East Enders show solidarity with Geordie miners
By Gemma Collins THE conflict of the miners strike has always struck a chord with audiences across the country. The working class struggle during the Thatcher era has been dramatised by a host of playwrights whose creations have taken London theatres b
By Gemma Collins
THE conflict of the miners' strike has always struck a chord with audiences across the country.
The working class struggle during the Thatcher era has been dramatised by a host of playwrights whose creations have taken London theatres by storm, including the smash hit Billy Elliot.
And now two Geordie writers are hoping to make their own mark on the capital, when their dark play Maggie's End takes to the stage next month.
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Sponsored by NUM North-East Area, the RMT, Unison, Unite and the GMB, the play, based on the death of Margaret Thatcher, is being shown in time for the 25th anniversary of the miners' strike.
It was the brainchild of Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood who had already written six hit plays together and came up with the idea following reports that Margaret Thatcher would be given a state funeral when the time comes.
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Ed, a 50-year-old former journalist who lives in South Shields, lived through the miners' strike and the subsequent closures of pits and steelworks.
He said: "I heard a report that `new' Labour was preparing a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher.
"If anyone mentions her in the North East, people spit on the ground.
"It is a marvellous topic for drama that we have got this clash 25 years since the strike.
"Anyone who sat on the picket line can't believe that Labour is rating Margaret Thatcher. It is incredible.
"Labour is betraying its supporters."
The play is based around former miner and socialist Leon and his daughter Rosa, a high-flying MP who is organising the former Prime Minister's state funeral.
Ex-Bill actor Mark Wingett, who played DC Carver, has taken on the lead role with his wife played by Auf Wiedersehen Pet actress Melanie Hill who also starred alongside Mark in the Bill, while TV actress Johanne Murdock plays Rosa.
Ed insists the play is not political propaganda but he cannot deny that he wants it to cause a stir.
He added: "When it first premiered in Durham, people were actually debating it and discussing it during half-time.
"It is real human-interest story about a father and a daughters' relationship but from a positive perspective.
"It is not propaganda but a human drama that is sad and happy and has lots of emotion."
The play proved to be a hit when it premiered at the Gala theatre in Durham last October, so much so that the Jarrow Brewery produced a beer called Maggie's End, which is "a pale golden wheat beer with a citrus and spice flavour and a complex grass-fresh hop aroma".
The Tynesiders are hoping for a similar response in London and Ed is hoping that East Enders will at least be showing their support.
He added: "We really want more than anything to hear the sounds of the Cockney voice.
"East Enders are our people and are the same as Geordies. Life is pretty tough for them, jobs have been lost and wages have been forced down.
"There is a common bond between us.
"They also like their politics and debates, which is what the play is about."
Maggie's End, which will be directed by Jack Milner, runs from April 7 to April 18 at the Shaw Theatre, Euston.
Tickets cost from �18 (�12 concessions) and are on sale now. Contact the box office on 0871 594 3123.