Friday, June 18

Mikron Theatre back on the water with Atalanta Forever celebrating the pioneers of women’s football

Mikron Theatre back on the water with Atalanta Forever celebrating the pioneers of women’s football.

Mikron Theatre celebrate their 49th year of touring on their narrowboat with the premiere of Atalanta Forever telling the story of pioneering women footballers in 1920.

Amanda Whittingham has gone back to 1920 where women’s football teams are pulling in huge crowds for fund-raising games raising money for wounded soldiers.  

Huddersfield amateurs Ethel and Annie are teammates at Huddersfield’s Atalanta AFC who are tackling new football skills, mastering the offside rule and kicking back at the doubters.

The play is based on the true story of one of three women’s football teams in Huddersfield in post war Britain. A measure of the popularity of the women’s game at that time can be measured by the estimated 25,000 crowd that packed into Hillsborough to see Atalanta take on with the Dick, Kerr Ladies of Preston losing 4-0 to their much more experienced opponents.

The growing popularity of women’s football was causing concern as the FA saw it as taking support away from the men’s game. On December 5, 1921, they banned women’s teams from using FA affiliated grounds.

2021 is the 100th anniversary of the Football Association shamefully banning women from playing on Football League grounds which was only lifted 50 years later. It will also be the 50th anniversary of the first Women’s first FA Cup final.

For award winning playwright Amanda Whittington this is a very personal play.

“I was an 11-year-old footballer in the 1980s, the only girl who played in the boy’s village tournament and I vividly remember being ‘advised’ to stop because it wasn’t appropriate,” recalls Amanda Whittington.

“I still feel the injustice, and the sense of shame for wanting to do something I was not meant to.  It brings joy to my heart to see football is now the biggest team sport for girls in Britain.  I wanted to write about the battle the women’s game has fought to survive and prosper – and perhaps to tell the 11-year-old me she was right?”

The cast is Rachel Benson, Thomas Cotran, James McLean and Elizabeth Robin.  Atalanta Forever is directed by Mikron Theatre’s Artistic Director Marianne McNamara, designed by Celia Perkins, music composed and lyrics by Kieran Buckeridge with the music directed by Rebekah Hughes.  

Atalanta Forever will be touring nationally in the Summer alongside Poppy Hollman’s new play A Dog’s Tale which celebrate canines past and present and explores the enduring love between people and their dogs.

Atalanta Forever will kick off at The Piece Hall in Halifax on Wednesday 9th June and then tour nationally by road and river until 19th September.

For tour dates and information on Atalanta Forever visit http://mikron.org.uk  

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