New Play THE RUCK to Tell of the First British Girls Rugby League Team to Tour Australia
From Batley's Golden Mile to Australia's Gold Coast comes Kevin Fegan's (Obama: The Mamba, Curve Theatre, Leicester and The Lowry Salford) new play The Ruck, based on the real-life story of the first British girls' rugby league team to tour Australia.
Produced by the Lawrence Batley Theatre and Creative Scene and directed by Joyce Branagh, The Ruck will premiere at the Lawrence Batley Theatre from the 15-16 September and then tour till the 22 September. This will be the first time the Lawrence Batley Theatre have toured a production.
All the way from Yorkshire, the original "County of Origin" of Rugby League, comes a new force to be reckoned with in the sport: the mighty Batley Girls Under 16 team.
This group of girls from a small Yorkshire town have grown up together and are ready for tough challenges on and off the pitch; but are they prepared for what's in store on the other side of the world?
The Ruck follows the story of these inspirational young women as they overcome boy (and girl) problems, friendship dramas, racial discrimination and deep-hidden family secrets, all set against the backdrop of a changing community in a diverse industrial town.
The Ruck came out of a residency by playwright Kevin Fegan at the Batley Bulldogs team supported by Creative Scene, the Arts Council Creative People and Places project in West Yorkshire. Fegan's inspiration came from watching and spending time with the club's under 16's girls team and their families. Since the team's formation in 2012 the team, which are coached by one of the girl's fathers, have won the English championship twice. In 2015 the team became the first British girls' team to tour Australia. The club invited Kevin Fegan to join the team and their families on the trip and their experiences, along with spending time at the club and in Batley, became the inspiration for the new play.
Playwright Kevin Fegan, said about the new play:
"For me the true inspiration for the play are the girls and their families. Watching the girls line up for training on the beach, they personify girl power: all shapes and sizes, celebrating themselves and their gender."
"The Ruck is a fun, fast-moving, physical play, written in verse and prose with raps and music. It's a play in two halves which compares and contrasts the lifestyles of the girls from Batley and the Gold Coast."
The production will be designed by Olivia du Monceau (Blood Wedding, Liverpool Playhouse) and music directed by Rebekah Hughes (Cyrano, Northern Broadsides). The cast will feature Emma Ashton, Jon Adamson, Josie Cerise, Esther-Grace Button, Richard Hand, Samuel Winterbottom , Sophie Mercer and Emily Spowage.
Director Joyce Branagh said:
"For me The Ruck is a really exciting new production to be working on. It's a beautiful new play that is vibrant, funny and extremely moving about Yorkshire, about the problems of being a teenager (and being a parent of a teenager) and how a brilliant game like rugby league can be a support, a focus, and a metaphor for the ups and downs of everyday life - always remember: 'try try again!'"
The Ruck is co-produced by the Lawrence Batley Theatre and Creative Scene. Established in 2014, Creative Scene produces and presents cultural experiences in North Kirklees that explore new ways that communities can take part in, make and experience art and culture. This will be the first production initiated by Creative Scene to be staged at the LBT- bringing this story from Batley to the theatres of Yorkshire.
The production will open at the Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield from 15-16 September and then tour from the 18-22 September to the Theatre Royal Wakefield, Cast in Doncaster and finally The Civic, Barnsley.