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Tickets on sale for “emotional” new ‘Cane Warriors’ production at Bristol Arnolfini in March 2024

1st February 2024 5 min read
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Following months of research and development, tickets are now on sale for a public performance of ‘Cane Warriors’, a dynamic dance theatre adaptation of the novel ‘Cane Warriors’ by Guardian Prize winner Alex Wheatle MBE. The “expressive and emotional” performance will take place at Bristol Arnolfini on 23 March 2024, 19:30-21:00, with tickets priced at £11 (£8 concession).

Tickets are available for purchase here


This project is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and is the product of a year-long collaboration between Beckford Tower Trust, Alex Wheatle and State of Trust. State of Trust is the charitable arm of production and performance company State of Emergency Limited.

‘Cane Warriors’ tells the story of Tacky’s Rebellion, an uprising of Akan people fighting for their freedom that took place in Jamaica in 1760, and included enslaved people on a plantation owned by the Beckford family.

The new interpretive dance performance will put a spotlight on the link between the Beckford family and the rebellion and aims to engage with a wide cross-section of people in the process, particularly young people in the community and online.

The performance, which will be filmed for posterity, will encourage attendees to engage with one of the most troubling aspects of William Beckford’s legacy: his claiming in ownership of enslaved people, which funded his lifestyle and his vast collections. The aim is to build awareness around the effects of enslavement and colonialism on the culture and psyche of modern Britain and improve community relations through greater understanding of the shared history.

The research and development phase, featuring State of Trust’s team of exceptional performers, has resulted in brand new choreography, music, photography and film.

Commenting on the upcoming performance, Director of Museums Patrizia Ribul said: “William Beckford’s ownership and exploitation of enslaved African people is the most harrowing aspect of his legacy, and one which underpins our Museum’s interpretation. State of Trust’s performance is incredibly emotional and really brings these important themes to the fore. While Beckford might have built and owned the Tower as well as assembled the collection, we are determined to open up this space to everybody. Including a multitude of stories and projects like this really helps us to reach new and more diverse audiences ahead and beyond of our reopening in May 2024; it’s not just Beckford’s Tower – it’s Our Tower, and everybody is welcome. I would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund and our other supporters for making this project possible.”

Deborah Baddoo MBE and Steve Marshall, the Directors at State of Trust and State of Emergency Limited, said: “This first iteration of ‘Cane Warriors’ as a dance theatre performance should be considered a ‘work in progress’. What we are able to show now was miraculously achieved through an intensive seven days of experimentation, and two of rehearsal, at the University of Bedfordshire during October, and it is testament to the outstanding talent and commitment of our team that such a valuable piece of work was created in just nine days. We aim to continue with this project beyond March 2024, and to seek further funding, to realise our creative vision for a full length ‘Cane Warriors’ dance musical in the near future. For us, it’s a story that must be told.”

Alex Wheatle, author of Cane Warriors, said: “I would also like to thank all our partners for making this project possible. It’s based on a true story that everyone needs to know, especially following the Black Lives Matter campaign and the hauling down of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol that was tossed into the harbour. For me, education of the stories untold is the next step.”

Built between 1826 and 1827, Beckford’s Tower was intended to house the collections of books, furniture and art that were owned by William Beckford, whose wealth was gained from his ownership of plantations and enslaved people in Jamaica. Beckford would ride up to the Tower from his townhouse in Bath’s Lansdown Crescent every morning before breakfast, and enjoyed its solitude and the panoramic views from the Belvedere at the top.

Today Beckford’s Tower is owned and run by Beckford Tower Trust, part of Bath Preservation Trust. The landmark is a Grade 1 listed monument and is the only museum in the world dedicated to the life and work of William Beckford. In 2019, the Tower was added to the National ‘At Risk’ Register, sparking a major project to raise the necessary funds to repair and restore the Tower, transform the museum, open up the landscape and create opportunities for volunteering, formal learning and community engagement. In 2022, thanks to a £3 million grant from the Heritage Fund, the fundraising target of £3.9 million was reached. £480,000 of partnership funding had already been secured, with support from Historic England, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Medlock Charitable Trust, Historic Houses Foundation, Pilgrim Trust and several other organisations, as well as £50,000 in public donations.

To find out more about Beckford’s Tower and State of Trust visit and

To find out more about the Beckfords and Esher Plantation visit the Legacies of British Slavery website:

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