Introducing Three Generations of Women, by James Haddrell

As one of this country’s leading supporters of young and emerging theatre companies, at Greenwich Theatre we are always involved with a whole host of shows at various stages of development, but there is nothing more satisfying than that moment when all the pieces of the jigsaw come together and a new show is presented, in its complete form, to an audience.


In one month’s time we are about to experience just that when we present the world premiere of the new play, Three Generations Of Women, here at Greenwich Theatre before heading off on tour around the country.

Three Generations Of Women began life over two years ago when Alice Trueman and Anna Jefferson, co-directors of Brighton based company Broken Leg Theatre, brought a new idea to me. Their plan was to launch a website and invite women from across the country to submit stories to the site – the best piece of advice their mum ever gave them, the life challenges they’ve faced at home or at work, the moments in their lives that have meant most to them – and then to take all those stories and distil them into a play.

This felt like an exciting idea and when we launched the website, which attracted coverage in the national media, it seemed that people around the country agreed. We received literally thousands of astonishing submissions – there was the woman who dreamt of being a goalkeeper for Arsenal Football Club but was discouraged, the mother who was so short she had to sit on pillows to drive ambulances in the Second World War and the bull-fighting grandmother who was born a maid in a stately home.

Then Anna and Alice had to find the recurring themes in the stories and submissions to turn into a play. After months of work, readings were held in Brighton and here in Greenwich of a first draft of the play (the largest audience we had ever had for a play reading), and audiences were invited to chat to the writers after the show and give their feedback. Were they interested in the story? Was it moving, funny, surprising, exciting? And most importantly, was it worth persevering with or should the play just be abandoned? Luckily, audiences were unanimous in their desire to see the play fully produced.


Now, eighteen months and a fundraising campaign later, the finished play is set to be unveiled, with National Theatre Studio resident director Ria Parry at the helm. What were the themes that recurred through those thousands of submissions? Freedom certainly cropped up again and again, from social expectation, from economic restraint, from personal boundaries. Growing up was another regular topic, what it meant to grow up in different parts of the country at different times. Most of all though, people wrote about secrets – keeping secrets, having secrets kept from you, sharing secrets with other people.

However, the one secret we’re certainly not keeping is how proud we are of this show and of what Alice and Anna have spent over two years working to achieve. Three Generations Of Women is a snapshot of a nation’s concerns, a distillation of the things that mean most to thousands of women in this country, and it is also a funny, touching, inspiring play that deserves to be seen by theatregoers all around the country.

Three Generations Of Women plays from Tue 1-Sat 5 March 2016
Box Office 020 8858 7755

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About James Haddrell

James has been Artistic & Executive Director of Greenwich Theatre on Crooms Hill since 2007 and is rightly credited with the Theatre as you see it today, developing young artists and producing a large amount of work in house.

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