Next week, The Conquest Theatre in Bromyard presents The Canary Girls, written by Paul Murray and directed by Charlotte Barltrop.

During WWI women in the UK took on many roles, among them the manufacture of the munitions that were sent to the front line, with one such factory based at Rotherwas in Herefordshire, where they risked their lives on a daily basis, working with explosive materials and chemicals that turned their skin yellow and earned them their name.

Paul Murray wrote The Canary Girls in 2014, when it received its first outing at The Courtyard.

“The play follows the stories of several different characters, who you meet first as workers in the factory, and then learn more about their lives. All the incidents in the play are based on real life stories I found during my research, including that of the factory inspector," Paul said at the time. "I have given it a narrative arc, but I’ve tried not to take too much dramatic licence, though some of it you have to fictionalise because you can only know so much.”

Nearly 4,000 women did dangerous and damaging work in the Rotherwas Munitions Factory in World War One. “We drew from their voices and memories to bring their stories to a wider audience,” said Paul. “Most of it is based on first-hand testimony - the singing we’ve included reflects the fact that the women would sing to offset the soporific effects of the cordite they were working with."

Director Charlotte Barltrop was initially a circus performer before doing a degree in theatre at Coventry University. On moving to Bromyard she saw an ad posted by The Conquest Theatre, who were looking for someone to direct Canary Girls. "I met with the organisers and really liked the script, so agreed to direct. I now count the Conquest as my theatre family."

See The Canary Girls at The Conquest Theatre in Bromyard from Thursday, June 20 to Saturday, June 22 at 7.30pm. To book, call the box office on 01885 488575 or visit