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!

shirley-cast
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!

Advertisements
Shirley Readings – September 2016

Book now for Shirley!

Shirley image 2

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!

Fundraising walk: Final day

image

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

image

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.

image

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!

image

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:

image

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:

image

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.

image

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 4

image

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.

image

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!

image

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

Brontë Readings Tour: June 2015 Fundraiser

General

Caroline, The Dissolution of Percy‘s Emily Brontë, will be walking over 130 miles in one week to raise money for the company’s November production. Along the way, she’ll be stopping off at major sites related to the story to deliver performed readings of work by the Brontës as well as pieces inspired by the famous family and donated by friends, colleagues and audience members!

There is no need to book in advance for the readings – all you need to do is come along on the night.

To donate a piece of writing inspired by The Brontës, please email dtkmanchester@gmail.com with your work attached or in the body of the email. Please include your name and the venue you will be attending!

Current Venue List

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

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

Brontë Readings Tour: June 2015 Fundraiser

A Few Big Days

11182768_466672460155136_6604258518763085201_o         11182754_466504950171887_5962680469970913585_o11174345_466500973505618_6889683051397141896_o

(Images courtesy of Ian Howard)

There’s been a flurry of activity over the last couple of weeks, despite the fact that the production itself won’t launch until November! The cast all met at Contact on Oxford Road on 15th April for our first table-reading of the revised script, which ran to just under two hours. It was also a chance to meet our new director, Helen Parry, and discuss what was to come. Everyone left very tired but extremely enthused about the coming months. A few months previously, after seeing an invitation on Facebook, producer Caroline leapt at the chance to sign the whole company up to a mysterious foray into the unknown wilderness of the Yorkshire Moors, to assist Ian, the man behind Wuthering Hikes, and Oliver of gVisions media in the filming of an Ask The Locals documentary about the locations that inspired the Brontës. See the trailer below!

The day started with a bit of an honour – we met at the Black Bull pub, where the staff kindly brought down the chair that is reputed to have been Branwell Brontë’s favourite. Still in visibly good nick but apparently rather fragile-feeling when sat on, the cast and crew of the shoot were allowed to use it for a brief few moments before it was whisked away again (see the shots of “Branwell” in front of the stained glass window in the video above.)

We shot a scene in the pub, then were whisked along a winding road to the reservoir and up past Ponden Hall, the grand house the young Brontës used to visit, home to a well-stocked library that they famously used. Up and up we went, scrambling up jagged stone steps and over boggy moorland for what seemed like millions of miles to those who are used to the uninspiring grey concrete of Manchester. But what a reward! The scenery was utterly stunning, and Oliver, who was operating the camera, captured some absolutely gorgeous pieces of footage in a location that was like no other on earth.

We shot a further scene at the Alcomden stones, near to the site of a near-disastrous bog-burst that almost claimed the lives of the young Brontës, then wandered back down via the fairy cave (see the clip of the three women in the video above) and past Ponden Hall again, where the residents kindly granted the crew permission to film a couple of scenes in the garden. With aching legs and buzzing spirits, the company headed back into Haworth, where we enjoyed a delicious meal and a cheeky drink at The Fleece Inn, then set off for home. We’re now eagerly awaiting the release date of the documentary, which, we’re told, will organically develop with each shoot, but will focus on some unusual secrets hidden around the moors that may suggest Druid activity in Haworth at the time, as well as elements of the Brontës books that may cryptically hint towards Masonic inspiration. Keep an eye on gVisions media for more! As a final update, the company’s funding bid has now whizzed off to the Arts Council, complete with superb supporting documents provided by The Brontë Parsonage Museum, Bradford City Council, Salford Community Leisure and Two Yolks Theatre as well as the lovely feedback we received from our sharing in January. Here’s hoping!

A Few Big Days

Work in development: The Dissolution of Percy

Branwell has tried and tried and tried. He has missed his calling and his genius has faded. He drinks too much, maybe, and can’t quite shake himself free from his own imagination. But he still has Lydia.

Lydia has had enough. Gnawed by loneliness and physical frustration, immobilized by her station, companionship and release must be had, and soon. An afternoon or two in the company of her son’s young tutor might be enough.

Charlotte has a plan. Her younger sister stays up late into the night, hunched over papers. If this is what she thinks it is, something might be beginning. But perhaps it is of no importance.

A searing critical exploration of the cruel gender politics that destroyed a man, made a villain of his lover and chained his sisters to a life they despised, The Dissolution of Percy tackles the controversial events surrounding the final few years in the life of Branwell Brontë. Reflecting on our surprising lack of moral evolution between the nineteenth century and the modern day, the play plunges its audience into a world balanced in stark counterpoint between high, violent passions, steady, grim pragmatism and gallows humour.

Work in development: The Dissolution of Percy