Big News! Casting call for Shirley reading

After our wonderful success with The Dissolution of Percy, at the end of last year, we thought we’d get cracking with a second Brontë-themed piece; this time, a stage adaptation of Charlotte’s Shirley (something we certainly haven’t seen before!) So we’re putting out a casting call! It’s a tricky piece to cast, as you’ll see below.

A public reading of the script will take place on 27th September at 7:00pm (for a 7:30pm start) during Morley Arts Festival between Dewsbury and Leeds (St Mary the Virgin Parish Church – WF12 7JL). Travel expenses will be covered, and unless otherwise requested, cast members will be recalled for any major future production of the piece, for which we would ensure they would be fully paid. We are hoping to cast at least one individual who holds a full licence and owns a car to lessen transport costs. Fuel costs will be reimbursed.

The company will work to accommodate all cast members’ availability regarding the few rehearsals we’ll need. Auditions and rehearsals will be held in Manchester.

Cast (including multi-rolling)

Male 1: Multi-roler, 40s-50s. Must be able to adapt body-language to suit three different characters. Accents: West Yorkshire, subtle RP and comical upper-class.
Roles
Rev Helstone: Caroline’s paternal uncle. Firm and unbending.
Michael Barraclough: A local down-and-out. Struggling to retain his grip on reality. An ex-worker from Hollow’s Mill.
Mr Sympson: Shirley’s uncle and father of her young cousin. Louis’ employer. Outspoken and affluent.

Male 2: Non-multi-roler, 30s. Tall. Must be able to speak with a Belgian accent. Will accept either Belgian actor or English actor with an excellent grasp of the accent.
Role
Robert Moore: A half-English, half-Belgian mill owner. On his last chance to prove himself after the French revolution laid waste to his inherited family business. Works hard to maintain a cold, officious front, but secretly too gentle to be a hard-nosed businessman. In love with Caroline Helstone but afraid that he cannot afford to support a family.

Male 3: Multi-roler. Mid-late 20s. Must be physically and vocally versatile, able to differentiate between two characters both visually and audibly.
Roles
Joe Scott: Hardworking and passionate mill-hand. Once loyal to his master, Robert Moore, but slowly becoming more enamoured with the prospect of a peaceful uprising. Yorkshire accent.
Louis Moore: Robert’s younger brother, raised in England. An undervalued tutor. RP accent. Downtrodden but not without a wickedly dry and charming sense of humour.
Female 1: Non-multi-roler. Early to mid 20s. Small build. RP or subtle Northern accent.
Caroline Helstone: Resourceful and intelligent. Ambitious against the will of her uncle. Repressed. In love with Robert Moore and frustrated by his aloofness. Strong in spirit but not in body.

Female 2: Multi-roler. 40s-50s. Must be highly versatile both physically and in voice as one role must be believed to be a little older than the others. Must be able to speak with Belgian and Yorkshire accents.

Roles

Hortense Moore (early 40s): Robert’s older sister and Caroline Helstone’s governess. Half-English, half-Belgian. A straight-faced, dry sense of humour. Extremely brave, protective and self-sufficient. Belgian accent.

Mrs Pryor (late 40s, early 50s): Shirley’s governess. Quietly spoken and secretive. Capable of a great deal of love that must be suppressed. RP or subtle Yorkshire accent.
Mrs Barraclough (40s): Wife of Michael. Extremely poor but extremely enterprising. Bitter and intelligent. (Can be younger and multi-role with actor playing Shirley.) Yorkshire accent.

 

Please send headshot and CV or Spotlight link to dtkmanchester@gmail.com!

Big News! Casting call for Shirley reading

Latest Activities

Thank you for your patience, everyone!

We’ve had a lot to get on with throughout the first few months of 2016, including moving base (we’re still in Greater Manchester), but discussions are still ongoing regarding the future of our latest piece, The Dissolution of Percy, along with other possible future activities, so please do keep your eyes peeled!

As a rather belated start to the year, Caroline recently travelled up to Cumbria to deliver one of her talks in the place where she grew up, Sedbergh – a town steeped in history, nestled amongst the Howgill fells, perched on the Yorkshire border.

The talk was extremely well-attended and received by members of the Sedbergh Literary Trust, there was a fantastic spread of refreshments laid out and the evening was thoroughly enjoyable. Some fascinating discussions were had after the reading also, especially surrounding events at the Clergy Daughters School in relatively-nearby Cowan Bridge, where the Brontë sisters were schooled, and where the two eldest, Maria and Elizabeth, contracted the tuberculosis that would very shortly end their young lives.

Interesting theories were covered surrounding the presence of the Brontës in the area, including the possibility that some of the ideas for their books, including the concept of a foundling child introduced in Emily’s Wuthering Heights, may have been products of the local rumour-mill during the brief time they lived in Cowan Bridge. A story that echoes that of Heathcliff’s discovery on the streets of Liverpool was at that time doing the rounds of nearby Dent village, and may have reached the ears of the then-eight-year-old Emily and remained with her for the rest of her life.

It was fantastic to begin to get the ball rolling once more, and we look forward to seeing what the rest of 2016 will bring!

Keep checking back for more updates.

Latest Activities

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

We were hoping to find the perfect Brontë quote to mark the occasion, but our friends at the Brontë Parsonage Museum beat us to it!

Here we are:

Women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.

Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, 1847

International Women’s Day

2015 in review

Tomorrow is New Years’ Eve, and will mark the end of Dangerous To Know’s first full year as a company.

It’s been a blast so far, seeing us launch our first full-length funded production, enjoy five-star reviews and make new and exciting connections that will no doubt blossom further in 2016.

Keep an eye on this site for news of things to come, and, just because we’re sentimental like that, we’ll leave you with our annual blog report.

If you’re interested in working with us next year, just email dtkmanchester@gmail.com and introduce yourself.

Happy New Year!

An excerpt of the report:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 53 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2015 in review

Feedback!

Well, now that we’re just about ready to send a summary of our activities over the last few months whizzing back to the Arts Council, we thought we’d share with you a few choice comments from our audience feedback forms. We’re not big-headed, we just appreciate that our audiences have excellent taste!

“A very well written, well produced and well performed piece.”

“Very professional and very enjoyable.”

“We loved it! Beautiful.”

“Sam Redway’s performance of Branwell was superb – he did “drunk” very well indeed. I particularly liked Caroline Lamb’s Emily, stomping on set in search of powder for her musket.”

“Fantastic. Brilliantly written. Moving.”

“Totally absorbing!”

“Exceptional performance from all – well written and acted. Tears and laughter – well done!”

“A detailed and honest performance with a multitude of emotions portrayed. A beautiful insight into the lives of such a notable literary family, the sorrow and hardships behind the brilliance!”

“Original and dynamic storytelling. Beautifully written and acted. Thanks.”

“A terrific play, actors & script. More please!”

“Brilliant play. I look forward to more.”

Congratulations to Team Percy for achieving these brilliant results, and many thanks to our audiences for your overwhelming support! In response to those calls for more, do keep an eye on this site, along with our Twitter account (@DTKManc) and our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DangerousToKnow) as the New Year will bring new opportunities for us, and new ways for you to get involved!

Thank you all once again. Happy Holidays, and we’ll see you next year!

Sam Redway - IMG_4105ED

Feedback!

Last Two Months at a Glance!

Well, we’ve enjoyed a whirlwind of activity recently and, in the paraphrased words of Branwell Brontë, “It is only just now that we have had time to turn ourselves round and know where we are”!

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Last month held some truly exciting experiences for us. on 21st October, we were invited to read extracts from Jane Eyre in the very building that once housed the Clergy Daughter’s School; the stark template for Lowood School in the novel. The Brontë School House, as it is now named, boasts exceptionally tasteful decor that proffers a suitable nod to the period in question, and no longer bears the chilling atmosphere of the infamous establishment that claimed the lives of poor Maria and Elizabeth Brontë in 1825. It is cosy and homelike, and when the fire is on in the sitting room (which boasts a selection of dangerously comfy seating and shelving loaded with fascinating books!), it’s extremely easy to forget the blustery weather outside. The best news is that you can stay there! The lovely Sandra runs the building as a holiday rental cottage, and you can find details via: www.bronteschoolhouse.com

It was a characteristically atmospheric evening as we travelled to Cowan Bridge on the Cumbria/Lancashire border.

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We arrived in good time at the School House, where we were treated to a very warm welcome and a lovely tour, provided by our host, Sandra.

Information about the Brontës, their time at the school and various other items of contemporary interest lay on the table in one of the rooms. On the wall in the same room was displayed a variety of artifacts discovered while renovating the historic building. These included knives and forks, marbles and even “horse-shoe”-shaped metal inserts designed to reinforce a very small pair of clogs or pattens!

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I performed the readings in costume before a roaring fire, and, with flickering lanterns outside glowing out into the wet chill of the darkening night, the event seemed to take on an almost secretive and thrilling atmosphere. I was unprepared for quite how emotionally involved the experience would be, particularly considering the significance of the passages on Jane’s friend Helen Burns, who served as a fictionalized homage to Charlotte’s ill-fated elder sisters.

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Despite the wonderful coziness of their seats and the glorious warmth in the room, the audience retained consciousness throughout the event and held a very interesting conversation about Charlotte’s writing and the significance of the school and the young Brontës’ experiences there within their work. It was a fantastic event, and we left hoping that we might get the opportunity to spend the night in the wonderful building sometime not too far in the future!

In the meantime, the company were heading into the final few rehearsals for The Dissolution of Percy, which was to be performed in Salford and Haworth at the beginning of the following month, but that didn’t stop us arranging another fantastic event the night before the dress rehearsal! That night was Hallowe’en.

Our good friends at Ponden Hall had been extremely enthusiastic at the suggestion of a spooky set of readings, the partaking of pie and parkin and the sharing of true ghost stories to celebrate this auspicious night, and the event did not disappoint!

Under ethereal strings of glowing lights and before the hall’s impressive hearth, I read from Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and a selection of Emily’s poetry. The atmosphere was electric, with the added threat of a glimpse of the hall’s grey bearded man or flaming-barrel gytrash adding to the otherworldly feel.

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A welcome break for one of Julie’s delicious spreads was extremely welcome, and we were delighted to be handed plates of steaming pie, peas and lashings of gravy! Over this fantastic repast, we began to share tales of our own eerie experiences with zeal.

The informality and communal nature of the event was testament to the ancient hall’s fantastic atmosphere, and its owners’ warmth as hosts. Ponden is another exceptionally popular guest house, and a stay there is highly recommended, especially considering that it boasts the famous “Box Bed” room from Wuthering Heights, as well as many elements of interest for the Brontë fanatic. Sketches of its rooms and windows crated by Branwell and Emily may be found in numerous reference books, and its library afforded the young family an even wider opportunity to read and learn.

You can book to stay at Ponden Hall via www.ponden-hall.co.uk

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Of course, only a few days later, the company were to launch into their run of The Dissolution of Percy which, as you may have seen from our previous posts, went exceptionally well if we do say so ourselves. We’ll update you further on the play’s successes and potential future life as we traverse this uncharted landscape that is life “post-Percy”, and we hope you’ll continue to follow us and see where the adventure leads!

If you know of a venue that would be interested in booking a talk, a reading or a staging of The Dissolution of Percy, or have any questions about Dangerous To Know and our work, don’t hesitate to contact us on dtkmanchester@gmail.com!

Last Two Months at a Glance!

First review is in!

On Wednesday night, Dangerous To Know opened our doors to the public for the first performance in our run of The Dissolution of Percy and, as is always nerve-wracking, we invited press and reviewers to tell us what they thought of our work!

Brontë Sisters

Now Frank Hill, a reviewer for RemoteGoat, has delivered, and we are absolutely thrilled.

Under the heading “Gripping, original Branwell Brontë drama”, he writes:

“There’s a painting of the Brontë sisters, posed woodenly around a small table, with a figure standing behind them smeared out of all recognition. This figure was the artist himself, their brother Branwell, who had defaced his own image in some bout of self-loathing. As a student I was fascinated by this ghost-like image hovering ominously in the background, so was particularly interested to see a new play at The Kings Arms, Salford where Branwell takes centre stage.

I knew Caroline Lamb’s drama (‘The Dissolution of Percy’) was going to be interesting when one of the sister’s asked where her powder was. Instead of entering with objects from her boudoir she came onstage carrying a gun. The material in question was gunpowder. That’s when I realised this was going to be an unusual perspective on the Brontë women and their much-neglected-by-history brother.

The play began at an unusually stable period in Branwell’s life when, thanks to the efforts of his sisters, he had obtained a post as tutor to the Robinson’s family’s son. All seemed well, but it soon became clear that he had not forsaken his spendthrift, drunken ways and stories of his behaviour reached the ears of Mr. Robinson. Although not one to smooth over troubled waters, Branwell managed to retain his position, only to then embark on an affair with the mistress of the house, Lydia.

Branwell was a dreamer, trapped in the fantasies of childhood stories and a great admirer of Lord Byron. But without that poet’s panache and fame, being ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ could be disastrous. Detached from reality, narcissistic, and drawn to alcohol and laudanum, it became the task of his sisters to save Branwell from himself. But had he already reached the point of no return?

The play is about unfulfilled ambition, self denial and desire. It’s well written and tightly structured with fine performances (I’m sure the few occasions when actors spoke over each others lines will soon be ironed out).

Alison Flevill, Marcella Hazell and Caroline Lamb brought Jane (Ed. read “Emily”) , Anne and Charlotte vividly to life and Jane Allighan’s sensitive portrayal of Lydia showed a character desperate to survive in a world where wealth and poverty were frighteningly close neighbours – particularly for women in Victorian England.

Sean Fitton provided solid support with characters ranging from Rev. Brontë to Branwell’s drinking partner John.

But the play stands or falls on the portrayal of Branwell himself, and Sam Redway gave a riveting performance as the vulnerable, selfish, frustrating artist. To give just one example of his skill – I have seen some terrible interpretations of drunkenness on stage – by some renowned actors. It’s extremely difficult to do well and Sam managed to pitch it perfectly, getting the nuances just right. A great performance throughout, and director Helen Parry must take credit for that.

An unusual subject then, focussing on characters usually ignored by history and thereby also creating a new perspective on the famous sisters themselves. Excellent.”

Thank you, Frank! It’s wonderful to get this type of feedback for an inaugural production. We hope our work continues to impress for the rest of the run, and for the play’s future life!

If you would like tickets to the production, we highly recommend booking in advance via the link below.

BOOK NOW!

First review is in!

Opening Night!

The Dissolution of Percy opens TONIGHT at 7:30 at  the Kings Arms in Salford, M3 6AN.

Come along and see the wonderful work we have done! The rehearsal process has been both a labour of love and a real hardy slog for every member of the company.

Book your tickets in advance to save time at the box office and to ensure that you get a seat! Below is the direct link for THIS EVENING ONLY:

Book Here!

And now, introducing the cast (in order of appearance):

Jane Allighan as Lydia

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Seán Fitton as George, John and Patrick

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Alison Flevill as Anne and Drake

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Sam Redway as Branwell

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Marcy Hazell as Charlotte and Leyland

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Caroline Lamb as Emily

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And here we are talking about the production on the radio! Our little segment is just after 34 minutes in:

Dangerous To Know: The Dissolution of Percy on All About Art

We have thoroughly enjoyed working together to bring you something we are truly proud of. We look forward to welcoming you into our audience!

See you soon x

Opening Night!

Book Now!

Tickets for The Dissolution of Percy are going fast!

Whether you’ve seen our readings, have been following our journey from the start, or have only just stumbled across us through curiosity – we hope you’ll be able to make it along to see the production.

It’s a real labour of love, and we think it really is something special; we wouldn’t want anyone to miss it!

Booking in advance is highly recommended to avoid disappointment.

Click HERE for ticket information and to book.

The Dissolution of Percy Flyer 2015

Book Now!

Our Beautiful Flyers!

We thought we’d share these lovely things with you. We’re dead chuffed with them!

We’re well into rehearsals now, and the production is shaping up to be a corker! Seats are limited for our performances in Salford (4th – 7 November) and Haworth (14th November), so you’d best CLICK HERE to get booking your tickets! We wouldn’t want you to miss it!

The Dissolution of Percy Flyer 2015

The Dissolution of Percy Flyer Back 2015

Image © George Hill Photography 2015

Our Beautiful Flyers!