Twenty years on the road…
Badapple Theatre Company was founded in 1998, set up by former Hull Truck Theatre Associate Director Kate Bramley, along with fellow Hull University drama graduate scenic designer Ruth Paton at the end of the 1990’s, with a mission to take newly-written, high quality, “biography-based” productions to venues around the UK, beginning with a triumphant run at the 1998 Edinburgh Festival with a play about a Hull-native and national heroine, entitled “Amy Johnson”.
In the next half a dozen years, Badapple established itself on the British touring circuit with plays about American novelist Raymond Chandler, (“Marlowe, Meet Raymond Chandler”), Marilyn Monroe (“Still Marilyn”) and an ambitious “ecological fantasy-musical” about global warming (“Fighting The Tide”). Meanwhile Kate’s other role, as violinist and vocalist with top British folk band Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennies, meant a temporary hold on Badapple’s progress in 2002, as she toured the concert halls and music festivals of America, Canada, Australia and Europe for three very hectic years, though always on the understanding that one day Badapple would bounce back, hopefully stronger than ever.
That wish has been more than fulfilled over the last decade, as a restructured company, now based near Harrogate in North Yorkshire, touring bespoke productions for non theatre spaces nationally. The company started by concentrating on the villages and towns of the more immediate area, found immediate success with its first new productions, one based on the life of celebrated novelist James Herriot (“An Honorary Yorkshireman”, produced in collaboration with BBC playwright Alice Bartlett) and a musical comedy about the local touring exploits of two of Britain’s best-loved comedy stars in their early days (“Laurel and Charlie”). Furthermore, an extensive North Country tour of musical evenings entitled “A Song For Geordie” was also staged by Badapple in 2007, with a follow up seasonal version “Geordie’s Winter Alamanac Radio Roadshow’ undertaking a sell-out tour in December 2009.
This new Badapple philosophy, which Kate Bramley has christened “Theatre on Your Doorstep” is dedicated to bringing quality drama, music and comedy to small halls and local theatres in the belief that there is an audience out there that is hungry for “a good night out” without the bother and upheaval of having to journey into the town or across a sizeable distance in order to enjoy themselves. By bringing the show to the people, presenting it to them on their doorstep, the audience can experience a “community event”, in much the same way as travelling theatres have provided such a service for centuries. This whole enterprise has been a remarkable and eye-opening success for all concerned, and has now seen a total of 16 original plays for national touring (as well as 6 bespoke Youth Theatre plays) from Kate Bramley as the creative team continue to take to the highways and byways of the country.
The current creative team made up of Artistic Director and writer Kate Bramley, designer Catherine Dawn, composer Jez Lowe and director Richard Kay are ably complemented by Youth Theatre mentors Frances Tither and Sarah Raine and by regular tour managers John Bramley and Duncan Hands – who are the real magicians behind the installation of the performances at various scales of venue – and administrative team Claire Jeffrey (Company Director/ Administrator) and Annabelle Polito (Fundraising/ Marketing Co-ordinator). In recent years, project support by National Lottery funding from Arts Council England through the Small Arts Grants programme has see the flourishing of a unique comic brand that delights audiences at every stop on the road.