Mikron Theatre, one of the country’s most versatile touring theatre companies, is celebrating 50 years of touring by canal, river and road, with an exciting remount of its hugely successful 2015 production of Maeve Larkin’s (Best Foot Forward, Mikron Theatre) play about 125 years of the Women’s Institute- Raising Agents.
The tour is coming to Stroud this Saturday, 1pm at Rodborough Community Hall.
Featuring music written by Mikron’s Marsden neighbours, the acclaimed folk duo O’Hooley and Tidow (Gentleman Jack, BBC), Mikron’s golden anniversary national tour goes through to 22nd October.
Raising Agents tells the story of Bunnington WI. A bit down-at-heel, with memberships dwindling, it means they can barely afford the hall, let alone a decent speaker. So, when a PR guru becomes a member, the women are glad of new blood.
Initially, the milk of WI kindness begins to sour when she re-brands them as the Bunnington Bunnies. They are hopping.
With stakes higher than a five-tiered cake stand, a battle ensues for the very soul of Bunnington, perhaps the WI itself!
On the threshold of one century into the next, this tale of hobbyists and lobbyists asks how much we should know our past or how much we should let go of it.
The production’s cast will feature Thomas Cotran (Atalanta Forever, Mikron Theatre and Great Expectations, Dundee Rep/Horsecross Arts); Alice McKenna (Beauty and the Beast, Theatr Clwyd) and James McLean (Revolting Women, Mikron Theatre and A Christmas Carol, Derby Theatre) and newcomer Hannah Bainbridge.
Raising Agents is directed by Rachel Gee (A Dog’s Tale, Mikron Theatre), designed by Celia Perkins (Dick Whittington, Oldham Coliseum), with music composed by the folk duo O’Hooley and Tidow and directed by Rebekah Hughes (Atalanta Forever, Mikron Theatre and Pride and Prejudice, Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre).
Playwright Maeve Larkin said: “I am so thrilled that Mikron Theatre will be restaging Raising Agents for their 50th Anniversary tour. As with the WI’s old paradoxical motto ‘Grave and Gay’, it aims to transcend the sum of its parts by celebrating the timeless principles of community, activism and sisterhood.”
Director Rachel Gee added: “To direct for Mikron in our 50th year of touring, with such a brilliant show and team, is an honour and a pleasure. The WI is such an incredible story to share, and I know everyone will love the tales, trials and tribulations of the WI.”
Based in the village of Marsden, at the foot of the Yorkshire Pennines, the company are like no other. For starters, over the last 50 years they have toured 66 productions on board a vintage narrowboat and spent over 34,000 boating hours on the inland waterways. Secondly, they perform their shows in places that other theatre companies wouldn’t dream of; a play about growing-your-own on an allotment; a play about bees performed next to hives, a play about fish and chips to audiences in a fish and chip restaurant, as well as plays about hostelling performed in YHA Youth hostels and the RNLI, performed at several Lifeboat Stations around the UK. Over the last 50 years the company has performed 5200 times to over a staggering 436,000 people.
Raising Agents will be touring nationally by river and on the road from the 8th April until the 22nd October, alongside the premiere of Lindsay Rodden’s new play Red Sky At Night.