Shirley Programme

Take a look at the lovely programme for our presentation of Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley at Farfield Mill in Sedbergh, Cumbria!

It’s the first time ever that the novel has been adapted for performance – so we really are making history! See the full cast and crew for this unprecedented production in order of appearance below:

 

  Seán Fitton

Michael Barraclough / Reverend Helstone / Mr Sympson

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An award winning child actor, Seán returned to the theatre later in life after a short thirty year break.  Shirley is his second project with Dangerous To Know and he is very pleased and proud to be back with the team.  He particularly enjoys learning about the historical context and feminist politics of DTK’s shows, and the challenge of playing multiple roles convincingly.

In addition to professional acting work, Seán is also a mature student at Salford University – studying for a BA in Theatre and Performance Practice – an author and an occasional musician.

 

Jo Gerard

Mrs Barraclough / Hortense / Mrs Pryor

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Jo lives in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.  She trained at the Arden School of Theatre, Manchester.

Her theatre credits include work with Northern Broadsides, Dark Horse Theatre and  Manchester 24/7 festival. She has appeared on screen in Emmerdale, The Royal Today and Victoria Wood’s That Day We Sang, and also has a couple of commercials under her belt.

A Jazz vocalist, music teacher and lover of yoga, Jo was involved in the original rehearsed reading of Caroline Lamb’s adaptation of Shirley last year and is delighted to be performing it at Farfield Mill this year. 

 

Mark Roberts

Robert Moore

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Mark trained at the Arts Educational School of Acting in London. He is native to the Peak District in Derbyshire and is now based in Manchester. As an Actor and Theatre Maker he regularly works on new writing and rehearsed readings.

He is an associate artist with the Babbling Vagabonds Theatre Company.

Recent stage credits include Freddy Frith in Derby Live & Babbling Vagabonds’ Captain Sprout and the Christmas Pirates, Detective Caminada for Pagelight Productions’ A Very Victorian ScandalSam Philips in Rock and Roll Productions’ Memphis SonMartin in Blind Faith’s Fool for Love, Mr Hardcastle & Luther Gascoigne in The Library Theatre Company’s Playing Up North, Jacob Grimm in the Babbling Vagabonds’ The Brothers Grimm, Will Derby in Cotton Grass Theatre’s Thin Air and Bottom, Oberon & Demetrius in Sheffield Crucible’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Behind the CurtainRecent film roles have included DCI Anthony Roberts for Green Pen Productions’ Bad Blood and Sheep Dawg in Lesta-Botheration’s 8Acre.

He is pleased to be working with Dangerous To Know for the first time on what has been a fascinating production to be in.

 

Elka Lee Green

Caroline Helstone

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Elka graduated from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts North in 2014. Some of her favourite credits include the devised verbatim piece Vent (the Royal Exchange’s Co:Lab festival), the role of Chelsea in two tours of the hard-hitting play Chelsea’s Choice (Alter Ego Creative Solutions) a speaking role in the opera Intermezzo (Garsington Opera) and Danny the Champion of the World (Brentwood Theatre). She has also appeared in short films with Dustfarm, Little Joy Productions and Quickfoot Media. It’s a Dangerous To Know double bill for Elka this month as she will be playing Ellen Turner in their next exciting commission, Theft of a Girl, a live monologue blended with stop motion film for Lyme Park’s “Live at Lyme” event.

 

Sam Redway

Joe Scott / Louis Moore

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Sam Redway is an award-winning Manchester-based actor, theatre-maker and co-Artistic Director of Knaïve Theatre. He trained at RADA on the MA Theatre Lab (2014). He has toured nationally and internationally as Osama Bin Laden in Knaïve Theatre’s multi-international award-winning Bin Laden: The One Man Show. His directing includes Mike Bartlett’s Contractions, A Dead Tree Gives No Shelter (ACE Funded) and OSA. His writing includes co-writing Bin Laden: The One Man Show; a Modern Mystery Play, The Fall; and a libretto for Size Zero Opera, Women Conduct. 

He has performed and devised with many companies nationally and internationally, including: Theatre Ad Infititum, Familia De La Noche, Dangerous to Know, Manchester Camerata, Smoking Apples, Hiccup Theatre and Engine House Productions.

 

Caroline Lamb

Shirley

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Caroline graduated from the Lincoln School of Performing Arts in 2012 and works as a writer, producer and actor. Her performance credits include Gwendolen in the Houldsworth Rep’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Emily Brontë in Dangerous To Know’s The Dissolution of Percy and Jane in Haddon Hall’s Jane Eyre. Writing credits include Dangerous To Know’s The Dissolution of Percy, Theft of a Girl and Shirley.

Caroline is thrilled to be returning to her home town with Shirley!

 

Joe Colgan

Stage Manager

Joseph Colgan is a North West based freelance Company Stage Manager. Alongside working on TV and film projects, he has provided technical support for corporate entertainment events, festivals, theatre and education. In addition to this CSM’ing for national touring productions at venues across the UK and Ireland, recent engagements include OMTC Festival 2017 and filming on City and The City for BBC/Mammoth Films and A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Feelgood Theatre Company.

 

Helen Parry

Director

Helen is a freelance theatre director who originally trained as an actor. She has an extensive body of work ranging from classical plays to new writing with several site-specific projects along the way. She will be teaching at ALRA this term and then is off to Copenhagen in January to direct Caryl Churchill’s A Number for That Theatre Company. Her continued collaboration with Caroline Lamb’s company, Dangerous to Know, excites and inspires!

Shirley Programme

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

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

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!

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Feedback!

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!