The final production in Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-Up season is hitting the stage in May.
The women of the Ensemble Company perform together alongside new cast members (including Mind the Gap’s Anna Gray) in Amanda Whittington’s Be My Baby.
The show is set in a maternity home for young, unmarried women who have ‘made one mistake’. 19-year old Mary is seven months pregnant when her mother delivers her into the charge of St Saviours. As Mary, Dolores, Queenie and Norma bond, they begin to understand what it means to give their children to the Welfare Service and Mary realises she must fight to take her baby home.
Director Jacqui Honess-Martin says: “Be My Baby is a brilliant play and one of few all-female scripts with a strong narrative for young women. It was written in the 90s about the 60s and yet is still highly relevant today; it’s only 60 years since women were given access to the legal rights that curbed the practices shown in the play, but one only has to look at current politics in Ireland and the US to see how fragile those rights are, and that this production isn’t simply a piece of history.”
“There are two groups of women in the UK for whom the issues of this play are still shockingly relevant; refugees and asylum seekers have appallingly high maternal and infant mortality rates as there are barriers to them accessing even basic maternal care in the UK and learning-disabled mothers – over 90% of who will have their baby taken into care.
“I’m proud to work in a theatre of sanctuary – a theatre committed to being a place of safety for refugees and asylum seekers – and working with Anna Gray to bring the experience of learning disabled women into our rehearsal room and to audiences.”
Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “We have brought together a fantastic team of creatives to tell this important story. Directed by Jacqui Honess-Martin, whose wonderful production of Blackthorn featured in our Pop-Up season last year, I’m also thrilled to welcome Anna Gray from Mind the Gap – an innovative West Yorkshire company who have done a huge amount to provide opportunities for performers with learning disabilities and to put learning disabled peoples’ experiences centre stage.
Whilst there are nods to the 1960s by use of key props and snippets of song, Jacqui and the creative team have shaped a piece that comes without an era thus opting for an unsentimental approach. The set is stark, the costumes unspecific in fashion, and the piece is fully captioned – yet again a diverse and accessible piece of theatre produced by this fantastic Playhouse.
Be My Baby plays in Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-Up theatre, in association with SOYO Leeds, from 11th May – 1st June. Get your tickets here.
Photography credited to Anthony Robling