National Lottery Project Grant funding awarded to re-imagine famous Shakespearean tale

National Lottery Project Grant funding awarded to re-imagine famous Shakespearean tale

Arts Council England has today announced £43,877 of National Lottery Project Grant Funding to a collaboration between writer and performer Debs Newbold and director and clowning expert John Wright, to create an ambitious new feminist literary performance work that retells the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet through the eyes of his mother, Gerturde, and asks, in the 400 years since it was written, what’s changed?


Set in Purgatory and featuring a live drum score from kit-drummer, DJ and composer Luke Harney, the production will create an original parallel narrative to Hamlet and apply a contemporary lens that gives a voice to Gertrude and so many other women who are silenced in today’s society. It will present themes of guilt, inequality, violence, agency, abuse of power and our attitudes to sexuality in mature women – in a funny and fierce act of rebellion.


A co-production with Square Chapel Arts Centre (an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation), the project is supported by York Theatre Royal, Harrogate Theatre and Greenwich Theatre and will see the development and tour of Outrageous Fortune for small-scale studio spaces across the UK.


Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “This is a fantastic example of re-imagining a classic show to have a more modern feel and political viewpoint. I am pleased Arts Council England are supporting this show and its 2020 tour, and look forward to seeing a meaningful female viewpoint being developed to one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies.


The writing process will include conversation-led work with verd de gris’ One Voice group and WomenCentre Halifax to further understand the resonances of this work with women who are socially and politically side-lined, and have lived experience of domestic violence.


Debs Newbold, writer and performer, said: “I am beyond chuffed to have been awarded funding to develop and tour my new show Outrageous Fortune. It is my most ambitious and challenging work to date, and one I am so very proud of already, after a fantastic R&D period earlier this year. The show is being produced by Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax, where I am now an Associate Artist, and has been supported by Greenwich Theatre, Harrogate Theatre and York Theatre Royal.


None of this would have happened without Arts Council England’s support of and belief in my work. There is a national tour lined up for Outrageous Fortune at some wonderful venues (to be announced soon), I’ve made connections with fantastic collaborators and supporters and I am now in a position to make the best work I have ever made, with a full team behind both me, and it. I couldn’t be more thrilled and determined”.


The tour will travel to 12 venues nationally during spring and summer 2020.

For more information please contact:

For more information about Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants, click here.


Ellen Burgin, Officer, Communications and Advocacy Officer, Arts Council England
Tel: 020 7268 0545 / Email:



Book tickets to see Outrageous Fortune at Square Chapel – March 2020


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