Acclaimed actress Maxine Peake has said she wants to do Morley and Beryl Burton proud with her stage play of the cycling legend’s life.
She was one of the special guests at the official launch of the Yorkshire Festival 2014, an event spanning 100 days of art and culture to celebrate the Tour De France coming to the county.
One of the highlights of the festival will be the premiere of Beryl, Maxine’s play about the life and career of the Morley-born cyclist, which she has adapted from her Radio 4 play.
The star said when she first discovered Beryl’s story she had been shocked by how many people outside of the cycling world hadn’t, which was why she decided to write the original radio play.
Six months later, James Brining, artistic director of West Yorkshire Playhouse, approached her with the offer to adapt the play for the Leeds stage as he was looking for a home grown project to celebrate the Tour de France coming to the city.
Maxine said she had dashed to the launch, in Holy Trinity Church in the city centre, from early workshop sessions of the production, where she was working with a director and four “fantastic” actors who were helping to “build it up and flesh it out”.
“But I can’t thank the West Yorkshire Playhouse enough,” she said.
“It’s a bit of a punt really, you know what I mean? I’ve written two radio plays, one about Beryl Burton and one about Anne Scargill, and now I’m writing a play for West Yorkshire Playhouse.
“So I’m very daunted but it’s also fantastic that it’s part of the Yorkshire Festival - although I am a proud Lancastrian.
“Thank you for letting me be part of this and I hope that I can do Leeds and Morley, Beryl Burton, Charlie Burton and Denise Burton and the cycling fraternity of Yorkshire proud with the piece.”