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.

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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.”

Mrs Barraclough
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

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

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!

Ambleside Reading Announced!

We don’t like to rest!

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However, we DO like the beautiful Lake District, so we’re heading up to Ambleside on the  25th August at 5:30pm, where we’ll be delivering our highly popular readings of Brontë poetry and prose in the lovely library!

Take a look at the Facebook page for further details. Please spread the word – we can promise a highly enjoyable evening for all!

CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Ambleside Reading Announced!

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: Day Two

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INFO / TRAILER / DONATE

If I look tired, it’s because I am!

Day one in Broughton-in-Furness was a fantastic start to the readings, with a lovely audience who asked really interesting and pertinent questions. It was a pleasure to chat to them, and, despite the ominous drizzle that had accompanied our journey to Broughton, on setting out from the Black Cock Inn and heading off on our way, the clouds dissipated and we enjoyed gentle sunlight for the rest of our 24.4 mile journey!

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Despite an 11pm finish in Kendal, I was feeling fresh and ready to go this morning, when I whizzed over to Lakeland Radio to chat to Simon Yaxley about the adventure so far. We cut it fine, but made it to Kendal Library with time to spare.

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After a fantastic 12 o’clock reading with a very warm welcome and another friendly, hugely receptive audience, we struck out once again towards Cowan Bridge, and we made it in astonishingly good time, having enjoyed a little impromptu parade through Kirkby Lonsdale as we stumbled across a local brass band contest!

VIDEO: PLAYED THROUGH KIRKBY LONSDALE

VIDEO: COWAN BRIDGE APPEARS

VIDEO: THE COWAN BRIDGE SCHOOL PLAQUE 

The Cowan Bridge readings also went down a treat, thanks to a very enthusiastic audience and despite our having walked around forty miles over the past two days. The reception we’ve had each time has been wonderful!

And now I look like this:

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This is a face that has worked hard. This is a face that has travelled many miles and said many words multiple times to many nice audience members. This face alone deserves support. Whether you donate or simply spread the word, it would be hugely appreciated.

We’re on a two-day push to Halifax starting tomorrow. We’ll be in the library from 5:30pm on Tuesday. Please support the company by sharing the below link, or clicking it, watching our trailer and making a donation. See you on the other side!

TRAILER, INFO AND DONATIONS

Fundraising Walk: Day Two

Setting Off

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It’s almost time to go!

We’ll be heading out to get into Broughton-in-Furness, the site of the first reading, at 2pm this afternoon. We’ll set out by car, but from Broughton it’ll be on foot for 130 miles! We’ll be wearing these bright and beautiful t-shirts designed by Sue Richardson, so keep an eye out and you may just spot us!

The weather’s not great, but what would Cumbria be without a little drizzle?

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Things get even more exciting tomorrow morning, as from 11am, Caroline will be chatting about our project with Simon Yaxley of Lakeland Radio, before heading to the reading in Kendal Library. You can listen in HERE!

Wish us luck!

For more information on our venture and to donate or watch a trailer for THE DISSOLUTION OF PERCY, please click the following link:

CAMPAIGN DETAILS

Take a look below for details and venues of Caroline’s tour.

Current Venue List for Caroline’s Readings Tour:

The Black Cock Inn, Broughton-in-Furness – Saturday 20th June – 14:00pm

Kendal Library, Kendal – Sunday 21st June – 12:00pm

Cowan Bridge Village Hall, Cowan Bridge – Sunday 21st June – 19:00pm

Halifax Central Library, Halifax – Tuesday 23rd June – 17:30pm

The Cardigan Centre, Leeds – Wednesday 24th June – 20:00pm

The New Inn, Thornton – Thursday 25th June – 20:00pm

Cobbles and Clay, Haworth – Friday 26th June – 18:00pm

Sowerby Bridge Library, Sowerby Bridge – Saturday 27th June – 14:00pm

The Kings Arms Theatre, Salford – Wednesday 8th July – 7:30pm

Follow the company on Twitter (@DTKManc) and use the hashtag #nocowardsoulismine to tweet about this adventure!

Setting Off