Liverpool-based actress Denise Kennedy premieres her one-woman show Bella: Queen of the Blackfriars Ring at the Unity this week (February 5 and 6).
‘Bella’ is a show with live music, song, dance, boxing, no less, and film, and tells the true story of the world’s first female boxing promoter, Bella Burge, a woman who, after having toured the music halls as Marie Lloyd’s dresser, entered the male-dominated world of boxing.
She succeeded in taking over the running of south London boxing venue Blackfriars Ring from her husband, the ex prize-fighter Dick Burge – a promise made to him on his deathbed – until it was destroyed in a WWII air raid in 1940.
“When I found out about Bella’s story I was gripped and felt I needed to tell it… A shorter version of the show was performed a couple of years ago and it went down really well. Everyone wanted to see more and were disappointed when it came to an end. I have a great team working with me, including writer Esther Wilson [Tony Teardrop, The Accused, The Street, Call The Midwife] in the role of dramaturg,” said Denise, who has been training with Liverpool boxer Daniele Hartley for the production.
“As it is a one-woman show, I will be playing all the different characters, boxers included,” she continues. “It has been great but incredibly hard work. I am in my late 40s and boxing is one of the most strenuous forms of exercise you can possibly start, especially at my age. I have dance training which has helped me with the footwork, and Daniele told me that her dance training made things easier when she started.”
For tickets and info, visit the Unity’s website.