A Peek Behind the Scenes of Be My Baby at Leeds Playhouse

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As audiences flood to Leeds Playhouse Pop-Up theatre for the acclaimed Around the World in 80 Days, there is as much activity behind the scenes as the all-female ensemble rehearse for the final production of the Pop-Up Season - Amanda Whittington’s Be My Baby.

Today the company has released images of the Be My Baby rehearsals showing cast members wearing t-shirts bearing their name.

Director, Jacqui Honess-Martin explains: “For the final production in the Pop-Up theatre our ensemble is joined by Anna Gray who plays Norma. Anna is an actor with learning disabilities, and sometimes learning names is a challenge, to help her not feel too much like the new girl we are all wearing named t-shirts – we’ve had a great time personalising them!”

Anna Gray is a resident artist with Mind the Gap theatre company – one of the country’s largest learning disability theatre companies that has championed learning-disabled arts for 30 years.  The production is presented in association with Mind the Gap and this project is a continuation of a longstanding relationship between them and Leeds Playhouse.

In 2018 Leeds Playhouse took part in Staging Change, a Mind the Gap initiative that encourages access for learning disabled actors, creatives, and audiences.

“As a direct result of Staging Change Anna was asked to audition for Be My Baby – we knew immediately that we wanted to work with her. She’s a skilled actor and in casting her we highlight the contemporary approach to the play.”

Set in a maternity home for young, unmarried women who have ‘made one mistake’, Jacqui Honess-Martin directs this moving story with warmth and humour.

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 over records and romance, 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.

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 a contemporary and resonant approach. The set is stark, the costumes unspecific in fashion, and the piece is fully captioned at every performance.

The female Ensemble Company is Tessa Parr fresh from her role in the critically acclaimed Hamlet, she is joined by Anna Gray as Norma Jo Mousley as Mrs Adams, Crystal Condie as Queenie, Simona Bitmate as Mary and Susan Twist as Matron.

Be My Baby plays in Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-Up theatre, in association with SOYO Leeds, from 11 May – 1 June.

Be My Baby, Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-Up theatre

11 May – Sat 1 June, Press Night Thursday 16th May, 7.30pm

Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online leedsplayhouse.org.uk 

Editor