York Theatre Royal’s The Coppergate Woman is set to be one of the must-see shows of the season. It’s got everything theatre-goers love: community, a story with local intrigue and a captivating hook. It’ll be a hit for sure!
The story will delve into the legend of The Coppergate Woman. In real life, she was discovered in a shallow pit by the river Foss, and the remains of the unknown woman are displayed in a glass case in JORVIK Viking Centre in York. Now, she will be brought back to life in Hull writer Maureen Lennon’s play which weaves Viking legends with the stories of modernday York people.
The 90-strong community cast will be joined by Kate Hampson as the only professional actor in the show. Hampson was born, brought up and still lives in Yorkshire and trained at York St John University and The Utrecht School of Arts.
Kate’s theatre experiences include Tapestry (Northern Broadsides), Mary Barton (Alnwick Playhouse & tour), Trouble (West Yorkshire Playhouse), New Playwrights (York Theatre Royal), Gaudette (Obra Theatre Company), Mumsy (Hull Truck), Not Yours Mine (Oldham Coliseum) and Vignettes (Hope Mill Theatre) while her television credits include Happy Valley (BBC), Doctors (BBC), I’m With Stupid (BBC), Emmerdale (ITV), Eternal Law (Kudos/ITV), Hollyoaks (Channel 4), Where The Heart Is (ITV) and Coronation Street (ITV). Most recently Kate played the roles of Mother and Mrs Perks in Hull Truck Theatre’s production of The Railway Children.
Kate said “Having lived in York for more than half my life, I have enjoyed many a trip to learn about the Vikings in Coppergate. I am therefore absolutely thrilled to be playing the part of the Coppergate Woman at the brilliant York Theatre Royal, only a short stroll across town. It’s an epic tale and I’m so excited to work with the wonderful community cast.”
Co-director Juliet Forster said: “The idea for The Coppergate Woman came from thinking about the importance of storytelling in our world and how do we draw people together. The Vikings were storytellers and I started thinking about the Vikings because it’s an area we as a theatre had not explored before and is a very interesting part of our history. I thought of Maureen Lennon to write the play as I booked quite an early show of hers into our Studio theatre after seeing it at Edinburgh. She felt the right fit for the play we wanted to do.”
Co-director John R. Wilkinson said: “It’s been five years since we last did one of our community plays. Given all that’s gone on in the past couple of years, it’s really necessary and heartening to be able to bring people together again. This time we’re digging into another realm of the city’s beloved history.”
Hull-born Maureen Lennon said: “I was approached to write a community project that engaged with York’s Viking history and how stories of our ancestors might bridge the gap between their world and our world right now.What could we learn from each other? It was always envisaged as a project that talked about community, togetherness, and the power of storytelling in our societies.
“I revisited the Jorvik Viking Centre in York when I first got commissioned. I used to love it when I was younger, growing up in Hull, but hadn’t been for years. That’s where the idea for The Coppergate Woman struck me. There was something so confronting about the fact that she is on display. A real example of two worlds meeting.
“She is in our world now whether she likes it or not. I wondered if she was lonely. I wondered who she had been and what she would think about me staring at her now. It felt intimate and yet so much about her was unknown. I wanted to give her the power to look at us just like I was looking at her in that moment. I wanted her to speak – although obviously in reality I’m glad she didn’t.”
Don’t miss this intriguing show when it comes to York Theatre Royal from 30th July to 6th August.