Ref – Crossing The Line

Julia Lee, born and bred in Hull was one of the first female referees to referee men’s match both in England and in Australia. The play ‘Ref’ inspired by Julia’s life story, was written following a chance meeting with playwright, Sarah Jane Dickenson

Ref! is the catalyst for a wider innovative project, being produced by Space2 called Crossing the Line in Hull, Featherstone, Castleford and Batley. Julia’s memories are shared through the play and involves gathering and further sharing of memories and stories of the role of all women in Rugby League; fro the 1950’s to the present day. Julia’s company, CSI, a social enterprise, will run workshops which will be held in the communities in Yorkshire with an embedded history of Rugby League in order to gather stories, memories and artefacts. The aim is to uncover women’s stories of Rugby League and hep to give young er women a voice about their own life and career choices.

Space2 will use a SMART gallery concept, originated by Turner nominated artist Helen Payton – with the community – to shape the memories into a touring exhibition and eventually a digital collection, a SMART (Social Museum and Art ) gallery. The culmination of the project will be realised as a significant section in the Rugby League museum to be opened in Bradford 2021.

Sarah Jane says “the play Ref! is not just about retelling the memories of Julia, it’s about what aspects of the memories might speak to women connected to Rugby League today.  What aspect of adapted memories might move and intrigue the audience, so they can reflect on how life is and more importantly how they want it to be for themselves and for those who follow them – the next generation who love the game, want to be involved, shape and develop the beautiful game of League. “

The play premiered in Hull in July 2018 and will tour in early 2019. All the performances are linked to workshops or one to ones where members of the public will be encouraged to share stories and memorabilia relating to Rugby League.

All the stories and memories that people share will be part of a wider collection of artefacts and archives at local rugby league clubs and the National Rugby League Museum due to open in Bradford in 2021.

Crossing the Line is funded by Arts Council England ‘s National Lottery funded Strategic Touring programme, Heritage Lottery Fund, University of Hull and supported by Hull Kingston Rovers, Featherstone Rovers, Castelford Tigers, Batley Bull Dogs and One to One Development Trust

View the Women in Rugby League website

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Contact Julia Lee to share your story or find out more about the Crossing the Line Project

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