Wolverhampton Literature Festival: Humorous tale of the city's history to feature at event

By Annabal Bagdi | Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton entertainment | Published: | Last Updated:

Families will be treated to a 30-minute dash through the city's history when Wolverhampton Literature Festival returns.

The return of Baa-bara

Jefny Ashcroft and Jonathan Collings are preparing to take residents through a whirlwind of times past during the celebrations.

Dubbed 'A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing', their humorous play is set to touch on significant moments in the city's history.

Dr Ashcroft, who lives in Chapel Ash, said: "It's a comical piece, I hope it's going to be very funny.

"We will be running through the history of Wolverhampton from the 910 Battle of Tettenhall or Wednesfield, right thought to 1954 when Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Budapest Honvéd FC.

"Be prepared to have a laugh. I want people to learn about history in an amusing way. It's all true but designed to be funny.

"Wolverhampton has been important throughout a long period of history. There are lots of important things that people don't know about. The play will bring in things from the past that people will be proud of."

Dr Ashcroft will don a sheep's head as she narrates during the performances, while actor Mr Collings will bravely take on all other characters including Lady Wulfruna and Queen Victoria.

The play's title is inspired by the iconic Wolf in Sheep's Clothing sculpture which stands on the balcony of Wolverhampton Art Gallery.


It was commissioned in 1999 to commemorate Wolverhampton's role in the wool trade, while the wolf is also a nod to the nickname of the city's football team.

The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing stands at the city's art gallery

Dr Ashcroft said it was the third play about Wolverhampton she was inspired to pen after working within the city's archives in Whitmore Hill.

The historian, who united with Mr Collings to write the play exclusively for the festival, said: "I know a great deal about the history of Wolverhampton. I wanted to get more people to come to the archives to use it.


"Sheep are very important to Wolverhampton's history. They created a lot of wealth in the town in the Middle Ages and that helped to rebuild St Peters Church for example.

"I want people to learn about history in an amusing way. We have written this so it can be enjoyed by children from eight upwards and adults.

"It's not written for children but the reason everyone can enjoy it, is it's going to have a lot of visual comedy."

More than 80 artists and performances will entertain people from across the city when the festival returns to Wolverhampton for the second time.

Three themes - music and literature, politics and journalism and community voices - are set to run throughout the three-day celebrations.

Literature fans will have the chance to indulge in workshops, theatrical performances and debates, as well as events for children, at venues across the city.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Newhampton Arts Centre, The Slade Rooms, Bantock House and The Grand Theatre are just some of the venues playing host to the packed line-up.

The Express & Star is supporting the festival, which will run from Friday, January 26, until Sunday, January 28.

A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing will be performed at Wolverhampton City Archives at 2pm and 3.30pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets, which are £2 and £1 for concessions, can be purchased by calling 0870 320 7000 or from the archives' reception.

Annabal Bagdi

By Annabal Bagdi

Senior reporter based at head office in Wolverhampton. Get in touch on 01902 319 229 or at


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