For decades, Marsden-based Mikron Theatre has been touring every summer to places most companies never see - and this year they have the long arm of the law for company.
From May 13-October 21, Mikron's 51st year of annual touring takes in everywhere from its Mechanics Institute base in Marsden, West Yorkshire, to Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Derby, Bath and all points north, south, east and west along the country's main canal north-south "spine".
The company claims with some justification to be the most travelled UK theatre company, visiting 130 venues a year, from canal-side towpaths to museums, parish halls, pubs and other unusual venues.
Mikron was founded in 1963 by Mike Lucas, his wife Sarah Cameron and Ron Legge, who made up the name from their own names and took a show to Edinburgh.
In the early 1970s Mike and Sarah had an idea to combine theatre with their love of canals and wrote Still Waters, a history of the canals in words and music, which they toured to dozens of venues in their narrowboat, Tyseley.
It was a winning formula, and though the faces have changed – this year's company is Hannah Baker, Harvey Badger, Rachel Hammond and Eddie Ahrens – it's a pattern the company has used ever since, touring new plays and old ones, all on varied aspects of British history and culture, to pubs, small and unusual venues by way of their narrowboat in the summer and by van in winter.
This summer's tour gets underway on May 13 at Marsden's Mechanics Institute and features plays Twitchers – about the RSPB, and A Force to be Reckoned With, by Amanda Whittington, about the experiences of a new female recruit to the force in the early 1950s.
With handbag, whistle and a key to the police box, WPC Iris Armstrong is ready for whatever the mean streets of a 1950s market town throws at her. Fresh from police training school, she prepares for her first day on the beat – but the reality is one of being stuck at the station, typing and making tea.
Iris joins forces with fellow WPC Ruby Roberts, and they are called to any case involving women and children. What starts as "women’s work" soon becomes a specialist role, and Iris earns her place in a historic force to be reckoned with. Along the way, she finds out more about the women who came before her – it's an arresting tale of law and order!
You can find out the full tour schedule here