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Plot thickens for historial re-enactment

Planning the logistics for this week's elaborate re-enactment of the Gunpowder Plot, the first of its kind, has grown into a plot of its own.

The team gathered yesterday at Tobacco Bay for some on-site preparations to recreate the infamous 1775 conspiracy, which is hoped to grow into a regular event.

Organiser Rick Spurling of the St David's Island Historical Society showed The Royal Gazette the sequence set for Saturday night.

“We're going to have a guard with a red coat and musket posted at the corner across the bay,” said Mr Spurling, pointing across to Naval Tanks Hill. The barrels of gunpowder will be pulled up behind him. Then the Tucker conspiracy group will mug him, and take the barrels down to the beach, where the pilot gig will be waiting.”

“How real do you want it to be?” queried pilot Steve Lock, on the question of life jackets for the vessel, a replica of the traditional boats that navigated the Island's reefs.

Mr Lock will man the gig Jemmy Darrell along with partner Yvette Barkin and Debbie Jones of the Bermuda Diabetic Association.

Sacks were suggested as camouflage. A GoPro camera would also be discreetly planted on the vessel, as the recreation is being filmed.

“We don't want anything too modern, or bright-coloured,” said Mr Spurling, who was still sourcing the appropriately loose white shirts that would resemble period costume.

The re-enactment has a maximum budget of $15,000, with sponsorship split between the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Corporation of St George's, explained Peter Frith of the Bermuda National Trust.

Recreating the powder kegs did not come cheaply, but Mr Spurling was optimistic that he would come in under budget.

“I don't know yet if we'll be able to have a fife and drum,” Mr Spurling added. “Those are the sorts of expenses we don't know about yet.”

Actor Robbie Godfrey will play the role of St George Tucker, one of the main architects of the conspiracy, explained Adrian Kawaley-Lathan of RockFire productions.

Tucker made sure he was absent, with an alibi, on the night of August 14, 1775, when the conspirators raided the British supply of gunpowder and sent it out to the waiting Americans. The conspiracy, which aided the rebels in the War of Independence, preserved trading ties that were vital for the Island.

“Tucker was one of the key figures in the whole plot, so Robbie will be here as the lead actor and narrator — I'm thrilled to have him,” said Mr Kawaley-Lathan, who has spent long hours researching.

“It's so fascinating, how they got away with all this. You couldn't make this stuff up. In the one sense, it was treason; in another you're dealing with an island that had all these deep ties with America.”

Adam Gauntlett will play Governor George Bruere, effectively the villain of the occasion. In a short performance in King's Square, St George, he will be presented with a bottle of rum by Tucker.

“He knew Bruere would drink it and sleep all night,” explained Mr Spurling.

“Bruere's home was the closest to the magazine.”

The group planned for an outraged Mr Gauntlett to come running after the departing boats, waving his fist and climbing into a punt to pursue them — only to fall into Tobacco Bay.

Meanwhile, Mr Lock checked on how close the reefs come to the surface on their path out to Jerry Correia's sloop Ocean Spirit, which will stand in for the American vessel Lady Catherine — complete with the appropriate revolutionary flag with 13 stars.

“We're cheating when it comes to the barrels,” Mr Correia noted. “Ours will be light. Imagine hauling those down and rowing it all out. That had to be a hell of a rowing job.”

A host of events and re-enactments will accompany the 240-year commemoration, for which a 50-strong delegation from the Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution and Children of the American Revolution is travelling to the Island.

They will dine with Michael Dunkley at the Premier's official residence, and be received by Acting US Consul General Linda Rosalik, as well as Governor George Fergusson. Belcario Thomas from the group the Beach Boys Ltd, which is the beach experience management company operating Tobacco Bay, said that as the descendants of the rebels, the group may be presented with a bill for the stolen gunpowder.

The Tobacco Bay performance will also serve as a venue for author Michael Marsh to present his definitive history on the Gunpowder Plot, Mr Thomas said. The night will close with music and a bonfire.

“This could be part of a recurring re-enactment,” Mr Thomas said. “We don't want winter to be the off-season; it's the art and culture season. It also ties in with slowly converting Tobacco Bay into a performance venue, which will benefit all of St George's.”

Lifestyle, page 17

Devil is in the detail: Organiser Rick Spurling plots logistics with the re-enactment team at Tobacco Bay

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Published August 10, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 10, 2015 at 10:45 am)

Plot thickens for historial re-enactment

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