Theft of a Girl

They say there’s no rest for the wicked. We’re still not sure of the crimes Caroline Lamb, Elka Lee Green and Helen Parry have committed, but only a couple of days after zipping back down the motorway following our production of Shirley in the Yorkshire Dales, they were setting to work on another intense project! Luckily for them, it was a pretty fantastic one.

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Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

The seeds were sown for Theft of a Girl a few months back, when we were awarded a commission from Creative Industries Trafford, who had struck up a partnership with the National Trust‘s exciting new venture known as “Trust New Art” – a branch of the charity that forms bridges between independent artists and National Trust places. Their upcoming project was Live at Lyme, and they were looking for artists and performers to create pieces inspired by the Regency period that would be shown around the beautiful and expansive Lyme Park estate in Cheshire – and within the walls of the grand house that presides over its grounds – throughout September.

The story of Ellen Turner – a schoolgirl from a wealthy family who was kidnapped and duped into marrying a much older man under false pretences – immediately sprung out at writer Caroline, and she composed a simple, atmospheric monologue to be performed in the nursery of the house, accompanied by a stop motion video. Once the commission was secured, Caroline and filmmaker Morag Hickman set out to Lyme Park armed with thirteen-inch artists’ mannequins painted in matte black and adorned with a variety of hats, and a delicate poseable doll in regency dress to painstakingly craft a film over two days.

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Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

The film completed and beautifully edited by Morag (who incidentally makes stunning jewellery too!), the project was put on hold while we staged ShirleyCaroline, Elka and Helen then regrouped to prepare the monologue.

On the weekend of the performances, the weather was beautiful and the trip to lovely Disley by train was swift. Lyme Park looked regal in the morning light, but we had little chance to wander around – Elka was straight into costume, and we hurried to the nursery for the first performance at 11.30am. Three more performances followed that day, and four the next. The room was packed, with audience members huddling up on the little iron-framed bed and clustering around the fireplace at the back. There was a hushed buzz in the nursery, which was thrilling.

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Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

We experience lovely feedback, and truly enjoyed our experience with Creative Industries Trafford and the National Trust. If “Trust New Art” can afford creatives like us the opportunity to work in places steeped in such rich and intriguing history as Lyme, and continue to introduce new audiences to theatre and art, then we hope the scheme goes on for many years!

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Theft of a Girl

After Shirley

Tackling some pretty massive challenges in a very tight space of time appears to be a habit of ours! Shirley may just have been our most ambitious project yet.

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Shirley – the first ever performance adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë novel – has been in the company’s repertoire since we presented a very successful reading of it at the Morley Arts Festival last year – but this time was different. We’d been invited by Carol Nelson of Farfield Mill in the picturesque village of Sedbergh, Cumbria, to bring it to the wonderful industrial-base-turned-arts centre in the form of a promenade. The action would be woven throughout the building; around looms, underneath the building itself in the turbine room and even spread along the walkways leading up to the entrance – so, over an intense few months, the original piece was adapted to fit the new formula and the actors, director and stage manager set to work, creating a whole new show! The themes connected the tribulations of the “Luddites”, and their employers during the industrial revolution, with the general populace of the UK today.

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Sam Redway as Joe Scott in the turbine room at Farfield Mill

In the piece, struggling to compete in the market with all trade frozen by the Napoleonic war, half-Belgian Robert Moore sets about automating his mill in readiness. Already dogged by others’ xenophobia and suspicion, his swift replacement of trained millworkers with modern machinery is quickly making him the most hated man in Stillborough. Even the loving efforts of his sister’s pupil, Caroline, and his unusual new landlady, Shirley, may fail to rescue him from assassination – as his machinery is vandalised and strange men stalk him in the shadows.

Shirley and Robert
Caroline Lamb as Shirley and Mark Roberts as Robert Moore in the Dover Gallery

Tapping into the history of Farfield really made the place come alive for us. Over just two days, we enjoyed performing the piece five times to lovely audiences, and received great feedback. Audience comments included:

“It was very professional and authentic. The cast captured the sense of the time and portrayed it beautifully.”

“Acting and entire performance wonderful. Felt myself transported back in time.”

“It was original, deftly adapted, excellent use of space and actors’ adaptability to character. Altogether a surprising, engaging production.”

“Very moving. It was superb in every respect.”

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Jo Gerard as Mrs Barraclough at the mill entrance

We want to express our hearty thanks to all who attended and supported us, as well as the officials at the Yorkshire Dales Sustainable Development Fund and the Sedbergh & District Charitable Incorporated Organisation Community Fund for their generosity, and the staff, board and volunteers of Farfield Mill for their wonderful help. Big plans are afoot for Shirley, so watch this space! You can also follow us on Facebook via www.facebook.com/DangerousToKnow or on Twitter via @DTKManc.

After Shirley

Theft of a Girl

Dangerous To Know has been lucky enough to receive a great commission from Creative Industries Trafford to produce a piece of live art, which will be performed over multiple instances during the 23rd and 24th September 2017. The event is called Live at Lyme, and features multiple pieces and performances being shown at Lyme in Disley throughout the end of September.

Theft of a Girl Publicity

In response to a very exciting brief, we produced Theft of a Girl, a piece featuring a simple and soulful monologue performed by Shirley‘s Elka Lee Green about the abduction of 15 year old heiress Ellen Turner from Pott Shrigley in 1826. The performance will also feature a stop motion film about the events, created by Caroline Lamb and visiting artist Morag Hickman.

There is no further cost above admission to the house to see the piece. Please find further information here.

Theft of a Girl

Shirley at Farfield Mill

Shirley Farfield Poster Rough

Hello everyone!

We have some big news. After months of development, Shirley is back in fully-fledged, promenade style at a wonderful ex-cotton mill in Sedbergh, a gloriously picturesque town in the Yorkshire Dales!

Farfield Mill is a restored Victorian building that now houses artists’ studios and exhibition rooms, a tantalising gift shop, a superb café and a great deal more beside, and now Dangerous To Know has the honour of presenting our latest piece as an unmissable dramatised tour of this historic and fascinating building.

The event runs over multiple instances during Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September, repeating on the 16th at 1pm and 3pm, then again at 7pm as part and parcel of a deal where you can bag yourself a spot in the audience and a place at the lovely wine and cheese evening that follows for just £15 a head! On 17th you can catch it at 11.30am, 2pm and 4pm.

Charlotte Brontë’s 1849 novel has never before been adapted for performance, so we’re thrilled to be presenting this gritty version. The work was a period piece even at the time of its conception, harking back to the Napoleonic wars, when trade was tough and mill work was even tougher. Struggling to compete in the market with all trade frozen by the conflict, half-Belgian Robert Moore sets about automating his mill in readiness. Already dogged by the xenophobia and superstition of the locals, his swift replacement of trained millworkers with modern machinery is quickly making him the most hated man in Stillborough. Even the loving efforts of his sister’s pupil, Caroline, and his unusual new landlady, Shirley, may fail to rescue him from assassination – as his machinery is vandalised and strange men stalk him in the shadows.

Call 015396 21958 to book tickets – numbers are limited, so get them while you can!

Shirley at Farfield Mill

Events During Our Hiatus

We’ve been quiet for a little while, but never fear! Dangerous To Know is bubbling away in the background, gradually brewing up our next theatrical offering. In the meantime, however, Caroline has being enjoying involvement in a number of other Northern projects that we’d encourage you all to get behind.

  1. Northern Rep’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Rep is back in Manchester after half a century, and this particular company pulls no punches with its inaugural production. This thrilling re-imagining of Shakespeare’s classic fairy-filled-fantasy is unlike anything else. For a taster of what lies in store, take a peak at this write-up in the Manchester Evening News. It’s running in the Great Northern Warehouse for another fortnight, so there’s still time to snap up a ticket if you’re quick.

BOOK FOR A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM HERE

 

  1. Jane Eyre at Haddon Hall

A location for the stunning 2011 Jane Eyre starring Michael Fassbender, Haddon Hall is a grand and glorious property near Bakewell in Derbyshire. This summer, the hall is playing host to a wonderful promenade theatre adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel, and Caroline is thrilled to be playing Jane on 20th, 21st and 22nd June 2017! These performances are preceded by a glass of Prosecco per person, and the evening is rounded off with a gorgeous three-course meal.

BOOK FOR JANE EYRE HERE

 

  1. Exploring the Brontës

Caroline will continue her collaboration with poet and fellow Brontë enthusiast Simon Zonenblick of Caterpillar Poetry with evening events later in the year. In equal parts an enlightening talk on the area’s connections with the Brontë family and a lively reading of extracts of the family’s work, followed by an intimate theatrical performance entitled The Cold Plunge, Caroline and Simon will be joining forces with local artists and musicians in various locations throughout the North. Keep checking our website, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for further information about the next event.

 

Events During Our Hiatus

Shirley Readings – September 2016

To quote the great American composer Leonard Bernstein:

To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.

We gave ourselves only three days to prepare the first ever stage adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley to be performed script-in-hand to audiences at the Lass O’Gowrie in Manchester and the Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Woodkirk, Leeds (as part of the Morley Arts Festival), and, even then – due to prior commitments and a last-minute recast – we were missing a third of the company for our first rehearsal!

Three days may seem a reasonable amount of time to rehearse for a reading, but given the length and complexity of the text (still a lot to get to grips with even having been whittled down from Charlotte’s hefty and dense work!), our approach of editing as we went, the necessity of working out travel logistics and other technicalities, AND the influence of DTK’s characteristic attention to detail, we were flying by the seats of our pants and no mistake!

The result was extremely rewarding. Wonderful moments of great depth, pathos and comedy were discovered on the fly, sometimes even during the performances themselves. The performers often played by instinct, lending everything a fresh and energetic feel. Director Helen Parry prioritised perfectly, knowing which moments to guide and shape, and understanding which would fall into place “on the night”. I must say that I absolutely cannot imagine how everything would have come together without Helen’s intuitive and discerning direction!

We were lucky enough to play to two very different but equally excellent audiences. The lovely intimate space above the Lass O’Gowrie pub felt full – but not uncomfortably so – and the concentration of the attendees was palpable. The room seemed to buzz! In the larger space at St Mary’s the next day there was a fantastic sense of community and support, and the comedic moments in the text were bolstered by some really rewarding laugh-out-loud responses! I’d really like to take a moment to thank Vicky – the manager at the Lass O’Gowrie who opened the space to us so enthusiastically, Ella Wild, who arranged the slot in the Morley Arts Festival for us, and the vicar at Saint Mary’s, Rev’d Sharon Wilkinson, and her team for making us feel really at home and providing the beautiful venue. The most disappointing thing about the evening was that – as the performance had run over very slightly – the company had to absolutely leg it for the exits after the “curtain call” and summing-up, randomly shaking hands and shouting thanks as we went. Having travelled in from all over – Todmorden, Macclesfield, Salford, Didsbury, Wigan, et al – many cast members were banking on catching the last trains of the day and were likely to be stranded! Luckily everyone made it on time, but that regrettably meant cutting very interesting conversations short. With any luck, we might welcome some returning audience members to the next incarnation of the piece (watch this space!) and find ourselves with a little more time to discuss everything!

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The hard-working cast of Shirley

DTK’s involvement in the Morley Arts Festival is far from complete, however. On 8th October, the company’s founder and resident playwright Caroline Lamb will join local poet and fellow Brontë enthusiast Simon Zonenblick at Morley Library to deliver an event entitled Exploring the Brontës; an evening consisting of readings of work and letters by the famous literary family itself as well as pieces inspired by them. For more details and to book, simply follow the link below:

EXPLORING THE BRONTËS

All in all, the positive responses over the last few days have really helped us to feel like we’ve hit the ground running, so do watch out for future updates about Shirley and other projects!

Shirley Readings – September 2016

Book now for Shirley!

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Grab your tickets for the first ever airing of our new production – Shirley – while you can, as numbers are limited!

AVAILABLE HERE

Shirley is an unapologetic, all-guns-blazing conception of Charlotte Brontë’s 1849 novel of the same name.

Set during the perfect storm of British workforce rebellion and violent international unrest, the piece reveals that the politics of work, war and love will not change while we are short of powerful, unified and positive calls to action. An eerie pre-echo of the UK’s current zeitgeist, this adaptation moulds Brontë’s hyperactive, multilinear plot into a slick, eloquent but vociferous appeal for reason and alliance.

This performance will be script in hand – the perfect opportunity to see Dangerous To Know’s latest work-in-progress!

DATE: 27/09/2016

TIME: Doors @ 7 to begin at 7.30

The Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Woodkirk, Dewsbury Rd, Leeds WF12 7JL

St Mary's

Book now for Shirley!