Yorkshire stories being brought back to life at the Piece Hall through pioneering Hidden History project
Daniel Foulds, a learning disabled artist from Bradford, is exploring historical stories of Yorkshire folk at a series of outdoor theatre shows. Chris Burn reports.
“I was told that because of my disability I would never be able to write very well, which made me even more determined to succeed,” explains Daniel Foulds as he prepares to launch three different theatre performances this month.
“Through hard work and practice, I started to write little, short stories and progressed my writing to poetry, then to long feature-length novels and now scriptwriting.”
Bradford-born Foulds is speaking ahead of the launch of his latest project Hidden History, which brings to life true stories of historical characters from Yorkshire. Taking place outdoors at three arts and heritage venues in Bradford Elsecar and Halifax, three different theatre performances will be showcased in the coming weeks. The first show will take place in Bradford this Saturday and Sunday.
The Hidden History live-theatre project combines Daniel’s passion for history and theatre and aims to engage audiences on a journey of discovery and to change perceptions of the places where they live.
He says: “I am very excited that Hidden History is finally happening at three unique Yorkshire venues. I cannot wait to see how people react to the plays and I hope to demonstrate that history is interesting and relevant. I love writing. The printed page has always been a great inspiration for me throughout my life ever since I was able to lift a pen.”
The outdoor plays are performed as walkabout shows to audiences of 12 to 15 people, moving around the venues and using their historical backgrounds, taking place at various times over the first three weekends in July.
The Hidden History project is supported by Mind the Gap – England’s leading learning disability performance and live arts organisation and has been postponed twice due to the pandemic but is now finally set to go ahead.
The project launched on July 3 in Bradford with A Hidden History at Bolling Hall Museum, one of Bradford’s oldest buildings.
The show saw the true stories of three forgotten heroes of Bradford brought to life – a servant determined to change the fate of Bradford by summoning a ghost; an apothecary angry at the rejection of his remedy for a dying patient, and a young woman who must stand up for what she knows to be right.
Elsecar Heritage Centre is the venue of choice for the play Edgar – A Hidden Life, set in the conservation village of Elsecar, located within the former ironworks and colliery workshops of the Earl Fitzwilliam.
On July 10 and 11, Edgar’s story will be unearthed as part of the Hidden History productions.
After half a century in silence, hidden away in an asylum, Edgar Bower wanted to return to his beloved home in Wentworth village.
Edgar is a play about secrets and shame, poverty and prejudice – but most of all it is a play about the sustaining power of love.
The final play, which is called Deeds Not Words will be performed at The Piece Hall, the former 18th-century cloth hall in Halifax. It is a play about Halifax-born Laura Annie Willson, who was twice imprisoned in 1907 for her actions in support of women’s suffrage.
During her campaigning, she encountered violent assaults and threats, but she was never deterred and declared, “If they could sentence me for thinking I’d have been sentenced for life.”
Deeds Not Words tells the story of the suffragette years of this truly remarkable woman; mill girl, agitator, engineer, innovator, house-builder – and MBE.
Daniel has written the three scripts with playwright Mary Cooper and will direct the Bradford show with support from director Madeleine O’Reilly – who is directing the two shows at Elsecar and Halifax.