Judith Adams

South Riding

2019 - 2021

Scenes from the 1936 novel by Winifred Holtby, published posthumously.

Dramatised for ensemble, multi-discipline, cross-artform, mixed-reality performance by Judith Adams

“I want to do something hard, muscular, compact, very little emotional and then the emotion hammered into style. Metal work, not watercolour.”

Winifred Holtby.

This dramatisation is being drafted in stages to allow collaboration on its development with drama students from Cathedral Academy for Performing Arts in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. We will explore through text, choreography, video (live feed or recorded), animation and set design, how we might play out this complex story of a whole community, struggling for survival between two un-great wars, by using non-linear, multi-platform performance techniques.

Holtby’s landscape is both the homeland of her childhood and imaginary: a fictional Riding of Yorkshire continuously haunted by ghosts of the dead and disenfranchised.

“Starting with Judith Adams’ dramatization, we will expose the waste of women’s lives in a world of poverty, no-choice childbirth and corrupt male power and politics. This project will be a gateway into the buried stories of Yorkshire’s female visionaries: young and old, artistic, medical, political, biographical and fictional.

These portraits reveal how female talents, biology and community instincts underpin the male state yet are marginalized and undervalued – and the tragedy this causes.

Our artistic heritage project will develop and refine live and captured material, playing in and out of physical and virtual reality environments and, critically, exploring where an audience will fit into that environment in a post-pandemic world.”

Stacey Johnstone, Project Director, Lecturer at CAPA, 2020

“It is a play is about the essence of community, its luminous strengths and tragic vulnerabilities, and also about a world of imagination – on the margins of our country, caught between a “war to end all wars” and the next war. Similar battles for individual empowerment and a re-distribution of health and wealth are being fought by young and old today, through the dead (ghosts of our pasts and futures) and the living; across ethnicity, age and gender.”

Judith Adams, Dramatist, Director Whitestone Arts. 2020

From Final Scene, Draft 2:

But that didn’t stop me. Wanting him. Loving him.

I would have given up all I have just for one night – one hour. Even knowing I was nothing to him but a passing fancy. I would have gone away after, without a word of complaint. I would have left the South Riding.

As it happens, he never so much as kissed me.

Why are you telling me this?

Because you loved him too. Because he didn’t kill himself. He wasn’t a tragic figure. Just a confused one – out of his time. Sometimes he seemed to me like a ghost.

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