Preston actress will star as stateswoman Ellen Wilkinson in stage show Ellen’s Longest Night
A Preston actress will star as a remarkable but long-forgotten stateswoman in a stage production about her life.
Hayley Cartwright, who has appeared in Coronation Street, will step into the role of Ellen Wilkinson in Ellen’s Longest Night.
Committed to social justice herself, Hayley said: “I am extremely proud to be portraying the fabulous Red Ellen.”
A spokesman for the play said: “This is the very first ever stage representation of the extraordinary, much loved, politician Red Ellen Wilkinson.
“The play is set on her final evening before tragically dying from an overdose of sleeping pills on February 6, 1947.
Ellen, born in Manchester in 1891, was a hugely popular British politician.
“Her maverick style, fierce intellect, fun loving empathy and incredible courage earned affectionate titles like ‘The Mighty Atom’ and ‘The Pocket Passionara’,” said the spokesman.
“Yet today she is largely forgotten. Where are the movies, the stage plays, and the glossy TV documentaries about this amazing woman?
“Only 4” 9’ in height and bedevilled by ill health from childhood poverty she fought her way to the Cabinet, founded UNESCO; wrote the 1945 Labour Party Manifesto; was instrumental in making Churchill War PM; fought Fascism in Spain and rescued children from Nazi Germany.
“By sheer will she enacted the Hire Purchase Act protecting poor shoppers; promoted equal pay and women’s votes, raised the school leaving age and provided free school meals and milk for poor children.
“She famously led the Jarrow Crusade of 1936 and unrelenting journalism in the national press with popular, hard hitting polemics like ‘The Town That Died’ about conditions for the unemployed. Yet today Ellen is not nationally known or even honoured in Westminster where she made such a huge and positive difference to our country.”
Ellen’s Longest Night, by Manchester playwright and actor Nakib Narat, is part of The Peterloo Festival 2019.
The first performance is in The Central Library Manchester on August 17 then in The National Museum of Democracy in November before an extended theatre tour.