The Crude Apache summer production 2021
In 1936 the women who worked in Yarmouth’s herring curing industry went on strike. For three days tonnes of fish rotted on the quaysides until the curing companies agreed to negotiate with the women. This event will form the background for our summer show 2021. The production explores the changing relationships between our hero, Esme Larner, and the other women in her life. Her mum, Meggy, came to Yarmouth from Orkney when she fell in love with a local fisherman. Her sister, Prudence, is desperate to sail but tradition dictates that women are unlucky at sea. Her employer Frannie Harpingdon is an ex-suffragette keen for women to play an equal role in the labour movement.
Contemporary sources suggest the women had no leaders or ways of organising. However, hundreds of women in Yarmouth and Lowestoft stood together against the large curing companies; seven of those women signed an agreement with management to end the strike. I have to disagree with contemporary sources. I cannot discover the names of those seven women and few details of the strike have survived. This show is my attempt to bring their almost forgotten story to a wider audience. It is, of course, highly embellished by my imagination.
DATES of performances all in July:
Fri 9th (eve) Heigham Park
Sat 10th (eve) Waterloo Park
Sun 11th (mat) Ketts Heights
Thu 15th (eve) Heigham Park
Fri 16th (eve) Ketts Heights
Sat 17th (mat) Waterloo Park
Sat 17th (eve) Becketswell, Wymondham
Sun 18th (mat) Cow Tower
I’ve yet to confirm times but probably matinees will be 2-30pm and evenings 7pm.
DATES of rehearsals:
Rehearsals will begin on or around Sunday 6th June. All cast will be required for Sunday afternoon rehearsals, probably 1pm to 5pm, which will take place outside. These will be singing rehearsals and the group scenes. During the week we’ll meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, probably 7pm to 10pm. These will be indoors and will be smaller groups. We will observe whatever rules are in place to allow us to rehearse. We could even do six at a time in my garden. Who knows.
The week leading up to opening night will be more intense. Full runs of the show on Sunday July 4th in the afternoon and also the evenings of Monday 5th, Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th.
Esme Larner – (20s/f/minimal solo singing) Esme wants to stretch her wings and experience life. She does not want to end up like her mother.
Meggy Larner – (40+/f/sizeable singing role) Esme’s mum. After escaping a small Scottish island, she has spent her whole life gutting herring in Yarmouth. She is starting to question that decision.
Pru Larner – (teens/f/minimal solo singing) Esme’s sister. She wants to be a sailor. She can’t. It’s not fair.
Henry Larner – (20s/m) Esme’s brother. He doesn’t want to be a fisherman. If only he could tell his Dad.
Stan Larner – (40+/m/sizeable singing role) Esme’s dad. Constantly surprised by the women in his life. But he can rely on Henry, right?
Mharie Sinclair – (40+/f) Meggy’s sister. A woman of Orkney. Never uses several words where one or a hard stare will do. Loves a good cup of tea.
Effie Sinclair – (teens/f) Mharie’s elder daughter. Always happy to pile in with her fists. Loves a good cup of tea.
Eila Sinclair – (teens/f) Mharie’s younger daughter. Usually found making tea.
Jonet Flett – a herring girl with very good eyesight.
Liosa Flett – her sister, also a herring girl. Knows the tides like the back of her hand.
There are a great many other herring girls aged from 13 upwards. They are all quite hardy and love to knit.
Frannie Harpingdon – (30+/f) Once met Christabel Pankhurst. Just don’t refer to her as “my dear lady”.
Arabella – a romantic.
Caroline – who has a tendency to say the wrong thing.
Pip – who is desperate to get into politics.
Skipper – (40+/m) Skipper of the fishing boat Perseverance, Sam’s boss. Never one to back away from a hard decision.
Nate – (20+/m) Mate on the Perseverance. Below everyone except Henry.
There are four other fishermen to complete the crew of eight.
Meredith Blower – (40+/m) Boss of the largest herring curing company in Yarmouth.
Lizzie – (20+/f) Secretary to Meredith. A secret strike sympathiser.
Jack Goldman – (30+/m) Branch secretary of the Yarmouth union (TGWU).