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Premiere of play to mark centenary of World War One

'Troupers' is the story of how one woman took entertainment to the troops in World War One

The real-life story of a female impresario who took theatre to the frontline in World War One has inspired Marsden-based Mikron Theatre’s latest show.

Entitled Troupers, it tells the tale of actor-manager Lena Ashwell, a hitherto unsung heroine of the war effort, and her determination to keep entertainment alive and doing its bit for morale in the muddy, blood-spattered killing fields of France.

Mikron specialises in finding little-known people with an inspirational story to tell and giving them a voice. The choice of Lena, a woman who fought for the arts at a time of uncertainty when theatre was seen as a frivolous luxury, seems particularly apt today when the arts are once more under threat.

As Marianne McNamara, Mikron’s artistic director, says: “by telling Lena Ashwell’s story we are telling the story of the place that the arts had, and still have, in a struggling society. I’m aware that there will be a lot of companies marking this important centenary. We are really interested in having a central character who is female at a point in history which is often told from a male perspective.”

Troupers premieres in the company’s home village on Saturday (April 26) at the Royal British Legion in Grange Street – a fitting venue.

The show, which was written by Maeve Larkin, will then tour nationally until October. It will be the company’s 43rd tour, as always by narrowboat. Tickets for Troupers are £11 and £9 from 01484 843701 or from the website.

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