This Building Tells a Story

Empath Action CIC brought history to life on Heritage Weekend 2022 in and around some of Upper Westgate’s most beautiful and important buildings.

On Saturday, September 17th, Empath met with members of the public to help them creatively respond to historical fact files about some of Upper Westgate’s most interesting characters, including discovering a lady on Drury Lane whose liking for cheese and tarts meant she had to dispense with her doctor; walking a mile in the always hard-working Thomas Gissings’ shoes; and imagining what it was like to have a zoo where the Orangery now stands, complete with a ferocious bear that, in a tragic incident, got free of its pit! Taking this research, which has been compiled by historians like our very own researcher Helga Fox and members of the Wakefield Historical Society, among many others, we helped participants bring to life these characters by writing monologues about their stories.

Then, on Sunday, September 18th our new group of thespians performed their monologues in, or directly outside, the buildings where those famous and sometimes infamous characters lived, worked and, for some, where they met an untimely end. Our audiences started at the Theatre Royal, Wakefield, at 11AM or 2PM, and together moved up Westgate for a further two stops at Westgate Studios and the Gissing Centre for our quick performance tour. Chaperoning were two of Empath’s professional actors, Callum Monkman and Katie Greensmith, in character as Wakefield memoirist Henry Clarkson, and writer Lady Mary Green.

Below, you can see a gallery of images from the day courtesy of photos from professional photographer David Lindsay:

And below you can read the historical fact-files we gave to our participants so they could learn more about some of the incredible stories on Westgate:

With Thanks to our Funders:

This Building Tells a Story was commissioned by the Upper Westgate Heritage Action Zone, funded by Historic England and
Wakefield Council.

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