Betty Beecroft: champion of Kirkstall Forge set to hit the stage this spring

A musical celebration of the life of Yorkshire legend, Betty Beecroft, is set to hit the boards in May in the World Premiere of folk musical Mother of the Revolution.

The brainchild of Leeds-born Beth Knight, co-director of archipelago arts collective, it will bring the untold story of the successful industrialist to life, along with those of the working communities that followed her.

The performance will interweave two-hundred and seventy-five years of history, celebrating the incredible impact Betty Beecroft and the generations of industrial workers at Kirkstall Forge made to their local community.

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Director, Beth Knight, explains: “Using folk, the music of working people, we explore the themes of community, heritage and industry through an ambitious, promenade production at Leeds Industrial Museum. Importantly, much of the original script and score have been influenced through our conversations within the local community since 2021.

Kathryn Hanke (actress), Lucinda Yeadon (CEG) and Beth Knight (Archipelago Arts) at Kirkstall ForgeKathryn Hanke (actress), Lucinda Yeadon (CEG) and Beth Knight (Archipelago Arts) at Kirkstall Forge
Kathryn Hanke (actress), Lucinda Yeadon (CEG) and Beth Knight (Archipelago Arts) at Kirkstall Forge

“The achievements of women need to be celebrated and this project shines a light on how an ordinary Yorkshire woman made an extraordinary change to the world around her. It is also a production that has been made possible thanks to the drive and creativity of a predominantly female team.

“Rosie MacPherson’s brilliant script platforms stories of workers in the 20th and 21st Centuries and paints an honest picture of the impact of deindustrialisation on the area while showcasing the ingenuity, strength and compassion of working people in Leeds across multiple generations.”

The production set is being built with support from CEG, the developer behind Kirkstall Forge, and its capable team of learners at its Forging Futures training and skills campus. CEG is also sponsoring the community engagement and family outreach of the production, which will touch the lives of so many Kirkstall residents.

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Taking you on an immersive journey across history through Leeds Industrial Museum, the production combines local professional actors, young performers from Interplay Theatre’s Youth Theatre and a community choir. Any local residents wanting to participate in the choir still have the opportunity to participate, with choir rehearsals running every Tuesday evening at Interplay Theatre. Contact [email protected] to take part.

Mother of the Revolution is a show about what we share with our neighbours, what we learn from our past, what brings us together and what tears us apart.

The production will take place on Thursday to Sundays between the 2nd – 5th and 9th – 12th May at the Leeds Industrial Museum. Ticket sales launch on International Woman’s Day (Friday 8th March 2024) at this link: Link to buy tickets

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