One of the first plays in England to take to the stage after lockdown will be at a much-loved Manchester theatre.
HER Productions is bringing all-female play ‘Meet Me at Dawn’ to Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester, from May 25th – 29th, after seven months of closure.
The Covid-compliant show stars local actors Helen O’Hara and Susan Jayne Robinson, who play a couple who wash up on a distant shore after a boating accident.
The 80-minute show, full of fantasy and plot twists, will also be live streamed on May 26th for those unable to attend in person.
HER Productions was set up in 2019 by Manchester-based actor Hannah Ellis-Ryan, best known for her role as Coronation Street baddie Hannah Gilmore, who pretended to be Liz McDonald’s dead daughter in the controversial storyline in 2018.
Hannah, who is also manager at the Hope Mill Theatre, said: “It feels like all the stars have aligned for us to open so early and get live theatre happening again.
“I am not aware of much indoor theatre happening in Manchester before us. If we are not the first in the country, we are one of the first, which is a huge honour.
“This show was one of many that fell victim to the pandemic – we wanted to do it last year but of course, could not. It feels so satisfying to finally have all the pieces in place.
“Like all writers, actors and creatives over the past year, we have been craving the chance to do what we love and be creative, so now, thanks to Hope Mill Theatre’s incredible support, we are raring to go.
“I feel so positive about this show. There has been such a thirst for the arts since theatres closed – as we’ve seen with the popularity of shows streamed online – and I think people will be really looking forward to getting out and back into theatres to experience the Arts live again.”
Hope Mill Theatre is ahead of the game with Covid-compliance after staging a socially-distanced production of hit musical Rent in October last year, just before Manchester was put into Tier 3 of restrictions.
And Hannah, who is also a writer and producer, believes that ‘Meet Me At Dawn’ is a perfect play to be performed now lockdown has ended.
She said: “Now the pandemic has happened I can’t imagine doing it any differently. It is the perfect play to bring to audiences after lockdown – it is performed by only two actors in a small space, and this will speak to so many people who have been locked down in the past year.
“Audience members will be sat in family bubbles, with perspex screens between groups. There will also be temperature checks on arrival, and masks will need to be worn. We don’t have the full government guidance yet, but we are prepared for whatever restrictions are put in place.”
The acronym HER represents not only Hannah’s initials, but also the strong female voice that Hannah feels passionately about having at the core of everything that she produces.
One of the actors Helen O’Hara, who plays Robyn in ‘Meet Me at Dawn’ says it is important that women and the LGBTQIA+ community are represented more on stage.
The 29 year-old, who lives in central Manchester, said: “I feel super lucky to be part of a play that represents LGBTQIA+ women and addresses some beautiful themes.
“It is not about sexuality, it is not a ‘gay play’, it is just a fact that the two characters are queer.
“I feel so lucky to be working with Hannah, she is such a strong force, pushing female stories – what she has achieved during lockdown is amazing.
“When lockdown first hit, I had a really difficult time and I did think I might give up acting – I just felt so disheartened. Susan and I had been talking about putting a play on in 2019 and so we decided to approach Hannah just before the pandemic hit, and luckily we have made it happen.”
This is a sentiment shared by her on-stage partner Susan Jayne Robinson, who plays Helen.
The 38 year-old said: “Being one of the first shows to open after lockdown is an absolute honour, we are so grateful that we have been given this opportunity. It is all about being inclusive and diverse and making theatre accessible to everyone and I think having the live stream option means we can reach more people and open the doors to those who would not or could not come to the theatre.
“We have been sat on this play for over a year now and we have all fallen in love with it, so we hope that the audience will come and fall in love with it too.
“It has been a tough year to be a creative. It has been amazing to see how much people rely on entertainment and yet creatives have not had the support they need.
“Helen and I have found the pandemic so tough, but it is lovely to see that this play is taking shape and it is so exciting to see that things are steadily resuming and that actors are getting work again.”
Tickets for ‘Meet Me at Dawn’ are priced from just £6.50.
To book go to: https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/events/meet-me-at-dawn
For livestream tickets go to: https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/events/meet-me-at-dawn-live-stream
For more information on HER Productions go to: herproductions.co.uk or follow them @her_productions19 on Insta and @HERProductions19 on Facebook