This spring there will five performances of “Dare to be Free”, a play the Mary Quaile Club has commissioned about the life and work of the Manchester trade unionist Mary Quaile. We will also also launching our second pamphlet on 4 June on the subject of women in trade unions, past and present.
Mary came from an Irish working-class background and left school at 12. She rose from being a waitress in a Manchester cafe to one of the most well-known women trade union organisers in Britain in the 1920s. She was on the General Council of the TUC during the General Strike, and spent four months in the Soviet Union in 1925 leading a delegation of British trade union women.
“Dare To Be Free” is set in the past and present. It’s 1908 and waitresses in a Manchester cafe are ready to strike for proper pay and decent working conditions. It’s 2016 and workers in a Manchester “fast food experience” are ready to strike for proper pay and decent working conditions. Linking the two eras is Mary Quaile, come to help out her modern-day sisters because the issues she fought on 100 years ago are back with vengeance…
The play has been written by Jane McNulty, whose previous work includes writing episodes for EastEnders, Doctors, Peak Practice, and Heartbeat. Another of Jane’s plays, A Bed of Shards, will be staged at The Lowry on 1 and 2 July. The play will be directed by Bill Hopkinson, who teaches at Edge Hill University.
Mary Quaile will be played by Catherine Kinsella , while the waitresses in 1908 and 2016 will be played by Rebecca Brown, Rachel Priest and Catarina Pinto Soromenho.
Performances of “Dare to Be Free”
Saturday 14 May, 2pm, in the Inspire Centre, 747 Stockport Road, Levenshulme Manchester M19 3AR. Free. (Mary lived in Levenshulme for many years at 20 Barlow Road).
Saturday 14 May, 8pm, Bolton Socialist Club, Wood Street, Bolton £3
Saturday 15 May, 2pm, in the Glossop Labour Club, 15 Chapel Street, Glossop SK13 8AT. Free
Saturday 4 June at Three Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade, 35 Oldham Street Manchester M1 1JG. This final performance will be part of the launch of the second Mary Quaile publication, Dare to Be Free: Women in Trade Unions, Past and Present. This pamphlet has a biography of Mary Quaile, written by Michael Herbert, and ten interviews with women active in trade unions at grass roots level, written by Bernadette Hyland. The launch will start at 2pm with speakers and discussion: the play will be on at 3.30pm. Free. This event is part of the Manchester Histories Festival .
We are very pleased to have received donations for the play from the following trade unions: BECTU, Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, Communication Workers Union, Fire Brigades Union (Region No 5), General Federation of Trade Unions, Bristol branch of NUJ, Calderdale branch of NUJ, Glasgow branch of NUJ, Manchester and Salford branch of NUJ, the Professional Footballers’ Association, Bolton branch of NUT, Bolton branch of UNISON, and UNITE (North West region). We have also received donations from the following individuals: Geoff and Judy Brown, Christopher Eccleston, John Finch, Tony Garnett, Gaynor Lloyd, Rita Machin, Maxine Peake, Sheila Rowbotham, and Margaret Ward.
The publication of the pamphlet has been made possible by grants from the Barry Amel and Norman Melburn Trust and the General Federation of Trade Unions.
The Mary Quaile Club can be contacted by email ; firstname.lastname@example.org