Our story begins with the tale of Verily Anderson. A young girl whose family made frequent visits to Herstmonceux Castle throughout the 1920’s, as her father was the Rector of a Herstmonceux’s All Saints’ Church. In her memoir, Castellans of Herstmonceux, Anderson detailed life in the castle during the Roaring 20’s through the vibrancy of castle owner, Colonel Claude Lowther, his family and friends, and the castle staff. In her later years, Verily Anderson began writing Making Moonshine! a social comedy which we believe to be inspired by the events which transpired at Herstmonceux Castle in the 1920s.
Dynamic Love Triangles? Ostentatious, old, Scottish dudes? Life-size statues of Venus weighing about a ton? Making Moonshinehas it all! The play is set in fictious “Swirling Castle” telling the tale of an aristocratic ex debutante, the Honorable Flavia, pining to sell her family’s statue of Venus to the eccentric, wealthy castle owner, Kyle of Lochlash. Consumed with being memorialized in his death, the Kyle becomes obsessed with the statue, and placing it in the nearby church. Flavia becomes connected the Kyle through his high society grandson Peter. Peter is the center of the love triangle with Flavia, and Linnet, the daughter of the church Rector and Mrs. Wendover. Linnet is described as charming and pretty, yet less modern than Flavia. We believe that Linnet is largely based on Verily Anderson herself. After the statue of Venus is found in the church, the Kyle believes that he is worthy of death since it will be memorialized. He ‘goes out to sea’, leaving his friends, family and staff in panic. Ultimately, they decide there is no better way to honour the Kyle than with a memorial he so desperately wanted.
A long and lengthy journey, Making Moonshine! came together through the consistent efforts of the dazzling team and wonderful leader, Dr. Claire Kennan. Beginning around October 2022, Making Moonshine! was simply a sit-down reading of old documents. With every cast member pushing their comfort zones, and taking on a myriad of accents, the play began to come together. Rehearsals became a routine Monday activity, with each session inciting more excitement than the last. Around January 2023, the play really began to take flight, and it came time to start thinking about recording. The recording session was done all in one sitting, in Seminar 6, with each member of the team bringing their A game. Each scene was recorded twice to ensure we were putting forth our best possible performance. In the recording session, all the actors let their talent shine through, and Verily’s vision was brought to life. Putting on a radio play requires each actor to really focus on expressing each word, as the audience doesn’t get to see the facial expressions. Each of the cast members on Making Moonshine! mastered this, and let the story unfold through their vocalizations, with some added sound effects. Overall, the process of Making Moonshine! was a learning experience that strengthened our group as a team, fostered friendships, and helped develop a wider range of theatrical skills.
Coming from someone who has no theatre experience, aside from painting a couple set pieces in Grade 9 to get those grueling 40 volunteer hours done, this experience taught me how binding the theatre world can be. Making Moonshine! involved students of all disciplines, ranging from the Arts to Health Sciences. It became a space to meet people I had no classes with
, and work together as a team to create something special. As a general science student, I learned that importance of integrating different disciplines, and further, participating in projects outside of your degree. To combine a group of students all with different ambitions and interests opens your mind to so many perspectives. Each member of the cast had so much to offer in terms of experience, ideas and fun, which made Making Moonshine! such a wonderful project to be a part of. All in all, working on Making Moonshine! is truly such a special experience; to learn about the lives of those who walked through the same corridors I do, and to share their stories through the dramatic arts in an experience like no other.
Grace is the Assistant Director and Producer of Making Moonshine, the 2022-23 Archives Engagement Assistant and a first year Science student at Bader College, Queen’s University Canada.
Meet some of the Team…
“I am studying arts. I love everything related to theatre or film. I am trying to get involved in as many things as possible in this area of study as I want to major in film and eventually work in this industry!” Danae Fortin
“Hello! My name is Christina Li and I’m currently a First-year student in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. I’ve always had a passion for drama and acting ever since I was young, having been in multiple school plays, and I’ve been told that I can be quite vocally expressive, so I was extremely excited to take part in the Making Moonshine radio play ever since I first saw the poster. So, I joined the production. Being challenged to use a British accent made the experience even more enjoyable and immersive since it made me feel like I was really in England, which I am! Otherwise, some other facts about me are that I have been competing in singing competitions (mostly in Chinese) since I was 13 and I’ve also won many awards, I love Kpop and dancing to Kpop songs, I love all types of sports, I hope to do some kind of acting in the future for fun (even just as a background character), and I really like eating my grandma’s steamed buns with a hardboiled egg. In the future, while I aspire to become a doctor or lawyer or nurse, depending on who takes me, I will always love the arts and the stage, and maybe you’ll see me on the field someday“. Christina Li
“I am currently studying Health Sciences. I joined the Making Moonshine project in order to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. In terms of fun facts, my favourite sport is badminton, and my favourite food is Korean fried chicken. My favourite city in Europe is Amsterdam because it has great public transportation, friendly people, and delicious food (stroopwafels are great)“. Bohun Zhu.
“As a Drama and Theatre Studies major, I am always looking for the opportunity to be involved in a performance piece; so, when I heard the idea of the radio play being proposed, obviously they wanted to help bring it to life! Because of my for the history of the castle, it was such an interesting process to learn about where the script came from, see the original writing and edits, and understand this source’s place in the historical timeline of the castle; it was also very exciting to be able to act in a different medium (audio rather than onstage) and it was very fun to be able to play with a Scottish accent“. Leyla Boyacigil
“Hello! My name is Madeleine Chiappetta and I am a first year Con-Ed Arts student. Like anyone else at Bader College, I enjoy travelling and learning the history of each city. I also play D&D, which is in part why the theatrics of a radio play piqued my interest. I joined Making Moonshine because I wanted to be a part of something connected to the Castle beyond just studying there. Making Moonshine was a way for me to express creativity through something historic and meaningful, particularly through the role of an old gnomish gentleman“. Madeleine Chiappetta
“My name is Jamie, and I am currently a first year in Health Sciences. I joined Making Moonshine in the hopes of trying something new this year! A fun fact about me is that I have a cocker spaniel named Clementine!” Jaime Tan
“My name is Grace Ewart, and I am a first-year student pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Science degree! I joined Making Moonshine to push myself outside of my comfort zone and to meet new people. I also felt that through working with the archives, I would be able to connect with the castle more. Making Moonshine seemed like the perfect opportunity to understand the castle’s history but also try something fun and new! It was so interesting getting to see all the ”Behind the Scenes” aspects of theatre, as well“. Grace Ewart
“I really like trains and making the radio play was quite fun!” Rishi Thurairajah