Double success for young Midlands playwright

Published: 9 June 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Actor Yasmin Dawes who appears in May Queen, director Balisha Karra and playwright Frankie Meredith Credit: Joe Bailey

A young Midlands playwright is to have two shows produced as part of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

Frankie Meredith is a fellow of Paines Plough’s writer development programme The Big Room, an alumna of the Soho Young Writers Lab 2015 and a graduate of the Lyric Young Writers Programme 2013. She champions Midlands-based stories and aims to combat elitism and inaccessibility in theatre.

May Queen will have its world première from Tuesday 29 July until Sunday 8 August as part of the Belgrade Theatre and Paines Plough’s Roundabout season, a festival of new plays and community-led activities taking place in Paines Plough’s pop-up theatre Roundabout which will be in the grounds of Moat House Leisure and Neighbourhood Centre, Wood End, Coventry.

May Queen is a coming-of-age story about a young woman from Coventry on a quest to find her place in her city and the world. Directed by Balisha Karra, one of the Belgrade’s three co-artistic directors for Coventry’s City of Culture Year, May Queen will feature Yasmin Dawes.

Petticoat Council, which Meredith directs, is a folk musical incorporating song, dance and puppetry, telling the true story of a group of women from Bishop’s Itchington near Coventry who in 1949 formed the first female-majority council in the UK after World War II. It will première at Warwick Arts Centre from Tuesday 15 until Thursday 17 June and will then tour to five Warwickshire community centres and village halls.

Meredith said, “having two shows open this summer is such a dream. 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 Cov, so when it came to writing a story here I just knew it had to be told by a 16-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. They also carry strong messages of resilience, community and hope.”