Sheffield premiere for play loojking back at miners’ strike

Julia Ford in rehearsals for Queen Coal
Julia Ford in rehearsals for Queen Coal
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Actress Julia Ford is one third of a love triangle in a new play, Queen Coal, that looks at how the miners’ strike affected both men and women.

Bryony Lavery’s play has its world premiere at the Crucible Studio before going on tour. The show has a clever set and will transform the space into a theatre in the round.

Some members of the audience will be able to get very close to the action by sitting on sofas and dining chairs at the front of the stage.

Julia said: “The play is based around three characters. Ian was a miner during the strike and there’s his sister Maggie and I play Justine, his ex-wife. The three of us tell the story and you also get little flashbacks or memories.

“It begins on the day that Maggie Thatcher died. When they were all involved in the strike they said they’d have a big party when she died. The two women in particular haven’t spoken to each other for 30 years.

“Maggie says get yourself up here and we’re going to have a big bonfire. The play is about what happens when they all get together and there’s a lot of unresolved things between them.

“There’s guilt and blame and unresolved things they need to sort out.”

Julia said that all three characters were very political during the strike, which has pushed them apart.

She described the script as “funny and punchy and full of life. It’s not a sitting around and discussing kind of play. There’s lots happening and it’s very lively.

“Within that there are lots of elements, a lot about family, betrayal, love, a bit of looking back.

“Where are we now and where were we then, both politically and as human beings?”

Julia said that her partner Mike’s family lived in Hertfordshire and used to put up Nottinghamshire miners when they visited London on tours to talk about the strike.

“He remembers them coming and sitting up late with his dad talking. He’s still got a miner’s helmet that they gave him.” She added: “I remember it as a very political time when I was always going on marches for CND, Nelson Mandela, Rock Against Racism. You felt very alive politically.”

Queen Coal is at the Crucible Studio from next Thursday, October 30, to Saturday November 22. Box office: at the Crucible, call 0114 2496000 or go online to Sheffield Theatres