Charity, Kent Community Foundation, the Roger de Haan Charitable trust and Krazy Kat Theatre, but without Arts Council funding we are faced with the prospect of having to return all the money raised so far, all of our work will be wasted, and a beautiful and important show will go unseen.

The way we operate, utilizing found and reclaimed materials, living in tents and walking between venues, means our productions run at a fraction of the cost of most theatre tours, and yet cuts to the Arts means there just doesn't seem to be enough to go around anymore.

But with your help we may just get back on the road again!

The Saboteurs

Zoe Hinks

Zoe Hinks graduated from East 15 Acting School with a BA in Contemporary  Theatre and founded Sabotage Theatre Company in 2008 as a response to what she felt was an increasingly rigid system which bound artists to box ticking and wastefulness. Since then she has written scripts, performed, directed, painted sets and wagons, produced, built stages, sewn costumes, made puppets and masks and  rifled through skips.  She wrote the Sabotage Manifesto in 2009 which has become the basis of the company's practice and is passionate about the necessity of live performance in everyone’s life. She believes this should be a current and ever-evolving tool to help us understand our relationships, lives and the lives of others.

Carl Boardman

Carl Boardman trained in Theatre at Dartington College of Arts. He has since developed his practice in theatre in the South and Southwest as an actor, director and lighting designer. His work has often incorporated music, song and dance. He first became a Saboteur as director on the original showcase of 'Ravens' (Brighton Festival 2009). Since then he has worked as an actor, sound/ music editor, puppeteer, mask-maker, children's educational advisor and cyclist in various Sabotage productions.

The Players

Sarah Ratheraham:

Sarah trained at East-15 Acting School. Theatre work includes Macbeth & Styx (RIFT); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Little English Theatre); The Giant Jam Sandwich (New Perspectives); A Midsummer Night’s Dream in New Orleans (Ruby in the Dust); The Book’s the Thing & A Christmas Carol (Librarian Theatre); The Bitches Ball & The Missionary’s Position (Penny Dreadful Theatre); Animal Farm (Tour de Force) & shows for  CoLab Theatre, Forthright Theatre & A Door in a Wall. Sarah was a long-time member of Ophaboom Theatre’s mask ensemble, touring with them from Kendal to Korea via the Venice Carnival. She also voices Sigrid Hakkinen, the Minister for Recovery, in cult running app Zombies, Run!

Caroline Bowman:

Caroline is both a performer and a builder of puppets, which she does in a workshop by the sea. She has done other fun things, like be a horse’s bottom in War Horse in the West End, worked in the Puppet Hospital of Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox, controlled the head of Captain Hood in the London Olympic Opening Ceremony, chased opera singers around with a giant bird on an island in a lake in Austria, played stilt-football in China, and she is the designer and head puppet-maker for big puppet company Puppets With GUTS.

Alicia Britt:

Alicia is a writer, puppeteer, performer and puppet maker. She is Artistic Director of Wondering Hands Theatre where she is also a writer, designer and performer. She graduated from the Curious School of Puppetry in 2017 and has a degree in Technical Arts and Special Effects from Wimbledon College of Art. After graduation she found herself in every job backstage from lighting, scenic art and wardrobe before landing a job as Iris Theatre’s Puppet designer and maker for the 2016 production of ‘Pinocchio’. The show received outstanding reviews for puppetry and allowed Alicia to form her first connections with mentor, Susan Dacre and the Little Angel Theatre where she continues to work and volunteer. She recently lead a puppet making workshop at the Little Angel in collaboration with North London Cares who aim to reduce isolation and loneliness amongst older people. 

Aleistair Canwell

Aleister Canwell is a performer, writer and all round creative who's first word was 'why?' His play 'Trippin' has been selected for the Encore International Fringe festival at the Soho Playhouse in New York this September.

And not to forget!

Production assistant Lily Findlay who's a dab hand at anything you throw at her and our horse handlers Lisa Dear and Steve Jones, who have over 20 years experience travelling with horses

and the multitudes of people who host us and contribute to the productions and make our company possible.

Sabotage Theatre sets out to challenge attitudes to elitist theatre and break free of conventional establishments, working with small communities at a grass roots level.

The Sabotage Manifesto:

  1. We sing the love of danger, freedom and exploration.
  2. We reject the limitations of others and seek to undermine conventional structures.
  3. We are fearless and tireless. We uphold the value of imagination and creativity above all else.
  4. We sing the love of Theatre. We strive to create plays that surprise, entertain and emotionally engage.
  5. We believe we have a responsibility to challenge and ask questions.
  6. We believe that theatre should be affordable for all.
  7. Sabotage is not a business. We do not have a business structure and place the value of artistic growth above the accumulation of assets.
  8. We uphold the strictest discipline in our research, rehearsals and training.
  9. We have a responsibility to utilise the wealth around us. One man’s skip is another’s scenery.
  10. Sabotage celebrates the audience; volatile, intelligent and critical.
  11. Sabotage celebrates the moment; imperfect, vulnerable and priceless.

Our sets and costumes are made out of recycled materials. Our sources range from clothes found in skips, costumes from previous productions, donations of old bedding  and many more besides.


The fees are for our 4 actors, 2 horse handlers and production assistant for 9 weeks work. Carl and Zoe are volunteering their time for free and the rest of the budget is for the essentials on the tour. You will notice there is no budget for design as we have made everything out of things we found. We have also utilized vast amounts of support-in-kind, from loaned trailers to free camping. Our best publicity is word of mouth and the way we travel. When we clip clop into town everybody knows it!

The pie chart below shows the how we are spending the remaining £11516 after the 5%  crowdfunding fee has been taken off (£575.80)

After this tour we want to continue to bring new plays to the countryside by horse, and go further west and north. Of course it takes us a while as we walk between venues!

There is significant financial pressure on arts organisations up and down the country. Cuts in public investment are biting. Local authorities are taking unwelcome decisions. Trusts and foundations face pressures on their own endowment returns. Corporate sponsorship for the arts is falling, especially outside London.

We have always kept our ticket prices as low as possible (£10 full, £5 low income concession).

Dr Matt Green, historian and television presenter says:

"Sabotage perform lively plays resurrecting a rich oral culture that once flourished in this country. It's an inspiring way of bringing some of the south-east's deserted medieval villages back to life at a time when many of our own rural and coastal communities are threatened by climate change and the destruction of traditional village life.”

“Sabotage Theatre is bringing a piece of history back to life - we’re all for it!”- Kent Archeological Society

Audience Feedback from previous shows

'Totally enthralling'

'Thoroughly enjoyed it - uniquely different'

'There should be more things like this on the marsh'

'Hysterically funny'

'Mesmerising storytelling'

'Player' photographs donated by @Kitty Wheeler Shaw Photography, other photography by Zinta Gerzans, Rory Hinks, Simon Baines


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£5 or more

£5 Reward

a personalised thank you email with photos from the show

£10 or more

£10 Reward

a personalised thank you email and thank you on facebook A free drink, snack and badge redeemable at any production of The Looker

£20 or more

£20 Reward

a limited edition 4 set of hand made The Looker Sabotage badges with gold and copper leaf, and a drink and snack redeemable at any production of The Looker

£50 or more

£50 Reward

a signed polaroid photograph of the company and horses, a hand made thank you card, and a thank you on our website

£100 or more

£100 Reward

A special limited edition 4 set of handmade The Looker badges with gold and copper leaf A signed polaroid photograph of the company and horses A handmade thank you card 2 tickets to any performance A signed poster special acknowlegement on our website and social media

£350 or more

£350 Reward

A sabotage workshop for up to 15 people, looking at how to create innovative original theatre using masks and playfulness. The workshop can be held in Brighton, or Romney marsh, or we can come to you! However, for pledgers far away we would ask you to contribute towards the price of our travel.

£500 or more

£500 Reward

A special limited edition 4 set of handmade The Looker badges with gold and copper leaf A signed, framed, photograph of the company and horses A handmade thank you card a souvenier from the show special acknowlegement on our website and social media an original drawing of the wagons and horses by a member of the company Complimentary tickets to any performance of The Looker, or any future Sabotage productions for you and a plus one

£600 or more

0 of 2 claimed

£600 Reward

a rustic glamping weekend for 2 in the original Horse Drawn Cinema wagon used by the company in 2011! Includes delicious organic breakfast, and relaxing stay on the edge of Romney Marsh at the company's base in Ruckinge followed by an exclusive tour of our workshop and opportunity to see the company's collections of puppets, masks and costumes.

£1,000 or more

£1,000 Reward

Special acknowledgement on our website and programme A hand made thank you card signed by the company A handmade mask or puppet of your choice from The Looker to take home A collection of original drawings which shaped the design of the play A framed poster, signed by all the company and cast

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