Square Chapel Arts Centre is delighted to announce plans for a new co-production with Associate Artist Debs Newbold & Director John Wright (Told by an Idiot)


Trailer: Lost in Blue by Debs Newbold

This Autumn, Square Chapel will support the research and development phase of an ambitious new co-production with Associate Artist Debs Newbold (King Lear retold, Lost in Blue) and partner venues Harrogate Theatre and Greenwich Theatre, generously funded by Arts Council England.

SQ Route is Square Chapel’s programme of talent development, which provides opportunities and support for artists and creatives at various stages of their career, based in West Yorkshire and beyond. By creating an artistic infrastructure of networks, platforms, professional development and commission opportunities, its aim is to support the ecology of innovative new work being made in Halifax and nurture a new wave of emerging and established artists who aren’t afraid to push boundaries, ask questions and be truly representative of the vibrant and varied communities we serve.


A ground-breaking shake-up of a cultural icon and bold exploration of femininity, power and sexuality, Outrageous Fortune is an ambitious, multi-disciplinary new work inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Told through the eyes of his mother, Gertrude – a sexual revolutionary whose prodigious power is often overlooked in stagings of the play – this original parallel narrative will demand answers that take us beyond Hamlet as we know it. How does a mature, experienced woman respond to having her sexuality ridiculed, power quashed and agency denied by the men around her? What would Gertrude make of female post-40 sexuality in 2018? In the 400 years since Hamlet was written, what, if anything, has changed? Placed under a 21st century lens where #metoo & #timesup campaigns are publicly shaming inequality, corruption and the abuse of power, Outrageous Fortune will offer an alternative perspective, putting a woman front and centre in a notorious story of male revenge.

In collaboration with internationally renowned director/clowning expert John Wright (Told by an Idiot) and music producer, DJ and experimental kit drummer Luke Harney, Debs will explore all of this and more using improvised text, Shakespearean verse, dynamic physicality and cacophonous sound.

“Gertrude would have loved the chance to tell her story. In Hamlet, Shakespeare hardly lets her speak. Well now, she’ll have me. And a drum kit. So she can make as much noise as she likes.”

Debs Newbold is one of the UK’s leading performance storytellers, creating fresh, playful work that can get deep under the skin. Her charisma and innovation has seen her work with prestigious venues such as the Royal Opera House, the Southbank Centre and Shakespeare’s Globe among many other theatres and festivals both in the UK and internationally.

Twice voted one of the top five performers at the Towersey Festival (the only theatre artist in its fifty-year history ever to achieve this), Principal Storyteller for Shakespeare’s Globe and Winner of the Summerhall Acting Award at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, Debs – collaborator & instigator, word wrangler & crowd tamer – is a Brummie force of nature. And she makes a good cup of tea.

★★★★★ ”one unfeasibly talented woman” – Views from the Gods

★★★★ “Newbold is charismatic” – Reviews Hub

★★★★ “one of the UK’s top storytellers” – Broadway Baby

“Shimmering…pure atmosphere” – Elizabeth Mahoney, Pick of the Week, BBC Radio 4

“the best storyteller in all the kingdoms…an incredible and rare talent” – Becky Burchell, Producer, Bestival

Earlier this year Debs was invited to become an Associate Artist of Square Chapel Arts Centre where she has performed two of her previous shows, having recently returned to Calderdale from London.


Quote from Debs Newbold Associate Artist at Square Chapel:

I am fascinated by all of Shakespeare’s women, but Gertrude is the one I have been thinking about most. I can’t wait to get into the rehearsal room again with John Wright – it’s always an explosion of ideas when we get together – and diving headfirst into Hamlet is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I am so chuffed to have been made Associate Artist at Square Chapel, whose forward thinking, artist-friendly approach makes me really excited about this ambitious project and I feel very lucky to have the support of Greenwich Theatre, Harrogate Theatre and Arts Council England, too. All that and a massive drum kit – how could I not be excited?


Quote from Ali Ford, Theatre Programming & Development at Square Chapel:

“I have long admired Debs’ enthusiasm, passion and exquisite skill for the work she creates. Whether it’s a brand-new piece of writing or a retelling of an existing text, her delivery is fierce and charming in equal measure. I’m particularly excited about this ensemble-driven collaboration with John Wright and Luke Harney, and the new dimension that a live drum score will bring to her work. It’s an honour to have Debs on board as an Associate Artist at Square Chapel and we very much look forward to supporting her on this exciting journey.”

The R&D is being supported by a core venue partnership including Square Chapel Arts Centre, Greenwich Theatre and Harrogate Theatre; and funded by Arts Council England.

Other partners include Grand Central Rail and The Imperial Crown Hotel, whose in-kind support has significantly strengthened the project.

For more information about the collaboration and opportunities to see the work in progress, email info@squarechapel.co.uk



Square Chapel Theatre Programmer, Alison Ford is available for interview about this announcement.


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