Brenda is 16 and pregnant, Amy is the first in her family to go to university. What could possibly go wrong? This brand-new verbatim play explores the struggles that young, working class women face. We are working class and attend university. We recognise the difficulties women like us face when trying to be a mother and study. We want to raise awareness of the struggles and pressures that these women face and the systems in place such as universal credit and whether they really are enough in this current political and economic climate. The piece follows two sisters on a journey of hardship, tension, self discovery and aspiration. These sisters challenge each other and grow together as their lives take different routes.
Bloomin’ Buds Theatre Company aims to increase access to opportunity for people from lower and working class backgrounds. We do this by running weekly community sessions, organising community performances, running public events, doing workshops in schools and by making professional theatre pieces. ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ is our second professional piece, our first ‘Rewrite the system’ was a sell out. It has also been performed in several schools and communities as we aim to do with ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’.
‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ is a verbatim play, a fictional story based on interviews, news stories and personal experience. The audio material used in the play is taken from this research. The story represents the people that we work with as well as our personal experience. Being from council estates, we have often experienced the lack of opportunities available for women and the stigma surrounding young working class girls. For some girls having a family can give you a sense of community, a commonality with other people in your family and in the area. This can make breaking the norm challenging and feeling out of place. We wanted to raise awareness and create debate about the struggle working class women face between having a family and pursuing a career or an education. But we didn’t just want to take the stories of the women, we established a parent support group in the local community centre to continue to support the women. We will also be hosting ‘Brenda’s Baby Shower’ in the community centre, the women we have worked with are invited to watch the performance for free and will participate in baby shower themed activities afterwards. They will also receive a goody bag full of fun treats as a thank you for participating.
Promotional video link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmv-9aaGS5U&t=129s
In Brenda’s Got A Baby, writer Molly Rumford explores the choices, or lack of choices, for working class women today. Despite endless political talk about greater access to higher education, the vast majority of university students still come from middle-class backgrounds. Why is this, and can – and should – things change? Brenda’s Got A Baby avoids stereotypes and instead allows women to speak for themselves. What they say (as opposed to what we might think they’re going to say) is extremely interesting.
The issues were handled with sensitivity on both sides of each argument. Initially I was worried they were going demean the task of motherhood, but they showed Brenda maturing and the skills she gained. Also, it was valuable to see a feminist play where the woman wasn’t necessarily seeking to be a successful business executive. She demonstrated that everyone has their own individual future planned, all of which are valid.
The show is descended from a lineage of political theatremakers from Andrea Dunbar to Cardboard Citizens, dramatising a social issue and revealing the structural forces at play. The writing here isn’t subtle and is frequently prone to simply staging a thematic debate, but it makes its points clearly and with enjoyable performances from Katie Mahon and Leah Hand.
Mahon and Hand excel in these characters, bringing them to life and creating two relatable and challenging performances. Hand in particular will go far, with a character immersion that had the audience compelled to keep watching. A raw, provocative performance which highlights the sense of community within the working classes, and how this can serve to either strengthen you or isolate you.
“This is a compelling play that had me hanging on it’s every word. A realistic look into the choices, decisions and issues that working class young people face, this reality was brought cleverly into focus with a narrative throughout the play from the voices of people who have lived this. This was beautifully acted by the two young girls in a convincing and passionate way. As someone who works with teenagers this play resonated with me on every level and I recognise every issue that was raised, especially as recently one of my old students came back to see me & told me that uni had not been the dream she thought it would be as she was struggling to fit in as everyone was ‘posher’ than her and she felt isolated. Highly recommended.”
“Brilliant. My wife, daughter and I all enjoyed this play. Really well acted and a great script. Liked the use of actual interview quotes to emphasise that this play is based on reality.”
30th May 2018
The Bradford Playhouse
7th/8th June 2019
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018
TheSpace on North Bridge
3rd-25th August 2018
Katie Mahon: Amy/ co – director / co – producer
Katie first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012 as Norma in the production of ‘Be My Baby’. She has since gone on to perform in several amateur productions. Katie then trained at the University of Leeds gaining a BA Hons in Theatre and Performance in Industry. During which set up her own professional theatre company called Bloomin’ Buds Theatre Company that she now co-runs and performed in their first play ‘Rewrite the System’ at the Bradford Playhouse. Katie is about to undertake an MA in Applied Theatre and Intervention at the University of Leeds.
Molly Rumford: Writer/ Stage Manager / co-director / co-producer
Molly is a recent BAHons in Theatre and Performance graduate from the University of Leeds. Whilst studying she became Company Manager of Bloomin’ Buds Theatre Company. From this she developed skills in facilitation, community performance, stage management, social media and marketing. She has studied theatre from a young age attending the Carriageworks Theatre Academy and has been accepted to study a Masters Degree in Applied Theatre and Intervention at the University of Leeds. Molly performed in the company’s first play Rewrite the System.
Leah has been involved with acting since school age and has studied drama and theatre studies in college where she worked on productions such as ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ and performed in Stef Smith’s: ‘Remote’. She also volunteered at the Ella Performance Group in Runcorn. This involved performing in ‘Scrooge The Musical’, solo singing performances at the Brindley Theatre and performing on Disability Awareness Day. Leah is now studying a BAHons in Theatre and Performance at the University of Leeds and is signed with Manchester’s modelling and performing agency, called ‘Total Talent Management’.
50 minutes plus 20 minutes post show discussion
2 performers and 1 Stage Manager
Minimum 5 meters by 3 meters space, however can be performed in larger stage spaces
1 x inflatable sofa (Supplied by company) Various hand held props (Supplied by Company)
5x states: House lights, Warm general wash, cold general wash, medium spot light, Various colour lights (Moving or non-moving)
Speakers with sound desk and Aux cable (To be provided by venue)
Workshops are available to be delivered by the company