Just announced: A new production by Square Chapel Arts Centre with Associate Artist Debs Newbold

Outrageous Fortune offers an alternative perspective of Hamlet, putting a woman front and centre in a notorious story of male revenge.

Premiere – Wednesday 25 – Thursday 26 March 2020

(with a national tour to follow)



Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax presents an ambitious new co-production with their Associate Artist Debs Newbold from West Yorkshire (King Lear retold, Lost in Blue), generously funded by Arts Council England. Outrageous Fortune is a piece of theatre inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet that’s told through the eyes of his mother, Gertrude. Following a successful research and development phase supported by Harrogate Theatre, York Theatre Royal and Greenwich Theatre, the new production will be performed at its premiere at the Halifax arts centre on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 March followed by a national tour.


This is the first time ever the arts centre, in the heart of Halifax, has independently produced a piece of work that will go on tour to other UK venues.


Outrageous Fortune is a new piece of theatre inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Told through the eyes of his mother, Gertrude – a fearless woman whose power was consistently undermined by the men around her and whose character is typically side-lined in traditional stagings of the work – this original parallel narrative is a bold exploration of femininity, power and sexuality and will demand answers that take us beyond Hamlet as we know it.


In collaboration with internationally renowned director/clowning expert John Wright (Told by an Idiot) and music producer, DJ and experimental kit drummer Luke Harney, Artist Debs Newbold will explore all of this and more using original narrative, Shakespearean verse, bold physicality and thunderous sound – with live jazz drums providing a Birdman-inspired underscore.


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 2019? In the 400 years since Hamlet was written, what, if anything, has changed? Set in purgatory and 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 that is both funny and fierce, putting a woman front and centre in a notorious story of male revenge.


Debs Newbold of Calderdale, West Yorkshire, 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.


“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.


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.

Square Chapel Producer, Ali Ford said:

“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 collaboration with John Wright and Luke Harney, and the new dimension that a live drum score will bring to her work. It’s also an honour to be producing this show and being part of the team who will be taking the first Square Chapel production on tour across the UK.”

For more information and to book tickets, theatre goers can visit the Square Chapel website or call the box office on 01422 349 422.

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