Pauline takes on radical role with spirit of rebellion in Leeds stage production

FAMILIAR FACE: Pauline McLynn will appear in Mother Courage And Her Children.
FAMILIAR FACE: Pauline McLynn will appear in Mother Courage And Her Children.
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IT was a tumultuous year that saw protests on the streets of cities across Europe, from Paris and Prague to Rome and Berlin.

Nor was London immune from the mood of discontent in the air during 1968, with more than 200 people being arrested when violence flared during an anti-Vietnam demo outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square.

Meanwhile an artistic revolution was also stirring in the capital, as a radical drama group called The Agitprop Street Players emerged from a festival held in Trafalgar Square that year.

It later became the Red Ladder Theatre Company and in the mid-1970s moved to Leeds, where it is still based today.

Now Red Ladder artistic director Rod Dixon has announced plans to mark the company’s 50th anniversary year with a play that taps into the defiant spirit of 1968, despite being written three decades earlier.

The production of Bertolt Brecht’s anti-war masterpiece Mother Courage And Her Children will feature Pauline McLynn in its lead role.

Due to be staged in an urban warehouse setting in Leeds, it will be the first time that Red Ladder has taken on one of theatre’s acknowledged ‘classics’.

And McLynn, best known for parts in TV programmes such as Father Ted and Shameless, is relishing the chance to get involved with the company’s birthday celebrations. She said: “Mother Courage is one of the great, iconic roles and to have this opportunity to play her with Red Ladder and Rod Dixon is a particular thrill for me. I am excited to introduce whole new audiences to Brecht, such a challenging and brilliant playwright who always provokes and enriches us with his work.

“I am an actor who has always had a leaning for the left and therefore Red Ladder and myself are a very natural match. I can’t wait to get started on this sprawling delight.” The West Yorkshire Playhouse-backed production will feature musical arrangements co-written by Boff Whalley, founder member of Leeds band Chumbawamba.

Its professional cast will be supported by a community chorus made up of refugees and asylum seekers.

Dixon said: “This is the first time in 50 years that Red Ladder will have staged a classic, and to me, it is the perfect play for our troubled times.

“Mother Courage is a gigantic role and I am particularly excited that Pauline is to play her. Pauline brings a rich experience of many characters on stage and screen to this production, and I am sure audiences will be thrilled by her performance.”

Mother Courage And Her Children will run at the Albion Electric warehouse on South Accommodation Road in Hunslet from September 27 to October 20.

Tickets are due to go on sale from the start of next month and will be available via the www.redladder.co.uk website. Theatregoers will also be able to purchase tickets for the production by calling the West Yorkshire Playhouse box office on 0113 213 7700.

Video by Bev Ellis

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