Kate Willoughby Productions
For more information on TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE, click here.
Kate Willoughby Productions as the name suggests produces work by Kate Willoughby. Kate’s first foray into writing came as a result of working at Bolton Castle in Wensleydale, where she wrote and produced a one-off ‘Ivanhoe’ themed performance for the Great Houses & Gardens of Yorkshire group.
With the kind support of Lord and Lady Bolton Kate went on to research Mary Queen of Scots who had been imprisoned for 6 months at Bolton Castle after her flight from Scotland. ‘Marie Stuart – Fleur d’Ecosse’ developed from a simple two hander, relying heavily on Mary’s own writings, to a full promenade production that was successfully performed over the summer season.
Kate continued to work on the production adapting it for school groups, creating a French translation of the play for visiting cross Channel groups as well as working on a final version specifically for the castle’s Great Chamber. This endeavour was rewarded with the official approval of the Marie Stuart Society.
After Mary Queen of Scots, Kate’s interest turned to Elizabeth Fry, the nineteenth century prison reformer. Once again she threw herself into extensive research, visiting Friends House London and Norwich PRO to read Elizabeth’s original journals. ‘A Fiver’s Worth of Courage’ also premiered at Bolton Castle as a promenade play, before being adapted for a London tour to a number of diverse venues including the Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden and HMP Brixton.
An ongoing thread in Kate’s work is music and singing. These key elements evoke the period portrayed and bring warmth and poignancy to her plays.
Kate’s most recent play is called ‘To Freedom’s Cause’ about the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. It focuses on the last few months of Emily’s life before the 1913 Derby as well as the later effects her dramatic sacrifice had on her close friend Mary Leigh and the King’s Jockey Herbert Jones.
Kate was thrilled with the audience feedback from the performances at Bolton Castle and the Friar’s Head, Akebar that took place in September and October 2009. The ensemble cast created a strong production that interwined drama with comedy. Special thanks go to Colin and Joyce Ellwood of the Friar’s Head as well as Tom and Katie Orde Powlett of Bolton Castle.
Productions to date include:
A FIVER’S WORTH OF COURAGE
Premiere at Bolton Castle. Later a London tour to HMP Brixton, Tristan Bates Theatre, St Paul’s Church & Westminster Meeting House.
An exploration of the life of the pioneering nineteenth century prison reformer Elizabeth who was the first woman to address a House of Commons Committee in her crusade to improve the hellish conditions in women’s prisons and especially Newgate prison.
“I think the play will have a stimulating effect on its audience to look at the woman, the Quaker, the local celebrity and the prison reformer so far ahead of her time.” Melvyn Freake, THE FRIEND (London production)
“A FIVER’S WORTH OF COURAGE was not only historically accurate, but also helped the audience step into the culture and concepts of the time … Through the promenade technique she skillfully involved the audience, helping them to relate to women prisoners in Newgate or those about to be transported. ” Pip Land, DARLINGTON & STOCKTON TIMES (Bolton Castle production)
MARIE STUART – FLEUR D’ECOSSE
Premiere at Bolton Castle.
A promenade production that recreated Mary’s early imprisonment and fabled unsuccessful attempt to escape the castle.
IVANHOE THEMED EVENT
One-off performance at Bolton Castle.
In association with Louis Roederer for the Great Houses & Gardens of Yorkshire. Included a Saxon banquet scene and pig handling in the castle yard.