Banished: The world premiere of a new opera at Trinity Laban


Trinity Laban is proud to host a new opera written specifically for Trinity Laban students by composer Stephen McNeff and librettist Olivia Fuchs, with shows from Wed 29 Jun to Sat 2 Jul at Blackheath Halls.

Based on the true story of the first female prisoners transported to Australia in the late eighteenth century, Banished tells the story of how a group of people join to overcome their differences and survive adversity.

Banished has a particular local significance. Many of the young women being transported were Londoners, and departed from Deptford, right next to Trinity Laban.

The student performers are researching the history of these very real characters – most of whom originate from London – in the archives of the National Maritime Museum. Composer Stephen McNeff writes:

“I’m delighted to write a new opera for the students at Trinity Laban. The women in the opera are all based on real people and take their names, so the students identity particularly strongly with characters who were a very similar age. This is a work I have wanted to write for some time. Not only does it fill a void in the repertoire representing strong women facing adversity, but it has a coincidental local significance: many of the prison hulks that held the women before their voyage to Australia were moored in Deptford near the current location of Trinity Laban. Ultimately though, it’s a universal story; the survival of the human spirit against the odds."

Banished also aims to create new operatic repertoire for women. Stephen continued: “I have been involved in opera for a long time and it has always been a frustration for me that while there is an abundance of female talent – particularly in conservatories and colleges – there is a noticeable lack of challenging roles available for young women (indeed for all women). The roles most often undertaken are maids or innocent girls, compliant wives or tomboys. Where good roles exist, the women are all too often merely passive or victims. This is an attempt to redress the balance.”

Tickets and more information can be found on the Trinity Laban website.

Banished: An opera by Stephen McNeff, libretto by Olivia Fuchs. Based on the play Female Transport by Steve Gooch.

Photo credit: James Keates


Video by Zak Harney
Music by Ben Pearson