21st to 23rd Halifax Playhouse 2024

Hopes and dreams from a local story; written and performed with an eye on the past and lessons for today. Don’t miss it.” 

Barry Rutter OBE

The Brutish Multitude is a theatre company formed in early 2018 in the ancient village of Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, initially to research and produce a community play based upon the 1643 English Civil War battle, the Battle of Heptonstall. Our longer-term mission is to make drama out of the social history of the Calder Valley, performing plays in non-theatre spaces and theatres, giving voice to the silenced and anonymous.

A successful bid to Sky Arts funded the Battle of Heptonstall project. Two local artists were commissioned: writer and director Michael Crowley and composer Katie Chatburn. A public launch was held in September 2018, and for two nights a week for the next two months, Michael brought new scenes along each week, which the group read around a table. Characters developed with those who read for them, new characters were created for newcomers, and by the final page, there was a cast of sixteen.

The play had four performances – three at St Thomas the Apostle church Heptonstall and one at Halifax Minster. The play was warmly received, with all four shows selling out. Katie Chatburn’s music supported the narrative – inspired by characters, setting and time. New music was composed for period ballads and bespoke ballads for the play. Most of the cast had no prior experience of acting or singing publicly, and the rehearsal process was an ascent over a long period, creating fine performances. It is a story about some ordinary people of 1643 told to us by ordinary people of today. There is a promotional film about the play and the battle itself here.

Rehearsal Halifax Minster March 2019.

The Battle of Heptonstall performances were preceded by a lecture on the 1643 battle held at Hebden Bridge Town Hall. In November of 2019, there was an exhibition about the Civil War history and the community play in the foyer and cafe of the Town Hall, with photographs by our associate artist Bruce Cutts.

“I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it’s clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.” Colonel Sir Thomas Rainsborough, Leveller and MP for Droitwich, The Putney Debates 1647

The production created the company as much as the company the production, and we began to take new pieces of theatre into non-theatre spaces and theatre spaces with Waiting For Wesley and The House That Ethel Built, the two one-act plays that makeup Warp and Weft.