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.

Joe Scott
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.”

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.

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After Shirley

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

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!

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

Fundraising walk: Final day

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TRAILER / INFO / CAMPAIGN

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.

VIDEO: DAD JOKE

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.

TRAILER / INFO / CAMPAIGN

Fundraising walk: Final day

Fundraising Walk: Day 7

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INFO / TRAILER / CAMPAIGN

It was a rather grim start to the day, damp and overcast, but the walk was only a little over six miles in a straight line between Thornton and Haworth.

To set me up for the day ahead, I thought I’d give a little history lesson as I went on my way:

VIDEO: THORNTON ROAD

Then I recalled that it was time to do a birthday shout-out for a certain someone. I wasn’t quite up for stopping off to buy 198 candles though.

VIDEO: MANY (MANY) HAPPY RETURNS!

While the walk into Haworth was utterly gorgeous and highly atmospheric, it seemed so short compared with earlier treks that I could have blinked and missed it. I did have time, however, to be substantially miffed by the sight of a lovely claret-leather chair sitting alone in a field.

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I’m sure we could have made use of it if no one had wanted it; it looked in decent nick! However, if a person had brought it out with thoughts of sitting and admiring the fabulous view, then kudos to them – I’d have done the same.

After a short time, I found myself skirting the moors, with a direct path over them to Haworth. I was far too tempted. I clambered off the road, and had a little peace and quiet amidst the scrubby heather and tussocks of grass.

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Breaking over the brow of a hill, I finally came across this belter of a vista, with the town half-shrouded in mist at the bottom of the valley:

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A little further along, a steam train puffed along the Worth Valley railway below me, and I went completely potty, scrambling to film. Sadly I failed. You’ll have to imagine it. But it was lovely.

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The bunting was out in the town as I walked to the top of the steep street, making a beeline for the obligatory selfie outside:

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The Brontë Parsonage.

After admiring the bullet holes left in the church tower opposite by the wonderfully unique Reverend Patrick Brontë – who slept with a loaded pistol close at hand every night and discharged it out of the window every morning for safety’s sake – I had a poignant moment in the church where I paid my respects to the whole family, save Anne who was laid to rest in Scarborough.

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The talk, at the brilliant art cafe, Cobbles and Clay, was very well attended and the response was superb. The pieces that audience members donated to be read were of an extremely high standard as usual. After a very nice chat with the attendees, I popped over to The Black Bull, famously Branwell’s preferred watering hole, for a respectful pint, and was pleased to see that his favourite chair, still in one piece almost one hundred and seventy years after his death, was on display partway up the stairs.

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It’s hardly as if I’m a stranger to Haworth, but I very much enjoyed this visit – as I do all visits – to perhaps the most famous of my destinations.

With tomorrow comes the final stretch to Sowerby Bridge, where Branwell worked as a clerk on the railway, before I return to Manchester and reality. I’ll be at Sowerby Bridge library at 2pm, and it would be fantastic to see this wonderful adventure off in style.

Please do come along!

See the company’s trailer for The Dissolution of Percy, find out more information and take a look at our crowdfunding campaign below:

INFO / TRAILER / CAMPAIGN

Fundraising Walk: Day 7

Fundraising Walk: Day 4

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INFO / TRAILER / DONATE

The weather was absolutely fantastic today (the above photo perhaps not being the best evidence, but the sunburn on my forehead, ears and neck confirms it!), and we chose a route away from main roads in order to enjoy a bit of quiet and to get a chance to take in the surrounding landscape.

It was a little longer – around 27 miles in total – but it took us by Haworth and over the moors, through to Halifax.

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Alright for some… lazy cows.

The views were stunning, and we enjoyed the opportunity to relax a bit, though we were still working to a time limit! By the time we reached Halifax, we’d walked over 90 miles overall, so the tiredness really was kicking in!

VIDEO: CAROLINE CRACKS UNDER THE PRESSURE

VIDEO: INSPIRED BY THE MOORS AND DISTRACTED BY BIRDS

What a fantastic venue Halifax Library is, and what a lovely and receptive audience turned up! Many thanks must go out to the staff who not only worked hard to promote the event, but had chairs, teas and coffees set up for the attendees when we arrived.

Today marks the end – I think – of the 20+ mile stretches. Tomorrow, we deliver readings at The Cardigan Centre in Headingley, Leeds, at 8pm, and we’d love to see you there!

I can’t possibly close without thanking a very special member of my support team – my mum – who has worked twice as hard as I have; walking alongside me, planning and navigating the routes, listening with great patience to my incessant impromptu Brontë lectures… Time pressures have rendered it impossible for her to continue the journey with me, but we’ll check in frequently. A million thanks and lots of love!

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See the link below for details of how you can support our campaign. Watch the trailer for our production, The Dissolution of Percy, donate or share the information as you wish!

INFO / TRAILER / DONATE

Here are the remaining dates and venues for Caroline’s walk and readings tour:

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!

Fundraising Walk: Day 4