Heroica Theatre Company began life as Square Peg Productions in 2005 with a production inspired by the remarkable life of Lady Anne Clifford, An Owl in the Desert, performed at her birth- and deathplaces of Skipton Castle and English Heritage-owned Brougham Castle, both in North Yorkshire. On the success of this, English Heritage part-commissioned from us a work for the following year, An Eclipse of the Sun (2006), inspired by the life of Queen Anne Neville at her home castle of Middleham in North Yorkshire. Thus developed a theme for Square Peg: the lives of unsung northern heroines, performed in their own homes where feasible, and through outdoor and promenade-style productions.
Further annual productions followed in the wake of these two successes: Secretly Pleased (2007 and 2008) at Land Farm, Colden, on the life of Hebden Bridge-based photographer Alice Longstaff, A Pearl in the Sands (also 2008) at Swarthmoor Hall, Cumbria, on the life of Margaret Fell, first woman Quaker – and Woven in the Fabric (2010) at Halifax Minster, on the lives of Martha Crossley, mill owner and philanthropist and Lavena Saltonstall, suffragette, both of Halifax. In this last production, the audience was involved in the making of a rag rug, later exhibited in the Bankfield Textiles Museum – a lasting and beautiful legacy of the production.
Our production in 2012, The Chelsea Belladonna, based on the life of Elizabeth Blackwell, botanical illustrator, was our first touring production – around six public gardens of Scotland – and for which we were awarded a four-star review in The Scotsman newspaper by reviewer Joyce Macmillan. In 2013 we brought Elizabeth Blackwell and her story to Hebden Bridge in the form of an afternoon event of readings, performance and painting activity, in the lovely gardens of our ‘traditional’ home venue: Land Farm, Colden.
In 2014, Square Peg Productions evolved into Heroica Theatre Company in a move for our name to reflect more clearly what we do: we create accessible theatre which celebrates maverick women and their influence on their wider society.