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Extended Deadline for ‘Sanctuary’ Actor Call Out for Two Roles

We have extended the deadline for the roles of Alland and Kamran in our brand new musical Sanctuary directed by Cheryl Martin and written by Boff Whalley and Sarah Woods.

Rehearsal dates: 19th Aug – 15th Sept 2024

Production week commencing 16th Sept 2024

Tour dates: 19th Sept – 6th Nov 2024

When Alland, a young Iranian man, begs to be given sanctuary at St. Mary’s church in a northern town, it sparks a community to react in all the ways each member believes to be right.

Molly, a young worker there, joins forces with vicar Fiona to resist both the angry vigilantes and the hard-hearted authorities beyond the church walls to try to protect Alland.

The roles:

Alland, playing age 19 – 25, Iranian [Kurdish]. Must be strong singer/actor.

Alland, a young journalist, went to protests in Iran supporting women who refuse compulsory hijab [headscarf] rules following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, who had been detained for allegedly breaking those rules. After posting on social media in support of the protests, Alland was targeted by the Iranian authorities and had to flee. Both Iranian women and men have been detained, tortured, and some have died as a result of the protests.

Although Alland reached the UK and claimed asylum, his application failed. Rather than go back to persecution in Iran, he seeks the ancient right of sanctuary in an Anglican church. But once there, Alland finds himself torn: his presence has attracted unwelcome attention from vigilantes, and he doesn’t want to be responsible for bringing trouble to people who are trying to help him.

Kamran, playing age 24- 30. British [Pakistani]. Must be strong singer/actor. Yorkshire.

Kamran, a friend of Molly’s older brother, was never prouder than when he became a policeman. He’s also proud of his immigrant parents, who came to the UK from Pakistan with nothing and built a good life here for themselves and their children. Following the rules worked for them; it’s worked for him, and he believes it will work for everyone. And he believes making sure everyone follows the rules will make life better. But even he feels the moral quagmire that Alland’s predicament embodies.

Auditions:
Molly & Alland – Thursday 6th June 2024 in Leeds (venue tbc)

Fiona, Kamran & Peter – Friday 7th June 2024 in Leeds (venue tbc)

To apply: please contact Cheryl Martin – cheryl@redladder.co.uk stipulating which role and enclosing CV and links to videos and spotlight.

Deadline for submissions: 12pm Friday 31st May 2024 – you will hear from us by Monday 3rd June 2024

Red Ladder is an ITC Ethical Manager, issuing ITC contracts.
Because of the inclusion of a community chorus, there may be some evening and weekend working, with time off in lieu.


Opening up new paths into acting, directing and writing by Cheryl Martin

I know how lucky I am to be at Red Ladder. On my way here, I was also lucky to be able to tap into paid residencies. A string of venues and their talent development programmes. And spaces to learn how to create all kinds of theatre, from large-scale community pieces to solo shows. I recently realised that almost every path I had to find a way into the profession is now closed. A lot of studio spaces and venues have had to close post-lockdown, a lot of venues have had to curtail outreach and development because of lost revenue, and the paid residencies that were thick on the ground when I started are now rare.

I want to give back a little of what I was given when I was starting out. So Red Ladder is adding new courses, led by me, in writing, acting and directing, starting next month. All the sessions in Leeds will be open to anyone from West Yorkshire wanting to have a go, although the acting course will especially welcome those who have already been part of our Red Grit or 2023-24 acting courses. And the online course is open to everyone, anywhere!

At the end of all three courses, we’ll hold a showcase that friends and family and others from the theatre industry can attend – and talent hunt.  We’ll be talent hunting ourselves, to look for future collaborators, or those who might be able to take up opportunities at Red Ladder.

Here is a brief summary of the courses.

Writing: in person and online.

🖊️ Starting from real life

🖊️ Creating multi-layered characters

🖊️ What makes good dialogue

🖊️ Different approaches to structure

Directing:

📣 Devising

📣 Tackling text

📣 How to structure rehearsals

📣 How to brief and work with designers and collaborators

📣 Working with actors

📣 A public showcase

Acting:

🎭 How to free yourself to take risks

🎭 Working with new writing

🎭 A public showcase

 

Come along and try a course.  They’re going to be fun.

Can’t wait to see you!

Cheryl.


Having a laugh for the first time in a while by Theo Madden

Hi, my Name is Theo Madden. I’m Currently studying sports journalism at Leeds Trinity University.

As part of my course, I have to complete a placement and decided to come out of my subject zone of sport and, after a successful placement with Leeds united last April, continue in PR. I had looked long and hard at options and know Red Ladder’s Marketing Manager Ruth but didn’t know much about the company. Although I had seen their play Promised Land when I was younger and really enjoyed it. When researching the company it was perfect because I love the creative industries, and there’s loads of good opportunities to network and see live performance.

Red Ladder is supporting local South Kirkby councillor Charlie Robinson with comedy workshops at the Mallard pub on Moorthorpe Train station which take place at 7:00pm to 8:30pm on Wednesday evenings. These are the third set of workshops run by Alex Dunlop for the theatre company, aimed at people interested in giving stand-up comedy a go.

I attended the first session to help Ruth with interviews for Red Ladder’s socials, signing people in and welcoming them. I have always loved comedy. My favourite comedian and legend is Victoria Wood. I also like “me old flower” Charlie Williams. So I thought I would sit in and see what the session was like. I got into the groove which made me stay until the end.

We started off with some games which were fun and then a short activity. For session two we had to bring 30 seconds of something to present. I was really impressed with everyone’s first go.

I can tell when I have really loved an event, I keep thinking and talking about it a lot. And that’s exactly it, I loved every moment, getting to know new people and their taste for comedy. But the major aspect for me was having a laugh for the first time in a while which was great!

The course enabled us to express the type of comedy we wanted to do in the way we want. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in comedy. It is a fantastic laugh, something fun, interactive and new to try. I will definitely be going back tomorrow night.

Magic Little Grants blue logo with stars

Millennium Community Hub CIC kindly received a Magic Little Grant through the partnership between Localgiving and Postcode Neighbourhood Trust to make this course possible. Postcode Neighbourhood Trust is a grant-giving charity funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.


Dead Girls Rising – Echoes of Eumenides: Punk, Fear, and Fury

Where do you start when you are asked to write a piece on a show that combines a love of real-murder podcasts, Greek mythology, punk, and the “tyrannical history of male power?” The only sensible answer can be, with the writer! So I found myself in conversation with Hull’s Maureen Lennon, writer of Dead Girls Rising, a brand new play for the Red Ladder Local circuit this month.

Six years in the making, Dead Girls Rising began when Maureen undertook a residency at Leeds Library and was surprised by some customers’ choice of reading:

Actually, we just spent a month kind of hanging around the library and getting inspiration and ideas, engaging with their spaces and what they did. The fact that there were all these older ladies coming in and taking out really gory books about both fictional and true crime really interested me. I had a kind of conflicted relationship with true crime.What was the attraction? So, I started to research it. How is it related to our lives and how was it speaking to us? Why does it especially appeal to women?

Maureen then wrote a short treatment for the potential show and, along with Alex Mitchell the Artistic Director of Silent Uproar and the co-director of the show Ruby Clarke, “Knocked it around for a while.”

Out of these conversations came the idea of two contemporary young women accidentally summoning Greek deities, the Furies, whilst asking questions such as what would they be like?

How could we represent the kind of power given that they were operating outside of the rules. It had always had songs but punk felt like a really great way to do that. And so we brought in Anya Pearson, the acclaimed punk musician to help and who has now been on board for over a year and a half.

Maureen explained that Dead Girls Rising straddles two worlds with its Greek mythical element but at its heart it is the story of two young women, Katie and Hannah, growing up.

It is looking at how the coming-of-age experience for girls and women so often involves learning to operate in a world of fear and a world which, whether something has happened to you or not, like the possibility of violence, often feels quite alive and the stories of that violence are everywhere. So, you are imbibing them all the time. What that does that do to us as human beings?

Two women dressed in school uniform moving around a fire in a bucket in a theatre set forest

Dead Girls Rising Rehearsal (c) Silent Uproar

Maureen continued:

As a society we kind of fetishise and are obsessed with the stories of dead girls. and I kind of wanted to explore why that was, but also what that does to us if it feels like. That story becomes so pervasive in our culture that the myth of the dead girl feels like one of our founding stories as a society and like something we need to investigate.

Maureen thought that this came from TV, literature and film but she returned to the classics stating that partly the play is inspired by Greek trilogy the Oresteia, which the Furies are part of. They are in the third play of the trilogy, The Eumenides, and that is often talked about in academic circles as being one of the founding examples of justice and a justice system. The judgement is based on the idea that women are not as important as men with the strong and disturbing misogyny of Apollo arguing that fathers have a greater claim over their children than mothers do.

I got really interested in that and I thought, wow, what a family to belong to!

Maureen doesn’t aim to lecture her audience but to hold a conversation and this piece does that on so many levels that should attract an audience of all ages and backgrounds. She is particularly keen to attract younger audiences to her work.

Aiming at a younger 16+ crowd doesn’t mean other people cannot or won’t come, but it just means it is about how do we make sure that a new generation also thinks the theatre is for them and is an exciting place. How do we kind of speak that language in a way that means stories we are telling are alive, vibrant, and exciting? It is also like the gig element; the venues that we are going to were carefully selected. We are trying to open out who will feel comfortable in the space.

Many of the performances on the tour are in non-traditional theatre spaces including two performances for Red Ladder Local at Marsden Mechanics on Saturday 25th May and The Cluntergate Centre Horbury on Sunday 26th May, both at 7:30pm.

Join Katie and Hannah and the Furies this month. You won’t be disappointed!

By John Heywood

Additional dates can be found at https://www.silentuproarproductions.co.uk/coming-soon


Actor Call Out – Sanctuary – Deadline 20.05.24

There are five roles to fill for our brand new musical Sanctuary directed by Cheryl Martin and written by Boff Whalley and Sarah Woods.

Rehearsal dates: 19th Aug – 15th Sept 2024

Production week commencing 16th Sept 2024

Tour dates: 19th Sept – 6th Nov 2024

When Alland, a young Iranian man, begs to be given sanctuary at St. Mary’s church in a northern town, it sparks a community to react in all the ways each member believes to be right.

Molly, a young worker there, joins forces with vicar Fiona to resist both the angry vigilantes and the hard-hearted authorities beyond the church walls to try to protect Alland.

The roles:

1. Alland, playing age 19 – 25, Iranian [Kurdish]. Must be strong singer/actor.

Alland, a young journalist, went to protests in Iran supporting women who refuse compulsory hijab [headscarf] rules following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, who had been detained for allegedly breaking those rules. After posting on social media in support of the protests, Alland was targeted by the Iranian authorities and had to flee. Both Iranian women and men have been detained, tortured, and some have died as a result of the protests.

Although Alland reached the UK and claimed asylum, his application failed. Rather than go back to persecution in Iran, he seeks the ancient right of sanctuary in an Anglican church. But once there, Alland finds himself torn: his presence has attracted unwelcome attention from vigilantes, and he doesn’t want to be responsible for bringing trouble to people who are trying to help him.

2. Molly, playing age 18-25, British. Must be strong singer/actor. Yorkshire.

Molly doesn’t just clean her local Anglican church, she looks on it as an oasis of Calm, an escape from her turbulent relationship with her father. When she first literally stumbles across Alland hiding in the church, she’s afraid of him, rejecting him out of hand. But as she gets to know him, and starts to empathise with his need to find an oasis, she begins to become a passionate supporter of his right to find a safe haven in the UK.

3. Fiona, playing age 38 – 45. British. Must be strong singer/actor. Yorkshire.

Fiona is vicar of a Leeds Anglican church. She’s more used to helping the homeless Than struggling with the ins and outs of Home Office policy. But she feels that her beliefs have real-world consequences, and that means supporting and protecting the stranger at her door, Alland. And that leads her to a clash with Church authorities. She has to become resourceful to try and save Alland from deportation.

4. Kamran, playing age 24- 30. British [Pakistani]. Must be strong singer/actor. Yorkshire.

Kamran, a friend of Molly’s older brother, was never prouder than when he became a policeman. He’s also proud of his immigrant parents, who came to the UK from Pakistan with nothing and built a good life here for themselves and their children. Following the rules worked for them; it’s worked for him, and he believes it will work for everyone. And he believes making sure everyone follows the rules will make life better. But even he feels the moral quagmire that Alland’s predicament embodies.

5. Peter, playing age 40 – 55. British. Must be strong singer/actor and pianist. Yorkshire.

Peter has worked hard to climb the Anglican hierarchy and become Archdeacon. He Believes in the Church as a leading force for good in the world, and does his best to support the vicars under his care. He doesn’t mind stretching a little to allow a vicar to try to do more for their congregation, or those who need more. But faced with Alland’s situation, and Fiona’s dilemma over supporting him, Peter begins to run out of road.

Auditions:
Molly & Alland – Thursday 6th June 2024 in Leeds (venue tbc)

Fiona, Kamran & Peter – Friday 7th June 2024 in Leeds (venue tbc)

To apply: please contact Cheryl Martin – cheryl@redladder.co.uk stipulating which role and enclosing CV and links to videos and spotlight.

Deadline for submissions: 12pm Monday 20th May 2024 – you will hear from us by Friday 24th May 2024

Red Ladder is an ITC Ethical Manager, issuing ITC contracts.
Because of the inclusion of a community chorus, there may be some evening and weekend working, with time off in lieu.


Sanctuary – a powerful and moving new Red Ladder musical asks ‘what kind of society do you want to live in?’

We’re excited to announce Artistic Director Cheryl Martin’s first Red Ladder production since taking the helm in January this year. Sanctuary, a compelling new musical written by Boff Whalley (We’re Not Going Back) and Sarah Woods, charts one man’s plea for help and refuge at a time when not all strangers are welcomed.

The debate around migrants, refugees and asylum seekers has become increasingly hostile and toxic in the UK, fuelled by inflammatory political rhetoric and fractious media headlines.

With Parliament having finally passed the controversial Rwanda bill allowing the Government to send some asylum seekers to Africa, desperate men, women and children still trying to cross the Channel in small boats, and a looming general election, it’s a debate that continues to rage.

All of which makes Sanctuary, which tours nationally from September, timelier than ever.

It revolves around the story of Alland, a young Iranian man who begs to be given sanctuary at a church in northern England, sparking a community to react in all the ways each member believes to be right.

Molly, a young worker there, joins forces with vicar Fiona to resist both the angry vigilantes and the hard-hearted authorities beyond the church walls to try to protect Alland.

Holding a special community service where voices on all sides sing their songs of redemption and condemnation, Fiona asks the question to everyone present: “Do we give Alland over to the State or live up to our well-versed ideals of compassion?”

The creative team have worked closely with people hoping to call the UK home, shaping Alland’s story. Writers Boff and Sarah spent the past six years collaborating on projects for Welsh National Opera, in partnership with the Oasis Centre for refugees and asylum seekers, to co-create original operas for a more diverse audience.

Director Cheryl spent eight years directing women refugees and asylum seekers in shows for Manchester’s Community Arts Northwest. This year, our friends Mafwa Theatre ran sessions with the team and students from Wakefield-based CAPA College, who then created their own workshops for secondary school pupils, supported by asylum seekers, that have helped inform the production.

This unique collaboration between Red Ladder, Theatre Royal Wakefield and CAPA College, featuring a chorus drawn from their brilliant performing arts students, mixes hard-hitting ideas with memorable melodic tunes and harmonies.

Cheryl Martin says: “Sanctuary comes at a critical moment in the conversation about immigration, refugees and asylum seekers, so it feels very timely and I’m glad that we’re doing it. I hope this musical helps open up this conversation because it’s one that goes to the heart of who we are and the kind of society we want to live in.”

Sanctuary welcomes us in and asks the question: “Do we want safety and freedom for only ourselves, or for us all?”

Come on in – the Service is about to begin…

Sanctuary will tour around the country from September 2024 in theatres and Red Ladder Local venues.


Our Creative Producer & Programmer, Alice, on what makes Red Ladder Local so special

On any given evening, just as it’s dropping dark, you’ll often find me sitting on a bus somewhere near Wakefield, or just outside of Barnsley, with a packed tea in tow and staring at my phone to make sure I get off at the right stop. I’ll be on my way to a Red Ladder Local gig, in a town or suburb that – without this job – I’d probably have never heard of, so sadly wouldn’t have been to.

Which tells you a lot about Red Ladder Local, and why it’s so important. If we’re in Leeds, and it takes me two trains and a bus to get there – then it’s taking someone who lives there a bus and two trains to get to us. And that’s before you’ve considered how expensive theatre tickets can be, and how unreliable public transport is (big shout out to Northern Rail!).

Some of the most special theatrical experiences I’ve had have been at the brilliant venues we work with to bring performances and arts participation directly to local communities. Take the utterly gorgeous love-letter to life ‘The Light House’ by Alys Williams. I attended at The Grove Hall in South Kirkby, where we’re supported by the indefatigable Charlie Robinson, who knows the community like the back of his hand and is full of great ideas.

Charlie thought to invite along the local Andy’s Man Club, who filled up the dreaded front row for us, and threw themselves into the show’s audience participation. Chatting to the members afterwards was completely heart-warming; one guy excitedly told me how he was going to book to see the show again in Wakefield. Another opened up about how much he connected with the play, and saw his own experiences represented.

The Light House (c) Ant Robling

Another personal favourite is when we brought ‘Coming Out of my Cage’ (yes, it is a show about Mr Brightside) to The Gate at Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation in South Leeds. The show had sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe, and I was so excited to bring it to BITMO. The Belle Isle-ites, always game for a laugh, were the perfect audience and got right onboard with the silliness, including answering the phone to Destiny and getting up for a boogie at the end. One woman said that this was her first trip out since major brain surgery – that she wasn’t going to come, but was so glad that she did.

I am consistently inspired by the willingness of our audiences to take a punt on a piece of new writing. Over the next few months, we’ve put together a bit of a ‘Queer Ladder’ season, starting off with Dead Girls Rising (from Queer-led Silent Uproar), followed by ‘BI-TOPIA’ by Sam Danson, and ‘Me For You’ from Rachel E. Thorn. Each show is fresh, exciting, and brings something to the circuit that hasn’t been seen before – selected with the input of our fantastic venue hosts, who pick performances for their communities based on pitches from artists.

The four women from We're Not Going Back on stage at The Grove Hall with a packed audience

‘We’re Not Going Back’ (c) Ant Robling

I think it’s the intimacy of these spaces, and the sense of ownership the audience has over their environment, that makes each performance so special. It feels a bit like performing in someone’s living room, even when the capacity is 100+, and there’s a level of openness and comfortability in this that means we can explore a really vast array of topics. I think that’s dead thrilling, and I cannot wait to get back on the circuit this Summer (even if it takes me two trains and a bus to get there).

By Alice Barber




Artistic Director, Cheryl Martin on sisterhood and celebrating what holds us together.

Our show We’re Not Going Back, is about a family of three sisters involved in Women Against Pit Closures (WAPC) during the 1984-85 miners’ strike.  It hits home for me because I’m the oldest of three sisters, and we’re as different as the women in the play.  But what is the same, for them and for my sisters and me, is the closeness and the understanding and the support.

Thinking about the play brought back memories of being with my grandmother and United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union official uncles.  Writing about my uncles for Red Ladder led me to the WAPC march in Durham last Saturday because women miners from the UMWA, who read my blog and who have been working with WAPC for many years to fight for their respected causes, generously invited me to walk alongside them.

WAPC Durham March 02.03.24

Meeting the women miners who came over from the States to renew their connection to Women Against Pit Closures was unexpectedly emotional. They’d been to Gary, West Virginia, where my grandfather and uncles and cousins, too, all worked as miners. Some were from West Virginia, where my mother and her ten siblings grew up, and some were from Tennessee, where my grandmother and grandfather were born. The women miners, some who had worked over 21 years in the mines, brought their partners and children to meet their sisters (in activism) here in the UK.

Meeting them was like touching my grandmother’s face again, hearing her voice, listening to her talk about the times she and her children knew: the company store and the Pinkertons brought in to break strikes; the fights, the hardscrabble times; the camaraderie and the love that brought them through it all. That love that surrounded me as a child, sitting under the dining room table, listening with all my might, and my sisters.

Two women stood in the rain with a banner that reads Sacriston Women Against Pit Closures

Cheryl with Anna Dawson, Sacriston WAPC

We’re launching this tour of We’re Not Going Back, revived for the 40th anniversary of the ’84-’85 miners’ strike, on International Women’s Day 2024.  It’s the perfect day to launch – sisters holding each other up through life-changing times, finding resources within themselves and in their closeness to each other they never knew they would need so much.

It reminds me of all the women in my family who helped me get to be here at Red Ladder: my grandmother whose house was full of books. My mother who let me join The Cat In The Hat book club when I’d only just learned to read –letting me pile books into her shopping trolley whenever we went to the grocery store, and paying for them all without a word. My aunt who ushered at a great theatre and took me along for free, for years. Another aunt who used to recite poems from both the New Englander Longfellow and African-American, James Weldon Johnson. My baby sister who is a walking, talking history book and  gives me exactly the background I need when I’m researching a new play. My little sister who shows me what dedication to the community means through the untold causes she works for, unpaid. The old saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child”. It took a whole family of women to help make me.

Going to the Women Against Pit Closures march last weekend and seeing all those women not simply reliving the past, but still fighting for their families, for each other – that’s what plays like We’re Not Going Back bring to life. That’s what International Women’s Day is about for me: celebrating what holds us together. What lifts us up.

And we do lift each other up, even though we still have a long way to go. That reminds me of a song I learned listening to Nina Simone, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free:

I wish I could share all the love that’s in my heart
Remove all the bars that keep us apart
I wish you could know what it means to be me
Then you’d see and agree
That everyone should be free

Well, I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly

Oh, I’d soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And then I’d sing ’cause I’d know…
I’d know how it feels to be free…

Main image: L-R Cheryl Martin, Kipp Dawson (UMWA) & Sian James (WAPC)