One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
BEYOND BORDERS: The Quixotic Adventures of Sir Ken
In 1974, in the midst of a bleak British winter, Ken Potter, a bored London croupier, harbours an unfulfilled dream of escaping the rat-race and travelling the world. A colleague tempts him into embarking on a trip, encircling the globe, and ending at the Rio carnival. An intended year-long trek turns into an eight-year, fifty-country saga that at times tests Ken’s resolve to the limit.
A true story, the play is an epic account of Potter’s colourful, humorous and, at times, harrowing hitch-hiking and bicycling odyssey. Suitably attired as a city gent, he shrugs off the UK recession, raises his bowler-hat and a smile, and elects to fly the flag as a self-styled British ambassador. As the Daily Mirror comments: ‘The British economy may be on a sticky wicket and our cricketing hopes may have turned to ashes but, by jove, the British spirit lives on.’
Accompanied by the flashes of journalists' cameras, the newly designated ‘Knight of the Road’, sets off from Whitehall to all points east. What follows is a journey that encompasses Europe, Iran before the revolution, the perilous landscapes of Afghanistan, and the paradoxical blend of beauty and poverty in India. His odyssey continues through The Far East, Australasia, and Central and South America.
Set-backs abound. Money runs out time and again. The recurring temptation to give up is overcome by resort to the British stiff-upper lip. Pitting wits and mettle against the elements, Ken nearly freezes to death on a Costa Rican mountaintop, all but fries in a desert, and almost drowns in a jungle gulf. He falls in love, falls off his bike, and lands on the wrong side of the law when he’s accused of being a spy by secret police.
In keeping with his self-styled ambassadorial image, he meets with a broad spectrum of society. Armed with a bicycle for a horse and a singular brand of eccentricity he becomes a 'Modern-Day Don Quixote’. His diplomatic persona earns him the appellation of British ‘Ambassador to the World’ from the international media. Humour is rife and new friends are made, none more memorable than in Argentina. His experience in Buenos Aires provides an invaluable perspective on Anglo-Argentine relationships just prior to the Falklands War. Whilst the play is not overtly political, it encompasses many contemporary issues regarding national borders, national identities, and globalisation.
He eventually arrives to the Rio carnival seven years behind schedule. Now worldly-wise and very much a changed man, the British ‘Ambassador to the World’ has become a veritable ‘Citizen of the World’.
After reading Beyond Borders, Alan Harris, Welsh playwright and winner of a Judges' Award at the 2015 Bruntwood Prize, had this to say:
"...this is a lyrical, rhythmical piece...Ken has a good ear for dialogue, great settings, interesting characters, and a style that actors and a director would be delighted to get to grips with..."
Steven O'Shea, actor, director, and co-founder of Mandrake Theatre Company who now runs Working Toward Performance acting classes in Brighton (www.workingtowardsperformance.co.uk), had this to say:
"Before mobile phones, Lonely Planet guides, or satnavs there was 'Sir' Ken, intrepid 'Knight of the Road'. An inspirational and joyous romp, Beyond Borders speaks to the adventurer within us all..."