Broadsides in rehearsals for Dickens’ Hard Times

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Hard Times

Viaduct Theatre from Feb 16-24

Northern Broadsides has released rehearsal images for the forthcoming premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s new adaptation of Charles Dickens classic novel Hard Times which is set in a world where imagination is forbidden.

Coketown is such a place and Thomas Gradgrind - the notorious school board Superintendent who is dedicated to the pursuit of profitable enterprise - will not permit fanciful thoughts in his school or his home.

But what effect will this policy have on his own children, Tom and Louisa?

And how can he protect them from corrupting influences – especially when the circus comes to town?

Dark satanic mills, interrupted by the colour and vibrancy of Sleary’s Circus, set the stage for a sweeping tale of supressed love, seduction and social mores, peopled with the sharply observed exaggerated characters that Dickens is celebrated for.

Hard Times cast will include Suzanne Ahmet (Saint George and the Dragon, National Theatre); Darren Kuppan (Guards at the Taj, Bush Theatre and The Tempest, Globe Theatre); Vanessa Schofield (Plastic Figures, Box of Tricks); Tony Hunt (The Commitments, West End) and Paul Barnhill (Brassed Off, Oldham Coliseum and Steven Spielberg’s The BFG and Ready Player One).

The play is directed by Northern Broadsides Resident director Conrad Nelson.

lHard Times was the 10th novel published by Charles Dickens in 1854.

It differed from his other work in that instead of including scenes around London it played out in a ficticious northern Victorian community called Coketown which one imagines would have been similar, though smaller than Manchester. Dickens had visited factories in Manchester as early as 1839, and was appalled by the environment in which workers toiled.

Hard Times was also the shortest of Dickens novels barely a quarter in length of those that were written before and after.

The new adaptation will premiere at the Viaduct Theatre Halifax from February 16-24 and then nationally until May 26.For more information visit