"Alice de Sousa is surely London's leading exponent of Portuguese culture". - Time Out


by Bernardo Santareno

Directed by Bruce Jamieson
Translated and Produced by Alice de Sousa

Performed in November 2005

The Crime of the Old VillageGalleon Theatre Company with the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Arts Council England, continued its internationally acclaimed work, in introducing unfairly neglected European writers to London's theatre, with the world première of Alice de Sousa's translation of Bernardo Santareno's play The Crime of the Old Village. Based on a true story which took place in 1934 in the rural North of Portugal, this controversial play dramatises the shocking events that led to the sacrificial burning of a woman accused of witchcraft. Bernardo Santareno was Portugal's greatest twentieth century playwright. He died in 1980 and this production commemorated the twenty five years since his death.

Santareno should be positioned alongside writers like Brecht, Lorca, Pirandello and Ionesco. His plays exploded onto the Portuguese literary landscape and challenged everything that had come before and changed all The Crime of the Old Villagethat was to follow after. He described his theatre 'as a social service' and his plays as 'acts of social justice' which should be used as 'weapons of war'. Santareno's plays are the stories of 'the common man'. His characters are often from humble origins and employed as domestic workers or field hands. They have popular names and do not pursue great ambitions or goals. Instead, they gently and simply exist until they are forced to the edge of some extraordinary precipice from which, against their will, they are hurdled and fall to their death. Santareno's characters are often victims of ignorance and superstition; or of a social, religious or political injustice. The finality of death is usually the means by which their conflict is resolved and love made impossible.

"The Greenwich Playhouse is an enjoyably ambitious venue that is a solid producer of classics" - Evening Standard

The Crime of the Old VillageThe originality and daring of Santareno's writing must be placed within the socio-political context of a brutally oppressed Fascist dictatorship and an all-pervading Catholic Church. In 1974 when the Portuguese revolution sounded the death knell on Europe's longest surviving Fascist regime, Santareno was amongst a group of intellectuals who used literature and theatre as a vehicle for social change and for the educating and enfranchising of the masses. 

"This studio-sized venue has been put on the cultural map with productions of epic quality." - South London Press

The Crime of the Old VillageWhen originally published in 1959, The Crime of the Old Village posed a challenge to the Portuguese authoritarian regime and to the Catholic Church which legitimised it. For today's spiritually divided world, it retains its religious pertinence and political verve because of its exploration of fanaticism and faith driven crimes. The Crime of the Old Village provides a shocking indictment on fanaticism and on all those who appropriate belief for their own extremist purpose. By blurring the boundaries between Christianity and witchcraft, Santareno poses timeless and ever relevant questions about the role of religion, its application and impact on mankind. Rich in characterisation and dramatic content, Galleon's production is as abundant in religious iconography as it is bursting with sexual tension.

"Something must be said for the Greenwich Playhouse, it is remarkably refreshing to come across a theatre of such a high standard - one that exudes class." - indielondon.co.uk

The Crime of the Old VillageThe Crime of the Old Village was directed by BRUCE JAMIESONwho has directed in excess of twenty previous Galleon productions and acted in leading roles in some sixty stage plays. His television and film work as an actor includes: Roughnecks (BBC); In Suspicious Circumstances (Granada); Crime Solver (BBC); Ali G-Inda House (Universal); Monarch of the Glen (Ecosse); Spongebob (BBC); and Murphy's Law (Tiger Aspect); and was translated and produced by ALICE DE SOUSA who has produced over sixty professional stage productions; played leading roles in some thirty stage plays; written many critically acclaimed theatre scripts; and in 2005 was awarded by the American Biographical Institute, the 'Great Women of the 21st Century Award' and the 'Woman of the Year 2005'.


(In Order of Speaking)

  • CUSTÓDIA - Pearl Marsland
  • MARGARIDA - Emily Holt
  • FLORINDA - Jan Hirst
  • RITA - Theresa Brunskill
  • ZEFA - Jackie Skarvellis
  • JOANA - Alice de Sousa
  • ANTÓNIO - David Mildon
  • RUI - Christopher Hale
  • TERESA - Georgina Carrigan
  • Padre JULIO - Paul Hessey
  • Padre CLÁUDIO - Al Fiorentini


  • Costume Design by Rachel Baynton
  • Deputy Stage Management by Elizabeth Buckeridge
  • Co-Set Designed by Anna Calligaro & Andrea Harper
  • Lighting Design by Robert Gooch 
  • Stills Photographer - Paul L.T. Welch
  • Production Assistants - Joana G. Silva & Antonina Mamzenko
  • Directed by Bruce Jamieson
  • Produced & Translated by Alice de Sousa


The Crime of the Old Village"enthralling" - Time Out

"The play is superbly directed by Bruce Jamieson and the cast of 11 performers give a masterclass in acting." - Kentish Times

"The Crime of the Old Village is a must see piece of theatre!!!!" -indielondon.co.uk

"The highly dramatic plot and heartfelt performances are fully absorbing." - The Stage

"Alice de Sousa has uncovered another potent European classic in her spry translation of this tale of religious hysteria from the great Portuguese playwright, Bernardo Santareno" - Time Out

"The play boasts great performances from everyone involved." - indielondon.co.uk

"The sound effects have an eerie and gruesome impact while the whole play, with its fine costumes and atmospheric setting, is a totally engrossing drama of great quality" - Kentish Times

"Santareno's play emerges as a perfectly crafted tale of rare intensity and brilliance." - Time Out

"The Crime of the Old Village is theatre at its best". - Leisuretime