31 May 2019 by Mark Sands
Thirty-one years ago, when I was 19, Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company toured Philip
Osment’s This Island’s Mine to my home town of Portsmouth. It was one of those life
changing, career-defining moments. I instantly fell in love with the play and the writer
8 years ago I started emailing Philip and his agent about a possible new production of
the play and, after several false starts, we finally did it – the first ever revival of This
Island’s Mine opened on the 15
May 2019 at the King’s Head Theatre. The director
Philip Wilson and I met up with Philip Osment for the first time only a few months
before rehearsals and we hugged like we had been lifelong friends. Such was the
warmth and openness of this gentle, generous man.
Philip was taken ill during rehearsals and was unable to drop in, but we maintained
email and phone contact throughout. He was planning to attend a performance
towards the end of the run but instead made a last minute decision to see the play on
opening night. What he witnessed was a sold out audience drinking in his brilliant
words and storytelling, some for the first time and others for the second having seen
the original production.
On Friday 24th May, news came that Philip Osment had passed away. On the same
day, a handwritten postcard from Philip arrived – he’d bought it 30 years prior in case
the play was ever revived - thanking us for our hard work and determination in
bringing This Island’s Mine back to the stage.
It’s with great sadness that we say goodbye to his talent and his generous soul. Our
one comfort is that he was able to see the play and know that 31 years on his work
still manages to move and inspire audiences.
Our production is dedicated to the memory of Philip Osment.
Ardent Theatre Company