K.W.P. – Archive

Dare always dare - Lilian Baylis quote in red neon light

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Beginnings – Archive

An overview

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 performance at Bolton Castle. Marie with maidservant and audience in Bolton Castle courtyard.
Marie Stuart – Fleur d’Ecosse performance.
Mary Queen of Scots with Maid Servant and audience.

‘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. 

A Fiver's Worth of Courage - flyer

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, Westminster Meeting House and HMP Brixton.

A Fiver's Worth of Courage HMP Brixton performance. Elizabeth Fry with Hannah Skelton.
‘To Freedom’s Cause’ HMP Brixton: Elizabeth Fry & Harriet Skelton (Kate Willoughby & Alison Kent); Photo: David Pearson; 2005.

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

The play 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.

To Freedom's Cause PR image at Finghall station. Credit: Chris Wheatley.
Suffragettes at Finghall Station: Katie Walker, Val Burgess, Kate Willoughby, Emma Hartley, Rachel Duck. Photo credit: Chris Wheatley.

Kate was thrilled with the audience feedback from the performances at Bolton Castle and the Friar’s Head, Akebar that took place in 2009. 

The ensemble cast created a strong production that intertwined 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.

House Of Commons event: performance of ‘To Freedom’s Cause’ and post-show debate with with Chi Onwurah MP, Dr Helen Pankhurst, Yas Necati & Emma Barnett. Chaired by Jane Garvey (BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour).

In February 2014, the play followed in Emily’s footsteps with a special performance at the House of Commons, sponsored by Emily Thornberry MP

The event was also the catalyst for #Emilymatters, an initiative to help support the great work carried out by fourth wave feminist campaigns for gender equality, including No More Page 3, CARE International and Go Girls Wales.