Sting on the personal journey of THE LAST SHIP
In this exclusive for THE MAGAZINE, rock legend Sting shared with us the genesis behind The Last Ship and why it’s important to him.
Don’t miss Sting, starring in The Last Ship at the Golden Gate Theatre, February 20-March 22. For tickets, click here.
“The Last Ship is set in my hometown. I was born in 1951 in a town near the Scottish border and my town was very famous for shipbuilding. The largest vessels ever constructed for the planet earth were constructed at the end of my street.”
“When I was a little boy, I’d come out of my house and look left and I could see the giant bows towering over the roof of the house and blocking out not only the sea but dwarfing everything else around it. And in the winter, they’d block out the sun.”
“Every morning, I’d watch tons of men walk down the hill to the shipyard and I’d watch the same men walk back every night and, as a child, I thought this was probably going to be my destiny. My Grandfather built ships, my Father built ships and so I thought “this is it”. But it was the last thing I wanted to do.”
“The shipyard was a dark, dangerous and noisy place, with a terrible health and safety record and so I studied very hard and I got a scholarship to a school where they taught me Latin, literature, philosophy and history. My father couldn’t understand why I wanted to study Latin. He thought I was going to be a priest or something.”
“But I had a vague dream. I dreamt I would be a musician. I dreamt I’d be a singer of songs, that I’d sing those songs all across the world, that I’d be paid extravagant amounts of money, win Grammy Awards and everything else that goes along with it. I must have dreamt it really hard because, well, that’s what happened.”
“It was only later in life, in reflection, that I realized that what was the engine of my ambition was the town I was from, the community I was from. At first, I tried to escape. Then I realized I was formed in that town – a town with a really extraordinary identity linked to the building of ships.”
“And when that identity was robbed of them, the town suffered, the town died. Work had given them a sense of purpose, of community.”
“My feeling is, very strongly, is that when economics excises the value of community, we end up with something very abstract and that abstraction is not understood by working people. In the short term, it works, in terms of quarterly reports, it works. But in the long term, it is untenable because my understanding of economics at a fundamental level is based on community. So, this play is very much about a community and what happens to a community under crisis.”
When I first took this story to Broadway, I sat with the producer – a different producer than the one I’m working with now – and he said “this is classic. It’s Fiddler on the Roof, but with ships”. I didn’t understand but he continued, “it’s a community in crisis”. So that showed me the idea was right and I went on to create this show.”