Profit and Loss

Sylvia Le Breton was doing research for "A Distant Country" when Jim and Dorothy Travis, churchwardens at Silkstone Church, near Barnsley, approached Grass Roots to see if she could write a play for the one hundred and seventieth anniversary of the Huskar Pit disaster, in which twenty six children drowned when part of the mine was flooded. The church and Roggins Local History Group had come together under the name Huskar 170 to arrange a series of events, which were to include a play.




Sylvia wrote Profit and Loss especially for the aniversary, using information from Alan Gallop's book "Children of the Dark". The play was an attempt to get a little closer to the people who had to live through such a tragedy.

The play was performed in Silkstone Church. Scaffolding was erected to provide the basis of the set, which needed to show the mine both above and below ground. Imaginative design from Keith Le Breton and Lynda Jennings, hard graft from a stage crew with an average age of around sixty five and atmospheric lighting from Phil and Tom Vickers made this a most impressive set. It even included an hydraulic lift to allow children to disapear below the stage as they went down the mine! Oh yes; they also had to protect a precious Medieval choir screen throughout the performance!
Because of the nature of the tragedy, it was necessary to include a lot of children in the cast. They did not let us down. The children at the centre of the play were like professionals, both in ability and in attitude. The adults were pretty good too!! The play was sold out before we started, so we opened the dress rehearsal to the public. Despite the fact that we were dealing with such a heart- breaking story, this was still a happy show in which to participate and we were delighted that Huskar 170 thought to ask Grass Roots to take part.