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08 March 2020

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch celebrates International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day 2020, we’re celebrating some of the incredible women creatives we’ve worked with over the past year!

QTH has been successfully working towards gender parity across creative teams, continuing a rigorous process of researching female creatives, particularly in under represented areas and using partnership projects to broaden opportunities, with 58% of creatives being female last year.

Highlights from the past year include the world premiere of Sadie Hasler’s Stiletto Beach, which was lauded for bringing women’s voices to the fore; exploding stereotypes of ‘Essex Girls’ with a unique wit. The Stage said ‘Hasler’s writing is full of humour and imaginative wordplay, making strong points about the tactics people employ to either fit into or escape from society’s expectations’.

Similarly, Deborah Frances-White (The Guilty Feminist Podcast) said of Stiletto Beach: It made me cheer, roar & weep. Stellar performances from the all-female cast. It’s about carrying the label of ‘Essex girl’ & the heavy luggage all women carry’.

The European premiere of As You Like It brought creatives Hayley Grindle, Sundeep Saini, Yshani Perinpanayagam and Jules Tipton into the fold, with a critically acclaimed performance from Beth Hinton-Lever as Jacques.

Looking forward, the uplifting story from award-winning writer Frances Poet, Maggie May is brought to joyous life by director Jemima Levick.

Frances Poet says: ‘Maggie May is about a whole family but it was a very conscious decision to have a sixty year old woman at the heart of the play. Not only do we see too few stories on our stages that place older women front and centre but dementia has a particularly big impact upon women; it is predominantly women who take on caring roles for loved ones with dementia but also, women who are more likely to receive a dementia diagnosis. Worldwide, women with dementia outnumber men two to one. The women I’ve met living with dementia have been nothing short of inspirational. Maggie carries their resilient spirit and is, in many ways, the toughest character I’ve ever written.’

Jemima Levick says: ‘Maggie May is an extraordinary play with an extraordinary central character; she’s strong, determined, a fighter, a lover, and so many things in between.  She is also a woman in her 60’s, an age group we don’t focus on often enough in the stories we tell.  Age aside, all too often the classical cannon limits us to stories that centre around men of many ages, in many time periods.  New plays give us an opportunity to blow those traditions apart and really celebrate the stories and diversity of women – and not before time. 

Gender equality in theatre is a long way from being achieved, but we’re taking steps in the right direction.  When I started out as a director there was only a handful of female role models I could look to, and I’m so pleased that there are more now.  We just have to keep moving forward in the same direction, building on the positives as we go, just as Maggie does.’

Maggie May plays at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch from 13-28 March.

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