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!

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Feedback!

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!

West Yorkshire: Two in One!

Well, it was only a matter of time before we were back in Brontë country!

After a very early start, we found ourselves in the lovely little town of Morley, in the very well-kept and well-attended library. Our thanks go to Simon Zonenblick, who offered us the opportunity to take the readings there. Simon is currently working on a documentary film about Branwell Brontë’s time on the Manchester to Leeds railway at Sowerby Bridge and Luddenden Foot, so please keep your eye out for it! Visit the website here or follow @CaterpillarPoet on Twitter for updates.

The audience filtered in – a chatty, upbeat lot who helped themselves to tea and coffee and seemed very much up for a morning of entertainment! The event went swimmingly, and the ladies and gentlemen in attendance didn’t make it easy for us to leave afterwards, indulging Caroline’s penchant for being quizzed in Brontë trivia to the point where she had to be virtually dragged away when it was time to go! Interest certainly seemed to be piqued by the biographical side of the talk, and we enjoyed giving recommendations for various books on the Brontë family. Our sincerest thanks go to the staff of Morley library who rounded up such a superb crowd and really made us feel at home. It’s definitely not goodbye forever!

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Alas, however, we did have to go, and our next destination was a famous one. We travelled along the Thornton Road to Haworth, retracing the route Caroline took on her 130 mile walk three months ago and doubtlessly the one taken by the young Brontës when they moved to the town in 1820. We were starving upon arrival, but that was easily and comprehensively fixed by a brief trip to Cobbles and Clay, the wonderful art cafe that hosted one of our readings in June. Tuscan Bean Stew, Bean Burritos and an absolutely divine warm sticky apple cake were very much enjoyed!

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After that, we paid a visit to the always atmospheric and affecting Parsonage Museum, examined the original bullet holes blasted by Patrick “If I Hit Anyone In The Churchyard They’ll Already Be Dead” Brontë in his own church tower, and paid a quiet little visit to the memorial above the Brontë crypt. After all, it was quite a special day.

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A faint rainbow ends on the moors.

24th September, 1848, marked the sad day of Branwell Brontë’s death at the age of 31. 167 years later, we were on our way to read work by himself and his famous sisters at Ponden Hall, one of their favourite childhood haunts and the site of some of their happiest memories and most intense inspiration. It is likely to be one of the properties that inspired Emily’s Wuthering Heights as well as the probable template for Darkwall, an affluent home mentioned multiple times in the Brontë children’s Angrian saga.

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The evening was beautiful and calm, and the house was warm and homely. We were safely shut away from the ghosts that many say wander its grounds. (We’ll be reading there on Halloween though – let’s see what happens then!) We were very pleased to see that the Collections Manager from the Brontë Parsonage, Ann Dinsdale, had come along to see what we were up to! Again, we really enjoyed performing the readings, but what turned a fun night into an excellent one was the exemplary spread laid out by Ponden resident and owner, Julie Akhurst. No fewer than FOUR cakes – including a traditional Victorian “seed cake” flavoured wonderfully with caraway, as well as scones, sandwiches and tea brewed the proper Yorkshire way graced the table and the guests tucked in heartily! However, the evening was not over, and Julie then took us on a tour of the ancient house. Utterly spoiled, we were treated to a glimpse of the famous “Box Bed” room from Wuthering Heights and the library that allowed the young Brontës to further develop their love of reading.

Another fabulous day sharing the works of the Brontë family with other enthusiasts had certainly worn us out, but it’s not over yet! We’re at Scarborough Library on Thursday 1st October, then we’ll retrace our steps to Cowan Bridge to perform a Jane Eyre-themed reading in the famous Clergy Daughters’ Schoolhouse – the template for Lowood School in Charlotte’s classic novel – on Wednesday 21st October, and finally we’ll be back at Ponden Hall for our eerie Halloween event!

Watch this space for more information, and take a moment to remember poor tragic Branwell, 200 years old in 2017. See our original production about the end of his life in Salford and Haworth this November.

West Yorkshire: Two in One!

Thank you, Ambleside!

Yesterday, we found ourselves in the territory of the prestigious “Lake Poets”.

The connection between the Brontës and Ambleside may not be immediately apparent; indeed, I only really knew the half of it until I did some further research prior to travelling up for the reading. Our November production, The Dissolution of Percy, focuses largely on the final few years in the life of Branwell, the Brontë brother, and therefore it was Branwell’s connection with the town that originally drew me there. In 1837, shortly prior to his 20th birthday, Branwell wrote to the poet William Wordsworth – a resident of the area and only a few years away from becoming Poet Laureate – asking for his advice and suggesting that the celebrated older man might offer him some constructive criticism of a couple of his poems. The letter was fairly well put-together, until Branwell’s burning ambitions got the better of him. The younger man royally shot himself in the proverbial foot by writing:

In this day, when there is not a writing poet worth sixpence, the field must be open, if a better man can step forward.

~ Branwell Brontë to William Wordsworth, 1837

According to contemporary accounts, Wordsworth was less than impressed by Branwell’s writing-off of every one of his contemporaries – the majority of whom he respected highly – whilst seemingly naming himself as his addressee’s successor in one sentence. The letter remained unanswered.

At almost exactly the same time, Branwell’s oldest sister, Charlotte, wrote to Robert Southey, another resident of the Lakes and the contemporary Poet Laureate. It seemed the siblings were undertaking something of a networking project. Charlotte’s letter DID receive a response. Unfortunately, that response was not particularly positive and eventually proved to be very poorly calculated. When mentioned to Brontë fans today, it often garners rather a wry chuckle if not an all-out exasperated sigh. Southey famously wrote:

Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it even as an accomplishment and a recreation.

~ Robert Southey to Charlotte Brontë, 1837

Ugh.

Three years later, Branwell found himself relatively nearby in Broughton-in-Furness as the tutor to two young boys who were part of the Postlethwaite family. On days off, he often took excursions around that area of the Lake District and, in Ambleside, found himself in the company of Hartley Coleridge, son of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Small in stature and highly strung just like Branwell himself, Coleridge was an opium addict and prone to poor health. His conditions seem now to be an eerie forewarning of the later decline of his young friend. The two got on extremely well, to the point where Branwell decided to show Coleridge translations from the Odes of Horace that he had been working on. As far as biographers have been able to discern, Coleridge was extremely impressed, and the pair seem to have started hatching a plan for the publication of the works. A draft of a hugely enthusiastic letter from Branwell to Coleridge is still in existence, in which he promises to complete the remaining translations and that, if Coleridge was able to assist in the publication of the work, he would happily split the profits with him. The letter was almost certainly sent, but seems to have remained unanswered. Coleridge’s health, both physical and mental, was poor, and he may have been struck with a bout of depression that wiped all thoughts of his young friend from his mind. The 23-year-old Branwell’s correspondence with Hartley Coleridge was the closest he ever came to literary success.

So much for the Brontës’ relationship with the “Lake Poets”.

A further link with Ambleside arose ten years later, when the local papers announced that “Miss Brontë”, authoress of Jane Eyre, would be visiting “Miss Martineau” in the town. The pair mentioned, of course, were Charlotte Brontë (now the only remaining sibling after the death of her youngest sister Anne the previous year) and Harriet Martineau, the social theorist and political writer. During her time in Ambleside, Charlotte was cursed with the presence of one Sir James Shuttleworth, who enjoyed lecturing her and another visitor – who happened to be the novellist Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell – about the finer points of writing. The two women escaped into each others’ company and a friendship was formed that would last for the remainder of Brontë’s life. Gaskell was even approached by Charlotte’s father and husband, Patrick Brontë and Arthur Bell Nicholls, to write her biography after her death in 1855.

When we arrived, the town was alive with summer tourists and washed in bright sunshine. Arriving at the library with a good amount of time to spare, we were greeted with enthusiasm and an expertly-made cuppa. The library provided a cozy backdrop for an intimate session of readings, and the atmosphere was friendly and lively throughout. We were a good-humoured crowd, and I was buoyed a great deal by the apparent interest of the members of library staff who also listened in. After the readings, I admitted to the library manager, Jane, that my study of the Brontës was really my first excursion into classic literature. She responded: “well, you have the journey of a lifetime ahead of you.”

The positive, warm and friendly responses the readings have generated have been extremely encouraging, and suggest very positive things for our production in November. Upon getting back to Manchester, we received this lovely piece of feedback from the library staff:

“A really charismatic performance… Love and deep understanding of the Brontës shines through and engages the audience completely.”

So, if you were in any doubt about attending one of our readings – there’s a reason why you should!

In case you missed us last time in Scarborough, we’ll be back on 5th September for a matinee reading at Wardle and Jones book shop at 2pm! This one’s slightly different. We’ll be exploring the life and work of the most underrated of the Brontë sisters, the accomplished social commentator Anne.

Come along: the more the merrier! No need to book.

Thank you, Ambleside!

Announced: Scarborough Event!

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Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be in Scarborough on 8th August at 6pm, reading a little more of the beautiful work by the Bronte family, and chatting about their intriguing lives and (in some cases) scandalous relationships!

Original pieces will also be brought to the stand, and audience members are welcome to donate a short piece of work for this purpose. Simply email dtkmanchester@gmail.com!

If you’d like a little more information about the event…

PLEASE CLICK HERE

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Dangerous To Know is a currently self-funded Northern theatre company, which will always be grateful of support. Our upcoming production, The Dissolution of Percy, an original piece about the final few years in the life of Branwell Bronte, will be staged in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire this coming November. For more information, and to watch a trailer for the production…

PLEASE CLICK HERE

Announced: Scarborough Event!

More Brontë readings to come!

After the success of our big campaign in June, in which AD Caroline Lamb walked 130 miles in one week, stopping off to deliver readings of poetry, prose and letters by the Brontë family, we thought we’d crack the little black folder out a second time for a few of the important Brontë-related sites we’ve not yet covered* (the walking boots are staying at home this time!)

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While dates are still being confirmed, we are pleased to announce that our intimate, enlightening, fun and slightly scandalous event will soon be delivered in Scarborough, Ambleside and York during August and September. Other sites may yet be added!

CLICK HERE: Readings announced in Westmorland Gazette

CLICK HERE: Readings announced in Yorkshire Times

CLICK HERE: Readings reviewed on Brontë Society Blog

*Yes, we do know about London and Brussels. One day!

More Brontë readings to come!

Fundraising walk: Final day

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We had an early start, and set off from Haworth with the sun beating down upon us as we set a course for the final point in our journey: Sowerby Bridge, where Branwell Brontë once worked as a clerk  on the railway.

It isn’t just the Brontë connection that causes me to be fascinated by Haworth – it’s the fact that, visually, it has changed so little since their time, and the thought that a number of its inhabitants can boast local ancestry stretching back before the time of the famous literary family.

VIDEO: “MYSTERIOUS” HAWORTH

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The names used in the area also suggest their link to the town’s history. The Haworth Free School may once have welcomed Branwell into its tutelage, but for some reason – be it his highly strung personality, the mental or physical health issues that many now suggest that he had, or something else – he could only have attended for a few months before being withdrawn for home-schooling.

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I got the chance once again to pass over the lovely West Yorkshire Moors, though the terrain wasn’t always on my side.

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Though I did make a couple of friends along the way. The locals of West Yorkshire are friendly whatever their species!

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As is always the way with the North, one kind of weather didn’t seem to be enough and, suddenly I found myself battling gale-force winds as I made my way through Wainstalls.

VIDEO: BIT WINDY!

Eventually, signs for Luddenden Foot, where Branwell briefly enjoyed a promotion to the position of clerk in charge, lifted my spirits someone despite the sweltering sun, as my destination was getting ever-closer:

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However, I knew my legs and feet wouldn’t hold up for much longer, and was grudgingly grateful that this was the final ten miles of my 130 mile journey. I decided to write a short song to commemorate the quest as I hobbled along. (Warning: suggests a naughty word!)

VIDEO: CAROLINE’S TOTALLY ORIGINAL COMPOSITION

Trivia: Caroline holds Grade 8 with distinction with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Seriously. It’s on her Spotlight and everything. The fraud.

I was overjoyed to arrive in Sowerby Bridge in good time, and found a wonderful welcome awaiting. This fab display really made it all feel a bit special, and was particularly poignant as this was the final date of my readings tour:

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Audience members were arriving a good fifteen minutes before the start, and, once I began, all seemed highly interested in the subject and started some really interesting discussions after the talk was finished. Sowerby Bridge library really seems a vital part of its community, and this seemed evident in the numbers that attended the event.

At the end, I packed away my things with a degree of sadness, because, though I was looking forward to heading home for a good rest, I knew I would miss this project hugely. I hope to put on some more readings in the near future (there is one lined up for 8th July at 7:30, at the Kings Arms in Salford), but it was the combination of those and the walking that really made this an experience to remember.

The adventure had also left its mark on my trainers, which evidently decided that enough was enough and have now been given last rites.

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You have served me well, trainers. You will be remembered.

VIDEO: TRIBUTE TO MY TRAINERS

So it’s over now! A few really exciting opportunities have arisen from this venture, and we have big plans for the next couple of months before The Dissolution Percy hits the stage at the Kings Arms in Salford from 4th – 7th November and for one night in Haworth at the Parkside Social Club on 14th November.

So keep an eye on our website and Twitter feed (@DTKManc) for updates. In the meantime, please do take a look at the below link for The Dissolution of Percy‘s trailer, further information about the production, and for the chance to donate to our exciting new company! Please share the information wherever you can – any assistance is hugely appreciated.

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Fundraising walk: Final day