Our new, large-scale, immersive Yorkshire adaptation of Beowulf was performed in Huddersfield this November.
Created especially for Kirklees Year of Music, this adaptation of Beowulf features an original score celebrating the creativity of the local musicians of Kirklees.
Performances took place between 8 and 11 November 2023 and included a Viking procession along the streets of Huddersfield, starting at the Byram Arcade and travelling to St Peter’s Church where the story of Beowulf was told.
Staged by Proper Job theatre company for Kirklees Year of Music, it is a visually inventive mix of masks, shadow puppetry and projections. A gnarled and twiggy Grendel, made by puppeteer Liz Walker, looks like a creature grown from the soil, a quality shared by the music at its most organic.
Mark Fisher reviewing for The Guardian, 9 Nov 2023
Read the full review here
Brandishing torches, we process to St Peter’s parish church, founded in the 11th century and now doubling as Heorot, the great mead hall of King Hrothgar (a sonorous Neil Balfour) who leads the mourning…
Our new immersive production created especially for Kirklees Year of Music 2023, tells the epic tale of warriors, monsters, and dragons.
The oldest known English poem has been adapted by five Yorkshire-based poets Ian McMillan, Michelle Scally-Clarke, Joel Simmy, Chris O'Connor and Franc Chamberlain, working with composer Leighton Jones (Beware of Trains) and Supriya Nagarajan (Manasamitra), on an original score telling the story of a female Beowulf with a visually arresting, musical celebration.
The Music of Beowulf
Learn about the groundbreaking music which has been created for Beowulf.
James Beale, Director at Proper Job Theatre, talks about the production of Beowulf which will be part of Kirklees Year of Music 2023.
Ensemble Rehearsals, October 2023
Images from the the Proper Job rehearsal space in the Byram Arcade
Choir Rehearsals, October 2023
Images from the the choir rehearsals space in the magnificent St. Peter's Church
Beowulf Rehearsals, October 2023
Images from the the Proper Job rehearsal space in the Byram Arcade
The Story of Brecca, told by Beowulf at the Mead Hall
Original writing for Beowulf by poet, Ian McMillan
The Danish Kingdom is cloaked in mourning for the legendary King Halfdane. In a display of strength his son Hrothgar, heir to the throne, is set to lead his father’s funeral procession in front of his people. Witness the rise of a new era as you march down Westgate to the haunting melodies of Viking horns and drums and a harmonious choir - comprised of the local community. Audiences are cordially invited to immerse themselves in the royal spectacle where Beowulf’s epic tale begins in Kirklees - skål!
Once the audience arrives at St Peter’s Church, they will be transported to Herot, the Great Mead Hall of King Hrothgar, where they will take their seats to the sound of a 60- strong community choir, singing original choral pieces composed by Leighton Jones and be absorbed in the tale of the mighty Beowulf and her battle with the monster, Grendel, and the final conquest of the awe-inspiring dragon in defence of Hrothgar’s kingdom.
James Beale from Proper Job Theatre said: “We’re so excited to create our very Yorkshire adaptation of Beowulf in Huddersfield featuring a cast and creative team almost exclusively from the region. It is through the funding from Kirklees Council via Kirklees Year of Music and Arts Council England that we’re able to present Beowulf and realise it at this ambitious scale, bringing original live music into our work in a way that we haven’t done before.”
Cllr Yusra Hussain, Cabinet Member for Culture added: “Beowulf is one of the highlights of our closing few months of Kirklees Year of Music and part of our ambition to fund new work as part of the year. It’s just one of the opportunities for the people of the district and beyond, to come together and experience music and culture.”
The production brings together artists and creatives from Kirklees and Yorkshire to celebrate the richness and diversity of the district.
James Beale - director
Artistic Director of Proper Job Theatre and, before that, Talia Theatre. Credits include RPS winner, Cycle Song (2012). James is one of the trained practitioners in Meyerhold’s Theatrical Biomechanics.
Chloë Whitehead - director/producer
CEO of Proper Job Theatre, Chloë has produced, directed and acted in many productions including ‘Fewer Emergencies’ (Martin Crimp) which created the main body of her PhD.
Ian McMillan - writer
Ian is a writer and broadcaster who presents The Verb on Radio 3.
He has written poems, play and a verse autobiography.
Michelle Scally Clarke - writer
Author - Poet - Playwright - Actor - Songwriter – Creative Writing Facilitator. Yorkshire, Leeds born, Scottish Irish and Nigerian, celebrating 25 years of “Art".
Joel Simmy - writer
Joel is a British rapper, songwriter, writer and workshop owner, helping kids express themselves through poetry and raps.
Chris O’Connor - writer
Chris is a professional playwright from Leeds who has written for organisations such as the Leeds Playhouse, BBC Radio and Red Ladder Theatre Company.
Supriya Nagarajan - singer/composer
Supriya is a unique voice in the British music scene and creates concept driven immersive music productions that push boundaries and encourage thought and has performed across the world.
Jess Baker - singer
Jess is a singer and community musician. Working across the UK on projects ranging from festivals and events to community choirs.
Rick Ferguson - actor
Rick is an actor and Associate Director of Proper Job. He has appeared in many Proper Job productions including ‘The Trial’, ‘Dorian’ & ‘Medusa’
Marie Claire Breen - singer
Yorkshire based soprano of "rare fluency" Marie Claire is in high demand as vocal animateur and opera singer.
Leighton Jones - composer/musician
Leighton Jones is a Yorkshire born composer and Leeds College of Music alumni where he studied an MMus under British composer Errollyn Wallen.
Sound & Light Concepts
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Lucy Nolan - composer/musician
Lucy is passionate about evolving new music for the harp and has created and performed for Channel 4, Radio 3 & 4, The World Harp Congress and The Royal Albert Hall.
Neil Balfour - musician
Indian-Scottish Neil Balfour is an opera singer and voiceover artist. He started life as a pianist, conductor and punk-rocker before falling in love with telling stories using just his voice.
Duncan Chapman - composer
Duncan is a composer/sound artist based in Lincolnshire. Much of his work involves collaboration creating performances, installations & recordings.
Biff Roxby - musician
Biff is a musician, producer, engineer, composer and field recordist based in Salford. Biff’s own music and sound design work has been featured in film, television.
Sally Edward - musician
Sally cut her teeth playing with heritage brass bands. She now plays all over Europe in numerous dance and funk outfits.
Mandy Wigby - musician
A musician, composer and educator based in Manchester. She has worked on various multi-media projects, and live cinema performances.
Laura Boston-Barber - musician
A classically trained musician working widely in the British Folk scene. Laura also teaches violin and piano in schools around North Yorkshire.
Howard Jacobs - musician
A multi- instrumentalist, composer and producer. He designs bespoke sound palettes for each collaboration, using a wide range of drums and percussion and unusual instruments.
Franc Chamberlain - writer
Franc has been involved in theatre making as a performer, teacher, director, devisor, and writer for half a century.
Sumie Kent - musician
A koto player/improviser who has been involved with unique combinations of projects with the Japanese traditional instrument.
Lara Booth - costume/set designer
Lara aims to immerse the audience, transporting them to another place and time through her passion for visual storytelling.
Chris Casey - actor
Chris is an actor, teacher and psychology student from Kendal who likes climbing mountains, revelry and ale.
Make, DO Theatre
Make, DO theatre are a Huddersfield-based, tight-knit ensemble of actors, puppeteers, singers and dancers. We make original, unapologetic, cross-genre art.