The research process into the life of Dorothy Lawrence began in May 2014. Starting with Dorothy's 1919 book Sapper Dorothy, the search has encompassed archives, personal collections, and newspapers, from Salisbury to the USA. The Wiltshire and Swindon History centre have provided invaluable support and advice throughout.
In August 2014 Heroine Project Presents director Lizzie Crarer received National Lottery funding through Arts Council England for a week of practical research and development at Salisbury Playhouse, also generously supported by the JP Marland Charitable Trust and the Community First Programme from the Community Development Foundation. The r&d consisted of four days of devising with writer Angela Street and performers Alan Humphries and Annie Hemingway; a street theatre stunt in Salisbury city centre which was filmed and edited by young people from the 'Film-makers Anonymous' programme at Salisbury Arts Centre; and a creative workshop on local World War One women's history at Hale Hall in Salisbury.
Since then, Lizzie has assembled a new creative team consisting of composer and performer Natalie Brice and performers Naomi Zara and Eleanor Buchan; mentored by Kath Burlinson, and documented by film-maker Eleanor Rogers. We have continued to develop the piece through devising sessions at the Natural Theatre Company space in Bath.
On 1st April we presented the work so far at Salisbury Playhouse as part of Theatre Fest West, and invited audience responses. It was an extremely useful evening: affirming both the importance of the story, the appetite for it amongst a Salisbury audience - and giving us a lot of very useful feedback to guide the ongoing development of the piece.
From 16th-20th October we were at The Pound arts centre in Corsham and at the Natural Theatre Company Studio in Bath for a further 5 days devising with new team member Eleanor Buchan. We made some great progress with this piece, which was possible thanks to a successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. A huge thank you to everyone who pledged to help the project: your generosity has helped up to take a crucial step towards getting this show Over the Top and on the road!
We have secured some brilliant partnerships to enable us to deliver the project: with The Pound arts centre in Corsham; The Natural Theatre Company in Bath; Wiltshire at War (a Wiltshire Council-run museums consortium; and Now Heritage (a community interest company that specialises in projects connecting communities with shared history through creative and reminiscence activities).
We believe in sharing process as much as final performance, and have been delighted to work in partnership with Now Heritage to develop a Heritage Engagement Programme to accompany the show, utilising existing community heritage resources from Wiltshire at War.
In March we completed the first leg of the tour of 'Over the Top' to brilliant reviews and a fantastic audience reception.
In June 2016 we were thrilled to be hosted by the amazing Chalke Valley History Festival for a very special performance in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside.
Here's a link to the trailer made by young people from Salisbury Art's Centre's 'Film-makers' Anonymous' programme, as part of the initial r&d for the project in August 2014:
Particular thanks to Angela Street, Annie Hemingway and Alan Humphries for their invaluable contribution to the initial stage of the creative process.