The Mary Quaile Club has commissioned a play about Mary’s life and work called Dare to Be Free, which will be premiered in the Mary Quaile Room at Manchester Trades Council’s May Day event on 1.45pm on the afternoon of Saturday 30 April 2016.
We thought that a play about Mary would be a wonderful way of making her life and work as a trade union organiser better known to a new generation. We were clear that the play would not be an exercise in cosy historical nostalgia, but would directly link her work in organising workers in the early C20th to the conditions faced by many workers today ie low pay, zero hours and the hostility by many employers towards the very idea of trade unions.
Dare To Be Free is set in the past and present. It’s 1908 and waitresses in a Manchester cafe are fed up and ready to strike for proper pay and decent working conditions. It’s 2016 and workers in a Manchester “fast food experience” are fed up and ready to strike for proper pay and decent working conditions. Linking the two eras is Mary Quaile, a pioneer of women’s trade unionism in the C20th, who has come to help out her modern-day sisters because the issues she fought on 100 years ago are back with vengeance…
In addition to the event on 30 April, there will be four other performances as follows:
Saturday 14 May, 2pm, in the Inspire Centre, 747 Stockport Road, Levenshulme Manchester M19 3AR. (Mary lived in Levenshulme for many years at 20 Barlow Road). Free.
Saturday 14 May, 8pm, in the Bolton Socialist Club, Wood Street, Bolton. £3
Sunday 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, a pamphlet which has an article on Mary Quaile and ten interviews with women active in trade unions at grass roots level. The launch will start at 2pm and the play will be on at 3.30pm. Free.
We are delighted that the play has been written by Jane McNulty, whose previous work includes writing episodes for EastEnders, Doctors, Peak Practice, and Heartbeat. Her play Our Lady of the Goldfinches was an examination of the case of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10, who was murdered by the IRA in 1972. Another of Jane’s plays, A Bed of Shards will be staged at the Lowry on 1 and 2 July.
This play will be directed by Bill Hopkinson, who teaches at Edge Hill University. He was Artistic Director of Manchester Youth Theatre for four years where he explored ways of integrating young disabled and non-disabled performers, and from 2000 to 2004 he was Literary Manager for Sgript Cymru, the national new writing company for Wales. Bill has worked extensively as a dramaturg, developing and encouraging new writing for the stage including over 25 years association with NW Playwrights.
Catherine has worked extensively with Northern Broadsides since 2002. She has appeared at the Bolton Octagon in A View from the Bridge. In 2013 she won a Manchester Evening News award for Best Actress in a Visiting Production when she appeared in Rutherford and Son. In 2015 she played Cordelia in King Lear, directed by Jonathan Miller. Her most recent role on television was in The A Word (2016) as Martha. She has also appeared in Holby City, Waterloo Road, Doctors and Casualty.
Rachel Priest (waitress)
Rachel has toured with children’s theatre companies including West Midlands Children’s Theatre and Quantum Theatre. She has worked with Jelly Shoe Productions at The Lowry Theatre and with Watford Palace Theatre and Swine Theatre. She has appeared on television in Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Blue Murder and Cold Blood. In April 2016 she played Susan in Humble by Peter Kerry, one of the JB Shorts. Rachel is also an actor and puppeteer with Topsy Turvy Theatre.
Catarina Pinto Soromenho (waitress)
Catarina studied Dance and Drama with Physical Theatre at Edge Hill, graduating in 2013. Her work since then has included directing “Annie” at Academia Musica de Espinho and acting as tutor and choreographer at the “Grito” school project in Porto.
Rebecca Brown (waitress)
This play could not have been produced without the generous financial support we received from a number of trade unions and individuals
We are very pleased to have received donations 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.