Frankie Meredith, a young Midlands playwright, will have two shows running in the region this summer, as part of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021. MAY QUEEN will have its world premiere from 29 July – 8 August as part of the Belgrade and Paines Plough’s Roundabout 2021 season; a festival of new world-class plays and community-led activities taking place this summer in Paines Plough’s unique, intimate pop-up theatre Roundabout, which will be situated in the grounds of Moat House Leisure and Neighbourhood Centre in Wood End, Coventry. Directed by Balisha Karra, one of the Belgrade’s three Co-Artistic Directors for City of Culture Year, MAY QUEEN will star Yasmin Dawes as ‘Leigh’. Press night in Coventry will be Tuesday 3 August.
May Day in Coventry, 2022. Sixteen-year-old Leigh has been chosen as May Queen. She’s buzzin, as is the rest of the city.
The cider is flowing and St George’s flag is flying – but during the day’s festivities something happens. Something disturbing, but maybe… unsurprising.
As the year moves on in the City of Peace and Reconciliation, Leigh must face up to the events of that hot May Day, and dig deep within herself to ask – how did she get here? And how does she get out?
PETTICOAT COUNCIL, which Meredith also directs, will premiere at Warwick Arts Centre from 15 – 17 June, with a press night on Weds 16 June. PETTICOAT COUNCIL is a folk musical incorporating storytelling, song, dance & puppetry, telling the true story of a group of women from Bishop’s Itchington near Coventry, who in 1949 formed the 1st female majority council in the UK post-WW2, transforming the village into a thriving community.
Basically, this story, of these women, didn’t happen in a city. It isn’t in London, or Manchester or Birmingham, although it’s near Coventry. It happens in a place you wouldn’t expect, a place you wouldn’t expect a revolution to happen. And from women you wouldn’t expect to start a revolution. And where do revolutions begin? Like everything, they begin with a mother…
This show is aimed at audiences within the communities on which it is based, and will subsequently tour to five Warwickshire community centres and village halls – including Bishop’s Itchington on Friday 18 June – focusing on engaging with locals who may not usually connect with theatre.Other tour dates are Cheylesmore Community Centre on Sat 19 June, Warwickspace Community Centre on Fri 25 June and Jephson Gardens Leamington Spa on Sun 27 June 2021. Presented by Steph Hartland Productions and Boys Club Theatre, with designs by Rachel Cleary PETTICOAT COUNCIL will star Helen Booth, Madi MacMahon, Georgina Periam & Savannah Gallo.
Frankie Meredith is a Paines Plough Big Room Fellow, an alumna of the Soho Young Writers Lab 2015, and a graduate of the Lyric Young Writers Programme 2013, whose works include Turkey (The Hope Theatre, 2017), Finding Peter (Theatre N16, 2018), The Olive Trade (Southwark Playhouse, 2016) 17 (longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize 2019), Clementines (2019), Becoming Danish (web series developed through the BBC Writers Room /Ideas Tap, 2020), City Boys (Southwark Playhouse, 2015), The Ballad of Tab and Sal (Old Red Lion, 2015), Monkey (Waterloo East, 2016). Her focuses in her career include championing Midlands based stories & creatives, combating elitism & inaccessibility in theatre.
Frankie Meredith said, “Having two shows open this summer (of all summers) is such a dream. I’m so grateful for everyone working so hard to make it happen safely. Although the plays are entirely different in their themes and styles, the one thing I was really passionate about was staging them in the communities in which they’re set. I spent a lot of my teen years in Coventry, so when it came to writing a story here, I just knew it had to be told by a sixteen year old girl and getting her experience on stage.
“With Petticoat Council, my great aunt was one of the women who formed the council, so it’s been in my family for a few generations and has been many years in the writing.
“Both plays focus on how women tell and pass down stories. With moments that will uplift and spark joy, which I feel audiences need right now, they also carry strong messages of resilience, community and hope. I’m most excited about working with the incredible teams on each”
Balisha Karra said, “I am so thrilled to be part of the creation of a show in such an auspicious year for Coventry. May Queen is set in the city of Coventry and written by a writer from this city. It really does feel like a time to celebrate arts and culture, as we all start to regain our courage towards stepping outside again. I can’t wait.”